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If the transportation vote fails, is there any appetite for a Metro Vancouver megacity?

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – By now, you’ve probably heard plenty about the upcoming vote on how to pay for transportation improvements. But what happens if it fails?

It’s a thought politicians would rather not entertain, but it is a possibility. Could it lead to support for a regional government to deal with transit or even a megacity?

The idea only works if all municipalities in the region are on board for a common goal, which isn’t exactly the case, says UBC public policy expert Carey Doberstein.

“Suburban interests and more urban interests have different policy preferences and different transit needs. And there’s a sense that one set of municipalities — if they were amalgamated — would overpower other segments of the region.”

He says there likely isn’t the necessary grassroots push to form a regional government, even if the vote fails. And there’s no chance of the province mandating one like in the case of so-called megacities in Toronto and Montreal.

“We would not expect to see the provincial government come and do a forced amalgamation; it would have to come from the grassroots level. And very rarely do we see these mergers come up from the bottom level — they almost always come from the top.”

Dr. David Wachsmuth is a critical urban economist with UBC; he also says the megacity idea would be a hard sell.

“It’s hard to picture that if voters reject this model that any new institution would be able to come back any time soon and say ‘let’s try this again.’ So, I think it would probably be a big setback,” he tells us.

In the late 1990s, Ontario mandated the formation of megacities in Toronto and other hubs in the southern part of the province. That came with huge outcry.

So what if the province stepped in and mandated it here?

“Ultimately, people are going to vote,” says Wachsmuth.

“So you could see the headlines — If such a body were to impose that, almost certainly that would become a big campaign issue in the next provincial election. I kind of doubt the provincial government would want to open that kettle of worms that way.”

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