September 29, 2015

More evidence that Vancouver is politically irrelevant – 2

An expected announcement:
And no, the point is not that the City of Vancouver’s proposed Broadway line has been bumped to fund voter-rich Surrey’s transit aspirations.  “James Moore, the B.C. regional minister who is retiring from politics, said the announcement ‘does not close the door on investing in the Broadway subway,’ but the Surrey project has more support from the province and is further ahead in its planning than Vancouver’s subway.”
Surrey should precede Vancouver, given the need to shape growth in the fastest growing part of the region.  Not that Vancouver would ever find support around the regional table to bump Surrey.  So why not get behind the inevitable.
Of course Surrey has to find regional support to fund the one-third needed to match federal and provincial contributions for light rail.  And that’s where evidence of the region’s political irrelevance in the minds of our provincial leaders can be found – right there in the last paragraphs:

B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone said the Conservative funding is “good news” for Surrey, noting the B.C. government is willing to fund one-third of the rapid transit project. However, Stone blamed TransLink and Metro mayors for not knowing how to fund the project.
“The region is going to be faced with a situation here whereby the province of British Columbia is ready with its chequebook for one-third of the capital required, the federal government appears to be ready, in fact all federal parties have made strong commitments to their third. It will be up to the region now to sort out how they will come up with their final third.”


That’s really rubbing salt into the wound inflicted on the region by the Minister himself.
The mayors know how to fund transit: they’ve requested authorization for funding mechanisms embedded in the Province’s legislation for TransLink – vehicle levys and parking taxes.  They’ve suggested alternatives, notably a carbon tax.  All rejected by the Province.
They have accepted adding an additional levy onto the property tax – notably for the Evergreen Line.  They’ve accepted additional risk for the Canada Line.
They did everything the Province asked of them regarding the referendum, including accepting its legitimacy, reaching a consensus on proposed infrastructure, and agreeing on a method of funding.  They spent their political capital to promote its passage, and complained little when the Province left hardly any time to do so.
And now the Minister taunts them with blame and demands that they “sort out” the funding issue.
That’s as close to a F*ck You as a Minister of the Crown can come.

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  1. Could not agree more with you Gord. I am extremely frustrated with the minister and indeed the Premier. They are destroying this province and all you and others have achieved.

  2. I fail to understand how a particular city receives funding for transit to “shape growth” that is far from being shaped and light years away from adequate demand while another city is overwhelmed by decades of transit demand and is one of the most experienced in shaping growth on the continent, and does not receive adequate funding commitments.
    In the world of politics there are explanations. But in the world of shaping growth, it’s ass backwards and a generation late. I note Trudeau’s promise of funding Surrey LRT AND Vancouver’s subway was light on detail, but he beat the Conservatives to the announcement and was careful to not pit one jurisdiction over another. I also note that the NDP will, if elected, create a minister of urban affairs.

    1. “Trudeau promised an additional $20 billion over 10 years for public transit projects, although was scant on details, saying he would leave it up to the provinces and the cities to decide exactly how that money is spent if elected. …”
      Metro Vancouver
      He’s matching the Conservatives and, wisely, leaving it up to the provinces – and the cities.
      Surrey is growing fast and needs some of the rapid-transit that Vancouver has had for years. It’s perfectly reasonable that Surrey develop transit in conjunction with its building plans, just as Vancouver has and is now along the Canada Line.
      It makes perfect sense to anyone.

      1. West Broadway transit demand predates SkyTrain and outpaces every corridor in the Metro outside of downtown by decades. Yes, Surrey should have its LRT and should also place priority on tying appropriate land use planning to it, but this is just one more example of queue jumping for political expediency. It has nothing to do with planning for the region as a whole.
        South of Fraser communities need a coordinated transit and land use plan designed to moderately densify the suburbs and LRT may well prove its worth there. But no one can say there is anything more than a fraction of the transit demand there as there has been on Broadway since the 70s.

        1. Standard debate:
          Growth-shaping or Growth-serving.
          Until the Canada Line, the City of Vancouver did not significantly densify around all rapid transit stations (the exceptions being opportunistic growth to convert light industrial zones to residential use) – just look at Broadway & Commercial, Nanaimo and 29th Ave. stations.
          The City of Vancouver is now playing catch-up to convince the powers that be that a built line will not just serve existing growth, but provide the opportunity for increases in growth to further justify the line (versus, in the case of Broadway, trying to provide an economic justification based on serving heavily discounted U-Pass riders).

          1. The U-Pass is just a different price model that was designed to get UBC students out of cars and onto transit. Otherwise all roads to UBC would be heavily congested and UBC mainly a parking lot. It worked very well. The U-Pass program is not subsidized, as the above comment about the discounted price might suggest.

  3. Months back Surrey clearly stated that plans for their system were underway and advanced. Vancouver has never said as much, so it’s not surprising that the announcement for funding the projects in Surrey are first.
    Maybe ask Jordan Bateman where to find the money and, for once, leave those that have to drive alone.
    Wasting money on rapid-transit fare-gates that for some reason work everywhere in world, but not Vancouver and wasting money on an electronic ticket registering system that work everywhere in the world, but for some reason not in Vancouver, jacking the transit parking tax to and extra over 20% and jacking the transit gasoline tax to an extra almost 20%, then simply not charging for any bus rider that just doesn’t want to pay (the drivers say over 2 million! Per year!), then wanting a cut of the carbon tax and and more from a vehicle levy!
    No wonder this blinkered view that unlimited and all transit funding HAS to come from drivers is clearly not going to receive support form the public and it will not work.
    Think of something else and think about what Gregor Robertson said during the referendum, that TransLink needs reforming, or something. Remember too; it was TransLink and the Mayors’ Council that fired their CEO and it was TransLink that has fired a few key top long-term executives and managers since the refendum was decisively voted down.

    1. Many of us think that transit is too important to the economic well being of cities (therefore to the nation) and the health of citizens to not have stable, multiple funding sources and more senior government involvement, particularly at the federal level.
      In that context, why should drivers continue to get a free ride for what is essentially one of the least efficient, deadly and most costly and unsustainable modes of transport ever invented?

      1. Because change is hard.
        We’ve been driving around carefree and basically free for 50+ years. Hard to break that habit no matter how strong the argument.

      2. I believe that a ceiling on congestion will be reached, and Christy may well catalyze it with her 10-lane Massey monster bridge. Try as she might, those 10 lanes of exceedingly expensive “freedom” will never translate to 10 lanes just a few km further on Oak Street.

    2. “leave those that have to drive alone” — sounds good. No more new bridges, no more new roads. You’re on your own from here on.
      I received my Compass Card on a Thursday, registered it and loaded it up online that evening, and used it without incident on Friday. Given that you drive exclusively, though, it’s not surprising that you have no idea how a Compass Card works.
      As I recall, the Plebiscite proposed a 0.5% Regional PST from EVERYONE, not just drivers.

      1. Earlier this week I used a similar electronic validation system on three different rail systems. They’ve been around for years and millions of people use them daily.
        Only in strange Vancouver would the successful use of an electronic transit card be considered newsworthy.

  4. Well, Vancouverites deserve some of the blame for being so averse to development. I went to a townhall meeting on Broadway where numerous Perpetually Aggrieved People (PAPs) shrieked medieval curses at planners for having the gall to propose a transit line down a dense corridor.
    I could see senior government being more supportive of Vancouver’s proposal if there was more willingness to allow redevelopment (or hyperbolic-pejoratively, ‘metrotownization’) of the corridor.
    Instead, we will build this expensive, idiotic LRT technology down freeways into farmers fields. Gettin’ partisan on the tech again, sorry. But this whole thing is just a complete gong-show.

  5. My only consolation is that senior government funding is not conditional on surrey transit being LRT. The Province has a history of nuking asinine municipal LRT plans (Canada Line, Everygreen Line… why do municipal councilors love LRT so much, I suspect it’s because it seems cute?). There’s a reasonably high probability some senior government technocrat will point out that LRT makes no sense, and some BRT Skytrain combo will be pushed through instead.

    1. Spank, why do you hate LRT so much, and why do you think it is asinine? Have you ever ridden on the Edmonton system, the Calgary system, the Portland system. They are just as solid and as capable as Skytriain, but hey are AT GROUND LEVEL, and they are cheaper and quicker to build.
      And municipal councils and planers like them, not because they are “cute”, but because the are URBAN, rather than INTERURBAN.

  6. The point some people here seem to be missing is that Vancouver hasn’t had to densify around any stations to fill the trains. There was already sufficient demand to justify rail transit without any additional density.
    In rush hour every train is full to capacity before it gets to the “low” density strip between Joyce and Stadium. If Vancouver had implemented a “Metrotownization” there wouldn’t have been room on the trains for anyone east of Burnaby; the line would’ve had to have stopped at Edmonds until someone found the billions to expand all the stations and buy bigger trains.
    Ironically, allowing that kind of development might actually reduce the amount of affordable housing in East Vancouver. Rental houses, basement suites, co-ops, low rise multi-family buildings, etc. house tens of thousands who could no more afford a shiny tower apartment than fly to Montréal by flapping their arms.
    And if we do push out all our retail workers, barristas, hair stylists, day care workers, etc. what happens to the thousands of businesses that rely on low cost labour? And more importantly, where are all the rich new residents going to get their designer coffee each morning?