TransLink interim CEO Doug Allen isn’t letting his organization take responsibility for the “no” vote that came back today (July 2) from a six-week plebiscite on a tax increase for transportation funding that was held earlier this year.
“I know some of you will say, ‘Well, this is really about TransLink’,” Allen said at a press conference outside Waterfront Station in Vancouver. “It was not. TransLink was not on the ballot. There were two parts. A 10-year investment plan and a tax increase. And it is my view that the public across the Lower Mainland said ‘no’ to a tax increase.”
He went on to describe TransLink’s public transportation network as “world class”, “safe”, “reliable”, and efficient”. Allen said there are many independent and peer-reviewed studies that show those characterizations to be true.
Returning to the matter of the vote, Allen warned TransLink will now face funding limitations as it struggles to still expand services.
“It will be up to us to deliver the system as smartly and wisely as we can, given the constraints that we are going to be under,” he said. “We will review all aspects of transit and transportation we’re responsible for, and we will do our utmost to deliver the best we can with the resources that are made available. We are very keen to work with the mayors and the province on finding a solution to long-term funding and we commit ourselves, in a very full sense, to doing just that.”
The vote was a non-binding plebiscite proposed by the provincial government and conducted via mail-in ballot from March 16 to May 20, 2015.
According to results released today, 38.32 percent of people voted in favour of the tax and 61.68 percent voted against it. The turnout for registered voters was 48.64 percent.
Earlier in the day, Allen responded to the plebiscite results with a short video posted on YouTube.
“This is democracy,” he said. “One accepts a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. The fact that it’s a ‘no’, it’s not my preference. But that’s the will of those who voted and we must respect that."