Transportation Minister Todd Stone has rejected suggestions of transit service cuts after the B.C. government’s budget left out approval for a two-cent increase in Greater Victoria’s fuel tax.
The Victoria Regional Transit Commission tax hasn’t changed in eight years, and the commission had marshalled support from municipal governments to request the increase. But with a provincial election weeks away, Stone said now isn’t the time.
“We’re not convinced that there’s a clear consensus, not just amongst local governments in Greater Victoria, but the public,” Stone told reporters at the B.C. legislature Thursday. “I’ve received as many submissions from the residents, the people who live in Greater Victoria, who are opposed to a gas tax increase as I have from those who have advocated for it.
“With that in mind, we think over the next three months, with big date coming in May, this is a perfect opportunity to hear from the citizens, to put it back out there in the region and see what the people of Greater Victoria actually feel about a potential increase in their fuel tax.”
Combining capital and operating increases, the province’s budget for Greater Victoria transit has increased 25 per cent in the pre-election budget tabled Feb. 21, Stone said, making it “a bit premature” to expect service reductions.
He also rejected the idea of a TransLink-style transportation agency for the region.
“I don’t think what the people of Greater Victoria need is another agency, or another layer of government to ensure that transportation investments take place,” Stone said.