The Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation announced today that local billionaire Jim Pattison will chair the Public Accountability Committee responsible for overseeing the funds collected by the 0.5 per cent regional transit sales tax.
Pattison’s services will be on a volunteer basis and no members on the committee will receive any financial compensation for their work.
“We have heard loud and clear from the people of Metro Vancouver on this question. They want assurances that the money collected from the PST increase will go to pay for the critical transportation and transit improvements needed in the region,” reads a statement by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who is also the chair of the Mayors’ Council.
“By appointing Mr. Pattison to head up this oversight committee, we are providing voters with a concrete mechanism to monitor and ensure that the funds raised will be used for the infrastructure they are meant to pay for.”
Pattison will select experts to work alongside him on the oversight committee, which will follow the terms of references agreed upon:
1. Work with the Mayors’ Council, Minister of Transportation and TransLink to establish an enhanced process for financial review and oversight of the funds raised by the 0.5 per cent increase to the PST in Metro Vancouver that are dedicated to the Mayors’ Plan.
2. At the beginning of each fiscal year, review, approve and publicize projected expenditures in the year to confirm that they are included in and properly prioritized under the Mayors’ Plan.
3. Publicly validate that the funds raised through the new tax are spent only on the projects outlined in the Plan and spent wisely and responsibly.
4. Report to the public annually on the monitoring of the Mayors’ Plan implementation to ensure accountability to taxpayers.
“I know how important our transportation and transit system is, both to our needs now, and to the needs of our children and grandchildren,” said Pattison. “We need this infrastructure, and the public has a right to transparency and accountability.”
Pattison serves as the Chairman and CEO of the Jim Pattison Group, the second largest privately held company in Canada with more than 39,000 employees around the world. The Vancouver-based company has business operations in a wide range of industries including media, cars, packaging, food sales and exports.
The 86-year-old is also known for his role as the chairman and CEO of the organizing committee for Expo ’86.
Today’s announcement comes less than two weeks before the start of the transit plebiscite voting period. Ballots will be mailed to residents in the Metro Vancouver region beginning March 16; voters will have until May 29 to mail-in their ballots.