Transportation investment plan gets over first hurdles as Stone seeks decision on referendum date

Despite fretful news coverage suggesting Transportation Minister Todd Stone is hard-timing the Translink Mayor’s Council investment plan,  the 10-year, $7.5 billion proposal seems to have surmounted the early hurdles on the way to a referendum vote.

The first big hurdle was its adoption by the entire Mayor’s Council with only Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan opposed. Now the province is getting engaged.

The second hurdle was Stone’s willingness to see an incremental carbon tax put to a regional referendum. His rejection of reallocation of existing carbon tax, although favoured by the mayors, was widely expected. That’s why the mayors put the incremental option right in their report.

Stone’s lengthy formal response, issued yesterday, was generally appreciative in tone, but posed some valid and practical questions. When, for example, should the referendum be held? If the Mayors want it to coincide with the November municipal elections, Stone wants to know by July 15.

This was seen as hardball by some reporters, but it seems like a fair question to me and pretty easy to answer. None of the Mayors want a referendum at all, but if Victoria is determined to have one, then holding it on Nov. 15 is unlikely.

Mayors seeking re-election will be working on that project, not the “yes” campaign, and those moving on, like Surrey’s Diane Watts, will be out of the debate.

That leaves sometime next spring, well within the province’s time frame.