Not only are many Surrey students unaware of the Kwantlen Student Association’s “yes” stance in support of the upcoming transit referendum, some don’t even know the details about the plebiscite.
Earlier this week, school associations from post-secondary institutions such as Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU), UBC, Douglas College, SFU and Langara College joined forces to support a yes vote in the referendum on whether to implement a 0.5-per-cent regional sales tax to fund transit improvements. More than 200,000 students are represented by these associations.
On Wednesday, the KSA held a yes rally at the KPU Surrey campus, which featured a booth from the City of Surrey – which is also backing the yes side.
However, Kwantlen student Amanpreet Dulay had not heard that the KSA was behind the yes vote.
“They didn’t do much campaigning… for it, like showing that they were supporting it,” Dulay said.
Dulay added that she just learned about the plebiscite in class the day before.
“That’s increasing taxes for us, when the CEO is already being paid, like, $30,000 a month… I wouldn’t want to really vote yes for it. I wouldn’t want to support that,” Dulay said.
More than half-a-dozen students The Leader spoke to were unaware of the upcoming referendum.
First-year KPU student Justin Estacio knew about the transit plebiscite but said he wasn’t sure if he would vote yes.
Jessica Lar-Son, KSA’s president, said the association chose to promote the yes vote because post-secondary students commute to Kwantlen from all corners of Metro Vancouver and are negatively affected by inadequate transit.
In addition, many Surrey residents commute to schools such as UBC and SFU’s Burnaby Mountain campus and have to deal with the irregularity of buses during their transfers.
Some students choose to drive instead, Lar-Son said, but then have to deal with the added costs of driving to school.
As for informing students about the association’s position on the referendum, Lar-Son said the KSA has been using social media (with #wevoteyes) and talking to students on campus.
Lar-Son said many students remain uninformed because they are “incredibly busy.”
As part of the Wednesday rally, the KSA organized a race between a cyclist, a transit user and a driver traveling from KPU’s Cloverdale school to the Surrey campus – a distance of 12 kilometers.
The race, which started at 10 a.m., took just over an hour, with the transit user coming in last by 30 minutes.
The driver took about 22 minutes, the cyclist arrived in 37 minutes and the transit user took an hour and seven minutes after worrying about almost missing a transfer, according to Lar-Son.
This isn’t the first time KPU has done a race like this and Lar-Son said the transit user usually comes last.
“It’s to show there’s issues for every mode of transportation in the south of the Fraser,” Lar-Son said.
According to the Mayors’ Council, a yes vote would reduce traffic congestion by 20 per cent, increase bus service and expand rail systems.
Registered Metro Vancouver voters can vote by mail March 16 to May 29.