February 14, 2003


BCAA says new provincial gas tax is too high

Vancouver, B.C. – The British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) welcomed the announcement of a new provincial transportation strategy and planned road improvements, but says the government should not be looking to drivers to shoulder the entire cost of the plan. Because the transportation plan has been touted as a means of stimulating economic growth, BCAA believes the costs should be shared more broadly across the economy, and will be calling on the government to revisit its funding strategy.

“With pump prices already over 80 cents per litre, an increase of another 3.5 cents per litre in taxes will be hard for many motorists and businesses to bear,” says Trace Acres, BCAA Director of Communications and Government Affairs. “Fuel taxes tend to have the biggest impact on lower income earners, and on those living in smaller communities and rural areas where few
transportation alternatives exist. Another danger is that higher taxes will encourage cross-border shopping, and persuade travellers to vacation elsewhere.”

Based on member input and on the outcome of last year’s transportation funding debate in the Lower Mainland, BCAA believes most members would have been prepared to accept an increase of up to two cents per litre, coupled with a limited number of tolls on new roads and bridges – provided the funds were dedicated to road transportation improvements, and a clear accounting of revenues and expenditures was provided.

“Our members have told us that they need to see a direct link between the taxes or tolls they pay, and the roads and bridges that are being built,” says Acres. “As it is today, a large proportion of provincial fuel taxes go to support transit and ferry services, or to pay debt service costs on past transit and road projects.”

In provincial fuel taxes, drivers in the Greater Vancouver region currently pay 17 cents per litre (11 cents of which is transferred to TransLink); in the Victoria region, they pay 13.5 cents per litre (2.5 cents of which is transferred to BC Transit), and; in all other locations throughout B.C., drivers pay 11 cents per litre. All B.C. motorists pay 10 cents per litre in federal excise taxes, as well as GST, which is also applied to taxes. At these levels, B.C. motorists pay close to the national average in fuel taxes. An additional 3.5 cents per litre would move B.C. well above the national average.

BCAA estimates that the additional 3.5 cents per litre in taxes will cost drivers of compact cars approximately $50 per year, drivers of six-cylinder minivans approximately $75 per year and drivers of eight-cylinder sport utility vehicles approximately $100 per year.

BCAA is the province’s largest member services association with 720,000 members.

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