Vancouver City Councillor

Julie, Danielle Raymond win long struggle to win regulation of party buses

When Shannon Raymond died in a party bus accident seven years ago, her mother Julie and sister Danielle sought to make sense of her loss by undertaking a campaign to win regulation of party buses by the province of British Columbia.

That campaign came to a successful conclusion today when Transportation Minister Todd Stone announced the province will require party buses to register for special authorization permits with the Passenger Transportation Board.

The Raymond’s efforts had faltered until December 2013, when a Vancouver SunĀ report on the problems in the industry caught my attention and provoked a motion to council urging provincial action, a motion later endorsed right up to the BC Police Chiefs Association and the Union of BC Municipalities.

Congratulations to the Raymonds for their persistance and courage. No one who heard their story could doubt the love they had for Shannon and their determination to make sure their loss was never repeated.

Just last night, I wondered in this space if BC would make a move. Minister Stone has taken that step and I, for one, welcome it and applaud him.

February 26, 2015 Bookmark and Share

With Washington State ready to regulate party buses, will BC finally make a move?

Julie and Danielle Raymond, whose seven-year campaign to win regulation of party buses in this province won unanimous Vancouver city council support through a motion I brought in 2014, are finding more action south of the 49th parallel than they are in BC.

The Raymonds began their campaign after the tragic death of Julie’s daughter Shannon, Danielle’s sister, in a party bus incident.

Their efforts gained momentum as the Vancouver motion was endorsed Maple Ridge, then by the Lower Mainland Local Government Association, the Union of BC Municipalities and the BC Police Chiefs. But so far, Transportation Minister Todd Stone has declined to act.

Now Washington State lawmakers, who heard a presentation with the Raymonds earlier this month, are poised to take action to make the new industry safe, falling in line with jurisdictions like Nevada and California.

NDP Transportation critic George Heyman was again on his feet this week in Question Period, urging Stone to take action.

It’s never too late to do the right thing. Let’s hope Minister Stone is ready to match his colleagues in Washington State.

February 25, 2015 Bookmark and Share

With cost of driving about 21 cents a kilometre, or $16.69 an hour, a “No” vote will be expensive

Buried deep in the new Mayors’ Council assessment on the cost of congestionabout $2 billion if the Mayor’s Plan investments in transportation and traffic are not approved — is the conclusion that the cost of driving for the the average driver is about 21 cents a kilometre. Stated in time, it’s about $16.69 an hour.

Cut congestion and you save plenty, easily a couple of dollars a day compared to the roughly 38 cents a day the Mayors’ Plan would cost.

Am I missing something here? Shouldn’t that make a No vote out of the question?

Total cost of congestion to drivers is thought to be more than $400 million, including a “deadweight cost” of more than $200 million. (If the referendum fails, that deadweight cost should be renamed the Bateman Factor to commemorate anti-transit campaigner Jordan Bateman.)

The No advocates say they’re not in favour of congestion, they just want to teach Translink a lesson. Isn’t that kind of like voting to cut the police budget because the crime rate is rising? Or slashing health care because you don’t like the health minister?

Enough. Here’s the calculation for the economists in the crowd, from page 29: [Read more →]

February 16, 2015 Bookmark and Share

Christy Clark voting “yes” because she knows any “Plan B” with a big lift in property tax is a non-starter

Thanks to Premier Christy Clark for clarifying that Metro Vancouver municipalities would have to resort to a property tax increase — a very significant property tax increase — to fund the Mayors’ Council transportation and transit plan if the Yes side fails in the upcoming referendum.

As she well knows, that’s a non-starter.

Metro Mayors have long been unanimously opposed to any such levy — above what is already included in Translink’s funding sources — for very good reason.

That’s because property tax is the only source they have to raise very large sums for critical future infrastructure investments like water treatment, solid and liquid waste treatment, local roads and, let’s not forget, police, fire and all the other municipal services taxpayers expect municipalities to provide.

No wonder anti-transit, pro-congestion “No” crusader Jordan Bateman insists Plan B would require heavy cuts in municipal services. He knows Metro Mayors and their citizens have already rejected a property tax increase for transit and transportation services, which he would oppose in any case. His only exit: cuts to key services, like police and fire, which no one seriously believes are possible.

So no property tax increase, no voter support to cut municipal services. That sounds like no Plan B, which is what the Mayors Council has been saying from the beginning. A Yes vote is the only way forward to achieve long-term stable funding with a .5 percent sales tax increase that will cost the average citizen about 34 cents a day.

No wonder the Premier has decided to vote Yes.

February 9, 2015 Bookmark and Share