The Vancouver Mayor's Council on Regional Transportation has an ambitious 30-year vision (starting with a 10-year plan) that would dramatically expand mass transit in Vancouver. Yet recent developments in personal transportation raise questions about long-term plans to build fixed point-to-point transit systems.
Taxes are indeed needed to fund important government services, critical both to a well-functioning economy and more generally, civilization. But there is a point when a larger, more interventionist government, combined with a heavier tax burden, can stunt economic growth and social outcomes, or achieve those outcomes only at great additional cost.
It's important to remember that the city, like the rest of us, has to pay interest on debt in addition to repaying the principal. With more money going to service past debt (interest plus principal), less is available for important municipal services such as garbage collection and policing. That means Vancouverites also "pay" for debt indirectly through reduced services.
A carbon tax increases the cost of gasoline, diesel, and natural gas -- things that both households and businesses rely on, whether to operate their cars, heat their homes, or run their operations. For perspective, B.C.'s current tax of $30 per tonne of CO2 adds roughly seven cents per litre to the cost of gasoline.
Asking for more money is common among municipal officials. Despite soaring transfers from higher level governments, municipalities repeatedly claim they need more because their revenue sources lack growth potential. So how has municipal revenue actually performed over the last 10 years in Metro Vancouver?
The Metro Vancouver regional authority wants to build a massive garbage incinerator at a yet-to-be-determined location that will purposefully pump more smog into the air and burn recycled goods like paper and plastic. And get this, taxpayers are going to have to foot the $470-million bill to breathe it all it all in.
In a triumph for local democracy, the bully that is Metro Vancouver has been put in its proper place by a provincial judge. Metro Vancouver should save its taxpayers some money by forgoing an appeal in this case and accepting the fact that it doesn't always know best. Let's see a little more of this "collaborative federation," and a lot less bullying of elected councils.