Vancouver is having a Transportation & Transit Referendum this spring: Yes or No on a 0.5% local sales-tax hike to pay for transit infrastructure, mostly public-transit train lines. The only sane vote is Yes; here’s why.

Strong bones · Vancouver’s a child among cities. As Doug Coupland (I think it was him) said: “In 100 years, Paris will still be Paris and Tokyo will still be Tokyo. What will Vancouver be? Nobody knows.” Growing children need strong bones, and that’s what the vote’s about.

Voting Yes: It’s buying milk for your kids, and making them drink it before they go out to play.

Toxic politics · Let’s bypass the politics that led to the vote: A suburbanite government, none of whom would ever be caught dead on a bus and don’t know anyone who would, forcing the money pain down onto municipal politicians. Whatever; this is the referendum we’ve got.

The No side has managed to make the vote about the unpopular TransLink operating company. Their line is “More money for those bozos? No way!”

There are two distinct questions here: How we pay for transit and how we manage it. Translink is a political creation and if we don’t like how it’s being run, the way to fix it is politics.

Hint to local NDP and Green candidates: Try out a platform of “Fire the Translink board, dissolve the company, and restructure it from the ground up. Start by getting rid of the ludicrously-unnecessary, overequipped, walking-attitude-problem Transit Police.” I bet that’d play well.

Letters of fire, 50 feet high · In the last decade there have been three big transit investments around here: the Port Mann and Golden Ears toll bridges, and the Canada Line train (disclosure: I ride it to work). Both the bridges, cheered on by our suburbanite government, are struggling to meet ridership projections, while the Canada Line surpassed its two-year target in about fifteen minutes and is never not busy.

What do the letters of fire say? Stop building bridges and highways. Build more trains.

Meanwhile, the suburbanites have announced they’re going ahead with a replacement for the Massey Tunnel. No need for one of those messy referenda to fund that one; it’s for their kind of three-car-garage people.

Please vote · Pass the word. Tell your friends. If you like any of my sound-bites, steal them. Failing to pass this referendum would be childish behavior; this particular city-child should just drink her milk already.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Gary (Mar 07 2015, at 13:13)

I disagree. Vote No. Send a message. Translink should be dissolved before we spend more money on public transportation. But that's not the why you should vote no.

The 0.5% has nothing to do with better transportation for the future; it's 100% politics. More specifically, politicians who are afraid to do their jobs.

There shouldn't be a referendum at all. The politicians should either increase property tax or increase the PST because that's what needs to be done for everyone. We vote for parties to make tough and unpopular decisions like this. They are passing the buck to everyone else.

These referendums are setting a bad precedence. We shouldn't have had one for the HST and we shouldn't even be discussing this. GVRD property taxes should have been raised a year ago and Translink should be restructured into a publicly accountable board.


From: Corey (Mar 07 2015, at 21:49)

Your analogy is broken. Milk consumption is correlated with higher rates of osteoporosis. It's not good for your bones.

The transit situation is a sad one. Mostly because it highlights how screwed up our priorities are as a society.


From: Campbell Macdonald (Mar 08 2015, at 09:31)

Interesting. I like speaking points for the NDP.

I had not heard the "bones" argument before. It's a good image.

The current problem is the no side has latched on to a compelling image of government incompetence and waste which is hard to shake even with the mighty Jimmy pattison on board.

The logic for yes is pretty compelling. I dear the no side has won the hearts.


From: Bram (Mar 08 2015, at 09:42)

Look into the recent history of digging big tunnels:

Boston's dig went from budgetted 3B to 15B.

Seattle's big bertha drill got stuck, and never finished more than 10pct of the tunnel. Seattle will never have its tunnel, despite the billions spent.

Or closer to home: 100M stadium roof became 550M project.

So unless there is a plan on how to handle a cost overrun of a factor 5, Vancouver should build absolutely nothing.

Vote no.


From: ALan (Mar 09 2015, at 18:50)

I vote no on all such referendums. If the train is so popular it should pay for itself. Here's an idea: Form a corporate entity, assign equal shares to every citizen within jurisdiction, and let them take it from there. Or assign the shares to whomever wants it.

You can get some non-profit to handle this. Maybe even assign the employees double shares in the calculations. Spin off the board. Assign one year of budget and let it go.

Train customers so bad off? In Latin American countries there is plenty enough private transport, because there is the demand.


From: derek (Mar 09 2015, at 21:11)

Sorry but you have this wrong, just look at Handydart, a Uber style service would be cheaper and better but Translink could never make that happen. Also the proposed plan will not come close to addressing the congestion problem. That would take imagination.


From: John Cowan (Mar 10 2015, at 10:16)

Gary: The best is the enemy of the good.

Corey: The correlation between adult milk-drinking and osteoporosis is weak to negative: the positive results are by people who have political axes to grind. It has nothing to do with milk-drinking in children.

Alan: A better idea: Charge people tolls to use the streets. It saves money, reduces congestion, and lowers the rate of accidents, as research in London shows.


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