Iain Black is President and CEO of The Vancouver Board of Trade. And despite the title, he gives one of the best reasons for voting Yes: an end to ‘Plan B’ parochialism.
Voting “NO” a bridge to nowhere
“More stuff” is the most compelling argument as to why this referendum should pass. Simply, for the first time in Canadian history, we have an opportunity to direct our tax dollars to a very specific list of expenditures (with legislated transparency and auditability) to, in this case, produce meaningful improvements to our transit and transportation network. 400 more buses (from 1800 or so to 2200), 129 more passenger cars for SkyTrain, 10 more cars for the West Coast Express (plus an extra locomotive!), a 50% increase in SeaBus service… The list goes on and on. …
Meanwhile, the “NO” arguments have emerged and, predictably, are either out of context, or grossly oversimplified. One of my personal favorites, though, is the suggestion that voting “NO” will force the appearance of a mysterious “Plan B” to emerge as to how to move the region forward in transit and transportation planning.
Actually, “Plan B” is not a mystery at all. It’s called “the status quo”. …
This is the “Plan B”: a return to an uncertain list of transportation priorities, with each one subject to parochial bartering by mayors tempted to focus on the interests of their own municipalities instead of the broader interests of the region, and no certainty (and a separate multi-year political process needed) as to how the municipalities will fund their portion. The status quo leaves citizens and business owners standing by helplessly as investments in transportation fail to get out of the starting blocks, and it’s why our goods don’t move properly, and why we have gridlock now – before the 1 million additional people arrive over the next 25 years.
Alternatively, we have in front of us an unprecedented, laudable, agreement from the current Mayors Council on a 10-year transportation and transit plan – a clear commitment as to their priorities. Further, by identifying in advance the funding source for the municipal portion of the plan, it will be easier to attract the funding from the crucial senior government partners.
Voting “YES” is the only rational choice to meaningfully move the region forward past decades of paralysis and dysfunctional decision making. Beyond the long list of new hardware, with a “YES” vote we can put the status quo behind us, and actually bring an end to the horror movie.