Taxes hit everyone at the pump and drivers are not shy about voicing an opinion.

“It’s never pleasant to pay more, but you know, I think if it does result in better public transit, that’s probably a good thing,” said one driver in Victoria.

“I’m from the Lower Mainland, and we pay $1.48 a litre, so here is cheaper here,” said another driver, adding the prices are still high.

Two taxes affecting drivers in the latest provincial budget are the carbon tax, which is going up five dollars a tonne, and a two cent a litre increase in the gas tax.

B.C.’s finance minister Carole James said on Tuesday that the transit gas tax increase was a direct response to a request by the Victoria Regional Transit Commission.

“That really was a request from Victoria transit, from CRD. They had requested that we add that additional gas tax in.  So, they could use it exactly for transit.  Improve services, that’ll make a difference for all of us on the south Island,” James said.

The gas tax hike will raise seven million dollars each year, according to the provincial government. That money will fund more buses, longer hours of service, an exchange at Uptown Mall, and focus on growth on the West Shore. Victoria Regional Transit Commission chair Susan Brice said the money will benefit users, particularly those on the West Shore.

“It’ll produce $7 million a year more for transit. So, it’s significant, and I think that people on the West Shore probably are as keen to getting our improved transit system as anyone,” Brice said.

But not everyone is happy. At Maximum Express Courier, a Victoria-based business with 30 employees on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, the additional costs will hurt.  Owner Al Hasham said the extra costs will be passed on.  “I don’t want to pay any more taxes. As a small business owner, medium to small size business owner, I have to work hard to cover that. Now if I can’t, guess who I am going to charge two cents to? The consumer,” Hasham said.

Drivers now pay just under seven cents a litre for the carbon tax. They’ll pay more in the future.

“What we’ve said is we want to use the carbon tax revenue to actually encourage changes in behavior. To encourage green initiatives,” James said.

And those green initiatives include transit.

 

Mary Griffin