A new poll indicates just over half of Metro Vancouver residents would vote ‘Yes’ in next year’s referendum on increasing the PST to fund transit expansion.
The online survey was conducted by Insights West, which found that 52 per cent of Lower Mainland adults will vote ‘Yes’ and 39 per cent will vote ‘No’ on increasing the PST by 0.5% to fund the Mayors’ Council $7.5-billion plan for transportation improvements.
The following plan will be implemented over a 10-year timeline:
- a drastic increase in bus service, including 400 new buses and 200 more kilometres of B-Line routes
- an increase in SeaBus frequency with the use of a third vessel: every 10 minutes during peak hours and every 15 minutes off-peak
- Upgrades to stations and new additional trains for the Expo, Millennium and Canada Lines:
- 10 additional fleet vehicles and one new locomotive for the West Coast Express
- 13 new or expanded transit exchanges
- the construction of the underground Millennium Line extension on Broadway to Arbutus – the first phase towards UBC
- the construction of the Surrey light rail transit system
- the construction of a new Pattullo Bridge
Respondents answered the referendum question released last week by TransLink’s Mayors’ Council:
“Do you support a one half percentage point (0.5%) increase to the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) in Metro Vancouver, dedicated to the Mayors’ Transportation and Transit Plan, with independent audits and public reporting?”
Residents between the ages of 18 to 34 were more likely to vote ‘Yes’ (58%), however, this drops with those aged 35 to 54 (52%) and 55+ (44%). Those who drive to work or school are nearly evenly split (Yes 47%, No 45%) while a solid majority of those who take transit will support the proposal (transit users 69%, bike or walk 62%).
When it comes to political alignments, those who voted for the BC NDP in the previous provincial election were more likely (55%) to be Yes voters than those who voted for the BC Liberals (47%).
“At this early point in the campaign, there are more voters who are siding with Yes, but most of this support is unenthusiastic,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President of Public Affairs at Insights West, in a statement. “One-in-four residents, including a third of those over the age of 55 and three-in-ten BC Liberal voters, say they have decided to vote No.”
Main motivations for ‘Yes’ voters:
- The proposed initiatives will address traffic, service and road problems in the Lower Mainland (71%).
- The notion that independent audits and public reporting will promote transparency (54%).
- A conviction that there is no other way to fund these projects than by allowing for this small increase in the PST (40%).
Main motivations for ‘No’ voters:
- There is little confidence in TransLink to do a good job to ensure that these transportation projects are implemented properly (71%)
- A desire for an explanation from TransLink on how funds are spent before residents vote on any tax increase (68%).
- Fears that the tax increase if approved could be hiked in the future (60%).
“While the Yes voters appear to be heeding the message from the recently elected and re-elected mayors on the region’s pressing transportation concerns, the No voters are directing their dismay primarily at TransLink,” Canseco adds. “Two-thirds of No voters are unwilling to provide more funds to the corporation without knowing more about their current expenditures.”
The transit referendum will likely be held in June 2015, the deadline the provincial government has provided to the region’s mayors to hold the vote. With a little more than six months before the vote, the poll found that 69 per cent of the region’s residents have heard about the referendum. About 58 per cent believe holding the referendum is a ‘good’ idea’ while 26 per cent consider it ‘bad’.
Proposed Metro Vancouver transit referendum ballot:
Feature Image: Canada Line via Shutterstock