Don't rush carbon tax review, Metro Vancouver urges

B.C.'s carbon tax now adds 7.2 cents to the cost of a litre of gas anywhere in the province following the latest increase on July 1. The future of the tax is the subject of a provincial government review now underway.
— image credit: File

Metro Vancouver politicians want the province to take more time to consider the future of B.C.'s four-year-old carbon tax and not rush to either reject further increases or axe the tax altogether.

The province is reviewing the tax and the regional board voted Friday to call for an extra 90 days of public comment beyond the current Aug. 31 deadline.

"We don't want to go backwards on the carbon tax," Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said. "At this point, losing it would be a lot more problematic than the alternative."

An extension would give Metro and its member cities more time to consider the issue and formulate positions on how the tax should be improved in the years ahead.

The board is also reminding Victoria that it is already on record supporting the carbon tax – Metro's Integrated Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Management Plan endorses continued increases in the tax.

A Metro report says the carbon tax helps minimize the region's contribution to climate change and supports a shift to transportation alternatives by making single-occupancy vehicle travel more expensive.

But Langley City Coun. Gayle Martin, vice-chair of Metro's environment committee, said she doesn't support further carbon tax hikes.

"We're getting taxed to death here on gas," she said. "Leave it where it's at and go from there.

"Is it doing any good? We don't know. To keep increasing it doesn't make any sense in my mind, given the gas taxes we pay to TransLink."

B.C. is the only jurisdiction in North America that puts a price on carbon emissions through a carbon tax, which has been steadily raised since 2008.

On July 1 it climbed to $30 per tonne of greenhouse gases emitted, or 7.2 cents per litre of gasoline and $1.50 per gigajoule of natural gas.

The province's review is gathering public input on the tax ahead of the government's 2013 budget deliberations.

Options under consideration are whether the tax should go up further, be frozen or cut – and whether any further increases should go to initiatives like transit expansion rather than tax relief.

The carbon tax raises $300 million a year in Metro Vancouver.

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