Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson at the Canada Line's Brighouse Station Wednesday morning.

Yes side laments anti-tax ‘cynicism’ in Metro Vancouver transit vote

Proposed transportation improvements would boost economy by $450m per year, study finds.

Yes campaigners today accused the No side in the transit referendum of misleading the public into believing they can force reforms to TransLink by rejecting the proposed regional sales tax.

Unifor union leader Gavin McGarrigle said No campaigners are deliberately derailing the debate from what is actually on the ballot – a 0.5 per cent sales tax to fund a wide swath of transit improvements that he called vital to the region’s future.

He said it will be a “dangerous step backwards” if voters are convinced to vote No and aid an anti-tax agenda that threatens to starve the transit system and other public services.

McGarrigle urged voters not to “give in to a future where cynicism descends over the region like a stifling blanket, while congestion increasingly costs us all more time, more money and more expensive choices down the road.”

The co-chair of the Better Transit Coalition was flanked by mayors from Vancouver and Richmond at the Canada Line’s Brighouse station for the release of a study estimating the economic benefits from the proposed transit and transportation upgrades.

But most media questions focused on the Yes campaign’s ebbing support after a poll the previous week showed the No side far ahead.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said people are cynical because they don’t yet have all the information about the plan and added he’s optimistic that will change.

“We’ve seen a knee-jerk response initially that reflects everyone’s concerns around taxes,” Robertson said. “When people have the ballot in their hands they’ll make the right choice for our region.”

The study by InterVistas estimated the mayors’ plan would add $450 million per year to the regional economy through the first 10 years and the annual benefit would hit $1.6 billion a year by 2045.

The growth projections come from estimated direct and indirect jobs to build and operate  the proposed transportation improvements, as well as the economic productivity gains that would flow from congestion relief for residents and businesses.

It estimates the upgrades would create 7,000 new jobs by 2020 and 12,000 jobs by 2045 at wages averaging $85,000 a year.

McGarrigle said the improvements should win over workers, who know the costs of congestion in money and time away from family.

“Workers know what its like to be be late for work when the bus is full and the next bus isn’t for an hour,” he said. “Or when they can’t even get home easily after a long shift without spending more precious money as a result of yet more service cutbacks.”

No campaign head Jordan Bateman criticized the study as one that’s difficult to verify and that fails to compare the economic effect of making different uses of the $7.5 billion in expected funding.

“If you invest that much in health care or education or tax cuts or anything there’s going to be economic spinoffs,” Bateman said. “It’s a typical government ploy to pretend $7.5 billion comes out of thin air.”

He also predicted political leaders of every stripe will stampede to reform TransLink on the first day after a No decision.

If anyone is guilty of fomenting public cynicism, Bateman said, it’s the mayors by avoiding debate on problems with TransLink.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said mayors have “constantly” pressed the province for governance changes to make TransLink more democratically accountable.

“The situation we have is unworkable. I am hopeful that message has now resonated with the provincial government.”

Brodie said he was “dumbfounded” by Premier Christy Clark’s latest comments that TransLink belongs to the mayors when it’s governed by provincial legislation and mayors have very limited authority.

Wednesday’s announcement took place on the busy Canada Line, where a new mixed use development under construction served as a backdrop to the expected economic growth.

“This will be the story right across the region as we improve the entire system,” Brodie said.

He said the Canada Line has helped transform Richmond and benefits commuters across Metro Vancouver.

The rapid transit line linking Vancouver, Richmond and YVR carries 120,000 people a day – 20,000 more than projected by this point.

Just Posted

Being Young: ‘Golden period,’ after exams

I should be plenty entertained over the summer.

Presbyterians of Port Hammond

The core group of the Ladies Aid were the wives of the men on the managing board.

Easter egg hunts and fun for families

More events scheduled for Sunday in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Bobcats, bears, and otters, oh my!

Critter Care Wildlife Society’s 20th anniversary gala set for next Saturday in Langley

Victoria ‘reviewing options’ for removing convicted councillors

Pitt Meadows lobbied for change after David Murray’s sex assault conviction

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

Police say ‘no major incidents’ at 4/20, Vancouver Park Board assessing

The first smoke-out held since legalization saw 60,000 people at Vancouver’s Sunset Beach

VIDEO: Langley firefighters spend hours battling blaze in vacant home

Cause of the late-night fire in Willoughby is still under investigation

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

RCMP looking for witnesses to four-vehicle crash in Burnaby

Police suspect impaired driving was a contributing factor

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Most Read