Excerpt from the Official Report of
DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(Hansard)


April 4, 2016

Question regarding plebisite requirments for transit projects

S. Simpson: Just in listening to the conversation that’s been going on, I have a question or two related to the negotiation with the federal government around cost-sharing of these projects, particularly the major transit projects in Surrey and Vancouver. Now, the government has been pretty clear that if…. They’ve been clear, certainly, about the share between local government and the province, and 33-17 is the share. I believe that the province has said that’s their expectation, with the federal government putting 50 percent of the dollars on the table.

The minister has also been pretty clear in terms of how the government has not changed its position around the requirement for a plebiscite if there are to be new revenue sources that are taxpayer-generated revenue sources — that that will require another plebiscite referendum similar to the last one.

Could the minister tell us: has the minister been clear with his federal counterparts that that will be a requirement before the province will participate in funding these programs, if local government says: “We need an additional tax; we need something in addition to property taxes and current revenue streams that are available to the municipal local government”? Is the minister…? Has he been clear with the federal government that the province will not be proceeding unless there’s a plebiscite if there are other revenue streams required?

...

S. Simpson: I would anticipate that the local governments are not about to ask for another plebiscite. They were obliged to do the plebiscite because of provincial policy. It certainly wasn’t an initiative that came out of local government. My expectation is that local government would prefer not to have a plebiscite in future regardless of what the funding formula looks like.

To get back to the question, maybe just for a little bit of clarity. The minister says that this discussion has been had with the federal government. The federal government and the local government have both been informed of current provincial government policy around the requirement for a referendum, plebiscite — however you name it — should there be additional funding sources required that are taxpayer-supported funding sources.

The question I have, again, is: has the province informed or had discussion with the federal government in terms of the provincial view…? Policy can always change; we know that. But in terms of the provincial view, if there is a requirement for additional funding sources over and above what is available today, would the plebiscite be a deal-breaker? And if a plebiscite was required in order to do this, then would the plebiscite need to be successful in order for these projects to proceed and the federal dollars to be requested? So you would have to have a successful plebiscite in order to make the final ask for federal dollars to be put on the table?

I guess I ask this because I’m sure that the federal government wants to know if there are uncertain measures here that are going to affect what kind of infrastructure dollars they put into British Columbia. If there’s another factor out there that’s a bit of a wild card which is the result of a plebiscite, I’m sure they want to know that before they make their commitment.

Is that the clarity that the province has provided to the federal government: a successful plebiscite will be required if there are other taxpayer-supported revenue streams over and above what there are today?

https://www.leg.bc.ca/documents-data/debate-transcripts/40th-parliament/5th-session/20160404pm-Hansard-v36n2

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