Metro Vancouver residents have turned down the controversial transit tax.
The vote was 61.68% no, and 38.32% yes. The turnout was 48.4%.
It means residents rejected a 0.5-per-cent rise in the sales tax to pay for $7.5-billion worth of transit and transportation projects over the next decade.
Only three municipalities had majorities for the “yes” vote: Bowen Island, Belcarra and Metro Vancouver Electoral Area “A”, which includes UBC.
The vote in Vancouver was 50.8% for the No side.
Searching for the next step
Speaking at a news conference in Burnaby, Mayor Gregor Robertson says he respects the outcome of the vote, but adds they need a funding alternative when there isn’t really one available.
He says it’s up to the government to come up with that, and to fix the governance problems at Translink.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone says the government doesn’t have a plan B either.
He says the province has already committed to a third of the funding needed for the $7.5-billion plan, and nothing more.
Jordan Bateman with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says Translink needs to rebuild the public’s trust, but adds the outcome likely doesn’t mean the transit plans are all shelved.
“Some things will continue on. I mean, the Pattullo Bridge doesn’t need the tax to be built, so progress will continue on that. This fall, no doubt we’ll have multiple announcements from the federal leaders showing up in Surrey to fund their federal share of light rail there.”
Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner has already said she will pursue a public-private partnership on light rail.
Interim TransLink CEO Doug Allen tells reporters in downtown Vancouver that he rejects any suggestion this was a vote on TransLink itself.
“I know some of you will say, ‘Well, this is really about TransLink.” It is not. TransLink was not on the ballot.”
He says service will essentially go into a holding pattern and some tough choices may have to be made.
Here is a link to the vote breakdown.
Nothing comes for free – even without boosting the sales tax
The plebiscite was not cheap.
Aside from the millions spent by the Yes side, Elections BC had to foot a sizeable bill.
“We’ll finalize the numbers over the coming weeks, but our budget was just under six million dollars to administer the event,” says chief electoral officer Keith Archer.