Bill Vander Zalm says no in Metro Vancouver’s transit referendum

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      The man who killed the harmonized sales tax in B.C. is voting no in Metro Vancouver’s transit referendum.

      “It’s another tax hike, and it’s a tax hike that will impact mostly on people that can least afford it,” Bill Vander Zalm told the Straight in a phone interview.

      Lower Mainland residents will vote by mail from March 16 to May 29, 2015 to approve or reject a 0.5 percent increase in the provincial sales tax collected in the region for new TransLink projects.

      “I can see so much waste in government, in transit, in all of those things,” Vander Zalm said. “And every time they run short of money, instead of cutting the waste, finding ways of doing things better, or doing things differently, they come for more money. I wish I could run my business that way.”

      In 2009, the former B.C. premier led the campaign against the HST, which was introduced to replace federal and provincial sales taxes with a 12 percent levy on goods and services.

      In addition to getting rid of the HST, the Vander Zalm-led crusade also ended the political career of then-B.C. Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell.

      Although Vander Zalm will tell his family and friends to also vote against the 0.5 percent PST hike, he’s not going to play a role in the no campaign being led by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation through its B.C. director, Jordan Bateman.

      “I think he’s doing a good job, and I’m glad he’s there,” Vander Zalm said about Bateman, a former Langley councillor. “We need a watchdog.”

      Bateman doesn’t have the same profile as Vander Zalm, and that may pose a challenge for the no campaign, according to marketing professor Lindsay Meredith.

      “The message is linked to the source. We know that from marketing research,” Meredith told the Straight by phone.

      The SFU academic also noted that the 12 percent HST was more controversial than the 0.5 percent sales tax hike being proposed in Metro Vancouver.

      A wide array of groups, from business to labour and environmental organizations, have come out in favour of the sales tax increase. However, Meredith suggested that Surrey voters can defeat the proposal.

      “Surrey is a very unhappy TransLink customer,” Meredith said. “And there’s a massive voting power in Surrey. If the ‘no’ vote is able to motivate, organize that ‘no’ vote … God help TransLink.”



      Oh please

      Jan 15, 2015 at 2:59pm

      "In addition to getting rid of the HST, the Vander Zalm-led crusade also ended the political career of then-B.C. Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell."

      We wish. Unfortunately Harper rewarded his lap dog with a plum appointment in London (complete with chauffeur and private chef). Now I hear he's coming back to seek a seat with the Federal Conservatives. One more trough for him to belly up to at the expense of taxpayers. He's already collecting 3 pensions from us - can't he just go away and leave us alone?


      Jan 15, 2015 at 3:24pm

      <blockquote>“And there’s a massive voting power in Surrey. If the ‘no’ vote is able to motivate, organize that ‘no’ vote … God help TransLink.”</blockquote>

      If the "no" side is successful, then God help Surrey.

      I find it hard to believe we will see any improvements to transit south of the Fraser without either providing additional funding or taking on additional debt.

      The BC Liberals have made it clear they will not consider increasing corporate or income taxes or using the carbon tax to fund transit projects. And even if the turnstile magically become operable some day, they will increase revenue by a few million dollars at most. Certainly not enough to recoup the cost of installing them, let alone funding additional transit projects.

      wrong tax to fund transit

      Jan 15, 2015 at 4:12pm

      Increasing the PST to fund transit is the wrong way to fund transit. It's a regressive tax that hits the poor the hardest.

      Instead, the province should allow Metro Vancouver apply a land transfer tax (like the Provincial Property Transfer Tax (PTT)) that would go to transit. Rich landowners, speculators and property flippers should fund transit improvements, not the poor.


      Jan 15, 2015 at 5:03pm

      re: "wrong tax to fund transit"

      Tax scented candles, luxury cars, $5000 purses and other unnecessary useless shit instead.
      While I agree that taxing food at a flat rate is the moral equivalent of punching poor people in the dick,
      so is taxing land. All it does is drive the price of housing up, the increased costs of land taxes are always passed on to the poorest. Yes, it's not fair. No, it's not going to change.

      Scented candle tax FTW.


      Jan 15, 2015 at 7:42pm


      Food and many essentials won't be taxed just like the PST making the Sales Tax pretty fair.

      A huge part of the plan is transit improvements south of the Fraser including LRT in Surrey and much improved bus service. There is also a new Pattullo Bridge.

      Canadian Dude

      Jan 15, 2015 at 7:55pm

      Holy shit this is not the first time Trans Waste land has asked for more Ca$H nor will it stop here in the next year or so they will demand more.

      It's not bad enough that the Management gets mid 6 figures than there's...;

      1. about $200 Million, Two Hundred Million Dollars for Fare Gates that will NEVER operate properly or EVER PAY for themselves!

      2. About $15 Million a year to operate the Compass/Fare Gate system will NEVER Pay for itself!!

      Note: to catch $7-8 Million from the LOWEST Fare evasion Transit system in North America!

      3. Over paying for Buses, Buses cost about $500,000 to $1 Million for articulated, when global competitive bidding would save 50 - 80%!!!

      4. Gross Waste in Over Priced PPP Public Private Partnership aka Corporate Welfare for large Contracting Corporations,

      5. $25 Plus Million per year and growing for a Transit only Police Force paying $100K plus to be Fare Checkers, when Policing is more effective in one of our many fine Police Agencies to fight real Crime.

      - I support Policing but for serious Crime by regular Police Forces not Transit Cops that's a waste of time and resources.

      6. Private VIP Parking and Gold Plated Benefits for Transit Management and Head Office employees, because taking Transit would be GASP inconvenient for them!!!

      7. Paying Double to move 50% less people than Washington State right next door!

      I could go on but you get the picture.

      There is currently about 40 to 50% of wasted Budget per year that could easily be paired back and/or deployed for increasing actual Transit service.

      BLINDLY giving additional money to Transit with little real Accountability is stupid.

      Gross waste abounds.

      But hey give it to me (up the you know what), I'm Canadian!


      Jan 15, 2015 at 8:05pm

      This is a common sense solution for much needed regional transit and transportation improvements and is fair across the board. An extra 0.5% is not going to drive people into poverty and most people won't notice with the exception of big ticket items like cars. Even then 0.5% on $10,000 is only $50 so spare me your tears, people. And things like groceries, books and essentials are not taxed anyways so it's time for the region to suck it up or pay the consequences of crappy bus service and broken down Skytrains and perhaps, more toll roads instead. Pick your poison or just shut up.


      Jan 16, 2015 at 8:10am

      Does anyone care what Billy has to say? He's hardly a shining example of good, efficient government. Anyone who was in BC in the late 1980's remembers what a fiasco his Premiership was. He did accomplish one useful thing at least: the destruction of the Social Credit party.

      transit rider since 1963

      Jan 16, 2015 at 9:06am

      No. I agree with others who point out all the waste and gross overcompensation in upper "management" (gag). Stupidity is implementing what is basically a digital turnstile system with a million ways to crash. One big solar flare and all data is gone.

      I would vote yes if I had even a small hope of responsible funding for transit users.

      From buses with stairs to trip up (#2,#22) to bus shelters that let in all wind and rain and have metal benches that freeze your butt, or no benches at all (Commercial and Hastings accross the street from where many Elders and elderly go weekly and have to stand in the rain, sun and cold), to expecting that every person who rides transit has a cell phone to check the schedules so no longer post schedules on poles. That is just off the top of my head. Oh, and while I'm at it, those $^&&**& HandyDart backup beepers that I am certain are over the allowed decibal limit and are at a nerve shattering pitch. The deaf people can't hear them no matter how loud you make them!

      Summary: I will not vote to keep those overpaid, over-pensioned, ill-advised poorly thought out or researched Transit initatives, people one more penny. If they ever got the top-heavy non-contributing levels of management out, I would consider it.


      Jan 16, 2015 at 9:09am

      i agree with Meatballs.
      Everyone wants an improved transportation system, but arent willing to pay for it. reality sucks, but theres a reason we pay taxes and although spending can get out of control and should be monitored closely, lets not be petty and vote no blindly without the sake of understanding the issues first. I wish Bateman would come up with an alternative solution that is viable, instead of just saying No. He is Captain Hindsight!