Peter Fassbender is the minister responsible for TransLink.

Peter Fassbender is the minister responsible for TransLink.

Minister backtracks after saying no referendum needed for vehicle levy

Peter Fassbender fans hopes of Metro mayors, then says he 'misspoke' in comments that a vehicle levy would not trigger a new plebiscite

Peter Fassbender has retracted earlier comments today that Metro Vancouver mayors can impose a vehicle levy to fund regional transit expansion without holding a new referendum.

His statements in a Black Press interview – repeatedly insisting a vehicle levy would not trigger a referendum because it’s already enabled in TransLink’s legislation – surprised Metro Vancouver mayors, some of whom said they wouldn’t have forced a referendum on a regional sales tax had they been told that in 2014.

“I misspoke when it came to the vehicle levy, and I do apologize for that,” Fassbender said, adding that in addition to the need for the province to enable ICBC to collect an annual vehicle registration fee, “it is also a new tax, therefore it would be subject to a plebiscite or a referendum with the public.”

That’s back in line with the BC Liberals’ consistent position on the transit referendum requirements since it was imposed by Premier Christy Clark as part of the party’s 2013 election platform.

Legislation subsequently passed by the provincial government spelled out not just new fees or taxes but any amendment to legislation to enable enforcement of sources – such as a vehicle levy collected by ICBC – as being within the definition of “additional funding sources” triggering a plebiscite.

“I made a mistake,” Fassbender said. “Mea culpa. My fault. I take full responsibility.”

Prior to Fassbender’s retraction, Metro politicians and other transit watchers cautiously celebrated the comments as a sign of BC Liberal softening that could break the stalemate on how to fund transit expansion in the region.

Metro mayors may not have to raise as much money as the $250 million were proposing in last year’s plebiscite to fund the regional share if the federal government offers more generous contributions than the traditional one third.

Federal officials have hinted up to one half could come from Ottawa, reducing the regional requirement to 17 per cent. Fassbender said the province won’t increase its contribution beyond one third.

Read the original version of this story on Fassbender’s comments and the mayors’ reactions.

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jennifer Brooks with a stone tablet that adorns the memorial to her son Hudson, outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment parkade where he was fatally shot by police in July 2015. (File photo)
Coroner’s inquest underway to examine Hudson Brooks’ 2015 police-shooting death

Witness recalls ‘feeling scared’ for South Surrey man in moments before RCMP fired fatal shots

Crews work to build Central Surrey Recycling and Waste Centre in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
PHOTOS/VIDEO: Surrey’s new recycling/waste dropoff site takes shape near Newton business park

‘Central Surrey’ location to make for ‘a convenient one-stop-drop’ by early 2022

Surrey RCMP are investigating a reported assault at Panorama Ridge Secondary. (Shane MacKichan photos)
UPDATE: Third youth arrested after assault with weapon at Panorama Ridge Secondary in Surrey

School placed on a ‘hold and secure’ until safety of all students confirmed

Frannie Warwick, as Betsy Hardup, at Surrey Arts Centre for a recording of “The Fairy-Tale Mysteries” radio play series produced by Fraser Valley Gilbert & Sullivan Society. (Photo: facebook.com/FVGSS)
Video recording sessions available at Surrey Arts Centre, with fees and rules attached

Sessions ‘will be held in strict compliance with current Public Health orders and COVID-19 protocols’

Delta’s Jodi Macpherson won $25,029 in a Keno draw on Jan. 25, 2021. (BC Lottery Corporation photo)
Delta woman lands $25k keno prize

Jodi Macpherson purchased her ticket from the Town Pantry on 56th Street in Tsawwassen

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Abbotsford Regional Hospital (Black Press file photo)
Nurse assaulted at Abbotsford hospital in same ward as 2019 dumbbell attack

BC Nurses’ Union confirms assault on Feb. 21; more details to come

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who smashed the window of an adult toy store and made off with more than $1,200 in merchandise. (File photo)
Vancouver Island sex shop out $1,200 in merchandise after suspect steals ‘colossal’ product

Suspect smashed window of Nanaimo store, cutting himself in the process

Riverside Calvary Church in Walnut Grove. (Langley Advance Times file)
B.C. is ‘stereotyping’ churches as riskier for COVID than other spaces, lawyer argues

Judge said that freedom of expression, religion are not at issue in the case

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent comes first and last for B.C. industrial projects

Environment minister can still approve permits without consent

After a routine rescue of an injured hiker, Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue noted there have been four injury rescues on well-groomed trails in recent months. (Special to The News)
Injured hiker rescued from Golden Ears park

Be prepared in the backcountry, warns Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue

B.C.’s court of appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Kootenay man appeals 7-year conviction for New Year’s Eve kidnapping, beating

Brandon Coons, 27, was convicted on five charges, including assault with a weapon

An investigation is underway after two VPD officers were recorded posing for pictures near a dead body at Third Beach on Feb. 24. (Screen grab/Zachary Ratcliff)
Vancouver officers placed on desk duty after filmed posing next to dead body

Pair put in ‘non-deployable, admin positions’ as the investigation into their conduct continues

Most Read