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From the Globe and Mail:

B.C. Premier Christy Clark says Lower Mainland mayors will have to raise property taxes as a Plan B if voters reject a proposed sales tax to pay for new transit in this year’s plebiscite. …

“If they decide they do want to build transit without a Yes vote in this referendum, mayors will have to fall back, I guess, on the existing funding mechanism they have.

“They have always had the ability to raise money for transit through increasing property taxes and I suppose that would be one of the options available to them if the referendum fails.”

Seriously?

You think a West Vancouver council will vote to raise property taxes on some of the highest-valued homes in Canada to support light rail in Surrey?  Or Maple Ridge to support a subway in Vancouver?  Or any council anywhere to support anything outside their boundaries?

And how do you think the Metro Vancouver board will justify imposing a regional property tax after the results of a No vote on the referendum?

My guess is that Plan B for mayors is to look to the Province to fund the big-buck projects with provincial dollars. And coincidentally, there will be a source that doesn’t require raising taxes; it just means not lowering them.

To quote Vaughan Palmer again:

Before the last election, the Liberals brought in a higher tax bracket for people with taxable incomes greater than $150,000. But the enabling legislation also provided for the automatic phase out of the higher tax bracket after two years, effective Dec. 31.

De Jong confirmed Thursday there are no plans to bring in legislation to extend the rate. Hence it will be gone at the end of the year, delivering a tax reduction worth about $200 million to the highest income-earners.

Let’s cut that in half, even though it’s fair to assume that more than 50 percent of the high-income earners in this province live in Metro.  You could do a lot with $100 million a year to support transit in the place where the most jobs are generated, and still proceed with the Massey Bridge.   Just a question of priorities.

Of course there is another potential source of revenue – and if I was a developer I’d be concerned, if not scared.

What do you think municipalities will do when faced with a choice of (1) charging higher fees on new development to fund transit or (2) raising property taxes on current homeowners?  And if they do neither, then what do you think neighbourhoods will argue when you tell them your proposal is consistent with plans that encourage more transit use or is dependent on its expansion (hello, Jericho), that you don’t need to provide as much expensive parking, that density is essential for a more compact, transit-oriented region?

What’s your Plan B?