Too bad the public can't throw the bums off the boards of Metro Vancouver and TransLink
The recent transit plebiscite has demonstrated that local politicians have no power to sway the public on regional issues.
It's because mayors and councillors, including Gregor Robertson and Linda Hepner, have little legitimacy to speak for residents across the Lower Mainland.
TransLink and Metro Vancouver spend $2 billion per year, but nobody is directly elected to serve on these boards.
Instead, city councils appoint dozens of mayors and councillors to moonlight on the Metro Vancouver board for fat per-diem payments. And mayors choose which of their own should sit on the TransLink board.
That's not democratic. And that's not how it works in the Portland area.
There, seven politicians are directly elected to look after the interests of the region's 1.5 million residents.
If we directly elected Metro Vancouver and TransLink directors, they could run for office proposing policies to address transportation gridlock. And after being elected, they would have a mandate to do this.
That's far preferable to blowing millions of dollars on a plebiscite that will only delay the introduction of necessary transportation improvements.
Provincial politicians with the B.C. Liberals and NDP can huff and puff all they want about the meaning of the plebiscite results.
The reality is that the public has no use for billions of dollars being spent by people who cannot be thrown out of office for making bad decisions.
This is an issue that should be taken up by the Green party's Andrew Weaver in the legislature.
Surely, he can see the folly of this whole taxation-without-representation arrangement that's been imposed on the Lower Mainland by both the B.C. Liberals and NDP when they've been in power.
Barry William Teske
Jul 3, 2015 at 2:50pm
Someones eyes opened.
Thank you for cutting thru the smokescreen our elected and unelected officials have been hiding behind so they can bank the Lower Mainland.
Jul 3, 2015 at 2:53pm
Charlie is spot on. Appointing city Councillors does not equate to having an elected board. When people suggests the former incarnation of Translink was democratic in any way I just roll my eyes. Translink has always been made up of appointees.
Just look at today’s dog and pony show with the Metro board for further proof of the dysfunction on these boards. They debated and passed a motion on Site C as some sort of retaliation against Christy. How does that have anything to do with Metro’s business? If they want to make decisions for the Province they should put on their big boy/girl pants and run for Provincial office. Low voter turnout on the Muni level has resulted in a slew of under qualified people filling city halls and now they think they should have more power than the mandate given to them. The should run their city and their city only.
As Charlie mentioned, there is only one solution to the current situation and that is to have a directly elected board that has the autonomy to make decisions. It’s not that hard.
Jul 3, 2015 at 3:10pm
Why can't we trade these people away to another City? I would gladly take a second round pick for these two.
Jul 3, 2015 at 3:17pm
Atta boy Charlie! I couldn't agree more.
And remember Translink has 7 individual Boards doing this ... 7!!
A little of topic, but I was gobsmacked when Doug Allen (Translink's interim CEO) commented that the 'no' result was not a refection on Translink because Translink wasn't on the ballot. It's absolutely amazing how out of touch this whole organization is with reality.
If paying one CEO north of $400K/yr is good, then paying two is twice as good !!
Jul 3, 2015 at 5:04pm
I'm ambivalent about Translink or Metro Vancouver officials, employees, appointees...
The 2040 plan was terrible. Contrary to their advertising, it essentially said no subway to UBC before 2040.
Now I have no idea where the failure is between data collection and implementation, but there was nothing in terms of transit improvement or expansion worth voting for.
Jul 3, 2015 at 7:01pm
We elect the people who appoint the boards and who oversee them. That would be our representation, Charlie.
Jul 3, 2015 at 9:20pm
I LIKE it that I have my mayor or transportation representative in my geographic area. I like it that I can personally tell him what I think of their plans to gouge more money from my dying hands, I like that I can point to the things he supported on the Mayors' council as flawed or expensive or objectionable and I LIKE it that he's really close by.
I like it that he knows if he ups my property tax to feed the public transportation monster any further that he might lose some votes that keep him in his mayors' seat.
I kind of like democracy Charlie. You, instead,want another level of shadow government with the power to tax. F@@@ that.
Funny... you've tagged our mayors' council with the usual 'fat fee' smear. I suppose you imagine your new Regional Government 'will work for free huh? And when they dont get their way, they will sue the municipalities (using their new power to tax to pay the legal fees... right?). Maybe they'll send their brownshirt transit cops out of the tunnels on overtime to 'punish' municipalities who dont draft an OCP which is compliant enough? Nah, they wont have to cuz they'll control road pricing in my neighbourhood. F### that too.
Sorry buddy. It isnt the end of the world that your YES lost.
It isnt the end of the world that we have a few fewer buses on the road for the next few years.
MOre government isn't an answer that most people will accept. I know cuz they counted the votes.
Jul 4, 2015 at 6:43am
Since Portland has been used as an example it should be noted that Portland received significant federal funding for their light rail of up to 85% of the capital cost. It should also be noted that taxes for schools and other public services have suffered due to the transfer of taxes to Portland's light rail system, bus service has suffered and even maintenance to the light rail system has been deferred. The pension fund for Metro's employees in Portland is underfunded by more than $1 billion and when the you know what hits the fan how will Portland taxpayers fund the retiring work force. In terms of development even the Portland Development Commission has stated that using rail as a development tool does not always work and the Commission has had to provide tax incentives to entice developers to build near the light rail stations. In the southwest of downtown Portland rail has been somewhat successful in driving development and density. In my view land use planning more than rail has been more of success in making Portland or at least the core communities of Portland very livable. Many of the most livable neighbourhoods of Portland have no access to light rail let alone an expensive subway system. Most of the city is flat with a moderate climb and descent to the river separating most neighbourhoods and the downtown area unlike Vancouver and the number of bike commuters from these livable neighbourhoods are in great numbers.
For years the dysfunctional metro and transit systems in the greater Vancouver area have either underfunded transit or have made some significantly bad decisions (aided by the provincial government sticking their noses into the mix). Recently rushing the building of the RAV line (Canada Line) to meet the 2010 Games deadline saw the region get a 2 car subway system with no room to add more cars to the trains and at a cost of more than $2 billion and a questionable deal to allow a subsidiary of SNC/Lavalin to maintain and operate an entirely different system than SkyTrain. The Millenium Line is another questionable decision that impacted other transit initiatives and since none of the SkyTrain systems connect to the Canada Line one has to wonder whether the saying "when God created brains some heard trains and got on board."
Jul 4, 2015 at 6:56am
It should also be noted that even in the City of Vancouver the plebiscite failed. Perhaps if Vancouver and Surrey had of taken their darling expensive projects off the table and looked at alternatives there might have been a different result. But when it comes down it for most residents the question is, will any of these projects aid me in getting to work or school or to shopping in a more efficient way than driving my automobile. What the outer communities need to do first is to build density and those cities have the zoning power to do so. Also, having good paying jobs in all areas of the region sufficient to meet the population demand for cheaper land and housing is a must. I would suggest that Metro look at a simple almost no cost solution to reducing the number of single occupancy vehicles on the region's roadways. This simple system was created in 1998 and won a US EPA award. It's called Proximate Commuting and is useful where workers have similar skills and duties working for the same public or private employer with a multiple of work sites. Transit isn't always the solution to our livable woes.
Jul 4, 2015 at 10:02am