Budget office puts price on PEI bridge tolls
OTTAWA — The federal budget watchdog says that creating a tax credit for local residents who regularly pay tolls on the Confederation Bridge would cost the treasury about $2.5 million a year in forgone tax revenue.
The parliamentary budget officer makes the estimate in a report released today that was sparked by repeated questions from Atlantic Canada politicians about why drivers in Montreal won’t have to pay tolls for a new bridge, while tolls remain in place on the Confederation Bridge connecting Prince Edward Island to the mainland.
The Liberals say the new Champlain Bridge is a replacement for a bridge that didn’t have tolls; the Confederation Bridge was a new piece of infrastructure designed to have tolls when it was first opened.
That explanation hasn’t sat well with some P.E.I. politicians, including Senate Liberal Percy Downe who asked the PBO to estimate what it would cost to provide local residents with a non-refundable tax credit, or reduce tolls on the Confederation Bridge.
The parliamentary budget officer estimates tolls could be reduced by about 46 per cent and still provide enough money to the bridge’s private operator to cover maintenance costs through to 2097 when the Confederation Bridge turns 100.
The budget watchdog says that in 2015 an estimated 730,000 trips across the Confederation Bridge were made by local residents raising an estimated $17 million in tolls.
By The Canadian Press