02/21/2015 02:57 EST | Updated 04/23/2015 05:59 EDT

TransLink referendum: No side gaining momentum says survey

The No side appears to be gaining momentum with just three weeks to go until transit plebiscite ballots are mailed out.

"Now we have just over one third of residents who say they would vote Yes, which is down by more than 15 points when we started asking this back in December," said Mario Canseco with Insights West, which conducted the survey.

"So definitely there's a lot of movement in the numbers when we look back over the last three months."

The results of the latest poll from Insights West are a reversal from December when 52 per cent of those surveyed said they'd vote Yes. The latest poll shows 53 per cent would likely vote No.

The poll was conducted between February 12 and 14, among 653 adult residents in Metro Vancouver. Results have a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Canseco says people are losing confidence in TransLink.

"The feelings [respondents] had about TransLink are even harsher, especially for the No voters," he said. "We have four of five saying they're not happy with the way things are going,"

Last week, TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis resigned and board chair Marcella Szel said at the time that changes were needed to restore public confidence in the organization.

One advertising expert says the Yes side simply needs to take a cue from its opponent.

"In the end people vote with their hearts, and I think the Yes side could be dialing up the emotion," said Rob Tarry, with ReThink Creative Agency.

Tarry says pushing more emotional buttons — the way the No side has with its campaign against TransLink — could help sway votes.

"The Yes side should be a little more emotional, Who wants to be stuck in traffic? Who wants more gridlock? Who wants more pollution?" 

The referendum seeks to gain approval for a 0,5 per cent sales tax increase for Metro Vancouver that would provide an estimated $250 million in annual revenue.

Ballots for Metro Vancouver's transit and transportation referendum will be mailed out by mid-March.

The region's mayors want it to fund a $8 billion 10-year transit plan.