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This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: B.C. premier should get rid of referendum and work out a proper transit deal

Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day. The winner of last week’s duel on marijuana laws was Laila with 61%.

This week’s topic:

Should the premier cancel the transit referendum and leave planning and funding to the existing process?

A dream has been repeating itself lately in my mind, one in which politicians sit down and actually engage in productive discussions with each other. A dream in which politicians put good policy and process ahead of unrealistic, vague demands and pointing fingers. A dream in which it’s possible to get from point A to point B without a vehicle.

Then I wake up.

The reality is that while commuting in Vancouver is incredibly easy — in Surrey, Langley and other suburbs taking the bus often isn’t a viable option. In far too many areas, transit is still as much of a dream as the one I’ve been having about politicians working together. As Metro Vancouver grows by leaps and bounds, so do the number of cars on the road because the bedroom communities are vastly underserved by other forms of mass transit.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

Vancouver is already served by more than one SkyTrain line and a plethora of bus routes, and yet the city is also lobbying hard for rapid transit out to the University of B.C. along Broadway — a goal at odds with the desperate need for transit south of the Fraser. It’s been clear for a long time that due to the vastly different transit needs of the region’s municipalities, reaching a consensus on funding wouldn’t come easy.

More gas taxes? Higher property taxes? Tolling every bridge in the region? Premier Christy Clark only announced the transit referendum last year before the election in the hopes of appealing to the populist ideal of avoiding higher taxes. Well done! Now we have a forced referendum, with a question that will be designed to deflect any blame from the provincial government onto you, the voter, and the mayors who failed to deliver…

Read the rest of this weeks column, comment and vote for who you think should win this weeks duel at



  1. I happen to believe an efficient, affordable and dependable transit system is a part of any civilized society. That being said, I’m going to vote NO on any Translink referendum.

    I remember when Translink was first created, they had posters all over the place saying fares were going up, but in exchange, the service would be greatly improved. Shortly after taking power, they cried poverty, raised fares even more and even cut service!

    Since then, Translink has perfected the art of saying “give us more money or we’ll cut your service.” To me this is akin to a 100-ton dinosaur sitting on my lawn saying “feed me or else I’ll die and you will have 100 tones of dead dinosaur stinking up the place!” Nothing short of extortion.

    True, there have been some upgrades to service, but as one who takes the bus every day, I see more and more buses not showing up, banana buses [buses coming in bunches], being told to get off the bus and catch another one because that bus is needed somewhere else and being passed up because the bus is full. When I try to complain, I don’t even get an acknowledgement, never mind a response. Frankly, things were run better when BC Transit had control. I know that their problems aren’t completely their fault, but they’ve done themselves few favors.

    If they want my “Yes” then Translink is going to have to come up with a plan that says “This is what we are specifically going to do in the next 5, 10 and 20 years with these measurable goals and timelines. This is what it will cost and this is how we will pay for it.” I’d love it even more that if Translink fails to carry out the plan, the politicians are charged with fraud and sent to jail!


  2. The problem with TransLink and transit in general in metro Vancouver is the hugely expensive proprietary SkyTrain light metro system. Light metro demands a vast number of bus routes to forcibly transfer bus passengers onto the light metro system to make it viable and if your transit journey is other than where the light metro goes, too bad. The philosophy of light metro has largely been discredited and the advent of modern light rail has made light metro all but obsolete.

    Yet Translink still plans for it and at the same time deliberately misinforms the public about modern LRT and on that basis, the TransLink referendum must fail.

    The same goes for road pricing, which is nothing more than another onerous tax on the poor. Road pricing has been vastly oversold by its promoters and if one researches road pricing, very few cities have actually implemented it. For road pricing to have any credible chance of succeeding, we must have a comprehensive and customer friendly transit system, which we do not, nor is one in the planning stage.

    All road pricing will do is enable our current very bad transit planning which is more and more a bureaucrats mess of nonsense. No one copies Vancouver’s transit, no one builds with SkyTrain anymore, except, that is TransLink.


  3. More broadside and buffoonery by Brent.

    Of course taxpayers should have a say in how their money is spend (on transit) …. just not the Clark way.

    We have had an overpaid translink board in place what seems like forever and now you expect the mayors (and taxpayers) to come up with the direction and solution to metro transit?

    Sounds like a statement of defeat rather than a democratic exercise in governance.

    At the end of the day, any transit funding will come down to politics, the worst kind being power politics.

    An elected Translink board would be a good start and bring us back from the political posturing that has been a hallmark of the entire process to date. Laila may not have all the answers to this one but be sure of one thing, if it doesn’t work…. fix it. A referendum is not a fix….. its proof that the BC Liberals and all their cronies have failed taxpayers miserably.


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