Vancouver City Councillor

Category — Traffic

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

Vote the Vision slate, and vote for Ferdinand Ramos, who’s fighting for a hospitality workers’ transit discount

Once you’ve voted the Vision Vancouver slate — from bottom to top, starting with Tony Tang, Tim Stevenson, then Niki Sharma and on up the line — give a vote to Ferdinand Ramos, the Hotel Workers United council candidate who’s campaigning for a new transit discount for Metro Vancouver’s tens of thousands of hospitality workers.

The $1 billion hospitality sector is vital to the city’s economy, but workers in hotels, bars and tourism struggle to make ends meet.

Transit costs are a huge burden for hospitality workers, who often have to make a three-zone trip in the early morning to get to work and make the same trek home in the afternoon, after a full day of room cleaning, food service or guest services. Ramos himself is a tradesman at one of the major downtown Vancouver hotels.

Ramos is telling the transit story we haven’t heard enough in this campaign: the struggle of tens of thousands of workers across the region who rely on it to go to and from their jobs. His solution is practical: a transit discount pass for hospitality workers to help them get to work.

And he’s winning. The new agreement for employees at the Hyatt Regency, the Four Seasons, the Renaissance, the Westin Bayshore and Sutton Hotels includes a 15 percent transit discount pass. You don’t have to be a union member to benefit from Ramos’ campaign. If implemented as he proposes, the transit discount pass would be available to hospitality workers across the region, union or non-union.

I welcomed Ramos to the Vision Vancouver office last week to hear about his campaign and you can see a video of the conversation here. I’m voting Ramos, he’s endorsing me — you should consider him too.


November 10, 2014