January 20, 2015

Referendum: Batemyth Busters – The 40-Century Funding Strategy

About time someone took on the meme that TransLink is incompetently wasteful.  So far, the Board of TransLink, the body that actually made the decisions being criticized, hasn’t felt it should take that on.  

Richard Campbell and Brad Cavanagh are doing it for them.


Batemyth Busters: 40 Centuries to Fund Mayors Transportation Plan with CTF Waste


Brad Cavanagh has done a great job of shredding* a key premise of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s slick expensive-looking new website notranslinktax.ca.   He did the math and found that all the “waste” that they found totalled $1.9 million or 1.3% of TransLinks annual budget.

To put this into perspective, it would take 3,947 years, almost 40 centuries, to fund the Mayors $7.5 billion transportation plan with this $1.9 million, assuming that a similar matching waste could be found rattling around in provincial and federal budgets.

The Millennium Line extension to UBC would take 1,000 years and LRT in Surrey would take over 500 with federal and provincial matching funds. Even the 2,700 km of bicycle routes would take almost 70 years. …


Excerpts from Brad Cavanagh’s post:


* Referendum Myths: “TransLink Is Wasteful”


The Canadian Taxpayers Federation released its “No TransLink Tax” platform today, and their second major point is “TranLink is an extremely wasteful organization”. As proof, they offer these six “high waste” examples:

TransLink doesn’t just have one board of directors, it has six – at a cost of $751,589 in annual salary. And after TransLink’s board chair promised executive pay would be frozen “at 2012 levels,” every single TransLink executive got paid more money in 2013.

TransLink spends at least $1.12 million on an empty building. The SkyTrain union head calls the $60,000/month lease payment “outright waste” and a “poor financial decision.”

Despite crying poor, TransLink kicked in more than $30,000 to put a 7-foot statue of a poodle on top of a 25-foot pole. The Main Street Poodle is nowhere near any major transit station, nor is the poodle symbolic of the neighbourhood.

TransLink took months to fix a glitch that saw its ticket vending machines treat new $5 bills like they were $20s. People would buy tickets and get more money back than they put in.

TransLink spent $523,000 on 13 TV screens at various SkyTrain stations. A year later, a CTF inspection showed only 4 of 13 were working. TransLink refuted that claim, saying 6 of the 13 $40,000+ TVs worked – still less than half.

TransLink spent $30,000 studying a gondola up Burnaby Mountain that neither neighbours nor City Hall supported. As Mayor Derek Corrigan said: “[If TransLink is so broke,] why are they going into additional expenses, like the gondola? It’s never been a priority.”

Well, that’s an awful lot of waste! By my calculations that’s a total of $1,872,001 wasted. Don’t forget that a big chunk of that ($720,000) would come with penalties that TransLink would have to pay. But still, nearly $1.9 million dollars of waste!  …

But let’s put that into context. TransLink’s expenditures in 2013 were $1.406 billion (which was actually down from $1.430 billion, thanks to identifying cost inefficiencies). $1.872 million out of $1.430 billion is 0.13%. That’s miniscule, and it’s nearly thirteen times smaller than efficiency savings that TransLink already found.

So TransLink is already identifying areas where it can be more efficient. It’s saved $26 million from 2012 to 2013. And the Canadian Taxpayers Foundation is saying TransLink is incredibly wasteful, and their “big waste” items only come to $1.9 million? Really? …

Look at the facts. The facts say that TransLink is already identifying inefficiencies, and there’s not much left to find. Even if all of the identified cruft and waste is trimmed (and that’s not realistic), that only gains you 0.13%, which is miniscule. Put it this way: if you make $25/hr, and you suddenly get a 0.13% raise, do you know how much you make? $25.03.  An extra quarter a day.


Full post here.


Posted in


If you love this region and have a view to its future please subscribe, donate, or become a Patron.

Share on


    1. it is as wrong as saying that the Vancouver average household pay $2500 in property taxes.

      We all know that 50% of household renter don’t pay property taxes in Vancouver…

      I am afraid we are on slippery slope here.

      You couldn’t not pay a PST at the hairdresser, but someone has to pay the PST on his scissor: business don’t pay tax, people do…

      Bottom line is that it is a $250M additional tax on the regional economy. that is the only number which matter. is it a good return on investment is the only question which should matter.

      1. “We all know that 50% of household renter don’t pay property taxes in Vancouver…”

        should have read

        “We all know that 50% of household are renters and don’t pay property taxes in Vancouver…”

        1. That’s ridiculous. Of course renters pay property tax. It’s just included in the rent.

          Even if you consider that the renter doesn’t directly pay property taxes, the household still does, through the owner.

  1. Several of Mr. Bateman’s savings are one-time, and won’t be available for all 40 centuries.

    However, despite the ease with which his arguements can be ridiculed, Mr. Bateman does somehow manage to keep the plebiscite’s spotlight squarely focused on making it a TransLink popularity contest.

  2. I don’t understand why the media doesn’t call this guy out? It’s like some kind of reflex action that any time anything tax related comes up they line up for his opinion, when he represents no one and has no expertise or anything to offer other than any other joe average who can spout ‘tax bad!’.

    I don’t get it.

  3. I would encourage anyone who sees/hears an interview with Mr Bateman on TV/radio wherein factual errors are reported to call up the producers of the TV/radio program. Speak specifically to the producer and tell them they made factual errors in their reporting. This works: producers do not want to be seen as spreading false information.

    Jouralists/reporters have had it drilled into their heads that every story has two sides, and they generally believe that those two sides have equal merit, regardless of the actual situation. Pointing out factual errors in the media is one way to keep the public discussion from straying into the baseless and absurd.

  4. No renters pay property taxes directly in Vancouver as they don’t own the property. However, assuming the landlord is declaring all rental income, the property taxes paid are quite high in relation to strictly residential. So tenants do pay their way.

  5. Whoa people, do you not get sarcasm? Voony is pointing out that saying businesses will be contributing half the tax increase, not households, is equivalent to saying renters don’t pay property taxes, only homeowners. Of course that’s not true. In either case.

    1. thanks Bar foo for explaining my point.

      On a side note, or back to the post topic: the Translink executives and directors compensations are all approved by the Mayors’ council.

      It could be good for this Mayors’ council to clearly explain this (and justify their decision). To date the Mayors’ council has essentially paved the way to the Bateman campaign