The Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation has released a review of TransLink’s governance structure, which indicates that the current system has resulted in an “accountability gap” and a disconnect between the transit authority and Metro Vancouver.
“It is clear from the review of other regions and the consultations with local participants that the major shortcoming of the current structure of transport governance in Metro Vancouver is insufficient accountability to the residents of the region,” the report conducted by a team of consultants reads.
“Rectifying this shortcoming requires adjustments to put in place a body of elected representatives with the full range of ‘Policy’ powers.”
Richard Walton, the chair of the mayors’ council and the mayor of North Vancouver District, said the review reveals challenging issues that “have implications not only for transport governance but for the entire local government structure of the region”.
“We hope it will stimulate discussion and action that will ensure that this region’s governance structure is accountable, democratic and effective,” he said in a news release.
The release of the report comes just weeks before the election, amid the continued bid from municipal politicians to have more say in decisions about the Lower Mainland public-transit system.
The report, which was commissioned by the mayors’ council, indicates that the current governance model is “less than ideal” in relation to the criteria of accountability, transparency, responsiveness, clarity of purpose, advocacy, and productive relationships.
“The most critical of these is accountability to the population being served, which is almost completely missing from the present arrangements,” the report states.
The regional transit authority’s governance structure currently includes the mayors’ council, an appointed TransLink board of directors, and the TransLink commissioner.
The report included an examination of 13 other urban regions in North America, Europe, and Australia. Other regions such as Vienna, Stockholm, Brisbane, London and Toronto/Hamilton have elected representatives that are ultimately responsible for policy decisions, the review found—while the arrangements in Metro Vancouver are described as “considerably more complex”.
The review notes that interview respondents saw a need for a body of elected representatives for policy decisions, such as regional plan approvals and budgets, and that the scope of decision-making allowed for the mayors’ council is seen as “highly constrained”.
The report also includes a series of highlights about the agency’s structure, and indicated there is “more right than wrong” with its scope and mandate.