Victoria, B.C. – Matt Toner, B.C. Green Party Finance critic, says the B.C. Liberal government has displayed a lack of leadership in the Lower Mainland when it comes to critically important investments in public transportation.
"If we want to create a sustainable society, we need to grapple with this region's very real public transit problems," said Toner. "The BC Liberals have passed the buck twice now: first, by referring a funding question to a regional plebiscite and then, once that failed to pass, kicking the responsibility to solve the problem down to municipalities. Ducking hard decisions is not what we need from our elected representatives, but it seems to be the preferred strategy for this government."
After months of voting and ballot-counting, Elections BC today released the results of the B.C. Liberal Transportation and Transit Plebiscite. With 61.68% voting No and 38.32% voting Yes, the citizens of the Lower Mainland have overwhelmingly voted against a 0.5% increase in PST to pay for the Mayors’ Transportation and Transit Plan.
Despite a number of new funding mechanisms advanced by the Mayors’ Council, the B.C. Liberal government unilaterally restricted the options to a regional PST increase.
In a B.C. Liberal email that went out shortly before the vote count was released, the party’s Executive Director tried to pass responsibility on to the mayors, ignoring the heavy-handed role the provincial government has played so far and the clear provincial role in transportation financing.
“This entire plebiscite process was designed to provide cover for the B.C. Liberals so that they didn’t have to make a tough decision,” said Pete Fry, the BC Green Party candidate in the forthcoming Vancouver–Mount Pleasant by-election. “Most people I’ve spoken with agree on the critical need for transit improvements in Metro Vancouver, but this process was needlessly politicized and opaque. Going forward it is clear that more authentic collaboration is needed between governments and the citizens they represent. This should start with responding to the calls for governance reform in Translink.”
“Alternative solutions exist, ” says Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Deputy Leader of the B.C. Green Party. “I’ve already talked about the option of increasing the carbon levy and directing the increased revenue to municipalities to fund crucial transit and infrastructure needs. It also seems clear to me that this turned out to be a referendum on Translink, not transit. Ultimately, a solution to the Translink problem might be to give back the autonomy that the mayors used to have when Translink was first created or roll Translink back into BC transit.”
Vancouver is the most congested city in Canada, and the third most congested city in North America. Metro Vancouver is expecting an additional 1 million residents over the next 30 years.
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