Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Carbon Tax and Road Building

I had an e-mail exchange over the past couple of days with a friend on the topic of the carbon tax and roadway expansion. In my morning reading I found this letter to the Vancouver Sun that somewhat matches my sentiments.

I support the new carbon tax, and I fully stand behind the upgrading of old infrastructure. But, I sure wish that before we earmarked billions on highway expansion programs, we would have looked outside our box to see what others are doing. I would have preferred that we upgrade our transit system to include a healthy investment in light rail, to include a re-activation of the interurban and streetcar program. Once viable and popular light rail transit is in place, then you do your best to drive ridership to these green options. Finally, you use road tolling to encourage more people to leave their single occupancy vehicles at home.

Its too late to turn back the hands of time, but I can't help think that we could have realized billions of dollars for transit and related options had the previous Provincial governments spent our money on smart infrastructure. I firmly believe that the price tag for today's Gateway Program would have been much less expensive. The savings could have been used to fund the other elements of a Gateway.

I still hold out hope that people will see beyond the need for roads and to move goods, and expand our Gateway to include things like ideas, technology, knowledge and many other things that make up a true gateway.


Corey said...

But if people drive more, then the government gets more tax money! Perversely, the carbon tax actually encourages the government to build more roads and make driving more attractive.

Joe Zaccaria said...


Well, you could look at it that way, or you can say that the government now has more money to put into transit, at the expense of those people who just want to use their cars and don't care.

I don't see where the carbon tax would encourage the government to build more roads. Conversely, they would need to build less if it works, as we have been seeing. High gas prices = less vehicles on the roadways.