B.C. Federation of Labour votes to back transit referendum

Unions on side with Yes campaign for new TransLink taxes expected next spring

Unifor local 111 president Nathan Woods.

Unifor local 111 president Nathan Woods.

B.C.’s labour unions are pledging to support the Yes side in an expected spring referendum on new taxes for transit expansion in Metro Vancouver.

A unanimous vote of delegates at the B.C. Federation of Labour convention on Monday means “labour is now fully on board” to help win the referendum, according to Nathan Woods, president of the union representing bus drivers.

Unifor Local 111 and other unions representing TransLink staff had already been strongly supportive and Woods predicts labour will work in coalition with business, environment, community and other groups in the coming campaign.

“There are hundreds of thousands of workers who depend on public transit every day to get to and from their job and we will be talking directly to them about how the Mayors’ Council plan will cut commute times but also take thousands of cars off the road as transit becomes a better option,” Unifor western director Joie Warnock added.

No final deal is in place yet between the province and the Mayors’ Council on exactly what new tax or levy would finance the proposed $7.5-billion expansion plan, which includes new rapid transit lines in Vancouver and Burnaby, express bus routes elsewhere and a general 25 per cent lift in bus service.

Further talks are expected in early December.

RELATED: Analysis: Referendum is challenge like no other in TransLink’s tortured history