Why vote ‘yes’ in the plebiscite?
A ‘yes’ vote will add 0.5 per cent to the PST in 2016 for the Metro Vancouver area. It will be subject to the same exemptions – groceries, children’s clothing, etc. – as the PST. Not only will residents pay into it, but also visitors.
The Congestion Improvement Tax will be collected by the province, held in trust, and only expended on the items listed on the plebiscite. To doubly ensure this is done, a board of community volunteers headed up by Jimmy Pattison will oversee the payments.
A list of the projects is available on the website, www.mayorscouncil.ca
All this is being done to deal with the increased congestion that will be caused by regional growth over the next 30 years – roughly a million people with potentially 600,000 cars.
To quote the Suzuki Foundation, “It is our responsibility to make sure we handle this growth in a sustainable and healthy way. The mayors’ council plan is the single most important thing we can do to mitigate climate change, reduce congestion and make sure we can thrive without sacrificing the environment and our own health.”
The cost of doing nothing is a price we cannot afford.
I can understand why people might look critically at a plan proposed by politicians. However, this plan has received such unprecedented support from an enormously diverse group that it is in a special category.
The Better Transit and Transportation Coalition is a partnership of more than 100 organizations that have come together to actively support and fund the ‘yes’ vote.
So, what would happen if the ‘no’ side wins?
The provincial government would not be disappointed. From the time the mayors’ council was advised there would be no funding from sources other than property tax without a referendum, the province has, in essence, said Plan B is property tax. By giving the mayors’ council such a ridiculously short timeline for the referendum, the province has made it abundantly clear they do not care if it fails or passes. Either way they win. If it fails, we have to use property tax, which is their preferred solution; if it passes, they are just exercising the will of the majority.
Politically, it is a brilliant strategy.
If we go to property tax, the program will be delayed. No council will support a tax increase of the magnitude until the outcry from the taxpayers over congestion becomes so great, it will justify the increase. I do not see this happening until after the 2018 municipal election.
Due to the relatively high assessments in White Rock and South Surrey, we would pay disproportionally more than the rest of Surrey, the Langleys, Delta, Maple Ridge and the Tri-Cities. To me, that is just not fair.
In my mind, a ‘yes’ vote is most equitable solution.
Mayor Wayne Baldwin, City of White Rock