I’ve been wondering why there hasn’t been more conversation and coverage about the Translink funding   referendum, given the stakes at risk.
The price of failure would be very high, if not disastrous, and yet most people I’ve surveyed think a no vote is likely – even though there’s not yet a question.  What, they wonder, was the Province thinking – and does it care?  Indeed, Mayor Dianne Watts asked exactly that question at the last Mayor’s Council meeting: Does the Premier want the referendum to pass or fail, or does she care at all?
If the Premier doesn’t care, why should we?
And that’s perhaps the reason there’s so little concern at this point.  The Province has yet to indicate what it anticipates, and until it does there’s no point in getting worked up.
The Mayor’s Council has, however, so far indicated that it’s not going to be participating.  Will that then leave the TransLink Board to take on the leadership of a yes campaign?  Derek Corrigan was clear that he expects the board to fund it – but why would they, given that the millions required would be seen to come from transit services?
The Minister of Transportation, Todd Stone, said he wants collaboration with the region on framing the question – but does that mean he will support it once crafted, or even provide the resources to inform the public on the complicated issues involved?  Would he also be obliged to fund a no campaign?
No one that I can find thinks spending any capital, real or political, is worth the risk.   Even the business community is ‘intelligence gathering’ and would be reluctant to either help or hinder, given the politics.
One way out of this mess may be to craft a motion so soft in its implications that it invites an easy yes – with so few specifics that it takes all the tough decisions and puts them off until at least two years from now.  (Premier Gordon Campbell did the same when he realized the consequences of a referendum on native treaty negotiations promised during the provincial election.)
Of course we would then have to put off any improvements in transit while we go through the charade – and lose half a decade or more if we then have to return to the voters for anything more specific.


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