As voters say NO to a transit tax, what’s next?

Plus, an LNG proposal hits pause, and what’s the opposite of a bumper berry crop?

A loud and resounding NO
The big reveal Thursday of the result of the Lower Mainland’s transit referendum: 60 per cent voted No on a proposed half per cent sales tax increase to fund a bevy of public transit projects. In Richmond, Langley, Pitt Meadows and Richmond, more than seven in 10 voted No, and even in the city of Vancouver, the No side eaked out just 51 per cent of the vote. Only on the periphery of the periphery—Belcarra and Bowen Island—did the Yes vote come out on top, at 62 and 52 per cent respectively.

So what next?

Gregor Robertson, the nominal head of the Yes side—as mayor of the region’s largest city—pointed to the provincial government, who he said had power to address the funding gap and “increase accountability” at TransLink. He added that he won’t speculate on a possible future plebiscite on transit funding.

At the Vancouver Observer, transit blogger Paul Hillsdon has laid out four post-vote scenarios: status quo, TransLink is stripped of funding or trashed entirely, or a future re-vote. If the status quo continues, expect a delay on major projects—a new Pattullo, a Broadway subway, rapid transit in Surrey—as the mayors balk at raising property taxes to fund their share (as defined by the provincial government) for transit. And if TransLink is significantly reshuffled, or even scrapped, bus operations could be privatized and more responsibilities for transit could fall on the region’s municipalities. Hillsdon’s final scenario: TransLink makes a few cosmetic changes to feign transparency, improve customer service and improve how it’s viewed by the public—all to some effect. That is, until it needs some serious money for its big projects. “And then we’ll be voting again,” he writes. 

Duelling review processes
The sole liquefied natural gas plant proposed for the South Coast hit pause on Tuesday as it asked the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office to suspend its review until a local First Nations band has completed its own environmental assessment of Woodfibre LNG’s $1.6 billion facility (Vancouver Sun). That review, run by the Squamish First Nation, is looking into the impact of cooling discharge on marine life in Howe Sound, the impact of construction on the Squamish estuary and the band’s insurance coverage in case of an accident. When the review is completed in mid-July, the band’s council will then have its say on the future of the project. Unlike Petronas’s proposed LNG plant on the North Coast, the plant will not go to a vote. 

Where have all the berries gone?
Strawberries sold side-by-side with blackberries and blueberries a month early: the hot dry weather is producing strange sights for B.C.’s berry growers. And the result is “dreadful” according to one farmer. “It was one of our worst [yields],” said Rhonda Driediger to CTV news. Next up this week: corn.