Opinion: Premier sold out BC NDP principles with no Pattullo tolls

Chris Campbell

Look, we get it – nobody wants to pay more to drive.

We hate gas taxes and we hate bridge tolls, but both are effective ways to deal with the climate crisis Canada and the rest of the world faces.

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Both raise money to fight climate change and they discourage some people from driving - pushing them in the direction of taking transit.

So it was painful to watch Premier John Horgan last week in New Westminster when he updated work on the Pattullo Bridge replacement.

“Safer, easier, toll-free commutes is what our government is dedicated to,” Horgan said.

Yeah, Horgan is committed to toll-free commutes, which is why he got rid of tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges.

We guess it was smart politics because the BC NDP did well in Surrey. We just hope it was worth selling out the party’s principles that claim to want to fight climate change.

People who take transit have to pay to use the service, so why is it so hard to grasp that drivers should have to pay to use a bridge or a road? And don’t say it’s because drivers already pay taxes that fund the road system because transit users pay those same taxes.

As for the bridge itself, people in Surrey and Delta have to stop thinking that it will magically solve their commuting woes. The bridge is being replaced because it’s old and decrepit – not to necessarily make commutes faster. The current bridge is unsafe, which is why the wider lanes will be welcomed.

Pattullo Bridge
The Pattullo Bridge. - File photo/RECORD

Surrey and Delta have both complained recently about the new bridge only being four lanes and, unfortunately, Horgan played into that with his announcement.

Horgan said “a four-lane bridge with four real lanes” is an appropriate way to start, but the bridge has the capacity to expand to six lanes, or five lanes with counterflow, in the future. 

As transportation experts will tell you, the issue of “induced demand” means that if you add more lanes for traffic, you only attract more traffic, which defeats the purpose of adding more lanes.

Sadly, New Westminster and even Burnaby will both suffer from any increased traffic with a new Pattullo Bridge. Our communities are already suffering from the piles of traffic that roll through on a daily basis.

Tolls would have likely reduced that traffic volume, but hey, there were votes to get in Surrey so who cares about Burnaby and New Westminster?

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