BC’s Transportation Referendum

This page will be updated as we learn more about the transportation plan and about the potential referendum. Check back regularly for updates.

Can we expect a transportation referendum in BC?

BC Premier Christy Clark pledged that a referendum on potential new revenue sources for Metro Vancouver transportation improvements will be held. A referendum would seek the public decision on the transportation funding measures identified by the Metro Vancouver Mayor’s Council and TransLink.

When is the referendum?

The province has signaled that it would be willing to delay the vote until June 30, 2015, provided that the mayors of Metro Vancouver are able to provide a vision and ballot question. However, if the mayors are unable to come to a consensus then the earliest the referendum date would be in in conjunction with the 2017 municipal elections.

What is a transportation referendum?

While common in the US, transportation ballot initiatives and referenda rarely, if ever, take place in Canada. A transportation referendum lays out a set of transportation planning principles, potential funding sources, and/or specific transportation investments to be voted on.

What are citizens being asked to vote on?

The Mayor’s Council has put forward a transportation investment plan, which outlines key transit, biking, and road upgrades that will be voted on. Generally, it includes the construction of a new Surrey LRT and extension of the Millennium Line Skytrain as well as increased bus, Seabus, and HandyDART service. Check out the highlights of the plan here.

What format will the the referendum question take?

We do not know what the potential referendum question could be. Premier Clark has stated that the question will be multiple choice format while Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, has stated the ballot would be of a “yes or no” format. The premier has also outlined that Metro Vancouver’s mayors would draft the question for the ballot.

Why is this transportation referendum important?

Metro Vancouver faces a number of significant transportation challenges. Roads are congested, transit cannot meet current demand, and people and goods are not moving efficiently throughout Metro Vancouver. In the face of substantial regional population and economic growth, strategic investments in transportation will need to be made in order to ensure livability in the region.

Featured Transportation Referenda

These featured transportation referenda highlight a variety ballot initiatives. They cover a cross section of funding sources and transportation infrastructure investments.

Photo: Potjie - http://www.flickr.com/photos/potjie/505614511/sizes/o/in/photostream/

Los Angeles Streetcar Capital Project
Funding source: Downtown residential property tax (~$60/unit for 1,000 square feet)
Investment: 50% capital costs, or $62.5 million, for downtown streetcars
Voting result: 73% Yes (66% supermajority required) on December 2, 2012
Links: Advocacy | Media


San Francisco Transportation ImprovementsPhoto: Matt Kieffer - http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattkieffer/2369605264/
Funding Source:
Additional $10/year fee on vehicle registrations
Investment: $5 million/year with for 50% street repairs, 25% for transit reliability and mobility, and for 25% pedestrian safety
Voting result: 51% Yes on November 2, 2010
Links: Advocacy | Media


Photo: Paul L McCord Jr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/plmccordj/24478444/

Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area Projects
Funding source: One cent sales tax increase (temporary for seven years)
Investment: $777 million in funding raised with $180 million for a new light rail system, commuter lines and a transit hub, new sidewalks, and 92 kilometers of new biking and walking trails
Voting result: 54% Yes on December 8, 2009
Links: Advocacy | Media


Seattle Mass Transit Expansion Photo: Eric P. - http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericp/3733893584/
Funding source:
Sales tax increase
Investment: $17.8 billion in new funding for 58 kilometers of new light rail line, 17% expansion of express bus service, and 65% more Tacoma-Seattle commuter rail capacity
Voting result: 58% Yes on November 4, 2008
Links: Advocacy | Media