British Columbia·Photos

Transit tax: Metro Vancouver Alliance plans forums to promote 'Yes' vote

An alliance of "nonpartisan, proactive, everyday citizens" is hoping to mobilize support for proposed Congestion Improvement Tax, ahead of a vote on the issue this March.

Alliance is hoping to mobilize support for proposed Congestion Improvement Tax

The Metro Vancouver Alliance of "nonpartisan, proactive, everyday citizens" will hold the first of a series of forums on Tuesday night, hoping to boost support for a new sales tax to fund improvements to TransLink public transit system.

"We believe people have the right to move around this region as they need to on a daily basis," said Maria Robinson, co-chair of the alliance's Transit Action Team.

The new 0.5 per cent tax will apply to the majority of goods and services sold or delivered in the Metro Vancouver region and bring in an estimated $250 million in annual revenue.

The region's mayors have said it would be used to fund part of a $8 billion 10-year transit plan, including a SkyTrain along the Broadway corridor, light rail in Surrey, and a new Pattullo Bridge.

Robinson, part of a coalition made up of community, labour and faith groups, said increased demand combined with lack of funding has meant many in the Lower Mainland aren't getting the transit service they need.

She agreed that TransLink should be closely examined to evaluate how it could be made more efficient and governed, but said that shouldn't be the focus of the upcoming vote.

"This referendum is not about TransLink and their management," said Robinson. "The question before us is, 'Do we want to fund increases and improvements in service?'"

The forums are aimed at developing campaign strategies for the "Yes" campaign and will take place in the months leading up to the vote.

The first forum takes place at 6 p.m. PT on Tuesday, at Holy Trinity Cathedral Hall in New Westminster, B.C. Additional dates and locations are still to be scheduled.