Deadline approaches in TransLink vote

Langley City is punching below its weight, while Langley Township is above average when it comes to voting in the Metro Vancouver Transit Plebiscite.

The mail-in vote, on whether or not to add 0.5 per cent to the PST in Metro Vancouver to pay for a host of rail, bus, and road upgrades, has been running since March.

The latest numbers released on how many ballots have been filled out per municipality shows that just 39 per cent of Langley City residents have returned a package. That means 6,831 ballots have been returned, out of 17,518 eligible voters.

Langley Township has returned 34,615 ballots for 44.5 per cent of the 77,845 registered voters in that community. That marks the Township as having one of the highest rates of ballot return.

That doesn’t surprise Langley’s Nathan Pachal, a longtime transit advocate and author of the South Fraser Blog.

“The Township of Langley is the heartland of the No vote,” Pachal said.

He noted that Vancouver, which could lean more towards the Yes side, is also seeing a high turnout, at 42.9 per cent.

Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which is spearheading the No campaign, also wasn’t surprised at the turnout levels in either Langley Township or City.

“I think Langley City has seen through the illusions of the mayor,” Bateman said, speaking of City mayor Ted Schaffer.

While Langley City would be the terminus of a new light rail line under the proposed transit upgrades, it would take a dozen years or more before it reaches the community, Bateman said.

The overall numbers are higher than what the Taxpayers Federation was expecting, seven points higher than they anticipated. He said the media coverage and the fact that the outcome of the vote directly affects people seems to be having an impact.

The participation rate is almost double that of local municipal elections held last November, Bateman noted.

The big surprise for Pachal is that one of the lowest turnout numbers is Surrey.

Just 37.4 per cent of Surrey voters have returned a ballot, the lowest turnout except of any incorporated community.

That’s despite the fact that a lot of the investment, up to 45 per cent of new money in the plan, would head to the Surrey area, said Pachal.

Neither the Yes or No sides seem to have targeted Surrey, he said, despite it being the second most populous city in the Lower Mainland, whereas he’s seen a lot of Yes campaigning in Vancouver and No campaigning in Langley.

Across Metro Vancouver, 41.9 per cent of ballots have been returned, a total of 654,691 from the 1.5 million eligible voters.

The highest turnout per capita is in the tiny village of Belcara, which saw more than 52 per cent of its 509 voters return a ballot.

The deadline to return packages to be counted is May 29. If there isn’t time for the ballot to arrive by mail, they must be dropped off at one of the Plebiscite Service Offices around the Lower Mainland, including one at the Willowbrook Shopping Centre. Vote counting will begin at 8 p.m.

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