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Tolls on Sea to Sky Highway may be option to pay for upgrades

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But Whistler’s mayor is against targeting the corridor for tolls

The provincial government is considering putting tolls on the Sea to Sky highway to help finance the upgrade of the road.

But charging $32 return is "ludicrous" said Mayor Hugh O’Reilly.

The Ministry of Transportation used the $32 figure in a phone survey of 600 corridor drivers, done as a follow-up to a traffic demand survey last fall.

But, said Garth Coward, director of communications for the ministry: "These are just figures and there has been absolutely no decision by anybody."

Coward said the ministry plans on coming to corridor communities this summer and discussing the survey findings with municipal leaders and community members.

He also added that there is "no firm policy" on putting tolls on a road when it is the only logical route to take to a destination.

The only toll road B.C. currently has is the Coquihalla. But travellers can always use the Fraser Canyon route if they want to avoid the toll.

Mayor O’Reilly said corridor mayors and others have had informal discussions about transportation options and highway upgrades.

"We’ve talked about the fact that over the next number of years there is significant capital requirements for infrastructure and the province has to find a way to pay for them," he said.

"We know that tolling is an option. It has been used in other parts of the world."

But what O’Reilly would like to see is a plan involving many communities which face similar challenges when it comes to upgrading transportation options.

Under the plan toll roads would be introduced but in various locations with all travellers paying the same amount and the money going to fund all the projects and infrastructure improvements.

"Why not collectively work on a program that we all agree to where the tolling is shared equally amongst all the communities and projects are prioritized and built and the revenues are put toward improving roads and building infrastructure so that the commuters using it recognize where the money is going and see direct value?" said O’Reilly.

A reasonable toll could be charged, somewhere in the range of $2 to $5.

"What we are really opposing is tolling for us specifically, independently of everybody else," said O’Reilly.

"We have no alternative (routes) and that is where the plan falls down."

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