Thursday, December 11, 2014

Transit Referendum Ballot Question: $10 per month for $7.5 billion in transit and transportation improvements

Last August, Paul Hillsdon and I released Leap Ahead, A transit plan for Metro Vancouver. In the plan, Paul and I outlined the importance of a well-functioning transit system for the economic, social, and environmental health of the region. We also proposed what transit investments would be needed, and suggested a 0.5% region sales tax to pay for these investments. Today, the Mayors’ Council voted on the ballot question that will be going to voters in mid-March 2015 around transit in Metro Vancouver.

This morning at the Mayors' Council meeting in the New Westminster Anvil Centre.

Metro Vancouver mayors approved a ballot question that asks Metro Vancouver voters to support a modest 0.5% increase of the PST to support $7.5 billion in transit and transportation improvements. This is essentially what Paul and I proposed last year.

By the way, the 0.5% increase in the PST would cost the average household in Metro Vancouver $10 per month. This is a deal if you ask me.

The Mayors’ Council has updated their website with new information about the referendum and their plan. This includes fact sheets on what transportation improvements will be delivered to each sub-region in Metro Vancouver.

The question voters in Metro Vancouver will have to answer is “Do you support a 0.5% increase to the provincial sales tax in Metro Vancouver, dedicated to these transportation and transit improvements, with independent audits and a public review of spending?”

The proposed ballot for next spring's referendum.

The preamble on the ballot includes states:

One million more people will live and work in Metro Vancouver by 2040. The region’s mayors worked together to develop a plan to reduce congestion on roads and bridge and to provide more transit to communities across the region.

The Mayors’ Transportation and Transit Plan will:

-Add more bus service to crowed routed and add new routes in growing areas
-Increase service on SkyTrain, Canada Line, SeaBus, and West Coast Express
-Add 11 new B-Line rapid bus routes, with fast and frequent service connecting town centres
-Maintain and upgrade the region’s major roads
-Build a new, earthquake-ready Pattullo Bridge
-Build light rail transit connecting Surrey Centre with Guildford, Newton, and Langley
-Extend the Millennium Line tunneled along Broadcast in Vancouver
-Improve safety for pedestrians and cyclist

Revenue raised through this referendum, together with Provincial and Federal contributions, will be dedicated to the Plan. Revenues and expenditures will be subject to annual independent audits and public reporting.

I was very proud that both Mayor Jack Froese of the Township of Langley and Mayor Ted Schaffer of the City of Langley supported the vision.

Mayor Froese noted that improved transit will be critical for the future of Langley, while Mayor Schaffer said the vision was a “great plan.”

Business, organized labour, and NGOs such as the David Suzuki Foundation have come together to support the mayors' vision. The campaign will starting in earnest after the Christmas season.

1 comment:

Thomas Ian McLeod said...

In Maple Ridge, our newly-elected mayor was one of three mayors in the region to vote against the adoption of the ballot question. At the very least, I hope the upcoming campaign provides opportunities to communicate the benefits of public transit, both at the current levels and with the proposed improvements.