The Transit Referendum: How to vote

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Patricia Daly | March 18th, 2015

Like many of you, I will be checking my mailbox this week for my voting package on the 2015 Metro Vancouver Transportation & Transit Referendum. As I have already stated in the media, I strongly believe the transit plan will be the biggest investment in public health in our generation and am voting YES.  For 35 cents a day per household, we are being given an historic opportunity to make a positive impact on generations to come.

Make sure you are registered

Since I voted in the 2014 municipal elections and haven’t moved, I should receive my ballot this week or by March 27 at the latest. I will also be checking to ensure my husband and adult children who live in Metro Vancouver receive their ballots and if they don’t, to make sure they are registered by May 15.

If you aren’t sure if you’re registered, call 1-800-661-8683 or visit and choose the “register” option. You’ll need your driver’s license number or the last 6 digits of your Social Insurance Number handy to complete the Online Registration Form.

The question on the ballot will be: “Do you support a new 0.5 per cent Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax, to be dedicated to the Mayors’ Transportation and Transit Plan?”  Voters are expected to check the yes or no box.  Make sure to follow the instructions for returning the ballot, as described in this Elections BC video. 

To learn the full details of the transportation plan, visit

Who is eligible

Not everyone is eligible to vote even though everyone in Metro Vancouver, including tourists, will pay the additional taxes if the plan is approved. Only those who meet the following criteria can vote:

  • Canadian citizens.
  • 18 years of age or older on or before May 29, 2015 (Note: This includes some students currently in grade 12, who will have their first opportunity to vote).
  • A B.C. resident for at least 6 months on or before May 29.
  • Registered to vote in B.C.
  • People who were registered for the last municipal elections in 2014 and have not moved will have their voting packages mailed automatically. People who are registering for the first time or have moved since the municipal elections in 2014 can register on or before midnight on Friday, May 15.
  • Registration will continue up to May 15 – those without fixed addresses or ID can register by swearing a solemn oath. Some multilingual capabilities provided.

Key dates

  • Friday, March 27: All Metro Vancouver voters registered prior to March 5 should have received their packages.
  • Monday, April 13: Plebiscite service offices open. Check for locations.
  • Friday, May 15 (midnight): This is the deadline to register to vote. Call 1-800-661-8683 or visit:
  • Tuesday, May 26: Mailed in ballots need to be posted so as to arrive by 8 p.m. on May 29.
  • Friday, May 29 (8 p.m.): Close of voting and closing of plebiscite services offices.
  • Thank you for voting, and remember a YES vote will help VCH staff and patients, particularly those most vulnerable who rely on transit to access work, school, health and other services.

Read more

Read my past posts on this important issue:

Vote YES for our staff and patients

The transportation referendum and your health benefits

About the Author

Patricia Daly

Dr. Patty Daly is chief medical health officer and vice president of public health as well as a clinical professor in the School of Population and Public Health in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC. Patty writes about public health issues. View all posts by Patty.

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12 comments on “The Transit Referendum: How to vote

  • Jo says:

    Absolutely voting NO, and I agree this type of pressure to vote a certain way should NOT be sent to us on our work email, whether Patricia Daly is our boss or not!

    • John Carsley says:

      Our job as Medical Health Officers is to make sure the population we serve has the information necessary to make healthy choices. Sorry if you view this as “pressure”. Since you seem to have made up your mind on the plebiscite, I suggest you no longer read the blogs about it.

  • JEM says:

    Has VCH written any articles supporting the Yes vote in the local newspapers or is it just employees that are receiving the continuous Yes vote communications.

    • John Carsley says:

      Medical Health Officers in both VCH and Fraser have written to all Lower Mainland newspapers, both local and national, appeared on local news broadcasts, blogged, Tweeted, attended community information sessions, and even handed out information in the streets to make sure that our residents get all the information about the health benefits of the Mayor’s Plan to make a reasoned choice. We will continue to do so until the voting period has finished.

  • James Lu says:

    Your lungs would vote yes

    If the transportation referendum polls are correct, I am in the “yes” minority. I have been trying to figure out why. I wonder if it’s because I’ve had the opportunity this past year to work with some very professional, thoughtful, and nice people in TransLink. I worked with them to ensure that a health lens was used in developing the Mayors’ Council proposal. I wish others could have had this same opportunity, because being “at the table” and having met some of the people, I know I am not being sold snake oil.

    What resonated most with me is the positive air quality impacts the plan could bring. Air quality in the Lower Mainland is very good. Still, a 2004 Health Canada estimate attributes over 600 deaths in Metro Vancouver each year to air pollution. Vehicles are a major source of air emissions in Metro Vancouver. Our region is projected to grow by 1 million more people and over 700,000 more vehicles over the next 30 years. Even with newer emission control technologies, the sheer number of additional vehicles will make our air worse… unless we can make public transit the easy choice for a lot more people. We do not experience poor air quality as people in southern Ontario frequently do. We should keep it that way. Voting yes will mean less cars on the road, which will mean cleaner, healthier air.

    On a personal note, I like the fact that I will have only a five minute wait max if I miss my bus in Richmond in the morning, and that soon I also won’t need to get on the outbound train at Lansdowne in order to get a seat going downtown. Oops I just gave out my transit bliss secret.

  • Tom says:

    Is there any commitment by the government to build and/or expand the current transit system? I am concerned how the funds are going to be spent.

  • Apathy says:

    35 cents a day to fund those high paid transit executives with their ridiculous salaries and bonuses. 35 cents a day to help fund disastrous schemes such as the compass card system. 35 cents a day to help fund more incompetence. I think not.

  • NO more says:

    Politics and referendums are our personal choice and should not be influenced by an employer. Sometimes crossing the line causes incorrect decisions to be made. Just saying.

    • John Carsley says:

      Dr Daly is not your employer, she is one of your Medical Health Officers. She has a DUTY under the BC Public Health Act to inform residents of this region about important health matters. This role is entirely separate from her administrative position as VCH Vice-President of Public Health. VCH, the corporate entity and employer, is neutral. All of us Medical Health Officers who work in the VCH region are clear to say that we are providing this expert medical advice as MHO’s — just doing our jobs. In fact, we find it quite insulting when folks say, “Why are you talking about this” Well, the reason is that this is a major public health issue. A better transportation system will bring many health benefits to us all. And that’s our job, helping us be healthier.

      • No more says:

        It is an insult to ask people to keep paying added taxes from their already dwindling pay checks when they are already struggling to keep a roof over their head and feed their families – this includes me!

  • AM says:

    no no no, indirect taxes like this penalise lower earners, tax fairly or not at all BC.

  • Ann says:

    i will be voting NO

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