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The Skytrain station and Broadway and Commercial in Vancouver, B.C.John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says some city resources will be used to fight for a Yes vote in the looming plebiscite on a regional transit tax, a campaign that already is showing signs of losing public support.

Mr. Robertson said Tuesday it was too soon to be more specific.

"I expect there will be some, but we'll wait to have staff report back with next steps on city resources," he told reporters after a city-council meeting at which all councillors, including members of the opposition Non-Partisan Association, called for a Yes vote.

The mayor defended the use of city resources, which has been criticized as inappropriate by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which is arguing for the No side in the vote.

"We have to see a Yes vote on this," Mr. Robertson said. "The consequences of not supporting the transit plan and investing in transit for the next decade would be devastating for the region. We have a million more people coming and we have to make this investment."

In an e-mail exchange with The Globe and Mail, Jordan Bateman, of the B.C. wing of the taxpayers federation, said the idea of using city resources was unfair.

"We absolutely oppose the use of taxpayer money in political campaigns like these, and we will be encouraging the auditor-general for local government to stand up for taxpayers. We pay taxes to provide services, not to try and buy votes."

Mark Tatchell, the deputy auditor-general for local government, said in an interview that his organization is not a "complaints office" and doesn't have the power to tell a government not to spend money on a particular initiative.

Mr. Robertson said it will be challenging to sell a tax hike, but that the proposed 0.5-per-cent Congestion Improvement Tax is, at least, crystal clear in its goals.

"This is as direct as it gets with people's tax dollars," he said, noting it is linked to funding specific transit infrastructure such as light rail in Surrey and a new east-west subway line in Vancouver.

"When they see the value for their tax dollars with this transit plan, more people will be convinced," he said. "Everyone is generally more wary of taxes when they don't know where the dollars go. In this case, it's very clear."

As mayor of British Columbia's largest city, Mr. Robinson was always going to have a high-profile role in the plebiscite, but the Vancouver mayor and Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner were recently voted chairman and vice-chairman of the Lower Mainland mayor's council on transit issues, putting the pair in the centre of the debate.

Their roles come as a new online poll suggests support for the Yes side has slipped since December with 46 per cent of Lower Mainland adults saying they will vote Yes while 42 per cent say they will vote No.

Mario Canseco, public affairs vice-president for the polling firm Insights West, said promoting a tax hike will be tough. He noted that Ms. Hepner has faced questions over a postelection disclosure by one of her party's councillors that higher fees and taxes will be required to pay for an election campaign promise of 100 new RCMP officers for the city.

The survey by Insights West was conducted between Jan. 9 and Jan. 12 among 643 adults. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 4.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Ballots for the plebiscite are to be mailed out beginning March 16 as part of a voting period that will run until May 29.