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'Yes' side of transit plebiscite launches campaign website

DH Vancouver Staff Jan 29, 2015 5:10 pm

The Mayors’ Council’s Better Transit & Transportation Coalition (BTTC) has launched its campaign website in an effort to convince Metro Vancouver residents to vote ‘Yes’ in this spring’s mail-in-ballot plebiscite.

A new 0.5 per cent regional sales tax (Congestion Improvement Tax) is being sought to fund new public transit and road infrastructure projects. It will apply to every item in the region that falls under the Provincial Sales Tax.

This will raise an estimated $250-million each year towards the cost of funding the underground extension of the Millennium Line under Broadway, a Surrey light rail network, a new Pattullo Bridge, more frequent bus service, 11 new B-Line routes and increased SeaBus frequency.

None of the tax revenues will go towards TransLink’s annual operational costs, it will only be directed to cover the one-time capital investments associated with the Mayors’ Council’s $7.5-billion infrastructure plan.

To date, the campaign is supported by major business, labour, environmental and community organizations including the Vancouver Board of Trade, Unifor Local 111, Tourism Vancouver, David Suzuki Foundation, Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association and the BC Chamber of Commerce.

The initiative is also strategized to represent four key areas, with each area represented by a co-chair. Vancouver Board of Trade CEO Iain Black will explain the campaign to the business community, Unifor’s Gavin McGarrigle will speak on labour, the David Suzuki Foundation’s Peter Robinson will defend the environment and UBC Alma Mater Society Vice-President External Bahareh Jokar will represent student groups.

“The plan will make our regional and provincial economy more competitive by dramatically improving the movement of goods, services and people,” reads a statement by coalition co-chair and Vancouver Board of Trade president and CEO Iain Black.

Gavin McGarrigle, coalition co-chair and Unifor’s B.C. Area director, adds that “better transit and transportation benefits workers in a real way by making it easier and faster for them to get to and from their jobs and to spend more time with their families instead of wasting precious time on long commutes and traffic gridlock.”

The region’s mayors have given their support to the initiative, which is being led by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner.

The new website reveals little new information and does not refute any of the claims made by the ‘No TransLink Tax’ group led by the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation. The sluggish start of the ‘Yes’ campaign should be a concern for supporters of the new tax as the 10-week plebiscite period begins in only six weeks time. It has also allowed the ‘No’ side to gain some early momentum.

Here is a key message on the ‘Yes’ campaign’s website:

Metro Vancouver will grow by over one million people in the next 25 years. We already deal with congestion as we go about our lives, drop kids off at school, and try to get to work on time. Every minute we lose in traffic or getting passed up by an overcrowded bus is a minute we’re losing with our families, or a minute of lost productivity at work. Every traffic jam stops goods and services from moving throughout our region.

The cost of acting now is less than 35 cents a day, cheaper than the postage on your ballot! The cost of doing nothing is more than we can afford if we want a prosperous, fair, and liveable region.

The plebiscite voting period begins in mid-March, when ballots are mailed to the region’s residents, and ends on May 29, 2015.


Feature Image: Better Transit and Transportation Coalition

DH Vancouver Staff
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