Canadian Consulting Engineer

Bird’s nest lights fire under Vancouver transit plebiscite

May 26, 2015

With just one week to go before a crucial plebiscite closes, part of Vancouver region’s transit system was closed down last week by a freak incident.

The Expo Line on Vancouver’s Skytrain network was out of commission after a section of the guideway caught fire late on Thursday night. The fire was started when sparks from a grinder set a bird’s nest on fire

Crews worked all night repairing communications cable that had been destroyed, but service wasn’t resumed in time for the Friday morning rush hour. This left thousands of commuters from Surrey without a way to get downtown to work. The line was closed from Joyce Station to the Waterfront.

The Twittersphere responded quickly with arguments on both sides of the plebiscite question, which is asking Metro Vancouverites if they wish to pay a 0.5% additional sales tax to fund a $7.8-billion plan to build and improve the transport infrastructure.


Some said the Skytrain’s shutdown provides fodder to the No side because it fuels antipathy and frustration with Translink. They said the breakdown was an example of Translink’s misplacing its priorities and not adequately funding track maintenance.

Others said that the crushing effect of the breakdown showed exactly why Vancouver needs more transportation infrastructure, so it would encourage citizens to vote Yes.

By May 22, 42% of those entitled to vote in the plebiscite had cast their ballots. The deadline to have them into Elections B.C. is this Friday, at 8 p.m.

The question is, “Do you support a one half percentage point (0.5%) increase to the Provincial Sales Tax in Metro Vancouver, dedicated to the Mayors’ Transportation and Transit Plan, with independent audits and public reporting?”

If the Yes vote passes, projects that the region’s mayors have identified for funding include a new Patullo Bridge, more rapid transit lanes, road upgrades and more cycle paths.

Eligible voters have to be a Canadian citizen, be 18 years of age or older on May 29, 2015, have lived in British Columbia for at least six months immediately before May 29, 2015, be a resident of the transportation service region, and be registered as a voter.

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