Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mayors' Council Part 2

I thought I was done with the Mayors Council, but then I saw this - more whining from the Mayors

Opposition to the Referendum
  • “Referenda are tools without context and would be divisive to the region.” You have control over the referendum process.  You provide the context or lack thereof.  If you propose solutions that will divide the region, it will divide us. The region supports the LRSP and Transport 2040.  Show us the plan for that.  
  • “Making complex policy by referenda is contrary to principles of good governance.”  You are not making complex policy by referenda.  You are seeking approval of tax increase. 

All this is short for we don’t want to do the work to with the region to increase their taxes and improve their transit.  We want the province to force it on them instead.  How is that good governance and accountability, some of the key points on the Governance proposal?

Project Priorities
  • “Transit and road and bridge improvements need to be coordinated and implemented in a timely and expedited fashion to support the success of TransLink’s 2040, the Provincial Transit Pacific Gateway,”  September 23, 2010. 

So in 3.5 years, all the Mayors have managed to do is affirm they support the Transport 2040 vision.  A vision, even a strategy, is not a plan.  Neither the Base nor Supplemental 10 Year Plans discuss anything about what could or should be done if any of these major sources of funding become available, or how they will move us closer to the Transport 2040 vision.  So the Mayors are asking for new taxation to support a dream. 

I keep hearing the Mayors are unified.  They are unified in only two things – they want the province to increase their powers of taxation and they support the Transport 2040 plan.  Step one level below that though, and the unity falls apart.  Watch what happens when you ask
  • Which comes first – West Broadway or Surrey rapid transit?
  • Surface or grade separated?
  • What form of bike infrastructure should we focus on?

I can see the fur flying from here. 

What they’re asking for the province to give them $200 million more a year to support Transport 2040, with no visibility into how they will do it  Forget it.  That money will get lost, absorbed into operations, and frittered away as the Mayors bicker over what to do with it.  We’ve already seen that with the squabbles over the Millennium and Canada lines. 

Conversely, if they ask us for $200 million more a year from a vehicle levy, a region specific 0.25% sales tax, and a $2 toll on the Pattullo to help us reach Transport 2040 by
  • A subway along West Broadway to UBC  by 2020
  • A skytrain extension in Surrey to Newton by 2022
  •  A commuter rail a la Westcoast Express from Aldergrove by 2018
  •  Addition of 50km of separated bike lanes per year until 2030
  •  Extension of the Evergreen Line to PoCo by 2025
  • Park and Rides at 20 stations over the next 10 years
  • Frequent Transit Network expanded to the following routes....
  • etc

people will get onside.  We all know we need this stuff.  Share how this work will improve life for everyone along the way?   Now we see why of late most transit referenda are passed.  It’s an easy sell, if you’re willing to do the work.  Apparently Metro Vancouver mayors are not.  If you think they can’t sort this out now, wait till they actually have the money. 

Funding Solutions

  • “…the Mayors’ Council is against the use of property taxes as a further funding source…” So the Mayors are unwilling to use the existing tools they have, the tools which they bargained and gainedconcessions in other areas for, but they want the province to force new taxes on us? 
  • “Appropriate funding sources for TransLink will include the vehicle levy in the short term and road pricing in the long term and land value capture;” Sure, just tell us what you’re going to do with it.
  • “Emphasize that TransLink should not meet current budgets through service cuts or liquidation of assets” and “The Mayors’ Council has previously confirmed its view on additional short and long term funding sources" We’re not willing to live within our budgets or use the tools you already gave us to increase funding.
  • “As per the legislation, the Mayors’ Council will consider supplemental plans that include funding proposals with the extension of funding sources being the responsibility of the province in consultation with various parties” You give us the money; we spend it how we want.

Governance Proposal
Everyone agrees this needs to change. 

If the Mayors spent the energy they have fighting the referendum to actually preparing it and getting the people of the region onboard, they’d be halfway done already.  We’ve done enough visioneering:   LRSP, Transport 2040 and its predecessors, and regional growth strategies have been spouting visions out for decades

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