February 24, 2015

Referendum: The Great Dupe

My sense of the referendum at this point: It’s becoming increasingly clear, if it wasn’t obvious at the beginning, that this was a set-up:

  • To limit municipal and regional governments tax room and expenditure, as advocated by the Fraser Institute and others leading up to the provincial and civic elections, without the province having to wield the knife.
  • To avoid provincial commitments to transit, so they can be diverted instead to Motordom (hello, Massey) – effectively reversing the direction of the regional vision and plans.
  • To get the people of Metro Vancouver, transit-users included, to vote against their long-term self-interest, even as equivalent amounts of revenue are shifted to the top 2 percent of British Columbians.

To execute the strategy, it was necessary to vilify government – the job of astroturf groups with obscure funding but direct links to the anti-government network.  TransLink, without an identifiable leader and a board without electoral accountability, was an ideal target.  Hence the disproportionate attack on its performance.  The goal: to get voters to justify a No vote without, in their minds, voting against transit – which is what, of course, they are actually doing.

Hence, the Great Dupe.

Here’s another compilation of quotes from The Exile:

The Red Herring Referendum

“One thing that we have learned however is that the best thing to do to make your transit agency worse off is to de-fund them. That taking away money from them in order to demonstrate frustration only punishes the people who are reliant on the transportation system.”

Jeffery TumlinNelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates

How making those with low incomes, students, new immigrants and the elderly wait longer for the 99 B-line will induce Christy Clark to give Translink executives a salary haircut is a mystery to me.

Stuart Parker makes a similar point here.

“Let’s be clear: the BC government already doesn’t care about low-income people, transit riders and families forced to suburbanize due to the affordability crisis. If our lives get worse by our own hands, it’s just going to broaden the smile on our premier’s face. What so many “no” supporters are missing is that hostage situations only work if the people you’re threatening care about the hostages.”

Indeed. People, including some progressives, seem to be under the mistaken impression the Premier wants a Yes victory.

UPDATE:Stephen Rees has another of his always useful posts:

“In fact most of the problems that beset Translink at the moment all have their genesis with the provincial government. Christy Clark has done one brilliant job: she has deflected all the criticism of her failure to authorize adequate resources for running the transportation system in BC’s largest metropolis onto an organisation that she herself controls. It is an appointed Board – with a bafflingly complex system of appointment to disguise the very limited range of qualifications of its appointees. No-one represents the users of the system, and there are only two of 20 Mayors on the board, both very recent appointments.

“Voting NO is not going to change anything.”

 

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Comments

  1. One needs only to take a look at the electoral map from the last election. The NDP took the transit-dependant areas of the lower mainland and the Liberals still won handily.

    The BC Libs don’t want or need the vote of anyone who takes the bus or train (or god forbid bikes) to work. They have zero electoral incentive to genuinely improve transit, and it’s in their interest to keep Translink around as a boogyman with which to rile up the base.

    I’ve laughed when Coyne and others from back East have praised the referendum as some kind of triumph for democracy as if it wasn’t deliberately set up to fail.

  2. All this happened because the NDP botched the election 2 years ago. It was theirs to lose and the surprise swing at the end has costed the region dearly. The Massey bridge, the referendum, the elimination of the ALR, all because of one f**king election……Thanks NDP and Dix

    1. They lost that election the moment they hitched their wagon to Dix. Talk about the perfect way to say: “Same old gong show.” It would be like the federal Conservatives running with Mulroney, or the federal Liberals running with Dion. Dumb dumb dumb.

        1. Exactly. Canada, incl. BC is a major resource exporter, financier, value-add provider, shipper, exporter.. and the NDP and some MetroVan mayors, especially Mr. Green love to block that at every angle.

          It is the economy, stupid. That saying was true 30 years ago as it is today. As such the NDP (both federally and provincially) needs to find was to promote job growth and social justice causes. Only a health economy can provide the tax base to feed the homeless, build social housing, allow for higher cost green initiatives, pay for roads, fund transit, expand hospitals or fund education.

          1. You come across as a typical brainwashed baby boomer, resource extraction at all costs over anything else even though the revenue ends up in the hands of the elite few. Alberta is paying the price for not collecting, and managing its resource revenue properly and BC will be no different. Until we do it like Norway, no way:

            http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2013/01/16/alberta_should_learn_from_norway_on_managing_oil.html

            Thomas check out LOCO BC, they add significantly more to the Vancouver and BC economy than the big corporations:

            http://locobc.com/

          2. The NDP says that if we just tax the rich we can have it all. No growth. No resource development. No industry. No trains. No shipping of stuff. We just have to learn how to grow our own food and get a solar panel and we’ll be happy forever. Isn’t that true?

            1. Lets face it we need a third party to vote for with fresh ideas and creative solutions as opposed to the two extreme options we have today. I really like the LOCO BC model, capitalism and creativity while supporting the environment and still profiting. The Liberal and conservative agenda is a farce, zero diversification. The NDP is stuck for solutions too.

          3. Please do not call smart people (like me or many on this blog) brain washed !

            Until the cheap, plentiful and “green” pixie dust arrives that fuels cars, flights to Hawaii or your public transit bus let’s not confuse cute little ideas about buying local with wealth (and thus, tax) generation that millions can benefit from !

            To buy local you need money. To get stuff delivered locally, from afar, you need energy, even from Richmond or the Fraser Valley. To drive anywhere, or fly, you need energy, lots of it. The wealth of a nation is directly related to the energy it consumes.

            You are free to chose a simple, local life style living in a tiny condo riding a bike. That is the beauty of living in Canada: many choices. Please let others chose their preferred path, one that may not be your personal choice.

            Socialist Cuba is accepting immigrants, to my knowledge, but somehow far more, by a factor of 100,000 to 1M chose Canada or the US. Ever wondered why ?

  3. The electoral map is one thing, but the motivation behind the vote seems profoundly anti-urban by singling out transit for ninety-nine lashes while the car lobby cheers unscathed from the bleachers.

    Meanwhile, the government debt on building the supersized Port Mann appears to be growing as the tolls cannot keep up to servicing costs. According to the Sun’s Vaughn Palmer this will add $627 million to the operating deficit in three years. Maintenance will jack that even higher. What will the total be in a decade?

    Transit is more important than ever, but Victoria will never see it that way.

  4. @ Ron S….the elimination of the ALR? That hasn’t happened to my knowledge, though there is a review going on. It has sure been nibbled away at the edges over the years, though.

    1. Don’t worry that is coming. Amazing how government projects usually take years to materialize yet the speed at which the Liberals are pushing forward with their agenda is astonishing.

      1. A debate on the ALR is overdue, namely does it make sense to grow blueberries on land that is worth $10M per acre as residential land, or that could be used for recreation, commercial, industrial or recreation.

        A growing region with 1M more people expected and expanding ports with associated infrastructure needs more land and as such an intelligent debate what is the best land use has to happen every few decades or so.

        1. I knew you come back with your Blueberries analogy. You really don’t have a clue do you, like a broken record. All you have to see is how our reliance on California Produce and their continued drought has driven up the cost of food in BC. But you will never see that. Read the Urban Food Revolution by Peter Ladner. There are property developers who buy farms in the Fraser Valley and let them sit fallow to complain that they are unusable hoping for the Lottery ticket to switch to all the the sprawl you are advocating through your paradoxical comments. Also BC is the only province that does not place limits on Foreign ownership of Agricultural land so maybe you will get your wish after all and your property development company can be the first to take advantage.

        2. Thomas wrote: “…does it make sense to grow blueberries on land that is worth $10M per acre as residential land, or that could be used for recreation, commercial, industrial or recreation.”

          You don’t think that food is as important as recreation?

          1. They are both important in an urban context, as is commercial, residential and industrial use. As such farming is done elsewhere as city dwellers require all four close by, but NOT food production. The ALR in the Lower Mainland needs a review with that in mind. I do not really care if my blueberries are grown in NZ, Mexico, California or Richmond.

  5. I’d sure like to see some comment by the anti-taxxers here on the horrible draw on the taxpayers that is Port Mann and all its associated freeways.

  6. I’m pretty far away from being a Fraser Institute adherent, and yet the article you referenced ( http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/Opinion+Vancouver+city+hall+debt+addiction/10032011/story.html ) doesn’t strike me as unreasonable in general. The argument on its face, that other cities without free ability to take on debt do just fine, isn’t so crazy, and perhaps Vancouver has been spending money on things that are needed but aren’t broadly its responsibility (like taking on debt to build social housing).

    “In 2012, the latest year of comparable data, Vancouver was in the red, with liabilities exceeding financial assets by $268 million. In other words, the city was in a net liabilities position. Meanwhile, other Metro municipalities, including nearby Surrey and Burnaby, were collectively $2 billion in the black.”

    Is a good example. No doubt the spending was all above board and proper, but was it all necessary? In terms of services and recreation centres, or other large capital assets, are Burnaby or Surrey *really* so much worse than Vancouver.

    A big part of my discomfort with this is the relative eagerness with which Vancouver seems to take on issues that were wholly the responsibility of senior levels of government (e.g. social housing, social services).

    1. And there is a big difference between a need and a NEED. Most cities have to make that differentiation in their capital planning and are pretty disciplined at it. Perhaps Vancouver has never really had to operate that way?

      1. Post
        Author

        Works pretty well doesn’t it: senior governments defund or download traditional responsibilities like housing and transportation. Those municipalities that pick them up with local dollars are then targets of the anti tax-and-spend lobby. No debate on merit of expenditure. Just “No More Taxes.”

        Meanwhile, savings by senior governments are then used for tax cuts. This case is particularly blatant: money to be raised within region for transportation thru sales tax = about $230 million. Provincial revenue shifted at end of year to those earning over $150,000 (top 2 percent) = about $230 million.

        1. That makes sense though. In my opinion far too much money ends up in Ottawa, or in Victoria. It makes no sense, as they actually send $s back to cities for infrastructure grants and also healthcare.

          We need to REDUCE federal taxes and also provincial ones so we have room for more local taxation where people live. I cannot expect folks in Kelowna, or for that matter in Ottawa, to fund infrastructure in Vancouver.

          A broader debate on that is needed. Cities need far MORE taxation room, besides property taxes, for example a share of corporate or personal income taxes. And that can be done only if taxes on the provincial and federal level are reduced.

          The MteroVan mayors do have taxation room left today, without provincial approval: property taxes, land transfer taxes, parking fees, gasoline surcharges, .. and they also have a lot of room to reduce expenses in their bloated and grossly overpaid bureaucracies hihjacked by powerful public sector unions.

          But what we really need is an adult debate how to make car use more expensive, i.e. road/bridge/tunnel tolls, thus reduce its use, to fund more rapid transit that is usable as an alternative (ie not only buses) ! As such a discussion between MetroVan and province has to happen, but also an acknowledgement what tax payers want, and not just public sector unions that often dictate the public sector spending agenda.

  7. While I will certainly vote YES, this is stupid, stupid process. Was it as carefully thought out as some of the conspiracy theorists seem to believe? I hate to give the forces of darkness credit for that much intelligence. Still…

    So what plebicites might be next? Welfare rates? ALR? Shutting down BC Ferries entirely, in favour of the private sector?

    Probably depends on how the first one turns out. And what happens next if the vote is NO.

  8. Why am reading constantly that TransLink has been de-funded, when TransLink’s Annual Reports clearly show that their budget has increased by about 50% during the recent five years – under a Liberal government in Victoria? Government funding did decline in 2012 but only by $606,000, or 0.7%. For a one and a half billion dollar operation this is less than 0.03%. That’s like saying to your child that instead of giving them a thousand dollars spending money next year, they’re only getting $997. Not even an ouch; especially for a corporation running a total net debt of over $3 billion.

    I sense that there is already an attempt to blame the provincial government for this referendum being voted down, by those yearning for a referendum win – and the voting hasn’t even yet started!

    Remember, just about every pro-Yes campaigner and spokesperson has criticised TransLink, and it was TransLink that fired their CEO. I’m not saying that was the definitive moment in the campaign because we still have a long way to go and more fun and games seem to be certain.

    As I predicted a couple of weeks ago, I would not be surprised to hear many more calls to cancel the vote.

    1. I have not heard ‘defunded’, but the effect is the same. If funding stays the same and the cost of service increases at the rate of inflation that is a cut in services that can be provided. But it is worse than that because population is rising as well service per rider is going down even more.

  9. Reblogged this on metrobabel and commented:
    Thoughts from Gordon Price on what he’s dubbing The Great Dupe. More and more, I feel that Premier Christy Clark has set this referendum/plebiscite to fail – and fail miserably. Sigh.

    1. If you believe that, it gives Christy Clark enormous credit in her ability to outsmart 19 city mayors. Wow! If nothing else Christy Clark is considered to be smarter than 19 mayors all together. Christy actually made 19 mayors, and their teams, come up with an idea that is going to fail?

      1. Not very hard to set a referendum question to fail when you have final say on the question, the rules and the funding. If that fails a few carefully….I mean accidentally say things like don’t worry if this fails the mayors will just come up with a plan B….wink wink nudge nudge.

      2. It’s more that Christy Clark has basically Calvinball with all of us. She’s set up this referendum and has set up the rules of engagement. She and Todd Stone shot down the initial suggestions by the mayors. She changed this referendum into a non-binding plebiscite. It’s not that the mayros came up with an idea that is going to fail. She’s created a game where she can change the rules. Just like when Calvin and Hobbes plays Calvinball, Calvin always changes the rules as the game goes along.

  10. Unfortunately comments like Jeffrey Tomlins “families forced to suburbanize” only illustrate why so many urban dwellers really don’t understand what motivates many people’s lifestyle choices. Most families will make a prudent shopping decision: get the most for your money. This generally means a newer home on a larger lot, close to good schools. It used to be that handy urbanites who were the exception to that rule could buy a rundown fixer upper in the city and turn it into a family home. Unfortunately our sainted municipal politicians deemed it more lucrative to allow those character homes to be sold off and demolished to the very wealthy Gordon decries. Who is to blame there?

    1. I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel my family has been forced to suburbanize. We were fortunate to be able to choose to do it in a suburban area of single family homes well-served by transit. From my point of view, this is the solution: not to bring the suburbs to the city, as you propose, but to bring the city to the suburbs.

      Why should only Vancouver get to be a real city? Lots of us who live in the suburbs crave the advantages of urbanism. Even if we live in detached houses and drive regularly, dense, walkable and bikeable transit nodes and corridors make it possible to enjoy the benefits of both suburban and urban living. I drive nearly every day, but year by year proximity to transit brings shops and services that will increasingly permit me to walk for everyday errands.

      1. Space. Pretty simple. You can’t have all the benefits of walkable, dense, neighbourhoods while simultaneously having all the roads, parking, highways and other infrastructure required to service cars.

    2. Are you suggesting my neighborhood is a figment of my imagination? I grew up in a suburb like this in Ottawa (walk score 87) and lived in one in Calgary (walk score 91). Walk score for my house here is 76, but set to increase. Sure there are compromises: the beautiful 4 bedroom condo where I rented a room in Switzerland scores 99. That is not possible in a suburb, but they don’t have to be unrelenting expanses of houses, lawns and pavement, and urban amenities need not require a 20+ minute trek by car.

      It is possible to have a mix of housing types near each other: a central node or corridor with high or medium density apartments with single family homes in behind. This used to be a the standard development pattern, one that defined the streetcar suburbs Gordon Price admires so much: streets like Main in Vancouver and Hastings in Burnaby. Then we stopped building them; I think it’s pretty clear that demand outstrips supply.

      People choose from the options available. It seems to me that your apparent rejection of the very possibility of such places says a lot more about why people live where they do than does your criticism of the idea that families are forced to suburbanize.

      1. No, I live in a similar place. Off Main actually, one of those you note. But those places were creations of a different time. Places like Hastings or Main aren’t what’s being built anymore. Nor will they be. Cities like Vancouver or Burnaby can only go more dense–or further from your notion that we can have it both ways.

        Conversely, places like Surrey are creating weird hybrids where in many places he lots are smaller (in some cases ridiculously tiny) with walkable parks, but the standards are still defined by cars and the shopping is still mega malls. So, you have half the good and more of the bad. Plus of course there’s no transit to these ‘new urban’ places so it kinda falls apart there anyway.

        Point is, there are neighbourhoods that exist in the ‘sweet spot’ you mention, but we aren’t creating any new ones. So, you either pay to get one, or you sacrifice something significant.

    3. But we *could* create new ones. In a few places, like where I live, we are. Until about 15 years ago, when I first lived in the area, my neighborhood was quite car-dependent. It no longer is. It is true that Vancouver and Burnaby will become increasingly dense and increasingly unaffordable. I think that’s only partly a valid criticism. Cities are ever-changing. Eventually a give neighborhood may densify to the point where houses with yards don’t exist (or maybe not – Tokyo is mostly tiny single-family houses). That indicates success, not failure: people want to live there. Yet cities change; there is no final equilibrium. We live through that change; during our time it is possible to have suburban neighborhoods abutting on and benefiting from denser developments.

      We could build walkable transit neighborhoods like this in places like Surrey – if the political will existed to support them. Unlike Port Moody and Coquitlam, say, these are places that don’t anticipate transit so they don’t build for it. In effect, Bob claims there is no demand. That is not just a descriptive claim: believing it makes it true. I know he’s wrong about my family; I suspect he’s wrong about other families too. I think the land values in the dense areas of this region demonstrate that if we build it they will come.

      By the way, I see I tagged you for Bob’s criticism of the idea that families are forced to suburbanize. My apologies.

      1. Without knowing more details, it’s hard to see if you were “forced to suburbanize”. How big is your family, what was your budget when you went looking for a home 15 years ago? What area do you work in?

  11. I’m really straining to see this referendum as the political master stroke calculated with such purpose and execution as characterized in this post. I see a Premier falling back to base political principles after she was on the back foot and twice burned on tax issues during an election campaign that was going to pot. The impetus since then has been to live up to her word, to not flip flop and to “listen” to the people. I don’t pretend to know what goes on in Christy Clark’s head but such a villainous plot is probably not one. Sure her base instinct may be to bray to suburb living median voter but isn’t that just democracy?

    1. One core reason is the excessive growth, well above population growth plus inflation, of municipal spending over the last ten years, primarily driven by excessive public sector wages. As such, one of the core culprits of a forced provincial referendum are the public sector unions. Christy Clarke just didn’t want to write a blank cheque for more bus based transit, used primarily by NDP voters.

      An adult debate has to happen between the province and the mayors how

      a) to reduce spending, especially on excessive wages
      b) how to reduce car use, for example through road tolls
      c) how much to increase property taxes
      d) how much to fund through borrowing
      e) what transit makes sense that allows car users to switch ( hint: not more buses)
      f) what other taxes to increase to fund it: development levies, land transfer taxes, PST , gasoline taxes, parking fees, increased car registration fees

      At the core is a deep mistrust between her ( many fiscally conservative Liberals ) and the pro-union free spending mayoral crowd. Until the mayors get that, the Liberals will not open the wallet. As stated elsewhere, the mayors did not communicate anywhere ( to my knowledge ) why the PST increase is the preferred plan and not property taxes or parking fees, for example, or why they believe that there will be less cars on the roads if it’s costs remain low.

  12. It’ all about the people behind the door and it doesn’t much matter how they got there.
    Suppose the people in the boardroom really are trying to do the right thing. Suppose for example that someone in the room says this;

    For efficiency and environmental purposes we need to manage the performance of the entire Metro Vancouver transportation network. (this could be a noble idea)

    Then someone else in the room says we can do that with new technology. We can track the mileage of every wheel on the road. (This is a novel idea) Then someone else in the room says; we can charge for that, road pricing can be part of the plan, we can solve our funding problems once and for all. (This is a user pay idea) But the contraries in the room say drivers will never agree to that.

    So then someone says lets start with a big splash, lets do some big projects and pay for them with a sales tax. Let’s make a wish list and add it to the plan.

    Then a guy who likes to drive once more brings up the problem of drivers catching on and making a big noise about the plan. So the rest of them start yelling and grinding their teeth till one of them says: Remember that by the time the road pricing starts fifteen years from now everybody who didn’t realize that they agreed to the plan by going for the projects will be long gone including us, plus bonus; by then we will be so far down the road of many millions of study dollars spent that there will be no turning back anyway.

    It’s just all part of the plan, says another, it’s kind of like taxation because everybody is paying, says another, then why do it, says another, it can’t be as cheap as collecting taxes, said another and so that’s how things appear if you read the plan.

  13. It’s as though it was the boardroom of the Red Meat Marketers and all they think about is Red Meat Eaters. They devise a plan for more Red Meat for everyone if they can secure subsidy funding for their plan. What didn’t even enter their mind was the fact that the vast majority is vegetarian.

    There are ~2 million people and ~2 million vehicles in the Lower Mainland of BC and all the Mayor’s Plan calls for for drivers is a new Patullo Bridge and regular road maintenance. The general public may be uninformed generally but who actually really thinks that the Patullo Bridge will not be replaced when needed, even if Andrew Weaver becomes premier.

    Just saying, give us more money and we’ll soon be charging you every time you switch on the ignition. We’re nailing you right now with our cut of 17 cents a litre for gas but we want more. Much more. Don’t worry, we’ll get a bus to stop somewhere nearby, maybe, close to that new bike path, because cars and vans are only for the rich This is not the way to win the hearts and minds of ordinary people.

    Ideological dreaming.

    1. So the fact that you as a “vehicle user” have to vote for a plan with very little perceived benefits for fellow “drivers” is an affront, did I interpret that correctly? And the cost of driving (in the eyes of a “driver”) is excessive, correct?

      Just out of curiosity, in your view, should “transit users” have gotten to vote on the Hwy.1 upgrades, Port Mann Bridge, South Fraser Perimeter Road and Massey Bridge? In your eyes, if you were to consider yourself a “transit user”, would the 10% transit fare increase in 2013 be excessive?

      Perhaps this debate would be less an affront if politicians simply made tough but needed decisions and didn’t force the populace to self-identify into perceived clans and turn on one and other?

      At this point, this debate is almost the perfect definition of a wedge political issue, executed quite well by all involved.

      1. It’s clear that there is a substantial constituency that does not perceive any substantial benefits in the mayor’s plan that justify giving more money to TransLink. It seems that everyone, notably including Yes supporters, is critical of TransLink. This can only reinforce opposition to the vote succeeding. Once that opposition is seated in peoples’ minds they will cement the idea further by recalling other reasons, such as; BC Hydro residential and business utility Tax, property taxes, general funds and 17 cents per litre gas tax.

        I think that running public projects by referenda approvals is a dangerous practice. Prop 13 comes to mind.

        The 10% fare increase is not something I can comment on with any perspective.

        1. “I think that running public projects by referenda approvals is a dangerous practice. Prop 13 comes to mind.”

          We do have something in common Eric, I couldn’t agree more.

          Citing CA Prop 13 as evidence of the risks of referenda is somewhat ironic given your stance though. That decision basically gutted local revenue generating capacity of California municipalities and put many investments/upgrades on hold for years. It was only after infrastructure began to deteriorate and growth began to overwhelm systems that the public began to vote yes for increased taxes to pay for services….ironically, the most common tax being city & county level sales taxes.

          With this history in mind, could we both agree to skip the several decades of under investment in infrastructure, skip the eventual proposed increase in taxes (probably a similar package that is on the table, only magnified for inflation and poor state of repair), and agree to hold mayors, provincial politicians and bureaucrats to account by both voting “Yes” and demanding change in the way infrastructure decisions are made in BC?

    2. That’s a good analogy. In my view the only solution therefore would be to design for omnivores. Then both red meat eaters and vegetarians are served as well as everyone else. Also then a person can sometimes have a meatless meal and other times have a beef roast and not self-identify based on their diet.

    3. Actually, transit is one of the many subsidies that drivers enjoy. Without transit, how would people get around, especially in cars? Look at the Olympics with the closed Olympic lanes and improved transit and drivers got around better than ever. If people want to continue driving in this region, they should be strong YES supporters.

      1. Actually, transit is also subsidized. It’s provided at less than half the cost. Transit users in Metro Vancouver currently pay for about 52% of transit operating costs (not including capital costs).

        It just isn’t that exciting an offer to a motorist, private or commercial, if you offer them a chance to pay extra on sales tax so they can have a new Pattullo Bridge, which they will then have to pay to drive across.

        The exciting prospects of cash trickling down from the massive expenditures is also something that even progressives usually laugh at.

        1. The direct cost for transit users is 52%, however automobile transport is subsidized to an even higher degree. Imagine if all those people using transit and riding bikes suddenly switched to driving. Now tell me that transit improvements and cycling improvements are not good for those who wish to continue driving. The transportation improvements proposed by the Mayor’s Council is good for everyone, especially drivers. I’m voting YES!

        2. Car drivers will not switch to buses just as slow, or slower than cars, less convenient and more wobbly with bus stops that provide no shelter. Only RAPD transit will accomplish that switch from car use to transit, mainly underground in the city and above ground where less dense. It also spurs investments. Not along a bus route !

          1. I agree. It’s no good telling people who need to get to work that they have to park their car and wait 30 minutes for a bus and that their travel time will double. Having said that, I think the B-line bus routes proposed in this referendum are a good idea. They can be an intermediate step to build ridership towards a rapid transit line – the 99, 98 and 97 B-lines have all been precursors to rapid transit.

        3. “Actually, [Port Mann] is also subsidized. It’s provided at less than half the cost. [Roadway] users in Metro Vancouver currently pay for about [56%] of [bridge] operating costs (not including capital costs).

          It just isn’t that exciting an offer to a [transit user] if you offer them a chance to pay extra in [income, sales] tax so they can have a new [Port Mann] Bridge, which they will then have to pay to drive across [if they choose/have the option to drive].”

          [TI Corp 2015/16 – 2017/18 Service Plan, p.14]

          The vast majority of transportation services are subsidized, that’s why they’re typically considered a public good. On strictly financial terms, they all look like a losing investment on paper. It’s only once economic benefits are considered that any of these services meet the investment cut (and some still shouldn’t make the cut).

          So again, why would we ask the public to vote on one set of these subsidized projects (Metro Vancouver Transit), hold another set up to strong public scrutiny (BC Ferries), yet give a free pass to others (no vote or scrutiny on BC Transit or Provincial roadway investments)?

          1. The critical difference is that many roads, airports, habours, tunnels, bridges, rail or even BC Ferries infrastructure projects have provincial or national significance, which is not the case for many local projects.

            Of course one could argue that a subway to UBC provides regional or even national benefits or one to Langley, N-Van or along Hastings to Burnaby. But do they ?

            Why do we expect the province to fund Kelowna, Vancouver or N-Van buses ?

            As I argued elsewhere, I strongly believe our federal and provincial taxes are too high, whereas local taxes are too low, i.e. cities are systemically starved of funding as too much lands elsewhere, i.e. in Ottawa or Victoria.

            Income taxes, GST and PST are too high, or need to better distributed, back to where people LIVE. THAT subject should be explored more, as should be the taxation of foreign money in MetroVan’s real estate or if immigrants contribute enough to heavily used education or healthcare.

      2. Thomas, replying to your “projects of national significance” post here.

        If I understand your argument properly, projects with a deemed national significance should be subject to less scrutiny/plebiscites than projects with only a local significance?

        If that is indeed the case, why is BC Ferries (one of your possible examples of an investment of national significance) under intense scrutiny? Or the Champlain Bridge for that matter…shouldn’t that be an obvious PONS? Yet it’s the subject of intense national debate.

        “Why do we expect the province to fund Kelowna, Vancouver or N-Van buses?” Now you’ve lost me. Is BC Transit (the operator of Kelowna buses) no longer a project of national significance and subject to greater scrutiny in the same way TransLink has been (operator of Van/N-Van buses)? If the question was rhetorical, than I expect you support BC Transit being spun off into a regional agency/Crown Corp in the coming weeks, will receive no Provincial income tax revenue, and will be subject to a plebiscite across the province on how to fund it?

        This is about power and control. Those areas where the Province directly controls decision making are assumed to be good projects not subject to significant review/scrutiny; those areas not under direct Provincial control (MV Transit, BC Ferries, Hydro, etc.) are subject to a second, more onerous standard regardless of the merits of the projects themselves.

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