Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Metro Vancouver Mayors Pull out Stops to Convince Residents to Adopt Transit Tax

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Metro Vancouver Mayors Pull out Stops to Convince Residents to Adopt Transit Tax

Article excerpt

Vancouver mayors urge a Yes vote for transit tax

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VANCOUVER - Vancouver-area mayors are offering up a solution to gridlock as they quest for more transit funding in what has become a problem for big cities across the country.

A coalition of all but three of Metro Vancouver's top politicians launched its campaign Monday to persuade British Columbia's most populous region to adopt a new 0.5 per cent tax that would be harmonized with the provincial sales tax.

Voting Yes would set in motion the ongoing collection of funding for $7.5-billion in upgrades for more buses, extending a subway line, building new light rail and replacing a bridge. A refusal to pass the plebiscite, the mayors contend, would set the stage for a series of economic and environmental consequences.

"There's really one key question that people need to ask themselves when they get the referendum ballot," Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson told reporters at the province's busiest transportation hub, Waterfront Station.

"How does Metro Vancouver grow by one million people and still remain livable?"

Congestion already costs the region $1 billion annually in lost productivity, lost time and its carbon footprint -- and that will double over the next 30 years, said Linda Hepner, mayor of the rapidly developing city to the southeast, Surrey, B.C.

The mayors project some 600,000 new jobs will also cram at least as many more cars onto the roads, unless their alternative is made reality. Plan B would be keeping the status quo, said Greg Moore, mayor of Port Coquitlam.

"Which means no new money, it means added gridlock."

Transit will be top of the agenda for Robertson and Hepner when they head to Toronto on Feb. 5 for the Big City Mayors' Summit. Robertson said the gathering will strategize to coax financial promises from the government in the lead up to the federal election. …

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