Questions raised about transparency of transit plebiscite town hall

VANCOUVER – Questions are being asked this morning about the secrecy of a public telephone town hall on the upcoming transit plebiscite.

TV cameras were not allowed into the room Tuesday night where a teleconference was held as Metro Vancouver mayors try to court voters to say yes.

There are concerns the public town hall was not as public as some would like. The number to dial in was not immediately available and while journalists were allowed to record an audio feed of the proceedings, they were not allowed to broadcast pictures of the room.

“I’m worried when I hear that,” said George Affleck, Vancouver councillor. “But I hope to see some more access and some more openness for media.”

The mayors say the intention was not to block out the media.

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“To me it doesn’t make sense. You need those cameras there,” says Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner. “My understanding is whatever happened in the past, those cameras are welcome at the forums and should be there.”

“It’s not about excluding the media,” said New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote. “And they’re certainly invited to listen and I know the mayors have been perfectly upfront to talk to the media anytime they wanted about this referendum and the mayor’s transportation plan.”

The plebiscite will be conducted by mail-in ballot between March 16 and May 28, asking the public to support a 0.5 per cent increase in sales tax.

– With files from Jeremy Hunka

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