TransLink referendum doomed, Metro Vancouver mayors warn minister

With no sign of deal, province's plebiscite promise is dogged by doubts, unresolved questions

Transportation Minister Todd Stone.

Metro Vancouver mayors emerged from their first meeting with new Transportation Minister Todd Stone with no deal or even the makings of one on how to restructure TransLink or craft a referendum on transit expansion funding slated for next year.

Mayors also expressed frustration Thursday that the province is pushing ahead with a Massey tunnel replacement bridge that they fear could push back transit as a priority.

They object to the premier’s insistence there be a referendum on new taxes for TransLink, fearing it will be defeated at the polls.

And they continue to take a stance that TransLink must be reformed to give them more control over spending priorities as a precondition for their active participation in a referendum, if the province insists it go ahead.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said he doesn’t see how the referendum can succeed.

“Despite the mayors saying it’s the stupidest idea imaginable they continue on with the referendum, they’re absolutely determined to hold it,” Corrigan said. “And it’s pretty clear that none of us are going to participate.”

He called it a “ridiculous” way to govern to go to referendum on such a complex issue.

“Why wasn’t there a referendum on the Port Mann Bridge? Why isn’t there a referendum about building a new Delta bridge? Why isn’t there a referendum on the Pattullo? Where they want to spend money there’s no referendum. Where they don’t want to spend money there’s a referendum.”

Corrigan noted the premier’s promise to give the people the final say came after the province concluded voters were wrong and misguided when they defeated the HST in a referendum.

“I don’t know how a referendum will pass,” said Mayors Council chair Richard Walton,  added he’s hopeful more meetings can hammer out a deal with the province by Christmas that provides some chance of success.

Walton predicted most people will vote against paying more taxes for transit – while continuing to demand more be provided – unless a very compelling case is presented.

Stone told reporters he shares a common vision with the mayors on the need to raise billions of dollars for additional transit expansion.

There is no decision yet on what exactly voters will be asked in the referendum, who will pay for it and lead it, or when it will be, other than it will take place no later than November of 2014.

Asked if voters might be denied a “none of the above” option – that they might be forced to choose from a menu of new taxes for TransLink as suggested in May by former Transportation Minister Mary Polak – Stone said he hasn’t ruled it out.

“The question must be about a vision for the expansion of transit and transportation in the Lower Mainland,” Stone said.

“It is therefore likely that wrapped around that vision in the referendum question itself there may be a list of options that voters have to choose from in terms of different funding mechanisms, new funding mechanisms that could come into play to fund that expansion.”

He predicted the referendum can be successful if the question is worded correctly.

Stone also defended the government’s decision to announce plans to replace the Massey Tunnel with a large new bridge.

If there is a referendum, the more probable sources of potential funding include an annual vehicle levy or a small regional sales tax.

Road pricing or regional tolling, while backed my most mayors, would take years longer to flesh out.

TransLink board vice-chair Howard Nemtin also spoke out Thursday when mayors challenged the board to take a public stand on the future of TransLink.

He insisted TransLink is efficiently run but cannot keep pace with the needs of the growing region.

He said the board backs the mayors’ call for new revenue sources.

“We’ve looked at road pricing. We’ve looked at licence fees. We’ve looked at tolling. We have all been on the same page in that regard,” Nemtin said.

“What we do need is some decision at a higher level, at the provincial level, to allow us to move forward and implement those particular initiatives.”

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

East White Rock crosswalk, speed bumps proposed

Report on costs and implications requested by council

Semi and BMW collide on South Surrey highway

At least one person to hospital, both vehicles sustained significant damage

White Rock dogs-on-promenade survey shows majority approval

City figures suggest that off-season program could continue

UPDATE: Pedestrian dies after being hit by bus in uptown White Rock

Collision occurred July 3 at North Bluff Road and Johnston Road

PHOTOS: South Surrey tractor project evokes ‘$1-million smile,’ helps connect neighbours

Retired Surrey firefighter Ron Henze began project for friend’s dad to fill time during pandemic

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

Langley vigil demands justice for Ontario animal activist killed protesting slaughterhouse

More than two dozen people gathered at Britco Pork to remember Regan Russell, and fight Bill 156

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

Most Read

l -->