By David Godkin
Vancouver homebuilders president disappointed by transit tax rejectionCanadian Contractor
Bob De Wit, president of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association, supported the idea of a 0.5% regional sales tax.
“Disappointing.” That’s the word from the head of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association (GVHBA) following a referendum ballot aimed at pumping $7.5 billion over ten years into Metro Vancouver’s congested transportation system. Instead, the 61.7 percent of 700,000 voters who said No to a 0.5 per cent sales tax only made the daily grind for contractors working across Metro’s 21 municipalities tougher, according to GVHBA President Bob de Wit.
“Getting around the city is harder and harder and with this it’s setting us back at least two or three years in the construction of new infrastructure. I think it’s bad news for everybody, including renovators.”
Why did nearly two thirds of Vancouverites nix a sales tax increase to expand the city’s transit, subway, LRT and ferry system? De Wit blames it on voter “ignorance” two to three years leading up to the referendum, fueled by “bad communications and PR” by Translink, Metro Vancouver’s regional transportation authority. “There isn’t a perfect transit system but ours is better than most,” said De Wit, “and I think it deserved to be expanded through a Yes vote.”
De Wit heaped particular scorn on government’s decision to let voters have the main say in funding Metro Vancouver’s future infrastructure. As a result of that failed leadership, he said, paying for an expansion of Metro’s transportation system remains a question mark. “Unless they change the governance of Translink I think what we’re going to see are more property taxes to pay for this project.”