July 7, 2015

Referendum Reaction: Haves and Have-nots

From Sandy James:


As one of the Directors of Walk Metro Vancouver (www.walkmetrovan.ca) i have been speaking with seniors and others about walkability and the importance of a yes vote to pedestrians .

The referendum was ill thought out and ill conceived, and the region has suffered due to the Province’s inability to courageous work directly with metro municipalities to develop a solution that did not involve a multimillion dollar ballot. Of course the nattering naysayers that say “No” and just continue with the status quo will feel vindicated. But look at the expense of this decision to new immigrants, those on lower income, and young people. I asked many people in those categories what they thought of the “No” vote. They universally stated that a “No” decision would further hamper their ability to access transit, and create more of a gap between those that own houses and cars, and those that don’t. And we did indeed vote no.

Besides the massive disenfranchisement to people of lower incomes and to young people using transit, I was also struck at the inability for us to focus on our growth as a region. It seemed that those stories about personal experiences with TransLink, or the low frequency or capacity in bus service in people’s own areas counted more than the collective thought of comprehensive planning for transit, movement and growth on a regional basis.

Despite the prancing of the “No” proponents, this is no victory. This is a sad moment in our regional planning history where those that “have” voted and won out over those that “have not”, or hope to come to a region already struggling with affordability. They will continue to come and will live farther out in the region. We will continue to think that the roads are too crowded. And we will remind ourselves of how we collectively came to the decision that thinking more globally and for newcomers was not important enough at this time.

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