The must-read of the day is Frances Bula’s Globe piece about Lower Mainland mayors’ coming fight with the province about how to find the estimated billion dollars to pay for the next round of rail transit expansion. The province wants the funds to come from property taxes levied by the cities. The cities want to funds to come from things like tolls and money generated by the Liberals’ carbon tax.

Look. From a policy perspective, this is a no-brainer. Giving up the revenue-neutrality of the carbon tax is the obvious place to start. Now that the province has a working carbon-pricing scheme in place, why not start diverting some of that money into infrastructure investment that will let let people spend less money on carbon. That’s the damn point of pricing carbon. (See Marc Lee and Toby Sanger’s paper for the longer version of this argument.)

After the carbon tax, then there’s tolls, congestion pricing, and vehicle levies–all good ideas that make sense as transportation policy besides making money. If all those revenue courses were tapped and Translink still needed more, well, then the cities could look at property tax hikes.

The province needs to budge on this. Time to write some cranky letters to MLAs.

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