Metro Vancouver Transportation & Transit Plebiscite Result
Photo by Ted McGrath.
Elections BC has announced the results of the Metro Vancouver Transportation and Transit plebiscite, for which voting closed on May 29th.
The plebiscite – announced during the last Provincial election – sought support for a half-percent regional sales tax that would be invested in improvements to the region’s transit systems, as well as in other transportation infrastructure (including cycling and pedestrian amenities).
After all the votes were tallied, a total of 61.7% of ballots were marked “No” on the question of the new transportation tax while 38.3% of those voted in favour. Closer to whom, the figures for Vancouver were 50.8% opposed, 49.2 in favour. Across the region, only Belcarra, UBC and Bowen Island had a majority in favour of the new transit funding. A full breakdown of the ballots received is available from Elections BC. For those of us hoping to see important investments made in the regional transit system, this is clearly not the hoped-for result. At best, it is an important sign that there is more work to be done on ensuring the connection between transit and our region’s quality of life is broadly understood. Perhaps a consequence of this vote is that there will be a more vigorous discussion on exactly how we can fund the transit that is necessary across Metro Vancouver. But even that, sadly, seems fairly remote at this point.
A Yes vote would have given hope to those on overcrowded trains and buses that some kind of relief was in sight; that making the responsible choice — to live and work relying on transit — would be supported. A No vote means, in the short term, no new funds will be available for critically needed improvements – such as more buses, longer (and safer) nighttime bus service, or more frequent train service. More broadly, it means tacit support for unsustainable modes of transportation — an affirmation for people who think transit isn’t a viable option, and who would prefer – consciously or unconsciously – to devote more of our scarce land resources to car uses, car congestion, and ultimately, the myriad of dis-benefits that emerge as a result (sprawl, pollution, health care costs). Have taxpayers “won” with a result like this? Exactly the opposite.
It warrants a reminder that roads and bridges and other tax-payer funded transportation infrastructure doesn’t seem to warrant a plebiscite
As the results are not binding, the VPSN will continue to join with others to make the case that transit and sustainable modes are key to the vision of this region, and too important to be continually left under resourced. To that end, we take some miner consolation that many voters indicated they were voting against the specific funding mechanism, not to supporting better transit service overall. We can only hope that these individuals will contribute meaningfully in discussions around other alternatives. After all, saying “No” is the easiest thing in the world. Be proactive and finding solutions to the challenges of an underfunded transit system…. well, that’s where you actually do the real work.
Of interest: Moving in a Livable Region
For more, see the below Statement of Affirmation from Moving in a Livable Region, the consortium raising awareness around transportation issues in Metro Vancouver.
STATEMENT OF AFFIRMATION
We believe in this region.
We reaffirm the vision that has informed and shaped it for half a century: “Cities in a Sea of Green” – a compact region, surrounded by nature, made up of complete communities, joined together by a transportation system that serves, shapes and supports a sustainable economy.
We reaffirm the Mayors’ Vision for the growth of our regional transportation system.
We reaffirm the need for a sustainable form of funding for this vision.
We do not believe a No vote should be interpreted as a rejection of this vision, but instead we see it as a call for greater accountability and transparency in the governance of our transportation system.
We believe that a unifying vision and strategy are essential. A piecemeal, fragmented, ad hoc alternative to our regional transportation vision is not acceptable. It would not be affordable, and it would fail to offer our citizens the choices they need to support the region we want to build.
We believe we must and will find a way to get to Yes for the Mayors’ Vision as an essential element of the approved Regional Growth Strategy that has made our region one of the most liveable on earth.
Please join us in affirming this positive vision for our region’s and our children’s future.