City of Vancouver budget calls for $1.5 million for road tolls planning

Nov 30 2020, 10:34 pm

The City of Vancouver’s draft budget sets aside $1.5 million over the next two years to plan the Metro Core mobility pricing scheme.

Two weeks ago, the city council approved the major step to launch the planning process for establishing road tolls in a geographic cordon area that covers the downtown Vancouver peninsula and the Central Broadway Corridor. Mobility pricing is one of the approved strategies under city staff’s Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP).

Subsequently, the draft 2021 budget released just last week sets aside $700,000 next year to create a “project charter,” hire a dedicated staff team and external consultant and begin an economic analysis and consultation with stakeholders.

Another $800,000 will be spent on mobility pricing planning in 2022 to “complete stakeholder engagement” and report back to city council on the feasibility study seeking further recommendations.

The intention is to have city council select a precise scheme and technology for mobility pricing in 2022 for implementation by 2025.

It should also be noted that any scheme that involves traditional road tolls, such as the recently abolished systems for the Port Mann Bridge and Golden Ears Bridge, requires the additional approval of the provincial government.

Additionally, as another approved CEAP strategy, city staff have budgeted another $900,000 in 2021 to perform planning for mandatory parking permits for all residential streets across Vancouver. This includes an added layer of surcharge for new high-end gas diesel vehicles. Permit prices will be developed, and the implementation of mandatory permit requirements will be geographically staged starting next year.

Between the first quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, the plan is to acquire, deploy, and develop back-end systems for license plate recognition enforcement. By the second quarter of 2022, the goal is to have the policy fully implemented citywide.

Under the “major priority plans” in parking operations and enforcement for 2021 and 2022 to 2025, city staff are aiming to expand license plate recognition capabilities and other technologies to “support congestion management in rush hour corridors.” Currently, such technology capabilities are used for on-street vehicle occupancy studies and parking enforcement in permit zones.

In the initial CEAP report, city staff estimated Metro Core mobility pricing will carry a one-time installation and technology cost of about $250 million, with the system generating between $50 million and $80 million annually in revenue once operational.

In 2019, parking permits brought in $1.2 million in revenue for the municipal government. The expansion to a citywide parking permit requirement is forecast to increase this revenue source by $1 million to $2 million annually initially, and potentially upwards of $15 million annually after three years.

The City council is scheduled to convene on Tuesday for a special meeting dedicated to discussing the 2021 draft budget for final approval. This includes the capital and operating budget for 2021, including various fee and tax changes, such as a 5% increase in property tax.

Most of the budgetary measures are expected to pass.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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