February 6, 2015

Referendum: Reasons for Yes – Iain Black

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


Black“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.

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  1. I think a key section of the Ian Black’s editorial (link) is this one regarding funding of the Evergreen line:

    What then started was an insane and repetitive cycle of politics, obstruction, and delay as this project became the piñata of the Mayors of the day, who couldn’t decide on how they wanted to pay for their one-third portion, some of them fully aware that any delay had the political bonus of reflecting badly on the senior levels of government with whom they didn’t share partisan views. So the project (and the committed $986 million from Victoria and Ottawa – yes, you read that correctly) sat and languished…for another 2 years and 8 months.

    Then, finally, 5 years and 3 months after I started working on it, and 26 years since it was first envisioned, in October 2011 the Mayors passed their resolution to fund the municipal portion of the Evergreen Line… using a 2-cent gasoline tax.

    Indeed, the best plea so far for a “yes”.

    the more at risk by a “no” is the Broadway subway – one shouldn’t under estimate the nuisance power of the mayors on proper transit planning,….

  2. It’s ironic because one of bateman’s arguments is that there is a plan B. And a large part of that plan B is just surrey saying ‘trust us, we’ll build light rail’. The same ‘trust us’ argument he rips in plan A.

    I remain baffled why no one calls him out and/or just ignores him.

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