Report identifies “accountability gap” in TransLink governance structure

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      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.



      Just say no

      Mar 22, 2013 at 2:28pm

      Having mayors run Translink does not equate to an elected or accountable board. If you live in any city south of the Fraser your "vote" is meaningless. For decades the myopic North of the Fraser crew forced the entire region to pay for their gold plated transit improvements while refusing to fund any transit improvements south of the Fraser. Finally the province stepped in to provide some balance. Now that Southern cities are getting some money those same Mayors are blowing a hissy fit and refusing to help fund those improvements even though they've received billions already. The mayors have shown over and over that they will only do what best for their city and have no regard for best interests of the region as a whole. That is not what you need in a REGIONAL board.

      Lee L.

      Mar 22, 2013 at 2:55pm

      Uh no.
      A regional board will be even less accountable than what exists at present. The big beef the mayors have is that they can only recommend how to fund Translink's overblown plans. My beef is that my mayor encourages their plans. As long as property tax is a major source of funding, then I want MY MAYOR's ass to the fire for supporting a useless subway line to UBC or anything else. I gotta pay the bills and things are stretched to the limit now. I need the MAYOR to be accountable to ME and I like it that I can go down to city hall and tell the MAYOR I am unhappy and it will cost him my vote.

      Just say no

      Mar 22, 2013 at 3:27pm

      Lee, your comment perfectly illustrates the reason mayoral boards don't work for regional issues. A regional board needs to be completely independant of municipal politics to function properly.

      Evil Eye

      Mar 23, 2013 at 5:59am

      The TransLink board must be made up of elected members; elected as the same time as municipal elections. Let the public decide who to support.

      The problem with TransLink is that, like BC Transit before, became inbred with self serving bureaucrats and politicians.

      TransLink really doesn't do anything, as the volumes of independent and not so independent consultants reports seem to indicate.

      Get rid of Translink altogether.