December 18, 2014 7:16 pm
Updated: August 6, 2016 2:38 am

Transit referendum question approved by government

The top and bottom of the question voters in Metro Vancouver will be mailed and asked to answer next year.

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The B.C. government has approved a transit referendum question for next year put forward by Metro Vancouver Mayor’s Council, with some modifications.

The question on the ballot will be:

“Do you support a new 0.5% Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax, to be dedicated to the Mayors’ Transportation and Transit Plan?”

The original question asked voters to increase the Provincial Sales Tax for Metro Vancouver, while the new question asks for a separate tax. It was also called a referendum, rather than a plebiscite, because the question is technically non-binding. In addition, the preamble has been changed to meet Election BC’s criteria, which mandates that referendum questions be non-partisan in nature.

BEFORE/AFTER: The ballot question proposed by the Mayor’s Council on the left, and the final question approved by the provincial government on the right

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In addition, Transportation Minister Todd Stone confirmed that ballots will be sent out to people beginning on March 16, with people having until May 29 to vote. If passed, the tax would build a new Pattullo Bridge, light-rail lines in Surrey and Langley, an extension of the Millennium Line to Arbutus Street, increase service on all transit lines, and maintain and upgrade the region’s major roads. The new question still needs to be approved by the Mayor’s council.

READ MORE: Do you support a 0.5% increase in sales tax to pay for transit?

The NDP have already commented on the question, calling on the government to publicly campaign for a yes vote.

“The premier and her ministers need to step up to the plate today and commit to doing everything they can to secure a “yes” vote in the spring,” said New Democrat spokesperson on TransLink George Heyman.

Legislative bureau chief Keith Baldrey says the vote faces an uphill battle.

“You’ve got to convince people to actually mail in a ballot that yes, I’m in favour of a tax increase,” says Baldrey.

“If the yes side can convince people a yes vote means better transportation and better transit…it has a much better chance of passing.”

WATCH: The province has finalized and approved the transit referendum question that we’ll be asked in the Spring, but as Keith Baldrey reports,  they aren’t able to make that information public right now.

 

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