03/05/2015 07:49 EST | Updated 03/05/2015 07:59 EST

Jimmy Pattison To Monitor Transit Tax If Referendum Passes

Vancouver's mayor wants to assure the public that TransLink will spend its money properly if the referendum passes.

Bloomberg via Getty Images
CANADA - APRIL 13: Jimmy Pattison, chairman and chief executive officer of the Jim Pattison Group, poses for a photo in the lobby of the new Great Wolf Lodge hotel and amusement park in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada on April 13, 2006. (Photo by Norm Betts/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

One of the richest men in Canada will lead a panel that will monitor how TransLink spends the new 0.5 per cent Metro Vancouver transit tax, if the yes side wins the upcoming referendum.

The Metro Vancouver Mayors' Council announced on Thursday morning that Jimmy Pattison will "head up a blue ribbon public accountability committee."

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said the aim was to reassure the public the money will be properly spent.

“We have heard loud and clear from the people of Metro Vancouver on this question. They want assurances that the money collected from the PST increase will go to pay for the critical transportation and transit improvements needed in the region,” said Robertson.

“By appointing Mr. Pattison to head up this oversight committee, we are providing voters with a concrete mechanism to monitor and ensure that the funds raised will be used for the infrastructure they are meant to pay for.”

Over the coming weeks residents of Metro Vancouver will have a chance to vote by mail-in ballot on the new 0.5% sales tax to fund a ten-year expansion of the region's transportation and transit infrastructure.

Canada's richest man

Pattison, who is worth at least an estimated $9.5 billion according to Bloomberg, said the transit projects are important for the future of the region.

“I know how important our transportation and transit system is, both to our needs now, and to the needs of our children and grandchildren,” said Pattison.

“We need this infrastructure, and the public has a right to transparency and accountability.”

Pattison made his fortune by turning a string of car dealerships into a multinational conglomerate with interests in media distribution, grocery stores and outdoor advertising.

Take the poll: Do you support this proposed tax hike?


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