Transit plebiscite fires up debate over transportation

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




Mar 11, 2015 at 12:03pm

@Derek Wilson

If I read you correctly you are saying that Canada needs to control immigration so that we are a net zero growth population. And that we need to have an Plan B regarding transportation, just in case we somehow succeed in net zero growth, and in this case it's to not do anything....just more of the same old same old.

The last time I looked, strict population and immigration control was not on any political parties agenda in any part of Canada, or even N. America, except for a few crackpot anti-immigrant organizations. While I do totally agree with you that we don't need any more people in the world, I don't see that happening any time soon, so the projected growth will happen. It may not be as much as some have calculated or it may be more, but to bury our heads in the sand waiting for a Utopian dream is just asking for trouble. Without increased transit the extra people will wind up driving and that will not solve anything.

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Switching sides

Mar 11, 2015 at 1:59pm

The Yes side should have recognized the legitimacy of the anger toward Translink's governance, instead of ignoring it as 'not part of the debate'. As service provider, Translink's involvement is implied and unavoidable. If this had been acknowledged, most of the wind would have been removed from the No side's sails. As it is, the CTF has been allowed to appropriate the No arguments, drowning out the more reasonable, who merely wanted some acknowledgement of change being needed.
I am changing my vote from No to Yes, not because Pattison is on board, nor because I believe the cataclysmic predictions delivered by the more rabid on the Yes side.
Voting No is, in short, negative. It gives us nothing.
Voting Yes at least presents possibility.
Besides, the actions of the Province literally scream that they want a No, which indicates an agenda. We get enough BC Liberal agendas shoved down our throats.
We, quite simply, deserve better than what our Provincial government is willing to provide. So, we gave no choice but to provide for ourselves.
Voting Yes will give pause to those who think referenda are a good way to defund public services; no one 'likes' taxes, but the lie in offering lower taxes is the offer never includes the disclosure of the elimination of services. I have no doubt that this is being flown as a test run. If our Premier were serious about 'giving us a voice', we'd be voting on Site C and the Massey bridge. But, we're not.
We are being asked to limit service to ourselves, through our own action.
The Province WILL use a No as an excuse to further erode this and other public services.
Let's not give them that opportunity.

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Mar 14, 2015 at 5:10pm

@Switching "the actions of the Province literally scream that they want a No, which indicates an agenda. We get enough BC Liberal agendas shoved down our throats." Well said! I really think Premier Clark should be recognized as the de-facto leader of the No side.

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