Photo: Metro Vancouver's transit referendum is key to fighting climate change

Credit: AE Creations via Flickr)

By Steve Kux, Research and Communications Specialist

YES, I'm voting for better transit.

Click here to pledge your support

Imagine you could have a real impact on climate change in your region using nothing more than a pen. Wielding that kind of power is already a reality for B.C.'s Lower Mainland residents.

From March 16 until May 29, Metro Vancouver voters are being given the opportunity to have a lasting impact on regional greenhouse gas emissions by voting "YES" to a mail-in referendum to secure dedicated funding for a number of major transportation projects. The new transportation plan, developed and agreed upon by the region's 24 mayors, will dramatically expand rail, bus and cycling networks in Metro Vancouver and benefit both transit riders and drivers.

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Elements of the plan include:

• 11 new rapid bus lines
• A subway extension along the Broadway corridor
• Light rail lines linking outlying cities
• Over 2,700 kilometres of bikeways
• A new Pattullo bridge linking Surrey and New Westminster

Voters are being asked to pay for these and other improvements through a 0.5 per cent increase to the provincial sales tax within the Lower Mainland. That translates to around $125 per year for most households and closer to $50 annually for low-income families, since items like groceries, shelter and children's clothes are not subject to PST. In other words, for an average cost of 35 cents a day, people in Metro Vancouver could cut traffic congestion by 20 per cent and reduce commute times by 20 to 30 minutes each day.

Imagine what you could do with 30 extra minutes every day.

That's a great deal no matter how you get around.

Lower Mainland communities are recognized as some of the best places to live anywhere in the world. Better public transportation will go a long way to solidifying that reputation. Research shows that people who live in cities that make large investments in public transportation produce fewer carbon emissions and have a better quality of life. Residents of transit-loving New York City, for example, have roughly half the per person emissions of cities like Miami, Boston and Chicago.

Better health is another substantial benefit to reducing emissions. Along with improved air quality and fewer smoggy days, an effective transit system leads to fewer traffic accidents and helps residents reach daily fitness goals. Likewise, the easy movement of people and goods across a region leads to a more productive economy through access to employment and lower prices for household products.

Given the wide range of benefits that go along with expanding public transportation, it's no surprise that over 70 environmental, business, labour and student groups have come out in support of a "YES" vote. The Better Transit and Transportation Coalition has a diverse and growing member base, including the David Suzuki Foundation.

All Lower Mainland residents need to do to expand transit and reduce their region's impact on the environment is vote "YES" on the referendum ballots they will get in the mail then drop them off in the nearest postbox.

In Metro Vancouver you don't need to be a politician to fight climate change with the stroke of a pen.

For more information about the ballot and to make sure you are registered to vote, visit:

January 29, 2015

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