TransLink funding referendum deadline looming
Chair of Metro Vancouver Mayors' council says July 15 deadline will be hard to meet
The battle between Metro Vancouver mayors and the B.C. government over transit funding appears to be no closer to a resolution, as a July 15 deadline looms.
B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone gave Metro Vancouver mayors three weeks to officially notify the province if they want a referendum, potentially this fall.
Any referendum would ask voters to decide on a new revenue stream for transit, such as a new second carbon tax or increased property taxes.
But North Vancouver District Mayor Richard Walton, who is chair of the Mayors' Council, says the deadline will be hard to meet, and the mayors are not really that interested in a referendum.
"We have never agreed to participate in a referendum, so we are going to crack that one first," said Walton.
Premier Christy Clark promised during the 2013 provincial election the government would hold a referendum on any new transit funding in Metro Vancouver, but the idea has never gained the support of the mayors.
Walton says even if the mayors wanted a referendum, it could take a year and a half to properly set up such a question.
Earlier this month the mayors asked for a re-allocation of the existing carbon tax, an estimated $250 million a year, but Stone says there is no way the province will hand over that money.
Instead the minister suggested the mayors raise the money through property taxes.
Walton says the mayors would never support a property tax increase.
"Not on the table. Never has been. Never will be, and there isn't one mayor in the region that will support that."
The Mayors' Council is expected to meet to discuss the issues further on Thursday.