Metro Vancouver mayors say they spent $5.8-million to argue for a Yes vote in the plebiscite to seek voter support for a regional sales-tax hike to finance billions of dollars in new transportation projects.
The total, which falls short of the $6-million budgeted for the campaign, was disclosed Friday in a campaign report from Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, chair and co-chair of the mayors' council for the regional transit authority, TransLink.
During the recently concluded campaign, voters were asked whether or not they would support a 0.5-per-cent sales tax to fund $7.5-billion in transportation infrastructure projects that would include a new subway in Vancouver and light rail in Surrey.
The final expenditure, according to the report, was $5,814,851. That money was allocated by the board of directors for TransLink, the regional transit authority, to the mayors' council campaign in response to a request by the mayors.
Overall, the tally consisted of $2.3-million in advertising, $2,1 million in efforts to reach out to voters, $539,146 for public engagement efforts, $449,911 for research and planning and $414,412 for support staff between Jan. 1 and May. 29 as well as a call centre and administration.
The campaign was focused on the populous Metro Vancouver region of the province. By comparison, the B.C. Liberals spent $11.7-million for their campaign during the 2013 election and the B.C. NDP spent $9-million, according to reports filed to Elections BC.
Neither Mr. Robertson nor Ms. Hepner were available for comment Friday.
Ballots cast during the mail-in vote are being tallied by Elections BC, the agency in charge of major votes in B.C. Results are expected within a few weeks.
Jordan Bateman, head of the B.C. wing of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and the most visible of officials campaigning against the tax proposal, said his coalition spent about $40,000 for their efforts.
In an interview on Friday, Mr. Bateman said he expected the total cost of the Yes campaign would soar once spending by environmental groups, unions and business groups associated with the campaign was added up as well.
"It's an outrageous waste of money," he said. "They're taking tax money to buy favour for a new tax."