NEWS

Metro Vancouver transit referendum results to be unveiled

07/02/2015 05:26 EDT | Updated 07/02/2016 05:59 EDT
Metro Vancouverites are expected to learn the results of a vote on a $7.5 billion regional transportation plan, on Thursday. The outcome could determine the future of transit and transportation across the region over the next decade.

Elections B.C. says it will be working down to the wire to count and certify nearly 700,000 mail-in ballots returned during the 2015 Metro Vancouver Transit and Transportation Plebiscite. Voters were asked to vote "YES" or "NO" to a new 0.5 per cent sales tax that would help fund major infrastructure projects.

The outcome is expected to be announced around 10 a.m. PT on Thursday morning. 

"The actual results are presented to the Legislative Assembly, and then whatever happens as a result of it will be between the [Ministry of Transportation] and the Mayors' Council," said Elections B.C. spokesperson Don Main.

'I think it's going to be YES,' says Greg Moore

The "YES" and "NO" campaigns both say they expect the vote to be close, and both believe their side will win.

Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore said proponents of the sales tax increase have done a "good job of getting out there," and convincing voters that a solution is needed to address congestion on roadways and transit systems.

"I think it's going to be YES," he said.

"I think at the end of the day, when people sat down with that ballot they realized that we're growing. They realized that the projects on there were needed and they were going to vote yes for it."

If that's not the case, Moore said all parties will have to go back to the drawing board.

"The provincial government will have a say. The mayors will probably have something to say. TransLink will have to address trying to deliver services with a flat revenue line, so there's going to be a decrease in operating services. It'll be a big discussion," said Moore.

"We keep being asked, 'Is there a plan B?' There is no plan B from the Mayors' Council."

'Fingers crossed,' says the NO campaign

Meanwhile, the "NO" campaign says it's hard to know how Metro Vancouverites voted but it is "hopeful" the proposed tax hike will be defeated.

"We were very much the underdog in this campaign. We were outspent 200-to-one. [The YES side] had all the voter lists, they had all the big fancy groups and all the big fancy endorsements, and in the first poll back in December they were winning by 13 points," said No TransLink Tax spokesperson Jordan Bateman. 

"We're hopeful, so fingers-crossed and we'll see what happens."

Bateman, who also heads the western chapter of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, has argued that the vote is not about whether people want transit and transportation services. Instead, it's about how much they trust TransLink with more money.

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