The Inevitable Pain of Removing Port Mann Bridge Tolls
The Inevitable Pain of Removing Port Mann Bridge Tolls

Yes, having no toll access to the bridges and crossings in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland is nice for an individual Lower Mainland driver’s pocket book.  However, the broader negative implications on our air-shed and environment through an increase in traffic combined with an increasing in provincial debt and decreasing provincial credit rating makes for a much costlier mess but this time this pain will be shared by people all across BC.

<Sarcasm Paragraph ahead>: With that in mind, I wish to thank ALL residents of Cranbrook, Prince George, Kelowna, Prince Rupert, Quesnel (in fact cities and towns across the beautiful and prosperous province of BC) for paying for my crossing of the Port Mann bridge today. Also I’d like to thank teachers and health care workers for lowering their expectations for extra funding for their areas and instead paying big international banks more interest for no particular reason other than political optics.  <Sarcasm end>

Let’s walk through the inevitable future ripple effect of this toll removal announcement.  It’s not pretty but it’s real:
The announcement stated they would throw the costs and debt on the Provincial Debt pile… (even the Government’s coalition partner is shaking his head and calls the move “Reckless”:
When provincial debt increases (like Alberta’s) with revenue flat or decreases, bond rating agencies pay attention…
Leading to lower credit rating…  In fact this was released on the day following the toll removal announcement: ….
Leading to higher rates paid on the debt… making International Banks more profitable. Transferring YOUR tax dollars into the profits of the banks…..
Leading to less excess revenue available for Gov’t programs… (Of which high percentage are health care and education)…
Which, given the election platform is where they said they would increase funding….
Leading to them either breaking those promises given to their major electoral base or spending it anyway, putting us even higher up on the “Watch Out” list of the Bond rating agency’s radars… (Not a good place to be)….
Leading to even further interest costs from gov’t revenues….. And the vicious circle continues.
It doesn’t matter which party is in power (Red, Orange, Green, Purple) the issue is when “policy for optics” are implemented rather than “policy for governance” we all lose.
What Come Next?  There is NO Magic Money Tree
You KNOW that there will have to be additional revenue created, eventually, to pay for this higher debt as well as new infrastructure. Be it even more gas taxes, or implementation of an actual road tax, meaning you pay for every KM you drive (background:  )

Can’t tax small business any more because the Feds are already working on that.  Can’t increase property taxes much more, when it is already unaffordable for many to live in many parts of the province.  Can’t really add too much more on the “Gas Tax” as we already pay the most of anywhere in Canada (and the Metro Vancouver Mayors already have their eye on doing that for their needs).  Whatever option that is chosen, the reality is that it will hurt a LOT more than the simple tolls on the bridge.

We have witnessed that pain that “Optics” political leadership has put on the citizens of Ontario and Alberta.  MUCH higher costs of living, much higher interest rates paid for by those governments, much higher bank profits for them doing so, outlandish record provincial debt levels that Millennials and their children will be paying for throughout their lives.  Is BC about to head down that road, we surely hope not.

Is the province perfect? Of course not. Does it have inequality (like the rest of the world)? Of course it does.  But it has a strong economic foundation that has taken decades to build, but can take only a year to destroy.  Let’s hope we DON’T follow the “Politics of Optics” paths that other jurisdictions have taken – the cliff that path leads to is steep and high.

For even more “Ripple Effect” analysis, take a listen to my discussion on the CKNW “Steele & Drex” radio show. It sure brought out a lot of comments afterwards:

The Inevitable Pain of Removing Port Mann Bridge Tolls was last modified: September 4th, 2017 by Don R. Campbell

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