We are starting a series of Frequently Asked Questions for which it is difficult to find answers on the official websites associated with key regional issues. In context of Metro Vancouver Transportation & Transit Referendum til May 29, 2015, here is our first question.
QUESTION: What is the funding source for the Mayor’s Council on Regional Transportation? It seems to be buying a lot of ads on buses, direct mail pieces, etc. Exactly how is all of this funded, and if it is public money, are detailed financial reports available for public scrutiny?
We could not find any information relating to these questions on the Mayor’s Council website, so we asked via the contact form on the official website (http://mayorscouncil.ca), and got this response from firstname.lastname@example.org.
ANSWER: The Mayor’s Council has up to $6 million dollars authorized for this campaign, money that has come out of Translink’s normal budget for advertising and promotions – it is not new money.
The Mayor’s Council believes that funding the Vote Yes campaign is important, because the proposed transit plan will ensure the region is ready for the 1 million new residents who are coming here in the next 30 years.
If you are unhappy with the way the Vote Yes campaign is being run, or you require additional information, you are encouraged to reach out to your local mayor’s office to raise your concerns with your elected official.
This leads us to more questions. If the campaign is using only existing Translink funds, what goals is Translink’s budget for advertising and promotions normally targeted towards? Is it to increase ridership? To increase positive opinion? Or something else? How are those goals being impacted longterm by what is widely being perceived as a campaign on a losing cause which is highlighting the public’s negative opinions about Translink? Will this do longterm damage to their goals?
And on April 2, 2015, we sent some follow-up questions, as the original answer was in fact, only partial.