B.C. needs mobility pricing but ‘it has to be low,’ says Watts

BC Liberal leadership candidate Dianne Watts | submitted

BC Liberal leadership candidate Dianne Watts says the province’s tolling system is “antiquated” and mobility pricing is needed to alleviate congestion on the roads.

“There absolutely needs to be a system in place. Absolutely. And it has to be low,” the former mayor of Surrey told Business In Vancouver on Roundhouse 98.3.

Watts recalled the Mayors’ Council broaching mobility pricing with the provincial government, then under the leadership of former premier Gordon Campbell, when she was chair of the council.

“We started having that conversation and the province would have nothing to do with it. They said, ‘Absolutely not, we’re not changing our tolling policy. We’re only going to toll individual pieces of infrastructure,’” she said

“That system, it never worked. And we looked at best practices in Australia more than 10 years ago, 15 years ago. And they had to take the tolls off and come up with another system where it’s fair and equitable for everyone.”

The BC NDP government removed tolls from the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges in September following an election pledge made by both the BC NDP and BC Liberals.

In early November the Mobility Pricing Independent Commission, which was set up by the Mayors' Council and TransLink Board, launched its first phase of its public consultation process.

It’s expected to present recommendations on decongestion charging next year.

Watts is facing off against five other BC Liberal leadership candidates ahead of a party convention to pick a leader in February.

BC Liberal MLAs Sam Sullivan, Mike Lee, Todd Stone, Mike de Jong and Andrew Wilkinson are also campaigning to become leader of the party.

BIV interview with Sam Sullivan.

BIV interview with Todd Stone.

BIV interview with Dianne Watts.

Keep following BIV for interviews with all the candidates.