Todd Stone: Why we need a TransLink referendum

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      The issue of transportation in Metro Vancouver is very topical, and that's a good thing. Making sure that traffic congestion is reduced to improve your daily commute is important to our economy and maintaining this region's great quality of life.

      But to improve transportation in Metro Vancouver, big decisions lie ahead. Decisions that the people who live, pay taxes, and commute in the region need to be a part of.

      Today, transportation improvements are supported through taxes and fees like property tax, gas tax, transit fares, and tolls for new crossings. And while there are many taxes, there is only one taxpayer—and that's you.

      To support expanded transit and road networks for the region, many local government leaders have advocated for additional sources of funding to be created, on top of those taxes and fees you already pay.

      The provincial government does not disagree with this idea. But our position is clear. If the people of Metro Vancouver are being asked to pay new taxes or fees, on top of those that local governments and TransLink already collect, then taxpayers must have a say.

      This is why the provincial government is committed to a public, region-wide referendum. It's a commitment we made in the last election and that citizens supported. We will deliver on that promise.

      But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Asking people to vote on a new transportation vision comes after governments and citizens work together to clearly determine and articulate what that vision actually is.

      If you're following the news, you'll have heard about passionate and important transportation projects that individual local governments are behind. The job ahead is to bring this into a common vision.

      And, I would argue, success depends on a vision that is affordable for taxpayers, fair for all communities, and secures the movement of people and goods for generations to come.

      I will continue to work with the mayors to facilitate and help enable a process to bring focus to the regional transportation vision, so that the people can decide what's best.

      If we work together for the benefit of the whole region, mindful of taxpayers big and small from Whalley to Whytecliff, Maple Ridge to Arbutus Drive, we will all succeed.



      collarbone o'hare

      Jan 31, 2014 at 3:39pm

      Gee Todd, you really said nothing, but thanks for saying it in relatively few words.
      Just the old, tired neocon mantras that we are all tax payers....etc.....
      Well then, how about referenda on pipelines, oil tankers, LNG....etc...?
      How about some leadership on this issue? As well, how about some leadership and thoughts on such things sustainable development, Regional Growth Strategies, etc...?
      Just asking.

      Ya, right!

      Jan 31, 2014 at 3:44pm

      OMG! Is he for real?!


      Jan 31, 2014 at 3:54pm

      That would be a legitimate stance if the tax payers got to vote on whether to pay for a new Deas Island bridge/tunnel, Patullo Bridge, Lions Gate, Port Mann bridge...(and it is obvious tolls won't cover those costs so don't try that one). It also would look a lot better if it actually seemed like the government was trying to WIN the referendum (instead of looking for an excuse to do nothing). Todd, you are making the right noises and have not been on the job too long so I should give you some slack, but it sure seems Christy is angling for this to fail. I wish you luck and looking to the future it seems your tenure will be judged on whether you produce appropriate transit funding (via a successful referendum or some other means), good luck, Metro Vancouver needs you to succeed).

      James Blatchford

      Jan 31, 2014 at 8:05pm

      Your government created this mess, Mr. Minister. Your transportation policies have created an imbalance for commuters and communities alike. You have a credibility gap with the public and all this talk about 'people deciding what's good for the region' rings hollow. But it's all about saving face for a foolish election promise rather getting this process right. There are no quick wins here Mr. Stone, and the later you realize that, the more your Premier's referendum gimmick is in trouble.


      Jan 31, 2014 at 11:04pm

      He's sounding increasingly negative.

      His language of "taxpayers" is a bad sign.

      If it's true transit is "important to our economy and maintaining this region's great quality of life", then why is this even being put to a referendum?

      If it passes, great we are where we started. If it fails, we are screwed.

      Arbutus Drive?

      Feb 1, 2014 at 12:14am

      Arbutus Drive? Where is that?

      Brian Revel

      Feb 1, 2014 at 8:15am

      Mr Stone's 'clarification' merely serves to confuse the issue further.

      He refers to "transportation improvements", bundling transit with road and bridge construction. They are not the same.

      While the creation of a Translink organization was envisioned as far back as 1967 to deal with "transportation problems" the real problem is that it becomes easy to lump transit, which is a service, with roads and bridges which are products.

      Bridge tolls do not fund transit. They are funding the new bridges and new freeways like the Highway 1 expansion and the South Perimiter Road which were built without a single popular vote and in spite of considerable community opposition.

      The provincial government has had an atrocious record of sxrewing up the municipal leaders' unified vision for transit in the region for years. Bill Vanderzalm did it in 1981 when he alone decided we were going to have the absolutely most expensive and inflexible rail system in the world we call SkyTrain. Glen Clark unilaterally chose SkyTrain technology for the Millennium Line expansion. Kevin Falcon fired the mayors for being unified in their articulation against the Canada Line. Each provincial intervention cost us more than what the mayors were advocating.

      And so now Chridty Clark and Todd Stone want the mayors to come together and create a vision. The minister blames the mayors for refusing to boost property taxes to shore up monumental provincial screw-ups.

      The ball is in the provincial governemnt's hands. Ms Clark and Mr Stone, your level of government made this bed and you now have to sleep in it.

      Translink's strength is also its weakness. It has the ability to coordinate "transportation" of which transit is one aspect. It should be seen as distinct, however, because if it is not, then people can be confused thinking that we have a transit system that eats up Translink's entire budget. The trouble is, "Translink" and "transportation improvements" and "transit" are used interchangeably. Clearly, they are not interchangeable.

      Transit does not eat up the entire regional transportation budget. It is a service that costs no more than any other transit service despite the added capital costs foisted on it by provincial ministers wanting a legacy project to champion.

      Confusing the issues behind transit funding the Minister does everybody a disservice.


      Feb 1, 2014 at 8:42am

      what complete and utter bs - who is advising these people?

      Lee L

      Feb 1, 2014 at 1:23pm

      A referendum on transit FUNDING is absolutely needed. I pay a lot to Translink and its Skytrain and bus network as it is and nobody asked me at all. I dont LIKE paying seventeen cents a litre fuel tax plus property taxes to fund a system I mostly dont use and that mostly doesnt transport food, clothing, tools or furniture to my chosen stores. I do support a fair funding formula that is easily adjusted or repealed. Better yet, I would support a formula that is easily tied local government which could be adjusted at that level should promised improvements ( ie local bus service) not materialize.
      I do NOT support a regionally controlled levy system that takes control of my pocketbook but provides no approval process from a taxpayers. electorate.

      I absolutely want the opportunity to deny transit ecozealots the chance to impose funding schemes such as GPS road pricing upon us via an unelected regional authority.

      I await the wording of the referendum which should spell out the funding options that we are voting for or against, including NO MORE funding. Having this referendum coincident with municipal elections is absolutely appropriate, as I want to know BEFORE I elect a mayor or councillor where he or she stands on this issue.

      I want the chance to nix any truly objectionable funding or governance models.
      GO democracy!

      Evil Eye

      Feb 1, 2014 at 8:26pm

      Same old BS, make the people in the Fraser Valley pay for another expensive subway in Vancouver.

      The NDP got us into this mess and the Liberals have made it worse, just wait until the regional mayors screw things up. Let us vote no and be done with it and start again.