SBoT tired of waiting for transit referendum question

SURREY – With the transit referendum just 10 months away, the Surrey Board of Trade is calling on the Ministry of Transportation to release the would-be question now rather than later.


The demands stem from the Ministry of Transportation and provincial government’s inability to put a definitive timeline on when the question will be released, leaving stakeholders such as the SBoT concerned that there won’t be enough time to educate the public on the matter.


"We’ve been waiting for the question since the provincial election," said SBoT CEO Anita Huberman. "We’d heard that it would be ready by the end of October (2013), and now it’s almost the end of January and we need time to educate our business community, as well as the population, about something so significant that will affect our economy today and tomorrow."


Last year, the B.C. Liberal government announced plans to hold a referendum in November 2014 regarding how TransLink funding should be spent. That referendum will decide if money will be spent north or south of the Fraser River, potentially on rapid transit for Surrey or a UBC SkyTrain line in Vancouver. The vote will also run concurrent with this year’s municipal elections.


But before all that, Huberman would like an opportunity to educate the public about the implications of their vote.


"We’ve done research on transit referendum campaigns in the U.S. and they’ve had multi-year campaigns to educate their populace, and November seems like so far away, but this question needs to be released now," said Huberman. "We’re tired of waiting for it and we need to stop politicizing transportation."


Huberman said she’s been in touch with the Ministry of Transportation but was told that there was still no timeline on the question’s release.


"It’s like the HST all over again," she said. "We did not have time to be able to educate the population about the benefits to business, the benefits to the economy, we were in favour of the HST and similarly with transportation, which is a key foundation of the economy, we need time to ensure people understand that whatever the question is, they understand the implications of how they will vote."