Business, environment groups join forces behind transit referendum

Coalition launched on eve of mayors' decision includes Vancouver Board of Trade, B.C. Chamber of Commerce, David Suzuki Foundation

John Winter is CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

A broad coalition of business, environmental and labour groups has formed to campaign in favour of the Yes side of an expected spring referendum on new taxes for TransLink.

It comes on the eve of a final vote by Metro Vancouver mayors Thursday on which tax or taxes to put to voters – a regional sales tax, a vehicle levy or a regional carbon tax.

The Better Transit and Transportation Coalition includes the Vancouver Board of Trade, Unifor Local 111, Tourism Vancouver, Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association, David Suzuki Foundation, Greater Vancouver Gateway Council and the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s critical that we breathe new life into our transportation network,” said Vancouver Board of Trade CEO Iain Black. “For years, chronic congestion has stifled the movement of goods and people, suffocating our regional economy.”

B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO John Winter also framed the referendum as a choice between “a strong economy and job creation” that will come with a Yes vote versus “more congestion and less service” if new transportation funding is defeated.

The David Suzuki Foundation’s Ian Bruce said improved transit is critical to the Lower Mainland with a million more people expected to move here in the next 30 years.

“Choosing to invest in the region will mean a better environment with less traffic, cleaner air to breathe, and more transportation and transit options for everyone,” he said.

Coalition organizers call the referendum one of the most important decisions facing Metro Vancouver for the next generation.

That’s part of a pledge they’re circulating for other groups to sign, endorsing the need to “expand transportation options, strengthen our economy, reduce pollution, improve the health of our communities, and help make this region a more affordable place to live.”

The mayors’ full $7.5-billion 10-year package of upgrades – unveiled last June – includes a Broadway subway, light rail in Surrey, 11 new B-Line express bus routes, frequent SeaBuses and a 25 per cent general lift in bus service, as well as more money for HandyDart and West Coast Express.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone warned last week the provincial and federal governments are unlikely to contribute as much capital grants as the mayors expect and also suggested their request additional taxes may not be affordable to voters.

It’s expected the tax hikes would total $285 million in additional revenue.

The Mayors Council on Regional Transportation will include seven newly elected mayors after others retired or were defeated.

The BC Liberal government said in 2013 any new taxes for TransLink will have to pass a referendum, which is expected to be a mail-in ballot.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Canadian police to make home visits to enforce mandatory quarantine for travellers

Police forces have been asked to help verify Canadians are complying with the Quarantine Act

IHIT identifies victim in Surrey shooting homicide

Pritpal Singh, 21, was shot and killed outside of a Surrey home, police say

Cloverdale high school teacher chats about teaching and life during the COVID-19 crisis

Surrey’s Walter van Halst sits down for an informal ‘virtual’ coffee to discuss education’s current new reality

Celebrating Easter in Surrey, during COVID-19

Surrey’s Christian churches rise to the occasion, despite Coronavirus challenges

White Rock youngster’s message of hope inspires

Graphic designer leaves note thanking Leo King for rainbow of positivity

VIDEO: Easter festivities may be scaled back, but it can still be a fun holiday

COVID-19 circumstances have dictated that the holidays may not be perfect

B.C. artist erects 15-foot statue and names it COVID

Decades of collecting spare parts culminated in folk art towering over a country road

COVID-19 world update: U.S. to start antibody tests; drones enforce lockdown in Italy

Comprehensive update of coronavirus news from around the world

Lower Mainland hunting store sees 200% increase in firearm sales

Co-owner of Wanstalls says increase due to a variety of reasons

People needing addiction services feeling ‘abandoned’ during pandemic

The province is trying to increase access to addiction care through a phone line of experts, doctors

COVID-19: B.C. ER nurse self-isolates in travel trailer, apart from family

Marcia Kent says situation is difficult but worth it to keep twin boys safe

Cancellations of plant orders prompt advent of pop-up garden shops

A Langley nursery is partnering with local eateries to sell 40 acres of veggie plants and flowers

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

Most Read