April 22, 2015

A Referendum by, and on, the Premier

The federal Conservatives have created a dedicated fund for transit – and it’s pretty darn clear that the money flows to those with plans and funds to match:

The Sun:

Dubbed the new Public Transit Fund, the new money won’t start flowing to Canadian cities until 2017-18 — and with a $250-million down payment for the entire country that fiscal year.

The total will rise to $500 million in 2018-19, before reaching the targeted $1 billion in 201920. The new fund will be merit based, meaning that all regions shouldn’t expect transfers based on their share of the population. …

“That has a been a long time coming and despite the delay over the next few years, it should coincide with the major projects on Broadway and in Surrey for the construction dollars to flow,” Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said, adding it’s a start. “It roughly fits the timeline in the mayors’ plan so it should be in sync scaling up to the full $1 billion.”

Wouldn’t now be a good time for the Premier, whose idea this referendum was, to chime in here, not only confirming the Province’s participation in joint funding but also to urge a strong Yes vote as a way of nailing down these dollars?  This referendum will also be seen, certainly in retrospect, as a measure of her support for a strong, well-planned, well-served Metro region – or her indifference.

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  1. “This referendum will also be seen, certainly in retrospect, as a measure of her support for a strong, well-planned, well-served Metro region – or her indifference.”

    She’s already made her point known loud and clear.

    1. Did she ? She just said “no” to tax increases, like most voters. Let’s not confuse a “no” vote for this referendum with a “no” vote to more transit, especially rapid transit.

      1. Thomas, a ‘no’ vote will be interpreted as a ‘no’ vote to more transit, especially rapid transit, by those who wish to interpret it that way. Just as many ‘no’ voters are interpreting this as an opportunity to pass a confidence vote on Translink. I appreciate from your numerous posts that you feel that the proposed plan does not go far enough to change mode share and provide a disincentive to driving, but a ‘no’ vote will be a resounding condemnation of transit expansion, particularly capital-intensive rapid transit, for the foreseeable future.

        1. Perhaps, perhaps not. “No” just means “no” to new taxes to me, and many many others. It also means that the MetroVan mayors and the province need to come up with better funding alternatives such as road tolls, higher property taxes, higher parking fees, higher user fees, reduced growth in civil servants salaries/benefits, development levies, more outsourcing, etc …

  2. I am not sure the premier really supports public transport or the referendum. Her choice of the Massey tunnel is case in point. I think the referendum is just a way of getting out of doing public transit.

    1. She supports transportation of all sorts, alright, but not just tax increases for heavily unionized overspending organizations like TransLink and/or municipalities for slow, wobbly bus based slow transit that will not reduce congestion.

      The Massey Bridge is a critical infrastructure investment that benefits a whole region as far as the Prairies as it is a vital link for cars and trucks in an exporting nation with a need to expand their harbours for more exports or imports. Since N-Van, Burnaby and Vancouver aren’t exact;y harbour expansion ready nor overly friendly towards it, the expansion will happen along the wide south arm of the Fraser River as they dredge the river deeper for larger boats. Richmond’s, New West’s, Delta’s and Surrey’s gain is Vancouver’s, Burnaby’s and N-Van’s loss.

      Massey Bridge and subways on Broadway aren’t really related. We need BOTH actually in a growing region of soon 3.5M+ people !

      1. We are seeing a constant decrease in the amount of car driving. Road usage will continue to decrease with UBER/driverless cars. Public transit demand and active transport usage is rising. SOV are bad for the environment, bad for health, and inefficient when compared to public transit.

        Choice is obvious public transport over the subsidization of bad activities such as SOV.

        Look here for vehicle traffic over the port man:


        1. Not everybody loves to live in a high-rise, to cycle in the rain or to take a slow wobbly bus after waiting for it for 15 minutes, especially when living in Tsawwassen, Delta, White Rock, Langley or Surrey where a car is a necessity. We also get more and more people, especially south of Fraser as land is cheaper there and faster growing. Yes, PM bridge is overbuilt for today, and a rail link would have been nice on it. Perhaps they do that with the Massey bridge but somehow I doubt that. Too much foresight.

          Vancouver didn’t invest in the 1990’s into necessary infrastructure, so now it is time to build for the next 50-70 years, with likely 5M+ folks living in MetroVan.

          I agree that we need more subways and/or faster buses .. but we also need more roads for the majority of folks that use a car for a living or to get places for themselves or their kids in a less dense urban setting like Tsawwassen, Delta, White Rock, Langley or Surrey.

          1. People should be free to choose where they want to live. But what we should not do is subsidize a choice. By building more free roads for people to drive on we are giving people a false choice. If people had to pay the full cost of a commute including externalities of health, pollution and traffic etc they would be a lot more likely to pick high density neighbourhood with public transit options. We should not build more highways roads etc. until drivers pay the full cost of the usage.

          2. Indeed we need more road tolls, especially in light of e-cars and more fuel efficient cars (I just bought a hybrid, for example with 1000km+ per tank).

            However, we also subsidize K-12 education, universities, healthcare, bike lanes or BC Ferries. Are you saying that we should stop those subsidies, too ?

            People who drive a car pay: GST and PST on purchase, say $3600 on a $30,000 car, plus heavy gasoline taxes,plus annual licensing fees. Plus roads are also avenues for transporting anything you buy, from your bicycle tire to organic juice to the coffee at the local Starbucks, and as such road use, if taxed too heavily, will show up in every item purchased. Just because you cycle to the local grocery store for an organic “locally” grown juice doesn’t mean you do not benefit from roads (or Massey / PM bridge) as the juice likely was trucked from the Fraser Valley to the store, via a refrigerated warehouse in Richmond or Surrey !

            1. I want to subsidize health, education, bike lanes, sidewalks etc. I do not want to subsidize driving especially in SOV. I want people to pay for their externalities. If I have to pay the true cost of juice the better. (This might encourage more tap water consumption). With these taxes on externalities maybe we can reduce income taxes or property taxes.

  3. This announcement is great as it is exactly what the Federation of Canadian Municipalities has been asking for: $1B/year ! Of course it is also aimed at taking the wind out of the Federal Liberals as it was their idea, too .. brilliant political move on the part of the “conservative” party.

    I agree that Ms Clark should support RAPID transit expansion in MetroVan with words and $s, however she should not, like most voters, support a tax increase !!

    Plenty of $s within MetroVan’s $5B+ budget, too. No need for more taxes. Just spend the existing heavy slice of my income, property taxes, PST, gasoline taxes, surcharges on electricity etc. far more efficiently. Much room here for ample of new buses, subway tunnels and/or LRT/SkyTrain kiliometers along Broadway to Jericho land & UBC, to E-Surrey / Langley, Hastings to N-Burnaby then N-Van, 41st Ave, to S-Richmond etc !

      1. How about:

        Higher property taxes, especially for foreigners or passport seekers that do not live here or pay income taxes here ?

        Higher land transfer taxes, especially for foreigners or passport seekers that do not live here or pay income taxes here ?

        Lower wages/benefits/pensions for overpaid civil servants ?

        Less civil servants ?

        Less waste / more efficient services delivery ?

        More outsourcing ?

        Higher transit fees / bus passes ?

        Higher development levies ?

        Pick any 6 !

        1. 3-6 are pipe dreams that all conservative or liberal governments fail to implement. 1-2 would be very hard to enforce. In Mexico foreigners are not allowed to own property but it happens all the time. Foreigners would get around it.

          1. Well, we can agree to disagree here as all is coming. 1-2 can be done by taxing all properties more and giving rebates to income tax payers that are BC residents or BC seniors, for one property. Much abuse here also with capital gains taxes.

        2. So Thomas your argument is effectively:
          1. I like Rapid Transit and want more of it – none of these slow, wobbly buses (whatever a ‘wobbly bus’ is??)
          2. I don’t like higher taxes/fees, if I’m the one who has to pay them.
          3. I’m totally fine with higher taxes (or lower quality service) as long as someone else pays for the majority of it (preferably foreigners).

          Am I close?

          1. PST and transit are not related. If we wish less congestion, we have to make car use less attractive, i.e. FAR more expensive, i.e. road tolls and parking fees. It irks me that folks in Point Grey, for example, own a $3M home, pay next to nothing in property taxes (yet get free ESL and free healthcare for their elderly parents if recent immigrants) and also pay nothing for their 2-5 cars parked on the road. If we charged them land value, say $250/month for a car parking permit, we’d have less cars to start. AND if we charge $10 for a crossing into Vancouver or any bridge plus $10/h parking fees you’d see a massive change in behavior. Plus we charge far more in property taxes, as opposed to PST (as in Texas: no state income taxes but property taxes that are quintuple what we pay here) I’d support that as I actually get value for my money: a subway AND less cars on the road AND properly funded healthcare (more nurses / less wait times) AND better education (more teachers and/or aids). With this band-aid plan, and failed immigration taxation, all I get is more taxes, no less congestion and zero rapid transit .. and failing education and healthcare system.

            All these issues are related.

            The mayors are dishonest on this debate and/or timid, or both. They should tell voters the truth. They should also deliver city services more efficiently. $5B+ is the annual taxes collected by the 25+ Metrovan municipalities. Loads of efficiencies in here. $500M easily per year. One new subway per year. Plus more teachers. Plus better healthcare. No wonder so many (rich) people move here: it is dirt cheap.

  4. Vancouver has shown twice that it doesn’t care for our Premier by not nominating her as the NPA mayoral candidate and then again in the West Point Grey provincial riding. She’s returning the favour to us, big time.