Metro Vancouver’s Transit and Transportation Referendum

Metro Vancouver’s Transit and Transportation Referendum

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.

When is the referendum?

The mail-in ballots will be sent out beginning March 16, 2015 with voting until May 29, 2015. Voters must register by midnight on May 15, 2015 if they are not already registered to vote.

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. The investments in the plan will allow for 70% of the region’s residents to have access to frequent transit. Check out the highlights of the plan here. You can also view our interactive map of proposed transportation improvements here.











What format will the the referendum question take?

The format will be mail-in ballot, which you can see here. The question is, “Do you support a one half percentage point (0.5%) increase to the Provincial Sales Tax in Metro Vancouver, dedicated to the Mayors’ Transportation and Transit Plan, with independent audits and public reporting?”

Who is eligible to vote?

From the Act:

  • be a Canadian citizen
  • be 18 years of age or older on May 29, 2015
  • have been a resident of British Columbia for at least 6 months immediately before May 29, 2015
  • be a resident of the transportation service region
  • be registered as a voter in British Columbia or be qualified to register as a voter in the plebiscite*, and

How will the plan be funded?

The investment package will be funded by contributions from both the provincial and federal governments as well as a 0.5% sales tax for Metro Vancouver.

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 -

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 -
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 -

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. -
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