Todd Stone: Why we need a TransLink referendum
The issue of transportation in Metro Vancouver is very topical, and that's a good thing. Making sure that traffic congestion is reduced to improve your daily commute is important to our economy and maintaining this region's great quality of life.
But to improve transportation in Metro Vancouver, big decisions lie ahead. Decisions that the people who live, pay taxes, and commute in the region need to be a part of.
Today, transportation improvements are supported through taxes and fees like property tax, gas tax, transit fares, and tolls for new crossings. And while there are many taxes, there is only one taxpayer—and that's you.
To support expanded transit and road networks for the region, many local government leaders have advocated for additional sources of funding to be created, on top of those taxes and fees you already pay.
The provincial government does not disagree with this idea. But our position is clear. If the people of Metro Vancouver are being asked to pay new taxes or fees, on top of those that local governments and TransLink already collect, then taxpayers must have a say.
This is why the provincial government is committed to a public, region-wide referendum. It's a commitment we made in the last election and that citizens supported. We will deliver on that promise.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Asking people to vote on a new transportation vision comes after governments and citizens work together to clearly determine and articulate what that vision actually is.
If you're following the news, you'll have heard about passionate and important transportation projects that individual local governments are behind. The job ahead is to bring this into a common vision.
And, I would argue, success depends on a vision that is affordable for taxpayers, fair for all communities, and secures the movement of people and goods for generations to come.
I will continue to work with the mayors to facilitate and help enable a process to bring focus to the regional transportation vision, so that the people can decide what's best.
If we work together for the benefit of the whole region, mindful of taxpayers big and small from Whalley to Whytecliff, Maple Ridge to Arbutus Drive, we will all succeed.