VANCOUVER â€” Metro Vancouver has voted overwhelmingly against raising taxes to fund transit and transportation improvements, with nearly two-thirds of voters supporting the ‘No’ side.
Between March 16 and May 29, voters from 23 municipalities in the region were asked to return a mail-in ballot whether they supported adding 0.5 per cent to the provincial sales tax for a â€œMetro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Taxâ€ to fund transit and transportation improvements.
The 10-year, $7.5-billion plan included proposed improvements such as road upgrades, increased transit service, a new Pattullo Bridge, light rail transit in Surrey and Langley, a Broadway subway and expanded pedestrian and cycling networks.
The results of the non-binding plebiscite, announced at 10 a.m. Thursday by B.C.â€™s chief electoral officer, Keith Archer, show that the ‘No’ side came out ahead with 61.68 per cent of the vote, while the ‘Yes’ side garnered just 38.32 per cent of ballots cast.
In Vancouver, 50.81 per cent of the cityâ€™s 210,249 voters voted ‘Yes’ while 49.19 voted ‘No.’
In Surrey, just 34.46 per cent voted ‘Yes’ while 65.54 per cent voted ‘No.’ In Burnaby, 35.06 per cent voted ‘Yes’ and 64.94 per cent voted ‘No.’
Elections B.C. had to count a total of 759,696 ballots, representing 51.09 per cent of the 1,562,386 B.C. voters.
Of those ballot packages returned, 38,393 were not considered for failing to meet the requirements of the the plebiscite regulations.
The No side, led by Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers Association, argued that mayors should find the money within their municipalitiesâ€™ coffers and that TransLink should not be trusted with any more taxpayer money.
While most mayors on the council supported a yes vote, several spoke publicly against it, including Nicole Read of Maple Ridge, Mike Smith of West Vancouver and Derek Corrigan of Burnaby.
TransLink generated criticism during the campaign for delays in rolling out the Compass card program and numerous SkyTrain shutdowns.
The embattled transit authority announced in February that CEO Ian Jarvis would step down â€œto restore public confidenceâ€ ahead of the plebiscite, while at the same time appointing an interim CEO, Doug Allen, meaning both would draw salaries.