NEW WESTMINSTER (NEWS1130) – How to sell the yes vote in the upcoming transit referendum? That’s what the focus of the first of a series of meetings put on by the Metro Vancouver Alliance on Tuesday night. Nearly 60 people packed a church gym in New Westminster to talk about the issue and highlighting the benefits of voting in favour of the 0.5 per cent added on to sales tax to go towards improved transportation. Many say better transit is needed to take into consideration the growing population, the aging population, and the ongoing efforts to reduce pollution.
People shared personal stories, everything from having buses pass them by because of a lack of service to not being able to get to the hospital due to a shortage of handyDARTs.
Carol who is both a driver and a transit user says the emphasis should be on the larger impact. “It is about transportation and it isn’t just about Trans Link. The fact that we have to get over the emotional baggage that we carry, about whether or not we like Trans Link. We have to think about the broader picture…We have to think regionally. We have to help each other and we have to get people to move say from Port Coquitlam over to South Surrey.”
She thinks a better transit system will also get people out of their cars which will ease congestion.
Madeline is still on the fence on how she’ll vote, saying she’s pushing for a better transit system but admits the 0.5 per cent tax increase will hurt her family’s budget. “I’m in the low income bracket with my family but at the same time I’m in the middle when it comes to if I’m against or for it. I live in Surrey and most of the buses there run until 6pm and 7pm, that’s the latest! I end up actually taking a cab. So, we were just talking in our table of discussions how it might save me more money if I vote yes, instead of actually taking taxis.”
Others feel the tax won’t be noticeable and in the end will be worth it. “One of the things that struck me that need to be said is for people to look at that $125 raise (per year) in their sales tax, that’s about $2 a week. That’s less than a cup of coffee that people are spending. I think this it’s possible, ” argues Gail.
Some say part of the focus should be on getting drivers more involved in the discussion because they’re taxpayers too.