Vancouver City Councillor

Category — Traffic

Thousands of conversations: notes from the #yesfortransit campaign trail

“Where can I get my Yes button?” demanded the woman next to the back door on the Number 50. “You can have mine,” I told her. “I can’t wear it where I’m going now,” she told me in a low voice, “but I”ll put it on right after.”

It was just one of many conversations in the last week that tell me a real debate is under way across the region about the Better Transportation and Transit Plan as ballots reach every household. (Everyone is supposed to have one by tomorrow, but a number of UEL and UBC residents at a meeting last night were still waiting.)

It’s still unfashionable to be out and proud about supporting the Mayors’ Council plan, but many people do want to see congestion reduced, commuting times slashed and all the economic benefits that flow from the proposal.

The Translink haters have had their day. I think many will be voting Yes in the privacy of their homes.

Will it be in time to put the Yes team over the line? That remains to be seen, but in the course of four public forums in the last week and a number of other encounters, I find lots of room for optimism: [Read more →]

March 26, 2015

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

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

Plan B? Anti-transit, pro-congestion opponents of Mayors’ Council plan would cut key municipal services

Pro-gridlock voices like the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation are shifting gears now, proposing a so-called Plan B to fund transportation and transit investments by cuts in municipal services — like police, fire and garbage pick-up — to pay for congestion relief.

That’s the only conclusion one can draw from today’s strange Vancouver Sun column by Barbara Yaffe, who says the CTF is prepared “to identify the necessary transportation dollars from within local government budgets” to address the needed improved transit.

Where would those dollars come from? Municipal budgets are overwhelmingly allocated to police, fire, garbage pickup, sewage treatment and countless other vital municipal tasks.

And, of course, municipal taxpayers already contribute to transit funding through property taxes, an arrangement that will continue.

That’s why the proposed .5 percent sales tax increase ┬áneeds approval in the upcoming referendum. There is no Plan B, certainly not one based on cuts to essential municipal services.

 

February 5, 2015