British Columbia

Transit referendum: Canadian Federation of Independent Business members plan to vote no

A local chapter of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says its members overwhelmingly plan to vote "no" on the upcoming transportation referendum.

A recent poll shows Canadian Federation of Independent Business members are opposed to a regional sales tax

Most members of the CFIB are opposed to a regional sales tax (CBC)

Small business owners in Metro Vancouver plan to vote 'no' in the upcoming transportation referendum, according to a local chapter of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The referendum will ask Metro Vancouver voters to approve 0.5 per cent sales tax increase to fund future improvements to roads and public transit.

 A recent poll by the CFIB, whose members are mostly small and medium-sized businesses, found that more than 80 per cent of members will vote against the tax.

"There's lots of reasons," said Richard Truscott, vice president of the BC and Alberta chapter of the CFIB.

One of them is concern around additional paperwork, which will depend on how the tax is structured. Another worry is that customers may go outside of Vancouver to save money on large purchases.

Credibility gap

Truscott said his members agree that traffic congestion is an important issue, but they don't trust TransLink with billions of extra dollars in revenue.

"There's a real credibility gap when it comes to believing the money would be spent effectively and efficiently," said Truscott.

Instead, he said many CFIB members would rather focus on trimming excess spending within the transit system.

"There's a lot we can do with the existing money that's there before we go back to taxpayers and small businesses and ask them to pay more money to put into the system for transportation improvements," he said.

He would like to see more debate on other options to fund transportation improvements. Until then, he's not sure how it will be possible to persuade voters to vote in favour of the tax.

"I think there's a huge challenge for the yes side to convince people," said Truscott.

So far the 'yes' campaign has had support from business groups such as the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and the Vancouver Board of Trade.

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Canadian Federation of Independent Business members opposed to transportation tax


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