Transit referendum turnout at 44.7 per cent as deadline looms

Last-minute voters now urged to drop off ballots at plebiscite offices instead of mailing them (with interactive charts)

Turnout in the Metro Vancouver transit and transportation plebiscite has reached nearly 45 per cent as of Wednesday.

The more than half of Metro Vancouver voters who haven’t mailed in their ballots in the transportation and transit plebiscite are now urged to hand deliver them instead.

The deadline for Elections BC to receive them is 8 p.m. Friday May 29, so last-minute voters are recommended to drop ballots off at one of nine plebiscite offices rather than risk a late mail delivery. (See elections.bc.ca/plebiscite/where.html for those locations and their hours.)

As of Wednesday, 698,900 ballots had been received and screened by Elections BC, or 44.7 per cent of the 1.56 million registered voters in Metro Vancouver.

Residents are asked to say yes or no to a 0.5 per cent increase in the provincial sales tax to fund various transportation improvements, including new rapid transit and express bus lines.

Elections BC staff will continue screening and verification of ballots after the voting deadline and will begin counting. Results are expected in late June.

No TransLink Tax campaign leader Jordan Bateman is confident the proposed tax hike will be defeated.

“Voters have stood up against the scare tactics of the Yes side and are voting against the TransLink Mayors, who have spent $7 million in taxpayer money to defend an agency the public knows is wasteful and unaccountable,” he said.

The No campaign says it’s spent about $40,000 and voluntarily released an updated list of donors that shows roughly half the campaign has been funded by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. The province did not set any rules on campaign spending or financing.

Peter Robinson, a co-chair of the 145-group Better Transportation and Transit Coalition, said the turnout shows residents understand the issue is extremely important and urged a final push to get out the Yes vote.

“When more people vote in a transit and transportation plebiscite than cast ballots for their local mayor and council last November, it’s clear how central this issue is to our communities.”

Yes coalition officials say they are ready to continue advocating for improvements regardless of the outcome.

See below for map of plebiscite offices and interactive charts that break down the ballots received by municipality.

Plebiscite ballot count | Create infographics