March 23, 2015

Four Less-Discussed Reasons to Vote “Yes” in the Transit Referendum

From Bruce Haden, Architect and Urban Designer

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  1. Remember California’s “ Proposition 13”?

The 1978 Howard Jarvis led referendum that capped California’s property taxes was a watershed moment that introduced two profoundly damaging results. The first was the revenue loss that gutted the ability of local governments in California to provide crucial services for the public good such as libraries. I firmly believe this was not simply a terrible result for those that used those services, but cost California dearly in terms of its social cohesion, economic growth and sense of civitas.

The second result of Proposition 13 was to create a broader referendum based ongoing political guerrilla war against virtually any progressive initiatives – although some progressive initiatives benefitted from referenda wins, the overall cost in effective governance was brutal. Proposition 13 started a process that fundamentally changed the basic rules of representative government and resulted in a string of very bad but “voter friendly” initiatives.

I believe the transit referendum could send B.C. down this same terrible path. This is not to say that referendums should never be used, but it was a destructive and anti – urban move by the provincial Liberals to have used this strategy in this case, and it is up to thoughtful citizens to help contain the damage that would be caused to governance in British Columbia by a “No” vote.

Governments are never perfect. Governments handicapped by the simplistic dictates of plebiscite are awful.

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  1. Quality transit is a basic component of equity

Most of us worried about the cost of income equality to all of us have also been concerned about the extremely high housing costs in Metro Vancouver that are a huge burden on those without very high incomes. This reduces the quality of life for all of us by limiting the ability of non-wealthy creatives and the providers of basic services to live here. Quality transit helps reduce the overall cost of living for transit users and is a basic component of equity and economic fairness.

A city without a middle class is a city worse for all to live in.

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  1. Translink is not perfect – but no organization with such a complex mandate is perfect

I have worked with Translink on several projects. It is full of passionate people who rightly believe the provision of quality transit is a central aspect of the quality of life in Metro Vancouver. Are they perfect? No. Any organization that is so large and has so many responsibilities will ALWAYS have instances of wasted funds that could be used as simplistic one-line targets for opponents. If you work in any business, non-profit or government agency, imagine your organization being under attack for fiscal irresponsibility by opponents seeking to score points. Don’t you think there would be ammunition they could use against your workplace? And the alternative to any visibly wasted dollars is to put in ridiculously restrictive control mechanisms that remove judgement or nuance from decision-making.

This process does not save money, it leads to ponderous internal processes that reduce the quality of decisions and waste way more money – it just wastes that money less visibly.

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  1. You have been paying for major transit already – ask yourself if you would want to undo those past decisions?

Your tax dollars have paid for transit for many years. If you could unwind the past would you really want to get rid of the Expo line, or the Millenium line, or the Seabus in order to have a few bucks back in your pocket while you were living in a region that was poorer and less equitable, harder to get around, and more polluted? If you vote “No” you will be making a choice for the future that you probably would never make for the past.

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  1. If it does go down to defeat it won’t be just over .5%. It will probably be partly because there was only one choice on the ballot. Partly because everyone, even Yes supporters, are unhappy with TransLink because of all the reasons they offer; from, Compass, Fare Gates, uncontrolled free-loaders, multi-CEOs mid-campaign, ever increasing gas taxes bites, bridge tolls and probably a few other things too.

    If it does go down the Yes supporters should try and remember that most people are happy to see and to pay for transit expansion. They should try and be calm and approach the issue again, after some issues have been resolved.

    If political recrimination lets loose, as it almost certainly will, the ground will be poisoned for a while.

    The opposition is coming from all sides. There will be no currency in attacking any one side or group, if this whole thing goes down in flames.

    68/22 guess.

    1. There’s something I don’t understand that maybe you can explain to me.

      With public transit, people complain (as you do) of inconveniences and cost over-runs. This is used as justification for putting less money into the system.

      With the system for moving cars and trucks, there are also inconveniences and cost over-runs. And on top of that, that system kills and injures people every single day. Yet where is the call to put less money into that system?

      I can’t ask you to speak for everyone, but maybe you can clarify your own stance.

      1. correction., THIS IS NOT ABOUT LESS money this will see the same money go in as we currently do. Have you ever watched a kids cartoon where the characters are given a choice to take the scary path or the pretty path and the nice option always turns out to be the wrong choice? We teach kids that for a reason and this is one of them. Voting NO is the hard way and if you want to throw a bandaid on it then by all means don’t look at the big picture and vote yes

        1. There are annual costs to maintain and improve your home – would you not spend money on important infrastructure like your house’s roof or plumbing to ensure that house is protected and serves you for a long time to come?

          If we want infrastructure of any kind to continue working for us, we need to invest in it. This is as true of transit as it is of roads and bridges, as it is of any of the infrastructure we own personally (homes, cars, bikes).

          We have delayed investment too long at our peril: the patullo bridge is about ready to collapse, bus services can no longer be “optimized” – where $ is reallocated from under performing routes to relieve congestion on over subscribed routes – with current levels of funding.

          If no one can agree on how to provide TransLink with another sustainable source of revenue, we will be facing transit cuts. This will have significant impacts on the whole transportation system – our regional transportation system will stop working as well as it has.

          1. No one doubts more transit investments are required. But perhaps the roofer or plumber over billed you .. for decades to get your plumbing or roof fixed ? He was the only plumber in town and forced excessive rates upon you. That is the core issue here in the “no more taxes” debate. It is not about transit.

      2. Augustin, I like rapid transit and efficient roadways.

        I don’t know where you heard about less money going into the system, is someone on the No side trying to scare people about this? I’ve read about heart attacks, dementia and early death if we say No, is it part of that campaign?

        1. OK. Where I wrote “less money”, please read “less money than would be needed to maintain current services for a growing population.”

    2. “If it does go down the Yes supporters should try and remember that most people are happy to see and to pay for transit expansion. They should try and be calm and approach the issue again, after some issues have been resolved.”

      I predict that Yes supporters will not be inspired at all to participate in any way, shape or form to approach anything so divisive and one-sided as a single-issue local referendum again. It’s the wrong process, and as Bruce Haden put it, lacks nuance … and I would also say depth. I would also not be surprised to see Christy, Todd & Company use a No vote to stop advancing any local transit while at the same time putting billions into roads while smirking at the mayors.

      The future? We need a deeper planning process for the long-term involving all the levels of government that are expected to fund it, and to practice life cycle cost-benefit accounting, develop a stable decade-long incremental funding plan and audit structure, and a deeper workshop-based public consultation process …. something more than giving the bitchy masses a one-word say on one revealingly selective component of a much wider transportation network.

      Surprisingly, the TransLink planning department has a detailed plan in place should the vote be Yes. ( http://www.straight.com/news/393046/translink-looks-yes-vote-will-move-vancouver-future ). I suggest this would be a good starting place to promote the Metro’s version of a National Transit Plan, regardless of the vote results, as long as the planning process is meaningful.

      1. The federal government usually responds to plans already agreed to at the local levels. I expect that the provinces prefer it this way. I’m quite sure Québec would never entertain the possibility of the federal government becoming involved in the planning of infrastructure projects that fall under provincial or municipal jurisdiction.

      2. In a decent National Transit Plan major funding would be budgeted and allocated to each city and region after first completing a thorough planning process involving said cities and regions as full participants. There are very serious energy, environmental and consequential economic issues to resolve at the national scale before mid-century and these are best done in cities where 85% of us live and work.

        You are correct to point out that the current process has the feds looking in from outside until they are asked for a contribution. When you add up their involvement, it’s quite token, reactionary and aloof. However, no region, to my knowledge, has ever rejected federal funds. When billions for pre-defined projects are on the table in a NTP, the feds have the right to apply conditions, such as enacting elected regional governments to democratically manage the transportation system in return for, say, assuming a larger funding share. Premiers, no matter what their political colours may be, will pay serious attention when the feds offer more through jointly-developed policy. In effect, they and civic leaders will have a stake in the process.

        1. I can’t see who would lead a National Transit Plan. Perhaps some mayors might. If you limit it to the largest 20 cities in Canada you’d have 9 from Ontario and 2 from BC. ie: 10% of the input. A nice gabfest.

          The Constitution places highways, roads and streets under provincial control.

          When I add up federal involvement it seems reasonable.

          Building Canada Plan: $33 billion in programs (announced in Budget 2007).
          Economic Action Plan: $5.5 billion in programs (announced in Budget 2009).
          Other programs: over $6 billion in programs that are winding down, including Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund, Border Infrastructure Fund and Gateways and Border Crossings Fund.

          The federal government was a substantial financial contributor to the Canada Line, which the mayors kept resisting and voting against. The federal government kicked in $450 million, as did the provincial government, the City of Vancouver $29 million. What a great deal for the city! Hardly ‘token’.

        2. Why not lower federal (GST, CPP, EI, corporate, personal income) taxes, and allow cities to make up the difference ?

          1. A day when cities have more powers seems likely. Canada is now very decentralized. The call for more centralization in the nation’s capital and further decentralization to the provinces is a constant. Even further decentralization from the provinces to the cities is possible and much more likely. Ten provinces agreeing is a challenge. Lowering CPP, for one, and what, have two bureaucracies to distribute it? Probably not for decades.

        3. Good points Eric. However, while the feds have been present in projects in our cities for decades, and while the constitution gives municipal governance to the provinces, the federal involvement, in my view, has been much too decentralized to enact national policies and obtain more benefits for the people.

          A National Transit Plan would be hosted by the feds but would have seats at the table for the provinces and probably the 50 largest cities. The impetus for the policy framework would be to address climate change, fossil fuel dependency, urban efficacy and the health of citizens on a national basis.

          Paul Martin was the last Prime Minister to have what he titled the Agenda for Cities, but he wasn’t in power long enough to have much of an impact. The successive Trudeau governments established a Ministry of Urban Affairs for the better part of a decade (1971-79) until the Constitution enshrined it in provincial jurisdiction in 1982. Since then it has been downhill with respect to policy.

          http://ojs.unbc.ca/index.php/cpsr/article/view/149

          Part of my argument is that negotiated national urban policy need not work against the Constitution. The Constitution does not make federal funding of municipal or provincial projects illegal. In fact, provinces and cities regularly cry out for it. It is perfectly reasonable that the feds could emplace conditional access criteria to a large National Transit Plan fund without violating the precepts of the Constitution.

          There are lots of advantages to a federally-controlled NTP. In my opinion, two of the most important include: the tremendous negotiating power of the federal government in large-scale procurement of transit assets, materials, local training and job creation, side benefits (many companies sponsor the arts and educational programs) and financing; and the maintenance of higher construction, safety, warranty and operating standards across the country.

          The procurement orders in a NTP would be very large indeed, and with huge volumes come very deep discounts on unit prices, discounts individual provinces or cities on singular projects could never obtain. Moreover, the use of equipment like tunnel boring machines could be shared by several cities over several projects, with between-project repair factored in. The same principle applies with contractors bidding on several consecutive projects in several cities instead of one at a time; their bids reflect such advantages. The cost per capita will be a lot lower in a series of projects at the national scale, yet the local project benefits will be the same, pushing the ratio further into the positive side of the ledger.

          1. National Unity is a phrase very familiar to many in this country, at times it has been the most important issue for many. When Paul Martin was elected in 2004 the separatist Bloc Québecois had 54 seats. They now have 2.

            When Stephen Harper became Prime Minister two years later, in 2006, many said that this would hasten the alienation of Québec because Harper was a western conservative. Stephen Harper has consistently avoided treading on the toes of Québec and has ceded some powers that were repeated requested by Québec. Canada has subsequently thrived and the Bloc is down to 2 seats. The provincial government in Québec City is the federalist Liberals.

            Do not expect any strong move in any federal initiative that has a hint of encroaching on provincial jurisdictional powers. For the last nine years Canada has, at last, not experienced an existential crisis and respecting the separation of powers, as Stephen Harper has done, has had a lot to do with that. Shared costs on programmes will continue but there will not be any new grand federal gabfest involving provincial powers.

        4. Eric, I wouldn’t attribute the Bloc’s demise to Harper. The people of Quebec may have just tired of the Bloc as being rather ineffective or maxed out (this despite both the Conservatives and the Liberals formerly proposing coalition governments with them), and they knew they wouldn’t get any traction with the federal government of Alberta once it obtained a small majority. So they went in another direction, to the NDP, if only temporary.

          It’s anybody’s guess what kind of federal government we’ll end up with next year, but it’s important to keep issues and policy on the front burner. Should this unneeded local vote on transit fail, then the Yes supporters should turn their focus onto the upcoming federal election and promote something like another Agenda for Cities for the reasons and advantages stated above.

    3. I for one am not unhappy with Translink at all. The staff and management at that authority have been in the unfortunate position of being used as a political football by the provincial government – nearly since its inception. In every analysis of its structure, financing, and delivery it has again and again been reaffirmed as a best-in-class transit authority for serving a region of our size despite the political meddling.

      Who I am unhappy with is Christy Clark and Todd Stone (just the latest in a long line of “ignore the experts” construction hat wearing photo takers). They have set the ground work for all this divisiveness and anger. Worst still, they appear to be getting away with it scot-free.

      I’m not saying things at the authority can’t be improved, but I understand that the people working at Translink are doing their level best to deliver exemplary service to an increasingly hostile clientele, all-the-while being substantially undermined and shoved out into the public to be tarred by their bosses.

      If you want real change, throw the Liberals out in two years and make sure that the next government knows we would like a return to regional, elected, and transparent control.

      That decision is in two years. The one we have in front of us is an entirely different, and sadly misunderstood, matter.

        1. I’ll think about that on my next doctor’s appointment, or when I see the stats on the costs of first responders, the ER and the courts when dealing with the aftermath of fatal car accidents.

        2. Didn’t you the most insidious instrument of socialism ever invented was the yellow line painted down the middle of the road? Just think:

          -it divides citizens into Left and Right
          -crossing it may have deadly consequences
          -it symbolizes Universal Government Control
          -it imprisons a massive amount of public resources
          -it herds the plebes in one direction
          -it convinces the people they are free while enslaved by debt and extraordinarily long commutes

          Free indeed.

        3. I think it’s cute that you consider that to be a valid and poignant addition to this conversation. Poorly spelled, unsubstantiated, and a little Reagan era….but mostly cute. Thanks, though. I guess?

  2. I’m honestly pretty ambivalent about my vote. I haven’t voted yet, and I’m kinda 50-50.

    I don’t think Translink is any less efficient than any other government bureaucracy, or transit agency.

    I think certain transit projects in the plan are necessary, and others would waste money, such as Surrey LRT (better to build BRT).

    I think the sales tax is a sub-optimal funding mechanism that will hurt poor people. Whether the improvement in transit is worth the tax, I don’t know.

    I have immense doubt that congestion will be even slightly alleviated by the plan. Much like building more roads doesn’t reduce congestion, I suspect building more transit does as little good.

    Currently the scarce resource that is mobility is allocated primarily through lines and queues and congestion (time) costs. Providing transit as an alternative may take some people off the roads, which will reduce the “cost” of driving, by reducing congestion (time) costs. More people will then drive.

    I will have to hold my nose and vote one way or another.

    1. Those are good objective points on which to make a decision. I’d encourage you to vote yes for one more reason:

      This plan came from a regional partnership and process that the province has continually undermined. Support having a transparent planning process for transportation development vs. the dictates of the MOTI. While the present plan is somewhat compromised, a Yes vote will support the idea of having a process for future plans.

      1. So the yes vote is an anti BC gov’t vote. Silly thought. That ‘regional partnership’ was the same that fought the BC Gov’t AGAINST the Canada line, claiming it would have poor ridership. No is the smart vote.

  3. Here’s the one good reason to vote No. The tax has already been collected.

    http://www.biv.com/article/2015/3/transit-tax-not-needed-fund-expansion-says-fraser-/

    Over the past decade, spending by both Metro Vancouver munis (up 73%) and TransLink (up 105%) has outpaced spending by the prov gov’t (46%) and the fed government (31%, which is also the rate of inflation. In 2013, the munis spent $3.4 billion. If spending was kept at levels from 10 years ago and adding both inflation and population growth, 2013 spending would have been $2.6 billion – a saving of almost $800 million, three times more than what the Mayors are demanding in the tax hike.

    Now, envision a Yes vote, AND another decade of reckless spending increases. Hell.

    1. I hope all the No supporters realize that all they’re doing is delaying the inevitable and driving up the cost of all the proposed projects.

      Yes means people outside Metro Vancouver will be contributing to the projects. The sales tax will apply to visitors and the Provincial government has committed to help. A Yes vote would also put us in a strong position to request additional Federal funds.

      No means whatever alternate plan is eventually developed will be 100% paid by local taxpayers. No help from tourists, no help from a Provincial government elected by the Fraser Valley and interior BC, and little hope of getting anything from Ottawa.

      Yes will cost roughly $0.35/day for the average household.
      No will cost roughly $1.50/day for the average household.

      Yes means the money will be collected by the Provincial government.
      No means the money will be collected by the municipalities.

      If you think local councils are free spenders who can’t budget properly why on earth would you vote to have them collect the money with no Provincial or Pattison oversight?

      1. Seriously. In 2007 the federal government allocated $33 BILLION for infrastructure (The Building Canada Plan). There are a few other wealthy funds too. There is and will be money available from the feds. if criteria are met. The federal government contributed nearly a half a billion dollars to the construction of the Canada Line. No local vote was needed.

        The idea that a ‘No’ vote will be more than quadruple the cost for the ‘average’ household is kinda crazy, to be nice.

        That’s right up there with the prediction that a ‘No’ vote means more dementia.

        This insulting paternal extremism is not encouraging anyone to vote ‘Yes’.

        1. You are completely ignoring the fact that the funding plan already includes funding from the federal government.

          Have you not read the plan or are you being misleading on purpose?

          1. Augustin. I presume you are directing your question to me. So, yes, I have read the plan and it calls for funds from the federal government. Absolutely none of these funds are guaranteed neither have any funds whatsoever been promised, in any way at all. The Plan may include funds from the federal government but remember, it was the mayors that included the money, they hope it will come.

            All federal funds have to be applied for with a solid complete business case study for a specific project. There are terms and conditions, usually involving P3 partnerships for federal fund to be approved.

            Without any business or project plan from TransLink and the province there is no federal money. Federal funds will not flow automatically.

            This is not to say that will not be federal funds for regional transportation projects but the funds only come after the application process has been carefully followed and if the funds are available.

            As of today the only project that I am aware of that has formally started the application process for federal funds is the rail plans in Surrey.

            1. Yes, so the investments need the federal funds AND the 0.5% locally. You were talking like the federal funds would replace the 0.5%.

        2. That $33 billion is no doubt budgeted over a decade or so. It would cover only about a third of the estimated municipal infrastructure deficit today. Provincial governments are not inmcreasing their share, therefore cities are caught between a rock and hard tax increases.

          The Fraser Institute regularly issues reports that ultimately seek to diminish governments at all levels. Their analysis is regularly selective, out of context, and often uses cherry-picked data. One of their primary goals is to elevate the private control of public assets, a process otherwise known as privatization.

          Municipal expenditures may have risen in the past few years, but the purposely missing context in the Fraser Institute report is the prior decrease in federal and provincial funding of municipal infrastructure. This does not indicate that cities are out of control. It indicates an overall rebalancing of infrastructure funding. The evidence now indicates that cities can no longer keep up to the deterioration of urban infrastructure in the face of decades of downloading.

          A huge 85% majority of Canadians live in cities today. The six largest cities contribute half of the nation’s annual GDP. Investment in cities has not kept pace. A summary of the investment funding proportion in municipal infrastructure over the last 40 years:

          Federal: decrease from about 24% to less than 7%
          Provincial: decrease from around 44% to 39%
          Municipal: increase from about 31% to 53%

          According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, cities today receive only 8% of all tax revenues. The federal government keeps 50%, and the provinces retain 42%. How on Earth can that be deemed fair in the face of the now serious deterioration of ageing municipal assets? The growth in urban infrastructure kept pace with Canada’s rate of population growth and urbanization for only about 20 years, starting in the mid-50s. Since then, investment has declined, but our cities kept on growing at even higher rates. I would agree that much of the infrastructure was based on wastefully establishing unsustainable levels of automobile dependency, but that doesn’t excuse a lack of funding for public transit today.

          The above information is the context that the Fraser Institute doesn’t want you to see.

          The FCM report can be found at:

          https://www.fcm.ca/Documents/reports/Danger_Ahead_The_coming_collapse_of_Canadas_municipal_infrastructure_EN.pdf

          1. 2007. That’s when the report by the FCM was published, so the info is from 2006, at best. Since then we have had a completely new federal government that has contributed substantially to infrastructure projects in BC.: Canada Line, Gateway (various bridges and highways), Sea to Sky, Vancouver Convention Centre, etc.

          2. Indeed federal taxes are too high, as are provincial taxes. Both have to be reduced indeed so cities can tax more. What all three levels have in common is excessive wages & benefits of their civil servants. The public thus says “no” to tax increases, but doesn’t really mean no to transit, just “I am maxed out, lower your wages & benefits”. But since that is not being voted on they hit transit instead, almost by accident.

            The “more money for transit” and “public sector wage constraint” vote shoudl have been combined. It was not. Big mistake.

            Look at the Alberta budget yesterday: tax increases and public sector wage constraints and staffing level reductions. That combination is sellable. More taxes for some alleged “decongestion” is not.

        3. “In 1961, all governments in Canada collected $10 billion in tax. In 2011, they collected $545 billion. This additional $535 billion amounts to an increase of $11,700 in real or inflation-adjusted per capita taxation. Which governments were responsible? The federal government was responsible for about $5,000 or 43%. Provinces were responsible for $5,700 or 50%. All local governments were responsible for $900
          or about 7%.”

          Federation of Canadian Municipalities, 2012.

          http://www.fcm.ca/Documents/reports/The_State_of_Canadas_Cities_and_Communities_2012_Highlights_EN.pdf

          Further, federal expenditures went down, not up, starting in 2008, which dovetailed with federal per capita tax revenue, also down. Federal investments in cities peaked in 2009 at about $4.7 billion, was projected to show a gentle decline to 2013, then nosedive. There has been federal stimulus funding but this is for one-off, spur of the moment projects (a lot of roads) that do not represent long-term stability in funding.

          “More than one-third of current federal investments in our municipalities are scheduled to expire in the next 36 months. The Gas Tax Fund – the foundational federal infrastructure program – will see nearly 50% of its current value eroded by inflation and growing needs over the next two decades. These are not one-time stimulus dollars, rather, these are core investments to repair roads, house low-income seniors and keep police patrolling our streets.” (FCM, 2012.)

          1. Yes road tolls and far higher parking fees make sense IN CITIES as gasoline taxes are too low for the real estate value of roads used for parking or driving. Using a Vancouver metric of downtown land or land in Point Grey or UEL, of say $20M an acre, (or at 40,000 sq ft / acre =) or $500/sq ft and using 5% interest / ROI I arrive at $25/year/sq ft in economic rent. Using 6 x 20 for an average car or 120 sq ft = $3000/year for an average parking spot in say Point Grey or in road tolls per car per year for dense / expensive parts of cities like Vancouver. Less in Surrey, New West, Coquitlam or Richmond, but not zero either.

            Less true outside of cities where gasoline taxes cover the cheaper land and higher gasoline use more adequately.

            The issue in this referendum is that neither road tolls nor higher parking fees are introduced, thus leading to no meaningful decongestion, especially since no meaningful RAPID transit is offered for most car users today.

            That is the secondary reason why I have voted NO in this referendum. (the other, primary reason is excessive wages & benefits for far too many low-risk-of-layoff public sector jobs ie inefficient use of my tax $s)

        4. Spank, if we could go back in time there could have been billions in savings if the current provincial government wasn’t so bent on paving, damming and fracking paradise.

          This is a new century. Today a prudent fiscal conservative would have a peek at the research and conclude that slowing the massive waste of money being put into highways and needlessly over-engineered bridges, and reinvesting in transit and healthcare and sustainable diversification policies, and carving off a separate chunk for debt and tax reduction, would be a more responsible way to serve society.

          But who said they were being prudent with their distinctly 1950s economic models?

          1. I agree – if they had only made drivers pay a fair price for the roads they drove on, I’m sure are cities would look nothing like they do today. A market price mechanism would allocate road space more efficiently.

            In a perfect world, people pay for their own movement. Drivers pay to drive, transiters pay to transit.

            Unfortunately, our current model is to massively subsidize roads, then massively subsidize transit to compete with them. Then, since our subsidies lead to far greater demand than supply, allocate the scarce mobility through massively inefficient lines and congestion. We wouldn’t need to supply as much costly infrastructure if we placed some charges on its use.

            It reminds me of ways to solve global warming: you can attempt to provide limitless green power, or you can put a reasonable price on energy use or pollution, which leads to countless micro-decisions to reduce consumption. The former is sexier, but the latter is vastly cheaper and more effective.

            So how will I vote? I don’t know, but neither option will “improve congestion”, lets not fool ourselves. I honestly don’t know which choice is worse.

      2. Yeah, if I were to criticize the Yes side, I would say “lay off the condescension a bit”. There’s been a lot of discussion about how no-voters are basically uninformed, short-sighted, or selfish. It couldn’t be that they considered the proposal, and found it lacking. It is apparently obvious, a priori, that voting Yes is the prudent choice.

        For instance, the “there is no plan B” claim is pretty transparent. I’m sure they’re cooking something up. Surrey already has an alternative plan to build their preferred (but highly inferior) LRT technology in their city, if the referendum were to fail.

        In this region taxes are already quite high. There should be enough money in the government to build the infrastructure that is needed. We should ask the question: why does per capita tax revenue need to grow to accommodate a higher population?

        I think the revenue for supplying of mobility providing infrastructure in our city is likely sufficient. What we need is to redirect this spending wisely. We also critically need a demand management device. For instance, a price mechanism.

        If I could vote on a price mechanism on roads, maybe like a carbon tax which was revenue neutral, I would vote yes in a heartbeat.

    2. … and (assuming all your figures are correct) you’d have $800 million less in infrastructure.

      You’re only looking at the cost, and not the value. That’s short-sighted.

      As well, your conclusion that it’s bad to have outpaced inflation and population growth assumes that at some point in the past (10 years, in your example), spending by all the entities you named was exactly appropriate. That’s a very big hole in your argument, as well as in most arguments made by the Fraser Institute.

      1. Why is this a hole in his argument ? Yes, value is important, but isn’t cost of services delivery (i.e. wages&benefits and staffing levels i.e. efficiencies) critical also ?

        Personally I’d vote for a 2% increase in PST if they actually built rapid transit (for E-Van, N-Van, W-Van, UBC, Van-West, downtown to Stanley Park, Delta, ..) coupled it with civil servants wage constraints as well as mobility pricing and higher parking fees, to actually reduce congestion. Unfortunately I do not see this in this band-aid non-decongestion plan.

        1. It’s a hole in the argument because nobody has demonstrated that the amount of spending was appropriate 10 years ago. If, indeed, TransLink was under-funded 10 years ago, then rapid increases in funding are justified.

          If Vanessa and the Fraser Institute are making the claim that TransLink is over-funded, then they should support that claim directly, and tell us where they would make reductions.

          (Strictly speaking, I suppose they could alternatively try to demonstrate that the rates of increase themselves were harmful, but I think that would be an even harder claim to support.)

          On the cost vs. value question: yes, both are important. That was my point. Vanessa (and the Fraser Institute) talked only about cost, with no mention of value. (As you often do, as well, with your claim that wages are too high without any examination of the effects of lowering them.)

  4. I don’t think the condescending and paternal scare tactics coming from civic and academic professionals is contributing anything to the debate, other than assisting the No side.

    Threats of congestion and early deaths are failing miserably. People are laughing because it sounds like exhortations in a fundamentalist church or an elementary class being warned about the bogeyman.

    It confirms just how conceited and out of touch these cloistered professors and overpaid public employees really are.

    1. If you are right about people’s motivations, don’t you find it regrettable that people are voting against their self-interest because they perceive (rightly or wrongly) that they are being condescended to?

      Is it really worth having a worse transit system just to feel like you got one over on the “cloistered professors and overpaid public employees”?

    2. On the contrary, I find the majority of No supporters who publish letters are supporting personal bias based one bad experience, or the popular and widely-parroted sound bite opinions of the CTF and not facts or the results of analysis. Some of them do it politely until they are criticized; many immediately misinterpret factual criticism as elitist paternalism.

      Further, some of the anonymous comments below plebiscite news stories coming from the No side are outrageously abusive or non-sensical. I’ve seen words like “Gestapo” and “criminally corrupt” used for various TransLink personnel, which are way over the top and would in some cases have been actionable before the advent of the anonymous Web.

      There may have been some condescension and paternalism issued on the Yes side, but counting the stories and comments I’ve seen so far, the No side vastly outnumbers them for verbal abuse, relaying unsubstantiated facts as truth, and the dissemination of conspiracy theories.

  5. There’s always the possibility that the Yes supporters are correct and TransLink does indeed need a radical shake up and that there is no panic to implement a new financing model, before the existing issues are addressed.

    The long view.

  6. I find the majority of No supporters who publish letters are supporting personal bias based one bad experience . . . ” I hope, MB you are not including me in your web of assumed dissatisfaction!

    I sincerely hope the NO side wins!

    I do not live in the voting catchment but I will eventually be shelling out for the outrageous over runs, the arrogance and inexperience that will inevitably ensue.

    My no vote will be caste to thwart a small group of transportation-no-it-all’s who seem to thinq a replication of their failures is the answer to all the city’s problems: I am thinquing of the disaster that befell the merchants on Cambie when their businesses were kyboshed by the promise of a drilled tunnel that expediency dictate and eventual cut and fill.

    Furthermore I have experienced successful systems in such places as Mexico City, Curitiba and Buenos Aires. I have also resorted to taxis when the vaunted London transportation underground failed me.

    The essence of a successful public transportation system is to first accept the historic incremental layout of the original city and capitalize: i.e.

    Buenos Aires: San Telmo, Palermo, La Boca etc.

    Mexico City: Merced, Tasqueña, Universidad etc.

    Vancouver succumbed to the post war real estate speculative mania and is still in its thrall. What traditional village centres, neighbourhoods, remain are essentially off bounds by exorbitant costs that leave so many potential urban village centres without population.

    So much more need to be done before we can trust the usual suspects to call the shots.

  7. “I do not live in the voting catchment but I will eventually be shelling out…”
    “My no vote will be caste to thwart a small group of…”

    So you don’t live in the region, are upset about the theoretical negative impacts this may have on others, so your solution is to submit a fraudulent vote?

  8. “My no vote will be caste to thwart a small group of…”

    There you go A: APRIL FOOL!

    Clearly you do not understand the phrase “speaking in metophor“.

    You are not alone. One of the great draw backs of this wonderful blog Gordon is offering us plebians is the opportunity to contribute and read the common man’s version of what once was the select reserve of the rich and famous.

    Unfortunately the blog is infested with psuedonyms, usually during normal working hours, seldom on weekends, leading me to believe they are bootlegged on the boss’s time, no doubt one level of government or another.

    Of course I cannot vote you ninnie. I do not live in the voting catchment, am not on the mailing list, hence I will not receive a ballot: I thought that was apodectic!

    Bootlegged comments like yours are even more worthless, worse, than metaphor would you not agree!

    Anyway for those with a vestige of common sense vote NO!

    1. Wow. You can really come across as an insufferable, elitist jerk. Your “thinquing” is so enlightening. Thanks for adding to the discourse.