Premier hints that transit-funding referendum might be delayed until after civic vote
Premier Christy Clark has hinted that she may not combine a transit-funding referendum with the 2014 municipal elections in the Lower Mainland.
"So it's certainly my hope that we can do it in November," Clark told reporters today. "But I do know that the mayors have been saying they need more time if they want to be leaders on this—and they need to be leaders on this if the referendum is going to succeed. It's their taxpayer. It's their organization in TransLink. They are the ones that will have to lead the debate. We are enabling it as a province. We are enabling the people of the province, the citizens of the Lower Mainland, to vote on it. But it's ultimately the mayors that are going to have to lead it. They're saying they need more time to lead it. So we're talking to them about that."
In their 2013 election platform, the B.C. Liberals promised "a referendum to be held at the same time as the municipal elections in November 2014" before any new revenue sources for transit funding would be approved.
Since then, Clark has announced that the province will replace the George Massey Tunnel with a new bridge at a cost of close to $3 billion. Clark has not promised a referendum in connection with the new bridge.
Meanwhile, daily vehicle traffic through the George Massey Tunnel dropped 7.5 percent from 2004 to 2008, according to TransLink statistics.
But she hasn't completely backed off a referendum for transit funding.
Clark said today that she wants this vote to "work" for the mayors and TransLInk.
Nevertheless, she insisted that her "top commitment" is to taxpayers and transit users of the Lower Mainland.
"And I appreciate that referenda can be complicated and these have been complicated in other jurisdictions, and sometimes they need a little more time," the premier said. "That's what the mayors have been saying. [Transportation Minister] Todd Stone is continuing to talk to them about that. So will I."