Thursday, June 12, 2008

carbon tax - my thoughts

Be prepared - I'm on a rant! British Columbia will be introducing a new carbon tax effective July 1st, 2008. While I understand the principle behind this move - I have to admit - I'm against it. Basically we will all pay more for gas and things like coal and natural gas that heat our homes. I listened to Carol Taylor speaking about how we need to reduce our dependency on fuels that produce high levels of carbon - how we need to change the way we do business. I don't disagree - but I think that taxing us on our gas usage and then turning around and giving it back to us in the form of income tax cuts is insane.

For one - I'm sure that somewhere along the line whatever I get back on my income tax will be swallowed up by another type of tax. Second - if we want to reduce dependency on carbon fuel, we need to work harder to make things like fully functioning mass transit a reality. And three - if you look at where I live - the Greater Vancouver/Fraser Valley region of BC - we have thousands upon thousands of people who work downtown and live in the suburbs - most without decent transit so they have no choice but to drive.

In fact - we are building another bridge right now to accomodate the increase in traffic heading from the Valley into Vancouver and they are going to twin the Port Mann bridge to alleviate congestion. Meanwhile, if you live in Vancouver you will have the skytrain and decent transit system to use (but one can't afford to live there - that's a whole other story) and the skytrain, which is a light rapid transit system only comes South of the Fraser River for four stops - useless for those thousands trying to get in from the Valley.

If you live in Vancouver - you will soon be able to take the skytrain to UBC - where there is a population of about 60,000 that could use it. It will be build for an astronimical cost (setting cost records, in fact as it will all be underground) while those of us in the suburbs will continue to drive and pay more to do so as we aren't deemed a priority and won't be getting the pitiful (at best) extension to the rapid transit system for about another 20 years. Since this is where all those cars coming across those bridges are coming from, one has to wonder at the sense of it all. We can't all move closer to work - and for some of us, we have no choice in our work locations (at least if we want a decent job)

If the goverment of BC actually worked in conjunction with municipal governments, and if Translink actually had a decent board with real forethought, we wouldn't need a carbon tax - and if we had one, wouldn't it be good if we'd use it to really reduce our carbon output by supplying proper transit options, taking thousands of commuters off the road everyday. (don't even get me started on how people are supposed to pay even higher fees to heat their homes when they can't afford to switch to electric!) Paying us back the money is a joke - we aren't going to drive much less, since we still have to get to work. We are going to use just as much gas, since congestion is getting worse and alternatives are, to be frank, virtually non-existent. We live in the most expensive place in this province, possibly this country - we can't move closer and still hope to afford something with a roof that doesn't leak.

I think it's time that our translink (which deals with roads/transit in the area) municipal governments, provincial and federal governments got together and created a real plan to take action on fossil fuel use. That's the only way its going to work. This piecemeal throw it together, fix it for today approach is a joke.

I'd say take your tax and, well, you know - but apparently I'm going to pay it and then get it back, so I suppose this is mute point.


Brenda said...

YOU should be on the Board!!!

jen x said...

Slightly off-topic for this post, but I had to run right over to your blog because -- guess what -- my Whole Foods store carries tiffins! I found them by accident, looking at some bamboo "to go" utensils wrapped in a pretty carry pack napkin (a replacement for plastic forks and spoons). And what was right next to them: tiffins! You've never seen such a happy camper as I saw one on display and immediately realized this was the item you'd blogged about, took it apart in the store, and was quite impressed. I also found a site that stocks the carry bags (and tiffins) -- actually a site I'm familiar with, I just hadn't explored it enough depth.

I was at a very un-eco friendly conference a few weeks ago: 2500+ people fed three meals a day all on disposable plastic plates. It was cafeteria style, so a tiffin would have been perfect. I'm kicking myself that I didn't find one of these sooner, but very happy they're so easily available in my area now.