The No campaign has more than twice as much support as the Yes side in Metro Vancouver’s transit referendum as ballots begin to be mailed out, according to a new poll.
The Angus Reid Institute online survey found 61 per cent of voters in the region are definitely or probably voting No to the proposed 0.5 per cent Congestion Improvement Tax, compared to 27 per cent who said they will likely vote Yes. Twelve per cent were unsure.
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The result shows even fewer Yes voters than successive Insights West polls, the latest of which gave the Yes side 33 per cent to 55 per cent No.
More than 1.5 million ballots are going out in the mail starting today and are expected to all arrive at homes by the end of the month.
Angus Reid pollsters said No sentiment appears widespread, but is strongest in Surrey, Richmond/Delta and the North Shore, and among voters over 35 years old.
The race is closer among Vancouver residents, younger people, those with a university education and frequent transit riders, although even they are split.
Although voters have 11 weeks to mail their marked ballots back to Elections BC by a May 29 deadline, the Yes campaign may not have as much opportunity to persuade No-leaning voters as that would suggest.
The polling firm said half of eligible voters intend to mail in their ballot “as soon as they get it.”
Distrust of TransLink and a belief too much new money would be wasted from the 0.5 per cent sales tax increase continue to drive the No vote.
The poll found the Yes side’s most persuasive argument is that population growth will require transportation improvements, followed by the current congested state of roads and public transit.
Top reasons those polled gave for voting No were that TransLink “can’t be trusted” with new money from the tax; “TransLink needs to be overhauled before any big proposals go forward”; and others simply don’t want to pay an additional tax.
Sixty-nine per cent of No voters said the proposed improvements are “a good idea but they should be funded out of existing taxes.”
Others said it’s unfair for Metro Vancouver alone to have an extra sales tax when the entire province funds transportation in other regions.
While the Yes side has warned congestion will significantly worsen in the years ahead without upgrades, nearly three-quarters of No voters expect getting around Metro Vancouver will be equally painful 10 years from now if the tax is defeated.
The online survey of 950 Angus Reid forum members from Feb. 25 to March 5 has a margin of error equivalent to 3.3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.