Tax, tax, tax – SkyTrain Needs New And Higher Taxes

From the very beginning, building the SkyTrain network demanded new and higher taxes. As the SkyTrain light-metro network is automatic, it must be grade seperated and grade separation is costly. It is the Achilles heel of light-metro as construction is so costly, compared to other modes, that extending the initial line into areas of low population is not cost effective.

Light rail proved this back in the early 80′s when two studies done for the Toronto Transit Commission, the IBI and ART studies showed that:

“ICTS (the first name of the now called Movia Automatic Light Metro, as used on the Expo and Millennium Lines): cost up ten times more to construct, for the same capacity as LRT for about the same capacity”

Thus building with light-metro, create much higher taxes, to pay for the same quality of service operated by light rail.

Our high taxes, in metro Vancouver are, in part, due to the high cost of the SkyTrain light-metro network and building more, especially to lightly populated areas or in a subway, will only increase what is already very high taxes in the region.

American transit engineer and transportation expert, Gerald Fox foresaw this in 2008, when he stated:

But, eventually, Vancouver will need to adopt lower-cost LRT in its lesser corridors, or else limit the extent of its rail system. And that seems to make some TransLink people very nervous.

Commonsense transportation planning and affordable transit is something regional mayors would rather have the taxpayer forget.

Press Release – from Bill Vander Zalm                      

July 22nd, 2019

Message to the TransLink Mayor’s Council. On July 25th, 2019….

TransLink Taxation and Spending is out of control…. Spending $3,200,000,000 when $252,500,000 provides better service, better value and serves more people in Metro Vancouver?

What are they thinking!

  • Parking Tax                       Now 24% (adds 15 cents hr. to aver. $5/hr. Parking Stall)


  • Property Tax                    7% (Incr. 3% per yr. of the TransL. Prop. Tax base per yr.)


  • Gas Tax                             18.5 cents a litre (Highest gas taxes in North America)


  • Transit User Fees              Single use +5 cents to 10 cents/Day Pass +25 cents/monthly passes + $2 – $3.


  • BC Hydro Transit Levy     TransLink brought the regional trans. Levy (utility tax) back in

2006. Today that amount is $0.0624 cents per day for a regular single-family dwelling or $1.87 month. There are 960,890 occupied private dwellings in the region equaling $1,798,786. Per month or $21,585,432. per yr. (on monthly B.C. Hydro Bill)


  • Develop. Cost Charges     effective January 15th 2020   effective Jan. 1st, 2021

single family   $2,100 unit     $2,975 unit                            

Duplex            $1,900 unit     $2,470 unit

Townhouse    $1,900 unit     $2,470 unit

Apartment     $1,200 unit     $1,545 unit    

Retail/Serv     $1.25 / ft2       $1.25 / ft2

Office              $1.25 / ft2       $1.25 / ft2

Institutional   $0.50 / ft2       $0.50 / ft2

Industrial        $0.30 / ft2       $0.30 / ft2


NOTE – Introduced in 2018, rates come into effect Jan.15 2020 and increase in 2021. This Development Cost Charge fee is just another tax, which makes housing that much more unaffordable to hard working residents trying to afford their first home.       


  • The approved parking tax funding increase approved last Spring were for major projects, the LRT in Surrey (Not SkyTrain to Langley which is under review for a Business Plan since last December, yet to be voted on.) and the Broadway extension.


Summary on Taxation –


One thing that cannot be challenged by looking at all of these real numbers, TransLink taxation and spending is out of control. When the Mayor of Surrey runs his election campaign under Safe Surrey Coalition on two primary promises 1) A change to a City Police Force from the RCMP stating during the election campaign that it would only be a 10% increase to taxpayers (not going to happen) and 2) he promises a change from the approved LRT Guildford down 104th to Surrey Center South on King George Blvd. to Newton to SkyTrain from Surrey Center to Langley City for the same price – $1.65 Billion (Not going to happen). TransLink has spent over $50 Million in LRT prep costs and Mayor McCallum dismisses it as irrelevant and then TransLink are going to buy into it? That is nothing short of irresponsible! The Mayors TransLink Council has got to put a break on TransLink and their irresponsible taxation, planning and spending.


What are we hearing now – Gondolas up to SFU and now a Bus on call system for Bowen Island. We are in serious need of Provincial Government intervention. We are in serious need of the TransLink Council to back off any more votes (no quorum) so that some common sense can be brought back into some responsible Interregional Transportation improvements.


Take a close look at the TransLink taxation and spending decisions that are currently in effect – we cannot continue in this direction!




Bill Vander Zalm

Former Premier of British Columbia

Former B.C. Minister for Municipal Affairs and Transit

Former Mayor of the City of Surrey

Media – Connect with Bill Vander Zalm by request through Rick Green

@ 604 866-5752 or by email at

Leave A Comment