Imtiaz Popat: Time for a people’s transportation plan in Metro Vancouver

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      Metro Vancouver voters have rejected the mayors’ transportation plan. TransLink CEO Doug Allen says that the vote is a rejection of the proposed tax, but not the mayors’ plan. However, a recent poll suggests that voters did not trust TransLink and Jim Pattison to manage it.

      Now that the mayors’ transportation plan has been rejected, it’s time to develop a people’s transportation plan which will allow the people in the planning process rather than the private interests that will benefit from the development of the transportation plan. We don’t need a Broadway subway to spur development along the Broadway corridor which will displace older apartment buildings causing housing prices to rise like it is happening in Burnaby.

      It would be easier, cheaper, and faster to bring a LRT system to UBC off the Canada line from Oakridge or Marine Drive. We could have more efficient rapid natural-gas buses along 4th, 12th, King Edward, 33rd, 41st, 49th, and Marine Drive. The mayors’ plan calls for 400 diesel busses instead of natural-gas buses.

      Bike riders were fooled into supporting the plan promising more and better bikeways in return for support for the Broadway subway. Less money spent on an expensive subway can go towards more buses and bikeways.

      The plan also called for another tolled six-lane bridge over the Fraser River to replace the Pattullo, again causing more congestion than traffic alleviation. The mayors’ plan also proposed a rapid transit line along Fraser Highway which would mean cutting down of hundreds of heritage trees in the Green Timbers Urban Forest.

      So the proposed mayors’ plan would have benefited the developers who would build these projects, like those who built the Port Mann Bridge and the South Perimeter Road and those who will build the new Massey Bridge. The developers will be busy building these projects, so they don’t need our tax money to build the proposed projects in the failed mayors’ plan.

      We don’t need a regressive tax asking the poor to fund mega transportation projects. It’s time for a different transportation plan which will involve the people in the planning process. Transit users should be involved in the transit plan and drivers and bikers should be involved in the transportation plan, so that is not planned in the back rooms by people who don’t use the system.

      Imtiaz Popat is a community TV and radio host, filmmaker, and social advocate. He is a member of the Coalition of Progressive Electors executive.




      Jul 7, 2015 at 5:32pm

      I agree with all your points.

      We already have Public-Private partnerships to fund bridges and make money off of the tools. Why don't they do the same thing with property owners? Property owners fund the subways through a tax, and they reap the benefit of increased property values. The rich get richer, the poor get better mass transit. Win-win.

      Why do they need to find someway to get the masses to transfer a portion of the meager monthly budgets on a regressive sales tax? Why do we keep falling into trickle-up economics?

      Ain't going to happen

      Jul 7, 2015 at 9:23pm

      Are you suggesting that the Pattullo is not 'needed'? The thousands who use it daily would disagree with you. The fact that it is past it's expected 'best by' date is also a factor.
      It is not likely that sufficient transit could be delivered, immediately, to reduce the need for roadways and bridges in the very near future; goods must also be moved, and this does not work on transit.
      Does anyone really think the 'Mayors' plan' was not influenced by Victoria in any way? The 'plan' had to be approved by Todd Stone, before the next step in the farcical process could proceed. Even were that not the case, it would be a rare instance indeed, for Victoria NOT to interfere in some way, shape, or form.
      While Vancouver is fairly well-served by transit, the outlying areas - where the growth is actually taking place, due to lower housing prices - are badly underserved. It will take years of investment to reach a point where transit can actually handle more riders than there are drivers. The capacity is just not there.
      While your idea of a 'people's system' may be sound, it is likely a bit too 'socialist' for this corporate government. The governance of Translink has been an 'issue' since it was changed in '07, yet the elected government has repeatedly refused to act, preferring to keep punting the political football, rather than lead.
      Anyway, we can talk all we want. If those who have the power are not listening, it amounts to nothing but wasted breath.

      Property owners are not necessarily rich

      Jul 7, 2015 at 11:01pm

      Increased property tax - which is part of a mortgage payment - could be the difference between ownership, and not, for many. Others, who worked hard, do not 'profit' from their homes, and do not deserve to be 'punished', will also be harmed. Increased property taxes would be one of the fastest way to ensure that locals can no longer afford anything but rent in this market. This, of course, would lead to a mass exodus, which sounds great, until one realizes that doctors, nurses, and other essential personnel will be counted among those numbers.
      How about we try, at least, to come up with a plan that does not wind up punishing those who deserve it least?
      Where is the cry for data collection regarding real estate sales, for example?
      Why not, and this is only a suggestion, we stop attacking drivers, and home owners, and each other, and demand leadership from Victoria on this issue? Christy is off selling our resources to the lowest bidder, why can't THEY cough up something toward this?
      I'm sure there are a myriad of possibilities, but, as long as transit is the poor cousin of the auto, in the eyes of our leader, they will all be DOA.

      You lost me at "LRT"

      Jul 7, 2015 at 11:06pm

      Don't get me wrong, light rail is fine - down 41st, or Arbutus/SW Marine, or the False Creek railway. Trams work best on large roads with smooth traffic - on an average road with heavy traffic (like Broadway), all you're getting is a Skytrain-sized 99 B-Line that can't switch lanes. Better to extend the Millennium Line at least to Granville and close the box.

      Other than that, well said.

      Fred Bell

      Jul 8, 2015 at 8:52am

      Oh I didn't realize that Imtiaz is now a transit planner too? Please enlighten us on how you plan on meeting everyone's transit needs of the entirety of Metro Vancouver if everyone is going to have a say? Translink is already the best transit system in Canada and in the top five in North America. The reason why the vote failed is because if you ask the general populace if you want to be taxed more money, the general answer will usually be NO - it doesn't really matter what you are asking about.

      Imtiaz should also re-read the part of COPE's own housing platform that sees their housing authority receiving $50M from developer contributions before continuing his tirade on development.


      Jul 8, 2015 at 9:06am

      Voters did not reject the transportation plan; they rejected funding it through a 0.5% tax increase. The plan was not the issue- public trust was. This commentary misses the point.

      John-Albert Eadie

      Jul 8, 2015 at 1:45pm

      Right on !