NEWS
06/25/2014 10:46 EDT | Updated 08/25/2014 05:59 EDT

Translink funding referendum deadline looming

The battle between Metro Vancouver mayors and the provincial government over transit funding appears to be no closer to a resolution.

On Tuesday afternoon B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone gave Metro Vancouver mayors until July 15 to officially notify the province if they want a fall referendum on a new revenue such as a new second carbon tax or increased property taxes.

But North Vancouver District Mayor Richard Walton, who is chair of the Mayors Council, says that July 15 deadline will be hard to meet, and the mayors are not really that interested in a referendum anyway.

"We have never agreed to participate in a referendum, so we are going to crack that one first," said Walton.

Premier Christy Clark promised during the 2013 provincial election the government would hold a referendum on any new transit funding in Metro Vancouver, but the idea has never gained the support of the mayors.

Walton says even if the mayors wanted a referendum question on the municipal ballot in the fall, it could take a year and a half to properly set up such a question.

Earlier this month mayors had asked for a re-allocation of the existing carbon tax, an estimated $250 million a year, but the province says there is no way they will surrender that money.

Instead the minister suggested the mayors raise the money through property taxes.

But Walton says the mayors would never support a property tax increase.

"Not on the table. Never has been. Never will be, and there isn't one mayor in the region that will support that."

The Mayors' Council is expected to meet to discuss the issues further on Thursday.

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