Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Mayors Say Yes Side Spent $5.8 Million Promoting Transit-Tax Hike in Plebiscite

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Mayors Say Yes Side Spent $5.8 Million Promoting Transit-Tax Hike in Plebiscite

Article excerpt

Yes side's bill in B.C. transit vote $5.8 million

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VANCOUVER - Proponents of a multibillion-dollar plan to upgrade transit services in Metro Vancouver spent just over $5.8 million promoting a Yes vote during a recent plebiscite, although one critic is calling that figure a whitewash.

The Mayors' Council, representing 21 municipalities, an electoral area and a First Nation, asked voters to approve a separate half-per-cent sales tax for the region -- to be charged in addition to the provincial sales tax and GST -- to fund $7.5 billion for more buses, roads, light rapid transit and a new bridge.

Their "information and education campaign" was allocated up to $6 million by TransLink, the region's transportation authority, and the details of their spending were released Friday.

"When you're undertaking a really complex project like this that's happening really quickly, sometimes it's a bit of a challenge to make sure that you land at your target at the end," said Mike Buda, executive director of the Mayors' Council Secretariat.

"Obviously, we're pleased we're at or are just under budget, but the key is that we wanted to ensure that, you know, that as many residents as possible were aware of the plan and the referendum and were engaged in the discussion."

The report said the campaign spent $2.3 million on advertising, and $2.1 million on "voter contact," which included door-to-door canvassing, telephone town-hall meetings, telephone-list building and mail canvassing.

Another $539,000 was spent on public and stakeholder events, as well as outreach, while research and planning cost $449,000.

Operations, which included contract staff, a call centre, administrative and legal fees and overhead were $414,000. …

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