Metro Vancouver residents voted an overwhelming ‘No’ against the Mayor’s Council plan to fund transportation improvements. The mail-in ballot vote was held over a 10 week period from March 16 to May 29 with 61.68% of voters rejecting a 0.5% PST regional increase.
The BC Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association (BCRB&HCA) was disappointed by the results.
“Gridlock and congestion have a negative impact on our economy, environment and quality of life. Efficient, reliable core infrastructure allows our businesses to be competitive, create jobs and contribute to a strong economy,” said BCRB&HCA president Jack Davidson. “Without funding for efficient modern infrastructure, we will be taking a step backwards and putting at risk a prosperous future for ourselves and our future generations.”
The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies of B.C. (ACEC-BC) also expressed disappointment and stressed the need to continue discussions on transportation and transit.
“It is quite disappointing that the plebiscite asking for a new 0.5 per cent Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax failed,” said Keith Sashaw, ACEC-BC president. “While there may be many reasons why people voted no in the plebiscite, we assume the main reason was a reluctance to have an increase in the regional sales tax, but we need to continue the discussion on how the Metro Vancouver region will develop and pay for improving transportation and transit.”
The question on the ballot was “Do you support a new 0.5 per cent Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax, to be dedicated to the Mayors’ Council transportation and transit plan?”
“Regardless of the plebiscite results, it is critical that the region makes plans and prepares to finance investments in transportation and transit,” noted Sashaw. “We believe that there was very little opposition to the underlying premise of the plebiscite and there was broad acceptance that the actual plan put forward by the Mayors Council was sound and necessary. The discussion should now focus on alternative methods of how the region can implement the plan, using other funding models.”
The proposed a $7.5-billion transit expansion plan included key infrastructure projects such as replacing the aging Pattullo Bridge and a light rail transit connecting Surrey Centre with Guildford, Newton and Langley.