It’s NO to a tax increase for expanded transit service; reactions

METRO Vancouver residents have rejected the 0.5 per cent tax increase proposed to help pay for major transportation projects with 61.68 per cent voting ‘No.’

The voting results for the 2015 Metro Vancouver Transportation and Transit Plebiscite were submitted on Thursday to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

According to section 282(1) of the Election Act, the purpose of a plebiscite is to determine the opinion of voters on a matter of public concern. Of the 759,696 ballots considered, the majority of validly cast votes were opposed to the question on the ballot.

The plebiscite question was:
Do you support a new 0.5% Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax, to be dedicated to the Mayors’ Council transportation and transit plan?

The final voting results are:
% of valid votes voting Yes   38.32%
% of valid votes voting No    61.68%

 

Municipality

Yes
votes

Yes
%

No
votes

No
%

Total
valid
votes

Bowen Island Municipality  847

61.92%

 521

38.08%

 1,368
City of Burnaby  24,355

35.06%

 45,113

64.94%

 69,468
City of Coquitlam  14,200

32.78%

 29,120

67.22%

 43,320
City of Langley  2,226

27.71%

 5,807

72.29%

 8,033
City of Maple Ridge  6,404

22.97%

 21,470

77.03%

 27,874
City of New Westminster  10,623

45.45%

 12,748

54.55%

 23,371
City of North Vancouver 7,931

44.92%

9,725

55.08%

17,656
City of Pitt Meadows  1,762

27.84%

 4,568

72.16%

 6,330
City of Port Coquitlam  6,346

32.15%

 13,394

67.85%

 19,740
City of Port Moody  4,852

42.61%

 6,534

57.39%

 11,386
City of Richmond  16,257

27.61%

 42,615

72.39%

 58,872
City of Surrey  42,519

34.46%

 80,851

65.54%

 123,370
City of Vancouver  103,431

49.19%

 106,818

50.81%

 210,249
City of White Rock  3,139

40.74%

 4,566

59.26%

 7,705
Corporation of Delta  11,589

32.16%

 24,448

67.84%

 36,037
District of North Vancouver  14,569

44.61%

 18,093

55.39%

 32,662
District of West Vancouver  6,876

44.11%

 8,711

55.89%

 15,587
Metro Vancouver Electoral Area “A”  1,586

58.57%

 1,122

41.43%

 2,708
Township of Langley  9,890

25.03%

 29,619

74.97%

 39,509
Tsawwassen First Nation  86

33.99%

 167

66.01%

 253
Village of Anmore  303

37.88%

 497

62.13%

 800
Village of Belcarra  158

52.15%

 145

47.85%

 303
Village of Lions Bay  202

34.71%

 380

65.29%

 582
Totals

 290,151

38.32%

 467,032

61.68%

 757,183

Rejected ballots

 2,513

Total ballots considered

 759,696

Beginning March 16, 2015, Elections BC mailed a 2015 Metro Vancouver Transportation and Transit Plebiscite voting package to each registered voter in Metro Vancouver. As of the May 15, 2015 deadline to register to vote and ask for a voting package, there were 1,562,386 registered voters in Metro Vancouver. A total of 798,262 ballot packages were returned, representing 51.09% of the total registered voters. 38,393 ballot packages were not considered as they did not meet the requirements of the plebiscite Regulation.

Registered voters in Metro Vancouver midnight, Friday, May 15, 2015

1,562,386

Total number of ballot packages returned

798,262

Percentage of ballot packages returned

51.09%

Total number of ballot packages not considered

38,393

Total number of ballot packages considered (registered voters who voted)

759,869*

Percentage of registered voters who voted

48.64%

*759,869 ballot packages were considered. 173 ballot packages contained certification

 

 

THE No TransLink Tax campaign and Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) said that cash-strapped Lower Mainland taxpayers wanting accountability and better management at TransLink are the real winners in the historic defeat of the TransLink sales tax,

“This is a tremendous victory for taxpayers, our underdog No TransLink Tax campaign and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation,” said Jordan Bateman, No TransLink Tax spokesperson and CTF B.C. Director. “Our campaign didn’t have millions of taxpayer dollars or fancy CEOs committing their groups to our cause – we had everyday taxpayers who simply believe TransLink wastes too much of our money to be trusted with any more of it. This is a win for all of us.”

The No TransLink Tax campaign published its donors and spending twice during the campaign, including a final report two days before voting closed. Total campaign spending for the NO side was $39,687.95, half of which came from the CTF. The YES side spent at least $6.7 million, most of which was taxpayer money.

“The YES side tried everything – spending millions in taxpayer money, crafting rules to favour their side, putting an ad on the ballot itself, and using their political offices to try and quash any dissent,” said Bateman. “They had big business, big government, big labour, big environment and big money. But they didn’t have the people – and this victory belongs to those everyday taxpayers who volunteered their time, spoke with their friends and neighbours, worked social media, made their own signs, and chipped in a few dollars to help us. They deserve better from the leadership of this region, and they let their voice be heard with their ballot.”

With the No TransLink Tax campaign over, the CTF said it will continue holding TransLink accountable for its actions and pushing for real change at the agency.

“It’s time for the Premier, minister, mayors and TransLink board to fix this money-wasting, poorly-run agency,” said Bateman. “TransLink has lost the public’s confidence and now they have to listen to taxpayers and rebuild it properly.”

 

THE Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) welcomed the announcement from Elections BC that the plebiscite proposal by the Mayor’s Council to add a half point to the PST in the Metro Vancouver region to fund additional transportation spending by TransLink has been defeated.

“Small business owners support continued transportation improvements, but were obviously not sold on the need for a new municipal sales tax to do it.  One thing is clear from the vote results, before adding any new money into the system, citizens want more accountability for the billions already being generated and spent by TransLink”, said Richard Truscott, Vice-President, BC and Alberta for CFIB.

A CFIB survey of Metro Vancouver business owners in February yielded the following results:

* 80 per cent said they planned to vote “no” in the plebiscite

* 69 per cent agreed the new tax would have been harmful to their business, citing added administration (58 per cent), less investment back into business (48 per cent), and negative impact on sales (46 per cent)

* 57 per cent believed new funding isn’t necessary and improvements can be made with existing revenues, 33 per cent said new funding is needed (but only half of those thought a new municipal sales tax was the best way)

* 91 per cent disagreed that TransLink could be trusted to spend the new money wisely

* 92 per cent disagreed that future governments could be trusted not to increase the rate

“While there is consensus that the transportation system needs to be improved, Metro Vancouver residents and small business owners are sending a clear signal that the Mayors need to explore other options before coming back for more tax money,” said Truscott.

TransLink’s budgets have already been expanding dramatically over the past eight years. According to CFIB research, inflation-adjusted operating spending by TransLink increased by a staggering 50 per cent from 2005 to 2013, while population in Metro Vancouver grew only 13 per cent.

“Reviewing and reallocating existing revenues to fund transportation improvements needs to happen. It will, however, require new priorities to be set, and tough choices to be made. Business owners have to live within their means every day, and they expect governments to do the same,” said Truscott.

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Taxpayers rightly rejected the ill-conceived Plebiscite. Taxpayers paid $744 million in taxes to TransLink in 2014. Where did that money go? Why they can’t use this huge amount of money to build transit infrastructure?
    TransLink is known for bad management and wasting taxpayers’ money. Compass card system with a total cost of $314 million is a complete waste of money. Paying 2 CEOs very high salaries is another example. TransLink has 4 Boards of Directors, that’s another example of wastage of money.

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