Saint John — In a drastic turnaround Wednesday evening, Saint John City Council unanimously rejected the idea of opening a toll that charges commuters to drive through the city, instead passing a motion to open a “reverse toll,” which will actually pay people to come to the Port City.
“This is really a win for the city,” cheered an excited Mayor Don Darling. “I knew the whole toll idea was a bad one right from the start, but I wasn’t sure what to do until our council meeting last night.”
Darling told The Manatee that the idea struck him when an unnamed city councillor made a sarcastic remark suggesting that “people wouldn’t pay a toll to come here and probably wouldn’t even visit if we paid them.”
“I thought to myself, ‘Maybe people would come if we paid them to,'” explained Darling. “I knew right away I was onto something because people at the table didn’t immediately start laughing like they usually do when I say something.”
The plan will see toll booths set up on each road that leads into the city and commuters will get paid according to how many passengers are in the vehicle and how long they intend to stay. Rates will start at $2 per hour for each person and will cap out at $10 per day.
Our reporter asked people not living in Saint John whether the reverse toll would make them more likely to visit. Reactions were mixed.
“Yeah, for sure,” confessed Shirley Gilbert of Moncton. “I get paid to leave Moncton for a few hours? Sign me up. I haven’t heard a lot of great things about Saint John, but it has to be more interesting than this place. Usually I just go to the mall or Old Navy here anyway and Google tells me they have both of those things there, too.”
Mike Reilly from Fredericton had a much different opinion.
“Ten bucks a day won’t cover the cost of the tires I’m surely to have stolen if I park there or my hospital bills when I’m stabbed, will it? It’s going to be a big no from me, thanks.”
Darling hasn’t fully figured out how this initiative is going to turn a profit, but he says he’s still excited and has his fingers crossed that the plan will somehow work.
The reverse tolls are set to open in the fall.