Transit robocalls irritate residents

Referendum ballots arrive in the mail this week with No side leading in polls

Robocalls about this spring’s transit tax referendum has resulted in Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read receiving dozens of calls from frustrated and irritated residents.

Read said the complaints started on Sunday, coming to her by phone and e-mail, after city residents were contacted by a recorded message from the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation.

“Apparently it’s (Township of Langley mayor) Jack Froese basically indicating that there’s a town hall meeting tonight (Monday) for the south of the Fraser,” said Read.

“So our residents are offended that a message went out to them for a town hall meeting that’s for the south of the Fraser.”

Froese was hosting a telephone town hall event for one hour to answer questions about the referendum. Other mayors are doing the same thing, to coincide with residents getting their referendum ballots in the mail this week.

“There’s confusion. I don’t think we know whether the robocalls came to Maple Ridge in error, if they came on purpose, if we’re not invited, or expected to participate in the town hall for the south of the Fraser,” Read said.

Taken in the context that some recent newspaper advertising about the referendum advised Mission residents to vote Yes, it looked like another gaffe, said Read.

“There seems to be some confusion, given that Mission isn’t even a part of Metro,” said Read.

She said robocall recipients take it as a foul-up by those running the transit referendum.

“Our residents seem to be taking it not politely – they’re upset about it,” said Read.

A spokesperson from the Mayor’s Council said that the telephone town hall events were available to anyone in the region.

They are over-the-phone question-and-answer sessions designed to augment information on the mayor’s council website, mayorscouncil.ca. There also will be in-person town hall events in the region.

Read agreed that the “Yes” campaign by the Mayor’s Council is well financed, but hasn’t been a well-oiled machine in this part of the region.

“The missed advertising and the robocalls are not in their favour.”

Residents should get their ballots in the mail over the coming days. If they have not received them by March 27, they should contact Elections B.C.