Vancouver Transportation and Transit referendum draws to a close

Illustration by Ed Appleby
Illustration by Ed Appleby

Half-year of campaigning over

By Mercedes Deutscher, Staff Reporter

The Transportation and Transit Referendum has drawn to a close after nearly six months of campaigning.

During the final week of the referendum, both supporters of the “Yes” side and the “No” side pleaded for undecided and late voters to vote.

The Mayors Council have been urging voters to vote “Yes” for a 0.5 per cent increase to the PST, which would be allocated towards funding the Mayors’ Council’s transit plan; a plan that involves expanding SkyTrain lines in Vancouver, building light-rail routes in Surrey and Langley, replacing the Patullo Bridge, and expanding TransLink’s network of busses over the next 25 years.

Meanwhile, supporters of the “No” side, such as the Canadian Tax Federation and Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read, suggested that voters reject the new tax.

“There needs to be a governance change and the province needs to be strongly brought to the table to have a conversation about that because, before that happens, I think it’s really hard to get anybody to commit to spending more money,” Read said to CBC.

In addition to the pleas of both sides, Metro Vancouver residents received yet another reason to vote.

On May 22, the SkyTrain Expo line experienced a shutdown after a bird’s nest caught fire on the track during morning peak hours, leaving commuters stranded and late for school, work, and other commitments.

David Moscrop, a University of British Columbia (UBC) political scientist, suggested that a SkyTrain shutdown due to a bird’s nest may speak as loudly as a campaign, and may have served as an additional motivation for people to vote.

“‘The service is poor, I just had a massively inconvenient interruption, we need better transit, I’m going to vote, and I’m going to vote Yes’—or ‘These people are incompetent, nothing I do is going to fix that, they’ve ruined my day, I’m going to vote No,’” Moscrop hypothesized to CBC.

Voter turnout was counted at 44 per cent prior to the final day of the voting period. Belcarra and North Vancouver had the highest turnout of voters, with a 57.5 and 50.5 per cent turnout respectively. Surrey and Vancouver Electoral Area A (which includes UBC) have had the lowest voter turnout with 39.5 and 38.9 per cent respectively. The turnout rates will have likely surged in the final days of the referendum.

As of this publishing, the results of the referendum have not been released.