The way our transit system is governed is not on the ballot, but it needs to be discussed [“Moving into the future”, February 19-26]. We need to dig back in our memories and remember that not long ago we used to have public TransLink board meetings with elected board members. It was not perfect, but it was a lot better than the appointed board former transportation minister Kevin Falcon imposed under then-premier Gordon Campbell.
The referendum campaign is an opportunity to pressure Minister Todd Stone and Premier Christy Clark to re-establish some form of elected and accountable board to oversee our public-transit system. I’m voting Yes.
And I’m not giving up on elected and accountable governance no matter what way the vote goes.
> Eric Doherty / Vancouver
Daniel Wood’s article misses some important issues about the congestion sales tax and related projects.
If you plan and build expensive transportation systems, then one of the ways that TransLink raises money is by a property-tax assessment. More real-estate taxes can be achieved from building higher towers than low-rise buildings. We can see that along the SkyTrain route, as well as along the Canada Line. It was also proposed for the Broadway station, but citizens revolted at the suggestion. It will be a fait accompli along the Broadway subway, maybe not today but sometime in the near future.
Remember that the citizens revolted at the plans for the Carling O’Keefe site and at Main and Broadway. How will the taxpayers west of Arbutus Station vote, knowing it will mean high-rises in their back yards?
Please remember that SkyTrain and the Canada Line are two distinct technologies, and the cars cannot run on each other’s tracks. This bad planning predates TransLink, when the purchase of the SkyTrain technology was made by then-premier Bill Vander Zalm. The system is more expensive to purchase than traditional light-rail technologies.
If the province had money to replace the Port Mann Bridge, then it should have replaced the Pattullo Bridge, which at the time was a higher priority, given its age. Now, the province wants to replace the George Massey Tunnel with a bridge so that bigger ships can sail up the Fraser River, but the province won’t fund urban transit. The recent provincial budget did not even mention TransLink or the congestion tax.
> Chris Shelton / Vancouver
Every advocate for the “yes” side of the transportation-tax referendum argues that the proposed facilities are needed to serve the million additional Lower Mainland residents by 2045. But this business-as-usual population growth projection is likely wishful thinking.
With the need to respond to the dual challenges of sharply reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and transitioning to renewable energy, the shape of the future cannot be more of the same old, same old.
We will probably need no population growth in Canada for a sustainable future. We should at least examine a Plan B model before committing to billions of dollars in infrastructure that may be unneeded. Metro Vancouver’s long-term growth accommodation strategy needs to be urgently reconsidered. Meanwhile, people should vote “no” on the PST referendum.
> Derek Wilson / TRANSform Canada