B.C. Liberal platform proposes TransLink funding referendum

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      A referendum on new revenue sources for TransLink is among the pledges outlined in the B.C. Liberal platform released today (April 15).

      “I believe we need to keep life affordable for British Columbians, and I believe that British Columbians and people in the Lower Mainland...should have the chance to decide how much transit they want to pay for,” Premier Christy Clark said of the proposal at a news conference at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre.

      The referendum on possible new revenue sources for transit improvements identified by the Metro Vancouver Mayor's Council and TransLink would be held in conjunction with the municipal elections in November 2014.

      Clark told reporters the B.C. Liberal platform is about the party’s vision for a “debt-free British Columbia”.

      “A B.C. free of debt is our destination, and our platform is our roadmap to get us there,” she said.

      The platform includes pledges to freeze personal income tax rates for the duration of their mandate and freeze the carbon tax for five years, to dedicate at least 50 percent of future surplus revenues to debt reduction, and to dedicate all revenues from the liquefied natural gas sector to debt reduction until provincial debt is eliminated. If reelected, they say they will also lower the small business tax rate from 2.5 percent to 1.5 percent by the 2017/2018 fiscal year.

      The document also includes promises to press for new Coast Guard resources to be placed in Vancouver following the closure of the Kitsilano station, to invest $582 million to complete seismic upgrades for another 45 B.C. schools over the next three years, and to continue to limit postsecondary tuition-fee increases to a maximum of two percent throughout the next term.

      On the subject of the B.C. film industry, the Liberals are vowing to call on other provinces “to work together on film incentives policies across Canada.”

      The NDP promised last week to increase tax credits for film and television production on local labour costs, a proposal that the Liberals claim will cost $75 million.

      The Liberals’ policy for the film industry also includes a plan to establish a B.C. Film office in Los Angeles to work with regional film commissions and encourage television and film production in Los Angeles.

      “I’ve been told by the industry that there’s a few things that we can do short of $75 million additional tax credits that will help, one of which is the office and the person in Hollywood and the person in California,” Bill Bennett, the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, told the Straight. “They really believe that Ontario has done a better job than B.C. in terms of a presence and talking to producers on a regular basis, making sure that producers know what we have to offer…And it’s not a huge cost, so we can do this in response to what the industry’s asked us to do, and accomplish I think one of the goals that the industry has set for us.”

      In the area of childcare, the party is promising to create a province-wide child-care registry with information on the availability of spaces in communities, and to require local school boards to establish a policy promoting the use of school property between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays by licensed child-care providers.

      The platform also includes plans to increase the number of hospice beds available in the province by 100 percent by 2020, create an additional 500 addictions spaces in the province by 2017, and provide $12 million over the next three years to expand the number of medical student spaces to 288 graduates a year.

      Bennett, who co-chairs the B.C. Liberals' platform committee, noted there’s very little new money outlined in the proposal.

      “But we think that’s what people want at this stage in the game,” he said.

      The election campaign will officially launch Tuesday (April 16). B.C. voters will head to the polls on May 14. 



      Not impressed

      Apr 15, 2013 at 5:08pm

      Wow! What planet has she been on for the last 10 years? She now has "a vision" of a debt-free BC, but that would have easier before the Libs tripled the debt. And it's a little late to think about keeping life affordable for us - she should have thought of that before the Libs jacked up Hydro rates, ferry fares, ICBC rates, tuition fees and MSP premiums.


      Apr 15, 2013 at 5:20pm

      Freeze personal incomes taxes which (they say) are among the lowest in Canada?

      Freeze the carbon tax which (they say) is among the world's most progressive?

      Divert 50% of future surpluses to debt deduction ... a debt which they have vastly increased?

      The Christy Clark government is, without question, the weakest we have seen in this province for generations.

      Fix the past

      Apr 15, 2013 at 10:43pm

      Christy. Do something about the past that has caused everyone to hate the Liberals. Hold someone accountable for the sale of BC rail. Launch an inquiry into why Base and Virk had their lawyer fees paid. Promise to pay back all the extra taxes collected from the HST.

      Until you do something to acknowledge why people hate the Liberals you will never get the votes you need.


      Apr 15, 2013 at 10:45pm

      One more thing...why the heck did our hydro rates go up so dramatically? a few % I understand, but my bill is 50% higher then it was the previous year and I dont use any more power.

      I fucking hate the liberals.


      Apr 15, 2013 at 10:59pm

      Too bad they didn't have referendums before going ahead with $6 billion of unneeded highway and bridge expand that is costing drivers and taxpayers a fortune.


      Apr 15, 2013 at 11:42pm

      A funding referendum on Translink would be the surest way to ensure that no transit infrastructure ever gets built in the Lower Mainland again.

      As for the Liberals' other promises/threats: They've had twelve years to invest in things like education and child care and have resolutely failed to do so. Why should I trust them to start now, especially as they promise still more unnecessary tax cuts?


      Apr 16, 2013 at 1:03am

      Transit should not be put to a referendum. It should just be paid for with a new tax. A vehicle levy or road pricing scheme. This is just another way for the Liberals to avoid doing something and passing the blame to someone else.
      And by November 2014? That's so long, totally idiotic.

      Lee L.

      Apr 16, 2013 at 3:15am

      Transit funding absolutely should be put to referendum and the schemes to pay for that pulled out into the light of day. It may be we actually dont want to pay that much to have a lot more buses rolling around empty in non peak hours. It may be we dont want 'out of our cars' and it may be that we just can't afford translink's overly expansive plans.

      It's one reason I like the idea of a mayors' council. I have my mayor close at hand and can threaten to boot his *ss out of office if I dont like the plans they cook up.

      As for road pricing, this evil scheme should be resisted by any free society. Tracking the whereabouts of alll motor vehicles 24 hours a day in order to bill them for moving or not moving ( parking ) their vehicles is such a serious loss of privacy and increase in government surveillance of individuals as to be an unacceptable loss of personal liberty. Never looked into the road pricing schemes the translink mayors' council has looked at? Look up road pricing netherlands where you will find that the foolish dutch nearly accepted a road pricing system where each motor vehicle would have been required to pay for and have installed a GPS transponder that records the location and movements of the vehicle and transmits it to a government operated billing system.

      Once we accept that, what is next? Your grandaughter needing to wear a transponder to walk on the sidewalk?


      Apr 16, 2013 at 7:21am

      Christy and the gang should have had a referendum before selling BC Rail to their pals after they promised not to.

      hyo silver

      Apr 16, 2013 at 8:30am

      Politics aside, I'd welcome a transportation referendum. Looking at Translink in isolation won't solve anything. We all need to get around, and it has to be paid for somehow. The question is what gets subsidised and by how much - or do we make everyone pay the full cost of their own choices?