Business, environment groups join forces behind transit referendum

Coalition launched on eve of mayors' decision includes Vancouver Board of Trade, B.C. Chamber of Commerce, David Suzuki Foundation

John Winter is CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

A broad coalition of business, environmental and labour groups has formed to campaign in favour of the Yes side of an expected spring referendum on new taxes for TransLink.

It comes on the eve of a final vote by Metro Vancouver mayors Thursday on which tax or taxes to put to voters – a regional sales tax, a vehicle levy or a regional carbon tax.

The Better Transit and Transportation Coalition includes the Vancouver Board of Trade, Unifor Local 111, Tourism Vancouver, Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association, David Suzuki Foundation, Greater Vancouver Gateway Council and the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s critical that we breathe new life into our transportation network,” said Vancouver Board of Trade CEO Iain Black. “For years, chronic congestion has stifled the movement of goods and people, suffocating our regional economy.”

B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO John Winter also framed the referendum as a choice between “a strong economy and job creation” that will come with a Yes vote versus “more congestion and less service” if new transportation funding is defeated.

The David Suzuki Foundation’s Ian Bruce said improved transit is critical to the Lower Mainland with a million more people expected to move here in the next 30 years.

“Choosing to invest in the region will mean a better environment with less traffic, cleaner air to breathe, and more transportation and transit options for everyone,” he said.

Coalition organizers call the referendum one of the most important decisions facing Metro Vancouver for the next generation.

That’s part of a pledge they’re circulating for other groups to sign, endorsing the need to “expand transportation options, strengthen our economy, reduce pollution, improve the health of our communities, and help make this region a more affordable place to live.”

The mayors’ full $7.5-billion 10-year package of upgrades – unveiled last June – includes a Broadway subway, light rail in Surrey, 11 new B-Line express bus routes, frequent SeaBuses and a 25 per cent general lift in bus service, as well as more money for HandyDart and West Coast Express.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone warned last week the provincial and federal governments are unlikely to contribute as much capital grants as the mayors expect and also suggested their request additional taxes may not be affordable to voters.

It’s expected the tax hikes would total $285 million in additional revenue.

The Mayors Council on Regional Transportation will include seven newly elected mayors after others retired or were defeated.

The BC Liberal government said in 2013 any new taxes for TransLink will have to pass a referendum, which is expected to be a mail-in ballot.

Just Posted

Surrey LRT decision ‘really sets White Rock back’: mayor

Walker says his focus now is making sure residents can access transit network

Surrey Memorial patients receive gifts from hospital staff

‘What Matters to You’ wish campaign received $5,000 in funding for project

Surrey adds more parkland to its inventory

City aquired Campbell Heights property

Clayton townhouse projects sent back to staff over school capacity concerns

‘We’re really stressing out the school systems here’ says Surrey Councillor Steven Pettigrew

Dirty chapter of Surrey history detailed in book about Bridgeview’s sewage woes in ’70s

Surrey-raised author’s ‘Mudflat Dreaming’ chronicles Vander Zalm-era debates, and beyond

VIDEO: Ex-NASA engineer pranks mail thieves with glitter bomb trap

Package thefts are common this time of year, but YouTuber Mark Rober used his engineering skills

FortisBC says you can return to normal gas use following pipeline fire

Utility says increased pipeline capacity, warmer weather have allowed supply to reach normal levels

Lower Mainland man receives apology after getting kicked out of library

Mike Wilson fears the same treatment he received Nov. 2 by security guards will happen to others

Canada ranks 16th on annual gender gap list

This is the second year Canada has placed 16th in the World Economic Forum’s list

VIDEO: Tornado rips through city west of Seattle

Reports indicate five to seven homes damaged in Port Orchard, Wash.

Surrey boy’s birthday wish raises $13,500 for rescued farm animals

Matthew Farden received a large donation from the mister Blake Foundation towards a sanctuary farm.

Trial date postponed for man charged with killing Abbotsford police officer

Oscar Arfmann’s trial pushed back from January to May 2019

Privacy watchdog says legal cannabis buyers should use cash, not credit

Some countries could bar entry to individuals if they know they have purchased cannabis

Emergency task force calls for safe supply of drugs in Vancouver to prevent ODs

Dr. Patricia Daly says more people are dying alone in the city than elsewhere in the province

Most Read

l -->