Why I am (still) voting No in the Transit tax vote

governmentlion

From the very beginning, the entire Transit tax referendum turned non-binding plebiscite, has been a stunning example of the inadequate leadership and poor governance we find ourselves under as a province.

Worse yet perhaps, is how the mayors plan is being promoted as a complete cure-all for the congestion that clogs our streets and highways as it does nearly every other single major metropolitan area in North America – even those with better transit than what we currently have.

I live in Surrey close to two major arteries and still can’t get home by transit after 9 pm without having it involve a costly cab ride, or a scary 10 block walk in the dark.Weekends are even more difficult and I know I’m not alone in thinking how badly public transit is lacking in many areas south of the Fraser river.

This confuses people trying to figure out why I feel so strongly about voting NO in the upcoming vote. I take transit, I understand it’s failings but because a vehicle is also a must, I also understand how frustrating it is to sit in gridlock.

Traffic jams are a very big issue in most cities in Metro Vancouver regardless of where you are driving. They cost us time, money and raise our stress levels. I strongly support better transit, but I also strongly believe that this tax is wrong, and that the arguments of better transit being the cure-all for what ails the Metro Vancouver region are disingenuous at best. These are the reasons why.

1. First and foremost, a sales tax increase is a punitive, regressive form of taxation.  

It doesn’t matter who you are, or how much you make – you will be paying this tax. Senior on a limited income? You are going to pay this. On disability? Get ready to fork over some more cash. Are you one of the working poor, a single parent, or perhaps on assistance? You are going to pay the same sales tax on your goods as Chip Wilson.

Ironically, many of the same people who opposed the HST because it was a punitive tax, are now advocating for this increase justified I am told- because transit is a worthy cause – and it is. I just don’t think this is the way to fund it.

Readers here have been very vocal in recent months about the impact rising prices on food and household goods have had on their budgets- to the point that the reduction of a 50% discount on food about to expire was a big issue. 

There are better ways to fund transit expansion,along with providing revenue for other government needs – it’s called progressive tax reform.

Why aren’t these items being considered by our mayors and provincial government? Where was the mayors discussion on having developers and property owners along mayor transit routes and expansion,help fund the projects since they will benefit the most? 

Visionary isn’t a non-binding plebiscite pushing a punitive tax.

Visionary is saying “We’ve already taken more than many people can afford- let’s find another way.”

http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/BC%20Office/2013/01/CCPA-BC-Tax-Options_0.pdf

2. In the end, there are absolutely no guarantees to anything but paying more sales tax- if the province honours the results of a YES majority. 

This is yet another elephant in the room when it comes to the Transit tax vote that YES supporters never have an answer to, when I ask them why I should suddenly start trusting this government after everything I’ve seen,read and/or written about. Some refer to the Liberal tenure as the ‘decade of deceit’, with good reason.

In fact, this was a very big point in the No-HST campaign that the supporters of this new proposed tax once trotted out at every opportunity! (inconvenient truth as that may be now)

What’s suddenly changed with the Clark government? Mt. Polley? The health ministry firings? LNG prosperity funds and a gazillion jobs by 2030, no wait… 2060… or is that the year 2100 by now? ( Humour me, I honestly can’t keep track of the claims tossed out there as often as tissues during flu season…)

You get the point. This is not a government that has shown or earned much trust.

Adding fuel to this mistrust are the changes in the ballot that removed some of the specifics of individual projects that will benefit from this “Congestion Improvement Tax”

– you can read all about that here, in this piece from The Vancouver Sun:

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Changes+transit+plebiscite+ballot+keep+voters+guessing/10755759/story.html

“Changes:

Heading: The new ballot calls it a “Metro Vancouver transportation and transit plebiscite,” not a “transportation and transit referendum.” This stipulates the tax only applies to Metro Vancouver. Meanwhile, a plebiscite, which is non-binding, is being held because the vote is being conducted by the South Coast British Columbian Transportation Authority Act, which governs TransLink, and not the Referendum Act.

Wording: The main wording is tightened up to remove the rationale for the plebiscite. For instance, the ballot removes the line that states “one million more people will live and work in Metro Vancouver by 2040” and that the plan is needed to reduce congestion on roads and bridges.

Projects: Clarifies the overall plan with more succinct wording. The new ballot takes out references to “11 new B-Line rapid bus routes” for a more generic statement that the funding “will add bus service and new B-Line rapid bus routes.” It also states new “rapid transit” for Surrey and Vancouver rather than citing a subway and light rail.

Explanation: The new ballot is clearer than the original in stipulating the tax will be called a Metro Vancouver congestion improvement tax and dedicated to the majority of goods and services in the region.

Ballot question: The approved question does not include the line “with independent audits and public reporting.”

Hmm. Why all the changes?

Why does the ballot not include independent audits and public reporting?

Why so vague on the specifics of the projects?

Again, no answers from the Yes supporters other than: “There is no Plan B, so hold your nose and vote YES!” Many yes supporters agree with me on all these points,admit it’s a lot of concern,but feel this time, the government can’t ignore the people.

( We haven’t even gotten into the fact that this tax increase doesn’t fund the entire cost of any of these projects, and neither the provincial or federal government has committed to dedicating those funds… but trust us they say.  Trust us…)

I look at this ballot and I shake my head. Non-binding. No guarantee’s on anything and government commits to nothing in it. You vote yes and your vote says you agree a sales tax increase should go to fund transit improvements, or you vote no.

It’s basically a very costly opinion poll, and nothing more.  If the province wanted to show good faith, it would be a binding referendum. It’s not.

3. There is no Plan B

Houston, we have a problem.

The same people who residents in Metro Vancouver elected to govern, to make hard decisions, to…lead… have no plan B. Nothing. Nada, except for Surrey mayor Linda Hepner who already said  her LRT plan is happening no matter what the vote is. ( election promise,so take that with a grain of salt)
Granted this provincial government is about as easy to work with as a porcupine in heat but regardless, what are these mayors being paid to do?

Mayors just elected have nearly 4 years to govern.Each of them needs to look at what residents in their communities need… and perhaps.. how it is that city planning has contributed to the current situation. In Surrey, poor planning has resulted in bedroom communities where a car is a must. Many of them. Some out in the middle of nowhere where it’s not feasible to run even community shuttles.

I’ve been doing a bit of research and there is a lot the mayors of our cities could do to relieve congestion… if they have the will to ruffle some feathers and do so.

In fact, this article I located has a wealth of ideas cities should have considered in planning their neighbourhoods. https://nowtoronto.com/news/transportation/on-the-buses/

From dedicated bus lanes, to no parking zones during transit peak times to enforcement actions, much of gridlock begins and ends with our municipal leaders and how they plan and run our cities. They could be increasing Development Cost Charges or adding a new or bigger transit levy to the current charges- developers wanting to build high density will benefit from a bus route. ( an unpopular suggestion I am told, because developers tend to give good donations in civic elections…)

I can assure you this. In the private sector no plan B, means no second chance. The mayors of Metro Vancouver would do well to remember this when digging into our pockets again and again.

4. Research shows in other cities and countries, that improved transit alone doesn’t cut congestion without road pricing.

As with most things you must sign your name to, the devil is in the details.

YES side proponents in social media and in forums have been telling people that better transit will cut congestion.

In fact some have been telling me that if a No vote prevails, transit will be set back twenty years, making it sound like a No vote will instantly transform the Canada Line into an Amish wagon train form of transport! Guess what? That isn’t going to happen. Nor will the new  proposed Surrey LRT or Arbutus subway  Line stop traffic jams anywhere in the region.Why?

Because regardless of how amazing these projects are, research shows that improved transit isn’t enough to reduce congestion. And even the mayors acknowledge this in their own plan:

mayorsplan

No kidding. Why isn’t the yes side talking about this?A comprehensive road pricing strategy is a part of their plan. You vote Yes now, and the mayors still plan on introducing user pay roads ( tolls for distance traveled) 5 years or so down the line.

I mean, all one has to do is use ‘the Google’ to search ” Does transit reduce traffic congestion?” to determine in most cases, it doesn’t – not on its own.

Look at Singapore-even with exceptional transit, it was only the hefty road pricing that moved drivers to transit.http://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltaweb/en/roads-and-motoring/managing-traffic-and-congestion/electronic-road-pricing-erp.html

This is why the mayors plan details that if a YES vote prevails, they will introduce road pricing down the road. It takes time to implement that… and there will be considerable backlash.

There is a significant and credible amount of research showing that transit improvements alone do little to ease congestion, but that paired with road pricing as a dis-incentive to drivers, it will have an impact.

What is road pricing?Alternatively known as congestion pricing, it’s how cities outside of Europe where the lifestyle is vastly different from North America, deal with congestion.

As the Georgia Straight published last year, I suspect as a way of easing drivers into the idea:

” …road pricing. It’s necessary. It’s contentious. And it’s coming to Vancouver.

As a congestion-reducing/transit-promoting strategy, it comes in myriad guises. In California, for example, the strategy appears as transponder-linked high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes in L.A. and San Diego. Rates posted roadside for HOT–lane occupancy constantly change with time and traffic volumes. In San Francisco, road pricing means a soon-to-be-instituted $3 road-usage charge for all drivers entering that city’s cordoned downtown core. In Hong Kong, in Dallas, in Rio, in Rome, and in scores of other jurisdictions: if you use roads, you pay.”

In fact, the first place you would have seen road pricing is between the Port Mann Bridge and Vancouver.. that is, until the people said enough and refused to take that bridge. I suspect it will still be the first line of attack, along with Hwy 99 and the SFPR, aka the South Fraser Perimeter Road.

It’s acknowledged far and wide as a crucial part of reducing congestion, so why aren’t the mayors, provincial government and the YES campaign talking about this more before the vote? Because in my opinion, it negates the often used line that transit improvements will improve congestion. This isn’t an anti-congestion tax.

Ask your mayor about this one before you vote.

5. I’ve had enough of the premier and our mayors playing with people’s lives… and livelihoods.

Forgive me for living in a dream world, but I really do believe elected officials must put the needs of their community before anything else. Regardless of whether it is a city,a provincial riding or our province, those with power hold immense influence in decision making, and policy direction.

How many of those deemed to make these decisions, take transit? How many understand how hard it is to drop kids off at daycare, go to work, come home, pick up kids and get something for dinner… on transit? Anyone going to soccer practice on transit?

You just can’t do it easily outside of Vancouver. Its nearly impossible in Surrey or Langley. Frankly I’m very tired of people who live,work and play in Vancouver telling me how this plan will benefit me, when they haven’t even been out to this part of Surrey! There is a complete disconnect. One fellow I know recently took a planning bus tour in Surrey and was shocked to discover how much sprawl planning has occurred.

Please, don’t tell me how good this plan is going to be for all of us, unless you will come out here and find out what it’s like here first. If you’ve never been to Surrey,I don’t even want to talk to you!

This is just part of what is so disingenuous about this cut congestion tax.

Transit alone will not cut congestion. And those promoting the YES side know this.

Did the Canada Line cut traffic congestion into Richmond or Vancouver? No. There are still backups over the bridges back and forth.

Did a new express bus down King George in Surrey magically reduce the gridlock? No. In fact the bus gets stuck in traffic too.

They make it seem like a vote yes is a guarantee you won’t wait in traffic as long as you did before… 20% less reduction is the number on their website – a stretch if you ask me and a bait and switch tactic much like the Liberals have used in BC before.

Coming from politicians and politico’s,many who only take transit when a camera crew is involved, it’s a bit rich.

In closing...

I can’t tell you which side to vote for, but I can tell you how I am voting, and why. I tend to ask a lot of questions and those questions always lead to more questions that really get some people upset. But that’s how I work.

I can’t even in good conscience, advocate a yes vote with so many unknowns, so many questions and with so many changes the provincial government has made to this ballot. Everything in my gut tells me this is all wrong,in particular with the amount of fear-mongering occurring on social media from those working for or endorsing the yes side. It’s beginning to reach unprecedented desperation levels and there is a long time to go still.

I encourage every Metro Vancouver reader this tax increase would impact, to do your own research, ask questions of your elected officials and feel free to share the responses here with my readers.

Because in the words of the Dalai Lama:  “A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.”  Taxpayers in Metro Vancouver deserve better than what’s being served up by those with vested interests.

107 thoughts on “Why I am (still) voting No in the Transit tax vote

  1. Laila – while I respect your views always – on the critical issue of public transit and transportation you are simply dead wrong. It’s getting late and I don’t have enough time to counter all your arguments – and I’d dearly like to. But let me just say this for now – anyone who thinks that voting No in the spring plebiscite will do anything but kill any possible improvements in transit is fooling themselves. No means No to Premier Christy Clark – and anyone else who looks at a ballot where it’s Yes or No on more funding for transit and voters say No cannot expect the BC government to interpret that as a “Yes” to more transit!

    I regret that we are on opposite sides – and that you are aligned with the right-wing, secretive Canadian Taxpayers Federation and not transit and other unions, major environmental groups, community groups, small business organizations, student groups and others. I hope that you will reconsider. For those wanting more info: http://www.bettertransit.info to learn about the Coalition for Better Transit and Transportation.

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    1. Laila

      Bill, I too respect your views as a friend and a colleague, but here we disagree. I am anything but aligned with the the CTF on this, in fact I think I have made it clear to all that I don’t agree with their solution whatsoever,considering how much provincial and federal governments have downloaded onto municipalities. In fact, when asked if I would come on board with them, the response was an unquestionable No!

      That being said, I don’t agree that the unions,special interest groups and politicians have the best interests of the taxpayers at heart in pushing this tax. Where was all this concern for transit expansion when Surrey, Langley and Delta were expanding rapidly? Haven’t seen it on this end.

      There is no guarantee of anything in this vote and I think we all know this. I am hearing from small business here who oppose this.Community groups are opposing this. The mayors south of the Fraser are well aware now of what poor planning can create when it comes to sprawl.

      South of the Fraser has paid into this for a very long time, to no benefit. Why should we suddenly have to pay more now, after Vancouver and other areas have been using our tax contributions for their expansion? And why are the mayors not being more upfront on how critical road pricing is to actually reducing congestion?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Don F.

        Laila, the list of Mr. Tieleman’s proponents of this issue, in all fairness, should include those with possible financial gains in mind. Wolves in sheep’s clothing who could care less for right or wrong!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Laila

          I don’t know about you, but I trust the provincial government even less than I trust Translink in handling any new sales tax revenue….. https://twitter.com/fabulavancouver/status/560852351897333760

          Non binding plebiscite. No guarantees on what gets done and when. Province is in charge of the money….. I foresee some kind of economic crisis that requires the province to re-direct those funds elsewhere than transit.

          I will not vote for anything that has absolutely no form of guarantee on anything other than I pay more sales tax.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Peter

            I’m just wondering how much this “non-binding” plebiscite will cost British Columbians, and if we can trust the results of the ballots? With no one but Tielman and government supporting this, if there is a solid yes vote, I could only say I don’t believe it. A real New Democrat would be mad as hell and not taking it!

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            1. nonconfidencevote

              Sorry Mr Teilman but when I watch Translink urinate $100,000,000.00 against the wall for a Transit Pass system that STILL doesnt work 2 years after it was supposed to be implemented………
              I DONT TRUST ANYONE with MORE tax dollars and zero accountability.
              Any tax increase is nothing more than a cash grab and it wont end, that tax, if implemented, will be increased over time.
              Why do you think this tax is going to referendum and not just being voted in by city clowncils?.
              Gee, perhaps because the gutless political trolls that run our cities know that it will be hated by everyone?

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      2. brianp1950

        Tell you my reasons why no should be the right choice. The big one for me is that the mayors have a 10 year plan to spend $7.5 billion dollars, the problem being that in 10 years at $250 million a year in the new tax will generate $2.5 billion dollars over the same time frame. Can anyone tell me where the other $5 billion dollars is going to come from? The main congestion is getting in and out of Vancouver so guess where the majority will be spent? is the first majoe project the Broadway corridor which has a price tag of around $2 billion dollars. Are they going to go out and borrow this money up front which will have interest charges or are they going to build \t the rate of $250 million dollars a year which is what the tax is going to generate? will the projects be P3? will there be exemptions permitted by the Province like the BC Auto dealers association is asking for? adding an extra .5% to major renovations on houses or on new housing material will be huge for most people> So many questions and as usual no answers and no leadership. If people really believe that giving more money to an unelected body like Translink is worthy should just go out and write them a check. They arfe already receiving 17 cents a litre and they never have enough money so this extra tax will be spent before you can blink. Look around Canada, gas everywhere is close to 75cents a litre what is it in Vancouver? Why can’t the Province return the carbon tax to the GVRD they are collecting already? more tax NO WAY!!!!!!

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      3. Laila – so far the Canadian Taxpayers Federation if the only group opposed to the transit and transportation improvement plan – saying “you hear” others oppose this is hearsay. The Better Transit and Transportation Coalition has over 70 member organizations from Surrey, New Westminster, Burnaby, Richmond, Langley, Vancouver, and every other municipality in the region, including groups representing small business. I also don’t think calling some of them “special interests” is appropriate unless you can explain what that means. This is the biggest coalition we’ve ever seen in BC – labour, business, environmental, student, community and other groups all supporting a dramatic improvement in our roads and transit to deal with the 1 million people coming to Metro Vancouver by 2040. Those like you who oppose have an obligation to say what you would do an an alternative to an already overcrowded system where riders are passed up.

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        1. Peter

          Bill, with an impending recession in this country, there are WAY too many things that have higher priority. After all, they can’t even keep trains running properly and cannot afford to replace floppy discs on the trains that we already have. I am voting no. Government cannot manage the money they receive currently.

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          1. zalm

            Regretfully, “floppy disks” comments mean you don’t know what you’re talking about. Bombardier has refused to update old software for the 7 systems they sold without significant development costs paid up front by the 7 purchasers, one of which was the predecessor to Translink. How irresponsible would Translink be to pay good money to Bombardier a year in advance to write new software and have the other 6 purchasers (one in Malaysia, I believe) get off scot free with it? You’d be complaining about that too.

            No, the fault for that one lies with the old Socreds who purchased that orphan of a train. AS ever, the province, interfering as it does in local affairs, causes a bigger mess than when they leave things alone. Translink is looking for a replacement computer system that has an upgrade path and won’t cost a fortune. It’ll take some time.

            By all means, vote NO, but don’t use “floppy disks” as your excuse.

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            1. nonconfidencevote

              Bill, I’d take 10 recommendations from the Taxpayers Federation before I’d listen to ANYTHING a transit “coalition” of cash snuffling pork barrel politicos have to say.
              Im still voting NO.
              Oh and I’ll be letting any of my friends who ask me about this tax grab know why I’m voting NO.
              This is dead no matter how many millions in advertisements the unions and the city spew forth in a desperate attempt to justify their “need” to tax me again and again and again.
              I pay enough taxes NOW thankyouverymuch.
              I fully expect the weasels in power to ram some sort of cash grab through but I want them to actually be forced to do it themselves without hiding behind a referendum. That way, the voters will have another reason to kick them out come election time.
              Speaking of “busy” politicians……Has Gregor moved in with his new paramour yet? Still renovating his soon to be exwifes house while decorating a new apartment ? He’s a busy busy guy.

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        2. Bill

          Um – Do you do any work for the transit union Mr. Teilman? And do you think unelected boards should have the ability to create taxes?Do you find Translink run in an efficient and cost effective method?

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        1. Laila

          http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/translink-ceo-ian-jarvis-stepping-down-1.2953785

          The entire thing is a complete waste of time and taxpayers money. It is totally and completely non-binding,akin to no more than sharing an opinion. It is time people took a knowledgeable stand against this complete failure of political leadership and responsibility.

          The premier passed this off to the mayors so she ultimately will not wear the stain of what comes next after a yes vote,which is road pricing- the mayors have already committed to doing this with Translink.

          For the premier to bring in road pricing is a nightmare politically. If she lets the mayors take that one, she can point to them. She has failed completely in her role as premier in determining the proper course of action with respect to Translink governance and with respect to how to determine future funding.She has set a standard whereby she can pass off responsibility to any other mayors should they bother her for funding.

          There are solutions and transit expansion is needed. This is not how to do it.

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      1. And what’s wrong with representing bus drivers? I’m very proud to do so and have worked with them for 13 years fighting vicious, sometimes horrific assaults on drivers just doing their job. Unifor Locals 111 and 2200 are among the harshest critics of TransLink yet they understand the need to improve transit and transportation funding or face years of traffic gridlock and steady deteriorating service. Drivers are responding to the longstanding concerns of their riders – good on them!

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        1. Lew

          Mr. Tieleman, I wonder if you would help clear up some questions on this issue? When I look at your opening argument on this thread it sounds like Christy Clark has arranged a take it or leave it referendum and will deliberately ensure no future improvements in transit will happen if citizens don’t agree to an increase in the PST specific to one area of the lower mainland. Is that true?

          Is there a concrete plan complete with the required financial commitments in place to address the difference between the revenue generated by this tax and the estimated $7.5 billion supposedly required to fix and improve the system? Will Christy Clark ensure that none of the improvements in the plan proceed if the citizens in the region reject the region-specific tax idea? If not, which will proceed, and which will not?

          How did the referendum come to be? Was the idea developed and brought forward by transportation and economic experts to the provincial Cabinet for consideration and approval? What specific input did local MLAs and other elected legislators have into the referendum concept before it was announced? Whose idea was it?

          The Mayor’s Council plan on your website says that purchase of all PST taxable items in Metro Vancouver would be subject to an additional one-half percentage point (0.5%) increase to the existing Provincial Sales Tax. Is that true?

          If the referendum concept is such a great way to proceed, why is it not being used for other major capital investments in the region or the province? Why just here?

          You say, “No means No to Premier Christy Clark”. But since the referendum results aren’t binding can we assume that Yes doesn’t mean Yes?

          Within 10% how much per annum will the new tax generate, and how did you derive your estimate?

          Once in place, will any future increase to the new 0.5% tax be subject to a referendum?

          Are the deficiencies described in the arguments put forward by proponents of this means of financing solely the result of a lack of funding? If not, what are the other factors?

          Your answers are much anticipated and will help me decide which way to vote.

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    2. Mike McDonald

      Teiliman is sounding like Harper if you disagree you are against all that is good. I will be voting NO because we elect premier to make a decision on important issues. Miss Clark should have shown leadership and made the tough decision. Why are provincial taxs paying for Massey crossing and roads in West Kelowna but not lower mainland.I am not against taxation but would prefer a more progressive tax like income. Also I don’t believe a no vote will be the end of the world as we know it. Our elective officials have to have a plan b and Christy if not step down and get some leadership

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    3. brianp1950

      Mr> Tielman, with all due rspect, why can you not see that we are already taxed enough? why can you not see Translink is a poor choice to give billions of dollars to? there are way to many questions which have to be answered before giving more money to GVRD transportation. Why do we need the following groups falling under the same umbrella with their own bureaucracy? I am thinking BC Transit, BC Rapid Transit, West Coast Express, Translink? I realize you are trying to protect your members jobs but quite frankly I am more interested in trying to cut costs. You tell me why I should support an organization that spends $110K on art work? why I should support an organization that hires and pays its own police forcee more than the Vancouver Police Department?

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      1. The problem is not that we’re taxed too much already, it’s the opposite.We are unwilling to institute a progressive tax system to supply the public services we require. The economic pinch we feel comes from myriad government attempts to avoid appropriate progressive taxation.
        MSP, BC Ferrise, user fees, tolls, casinos, hydro rates, ICBC rates,sales tax – are all flat fees that cost you the same as Jim Pattison – that’s not fair and it’s now become the only way government gathers revenues. They’ve got us convinced taxes are evil.
        We’re not overtaxed – It’s our unwillingness to tax fairly that is killing us.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Laila

          I’m all for progressive taxation and have been banging that drum for a while,tweeting out the CCPA’s suggestions,not to much impact. It’s very narrow-sighted to look at this kind of regressive taxation when there are vast numbers of underfunded services in the province that were the direct result of Liberal tax cuts when they came into power.

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  2. workforfun

    I am of the opinion that what we have is a direct result of incompetence (or incontinence if you prefer) of our elected and appointed officials – provincial or municipal. Nothing happens on it’s own and the reluctance to deal adequately and properly speaks volumes of the apparent arrogance of those in charge.
    Special interest groups should not dictate what happens as everyone is affected. We can start putting the blame at the top – Christy Clark for a start, for the myopic view on oversight and problem perpetuation. The DOT would be another good candidate – but they do want the
    BC Lie-beral premier wants. The list just gets longer. Throw into the mix the greedy money grabbing companies that want things done their way and you have a good recipe for major fuster clucks – as we have now.
    Sorry, but let us call a spade a spade. Until serious and deliberate reviews and discussions happen, nothing will improve. It will be more of the same – waste money on avoidable faux pas.
    Thanks

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  3. The only option that is left to Christy Clark, supposedly, has always been a pro-rated charge on every kilometre traveled between entrance/exit points of Metro Vancouver Highways using license plate readers/Treo tags.

    Are the BC Liberals skimming a % off of the Port Mann Bridge/highway upgrades? They do it to every other Crown Corporation to Balance their Budget Books, but only by permitting, insisting, Crown Corporations BORROW money to pay the BC Liberals acts.

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  4. I oppose the tax, too. I’d vote no. But I see it differently than both groups. 1. Transit doesn’t work. 2. the current group can’t even manage what they have. Leaving aside the basic but erroneous philosophy of mass transit, I’d vote NO simply because it is a basic business maxim NOT to go after new projects until you have all your previous ones working at 100% efficient. The decision to hold a plebiscite while you are demonstrably screwing up is, in itself, another screw-up. Put in terms apt for the times: don’t give the ball to the guy who fumbles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If we did nothing more than restrict big trucks to after-hours (like Germany), subsidize (no sales tax might be enough) electric and smart cars and minis, allow and encourage UBER taxi and formally stagger working hours somewhat, we’d de-congest the system. I’d also implement tougher standards for getting a license, too – and NOT just to be safer but to BE more considerate and efficient as well. There are at least a few dozen painless changes we could implement first.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. r

    4 day work week 10 hours a day .every week end a long weekend
    ban trucks thru massey tunnel 7-9am.3/7 pm
    3,000 million dollar (3 billion)massey bridge=alex fraser bridge detour around toll
    if tunnel is removed then that probably proves upstream ship agenda.coal and LNG Tilbury Island?

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  6. It seems to me Laila that you have made up your mind and are impervious to argument.

    There has been plenty from the Yes side – and now their campaign has launched – there will be more. Human Transit did a good job of transit tax votes in general http://bit.ly/1Jm2yy3

    I do not know if you read my blog, but the questions you pose have been dealt with there too.

    I do agree with you that the current BC government has an even worse track record on major projects than even Translink: the Port Mann is turning out to be even worse than the Golden Ears, which is quite an achievement. And of course Christy Clark is just our version of Sarah Palin.

    No I do not like regressive taxes – and note that it was the Green Party that finally piped up about MSP while the NDP has been silent on that for years.

    I also do not like dedicated taxes. If you can only spend a tax on one thing then you have hobbled future policy makers. The history of the US federal gas tax ought to be lesson enough, but the shell game of the BC carbon tax is even better.

    Yes, we should have representative and responsible government, that is open and honest not just about what it has done but what it intends to do. One that admits mistakes, and is allowed to change its mind when circumstances change. That’s not a “flip flop” or “bait and switch”. It is good public policy making. Flexibility is not a crime.

    Government should be allowed to collect taxes without the cat calls of “cash grab”. We cannot have good public services or decent public facilities without tax revenues. It is not true that money is necessarily better spent by the private citizen. The disaster of US healthcare ought to be a warning enough but we also seem to be doing a very similar job with post secondary education.

    You want transit expansion. Your community needs transit expansion. There is one outcome I can confidently predict. If the plebiscite result is NO there will not be transit expansion South of the Fraser. And the idea of Surrey proceeding on its own as is ridiculous as the idea that West Vancouver can have free transit – just as long as nobody wants to travel outside of West Van.

    We can only play with the cards we have been dealt, and the game is almost certainly rigged against us – but not voting means than good people get bad governments.

    Voting NO as a protest against this government is simply confirming what they think of everything progressives stand for.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. brianp1950

      It.s a vote against a group of unelected people continuing to spend money on someone’s wish list. We cannot afford all these projects, we do not have $7.5 billion dollars floating around the GVRD. And if these projects are as important as the Liberals, Mayors and Translink think they are let them come up with the money from savings, cutbacks, salary reductions, eliminating bonuses. We are taxed enough, get the money from the carbon tax collected in the GVRD. Enough already no more taxes.

      Like

    2. zalm

      “If the plebiscite result is NO there will not be transit expansion South of the Fraser.”

      Wrong, Stephen. Translink will continue to plan, set priorities, and build capacity regardlesss of what some contributors here think. It will proceed at a slower pace but south of the Fraser will get its transit. Agreed, it’s not effective, but the new tax without an iron-clad plan complete with penalties is a fairytale is doomed to failure and upset.

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    3. “We can only play with the cards we are dealt” is wrong, wrong. If the ‘planners’ are only playing with half-a-deck then, at the very least we demand the other half because they are limiting possibilities. And many of us are suggesting they get out of the game altogether. We ARE voting. We are voting NO.

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      1. Voting No does not produce any change at all. Voting No confirms to the province that you do not want transit expansion enough to be willing to pay more for it. The faults you perceive as “half-a-deck” will continue. The Massey Bridge gets built anyway. No one is asking you to vote for that. And it will cost you much more than the transit expansion.

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        1. You make a good point: ‘they will squander elsewhere, so they may as well squander on transit!’ Hard to argue with that logic, so you are right in a surrendered-victim kind of way. But here’s my main point: mass transit doesn’t work. And we have already invested trillions in the road system that serves everyone door-to-door. I say, spend another few billion and a lot more common sense and make the existing infrastructure work better. And bear in mind, I am a Greenie. I admit that CO2 has to be dealt with but I’d willingly pay to re-power my car if there was something to re-power to. And I’ll pay for that! No taxpayer involved.

          Like

  7. Hugh

    The problem of congestion is the result of jamming too many people into the major cities.
    It’s the flawed “we must grow infinitely” ponzi philosophy.
    City govt needs more revenue from taxpayers to pay for infrastructure, so they want more people, paying more taxes.
    Then they need even more money, to pay for more new infrastructure.
    And on and on. Where does it end.

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  8. Barry

    I do sympathize with your situation regarding Surrey transit, or more precisely lack thereof and many of the things you’ve said about Translink. However, one point I seldom heard brought up is the role municipalities and the voters play in getting to this point.

    I live in Vancouver, but frequently travel to Surrey. A big reason Vancouver has the transit it does, aside from being around the longest, is that it dense enough to make transit a viable option. Look at Surrey, or just about any other suburb, and you have acre after acre of low density, spread out subdivisions totally made for only car traffic. Some streets don’t even have sidewalks for pedestrians! It is very difficult to create a transit system for that kind of development.

    So, look to the voters of those places who have put in governments that instituted that kind of development. If voters had voted for different policies, things might be different. As some people are fond of saying “Actions have consequences.”

    Like

    1. You made my NO point…we have already designed our lives differently. Around the ‘car’. We have dedicated routes FOR THE CAR. Why abandon the ‘car’ approach? It works! And we have already invested in it. Admittedly we need smaller, less polluting cars and maybe a few tweaks to the system but why abandon a system that works 95% of the time for something that NEVER works except for 10/20% of the citizen’s trips. Trying to kill the car is stupid. Just make it better.

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  9. patrickjohnstone

    On your 5 points:

    1: The sales tax is not ideal, but neither are your examples. Chip Wilson will definitely pay more CIT than a working poor single parent, because he buys more consumer goods that are taxable. The rising price of food is indeed a concern for the working poor and people on fixed incomes or social supports, however the PST is not paid on food, children’s clothing or medical aids, which represent an increased portion of low-income spending. There is no doubt, however, that the infrastructure provided by this transportation plan will disproportionally benefit the working poor and those on fixed incomes.

    That said, this is not a referendum on progressive tax reform. If it was, I’d be right there beside you signing people up to vote yes, but it isn’t. Let’s not punish the people who need better access to transportation options in a misguided attempt to shift provincial tax policy.

    2:The plebiscite ballot clearly states:

    “Revenues would be dedicated to the Mayors’ Transportation and Transit Plan. Revenues and expenditures would be subject to annual independent audits and public reporting”.

    Yes, the audits and reporting parts are still there.

    If you don’t trust the government to be truthful about how they will use this money – then how can you trust they will not go ahead if you vote “NO”? At least if the vote is a “YES” and they break their often-stated promise, you have a reason to campaign to have them tossed out of office. If your suspicion is they do not want to fund public transit, and you vote “NO”, then aren’t you just giving them the easy way out?

    The referendum and ballot clearly define the purpose, and directly reference the Mayors’ Plan. The subtle language changes made by the province do not change that plan in any way.

    3. Of course there is a Plan B. There were several Plans B. The Mayors developed a set of priorities, and agreed on them. There was some adjustment made by the Provincial government, but no-one is disputing the needs set (except maybe the Mayor of West Vancouver, who apparently has all he needs, so we should just leave him alone).

    As for the funding scheme, you know there were Plans B, and you know that every Plan B and comprehensive group of Plans B were rejected by the Province. Of all the plans discussed over the last year, this is the one the Province will allow the Mayors to take to the electorate. This is Plan A (which is usually the name we give best plan). If you believe in supporting public transportation, this is the path that the regional Mayors, and their collective planning staff, agree is the best path.

    Of course, you don’t want a Plan B, you want to know what will happen if this referendum ends with a NO vote. That is a big difference. The prevailing thought is that this vote is on the funding plan, and if it fails, the Mayors’ Plan is still the regional transportation priority list, but it will have to be delayed until a new funding mechanism is developed (which could, of course, be years). The second thought is that the failed referendum will result in a complete revamping of the Mayors’ Plan, with the potential of some projects moving ahead on the whim of the provincial government (once again undermining the local authority over our regional transportation plans), and others being shelved for an indeterminate amount of time.

    4. Correct. I hate the term “Congestion Improvement Tax” for that exact reason. This relatively small expenditure (remember the entire CIT revenue earned over the 10 years will not equal the amount of money committed by the Premier on a whim when she decided the Massey Tunnel needed replacing) will not be magic bullet that will end congestion. You are also right that public transit investments alone are not likely to fix congestion. Comprehensive road pricing policies would make a bigger impact. The Mayors have been up front about this, as the longer term solution we should be working towards.

    However, infrastructure investment MUST come before the road pricing. There is no point in introducing comprehensive road pricing unless there are viable alternatives for people to use. If we introduce a true congestion-limiting road pricing plan today, our transit system (already operating over capacity during rush hours) will be overwhelmed, and completely fail to move the region – the road pricing , without choice, is indeed a “cash grab”. The Mayors are open to development of a road pricing strategy, and are investing in the planning framework to make that viable, but in the decade it takes to make something like that work (we are not talking about the simple introduction of a few bridge tolls here), we need to be building the alternative infrastructure we need to make it viable.

    5. Ugh. Aren’t we all tired of Government meddling in our lives? We should all just move to where the government stays the hell out of our affairs and lets us get on our way. What’s the weather like in Somalia this time of year?

    In all seriousness, I hate this referendum. In my ideal world, the provincial government would work with the Mayors to develop and fund a regional transportation system that works. They would be honest with people and tell them that taxes pay for public services that people use every day, and should not be a dirty word. They should be proud that they got the Mayors together to agree on a set of regional priorities, and should be as proud to fund public transit infrastructure as they are to build the Widest Bridge in the World. In my ideal world TransLink would be run by a board of elected officials that hold accountability at their highest principle. In my ideal world, good public policy would replace leveraging political advantage out of providing basic services.

    But we don’t live in that world. We live in a world where the provincial government has made it as hard as possible for local governments to get the public transit investment they need to make their citizens happy and improve the livability of their communities. Let’s not make it easy for the province to dodge their responsibility to provide governance. Vote YES and call their bluff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. brianp1950

      surely there is enough gas tax and carbon tax collected in BC that could be better used for Transportation. Why do the yes side seem to think this will solve our problems. An old employer once taught me to look at the past to see the future. When I look at the past of Translink, the amount of tax already collected for Translink, the $1 billion dollars already collected by a carbon tax and there is still never enough money. Why can the yes side not lobby the Province for the carbon tax collected in the GVRD, why do they think that adding a 1/2 per cent gas tax to already stressed household budgets that we will solve our transportation problems. Can you answer for me where the rest of the money is going to come from for the Mayors 10 year $7.5 billion dollar plan? the last I read was this 1/2 % was going to create $250 million dollars a year, over 10 years that would generate $2.5 billion dollars a shortfall of $5 billion. Is the rest going to come from further tax increases? There are way to many unanswered questions when it comes to this ballot and quite frankly a trust us we will manage this money no longer works for me.

      Like

      1. Translink does not get a penny from the carbon tax. Two thirds of the revenue from carbon has gone to reducing corporate income taxes in the name of “revenue neutrality”.

        Transit Ridership in 1998 was 124.4m by 2013 it had risen to 232.5m About half of Translink’s revenue comes from fares. The rest comes from taxes. That’s where the money went – expanding service and carrying more people.

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        1. brianp1950

          I realize they do not collect any of the carbon tax revenue, this is where the money for these projects should come from. Where will it end? Can you tell me where the extra $5 billion dollars is going to come from? can you tell me which projects will be first to the gate so to speak? can you tell me if these will be P3 projects? can you tell me that if the yes vote wins will the municipalities be borrowing the money up front so they do not need to wait for revenue? the Province has no money to give for these projects.Can you tell me if the new Patollo bridge will be tolled? can you tell me if any of the new revenue would be going towards current late or unfinished projects? can you tell me who will be accountable for all this money and please don’t tell me the Province will look after the funds. Way to many questions need to be answered before giving these guys any more money.

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  10. Don F.

    Perhaps the question should not be, will you vote yes or no?, but why are we voting at all?
    We are simply, by doing so, allowing this government to shun it’s responsibilities and avoid any negative consequences of doing it’s job. A job we are paying them well to do.
    Is this to be the new norm? If so can we expect a greater say in projects like site C dam or IPP contract etc? Can we expect or demand a vote on other projects as well.
    Can we expect the elimination of the government ministries who’s mandate is to deal with these issues therefore freeing up funds to be used for the cost of holding these votes?
    Should taxes even be in question before looking for savings in other areas such as the structure of entities such as Translink itself?

    Like

  11. e.a.f.

    I’d be voting NO. Its a waste of money. the plans politicians come up with are usually suggested to them by corporations who will benefit. No thought is given to what the lower mainland will truly look like in 50 to 100 years. Had there been any planning at all, it ought to have been prior to the suburbs being built. As in infrastructure first, then the houses and shopping plazas.

    Cars are a fact of life in North America. People don’t live close to work. People don’t live close to their families and friends anymore. This isn’t Europe. This is North America with a different culture and size. Politicians need to stop looking to Europe and their forms of transit and start looking at how we live in North America.

    Vancouver is the second most unaffordable city in the world. The suburbs around aren’t much different. People are moving further and further out to find affordable housing, that is why we have a commuter problem. Building rapid transit is only part of the problem. We need some major highways, to move vehicles around, because most people don’t go downtown to work, they go across municipalities. The rapid transit built to date, has in many cases simply increased the amount of time to get to work.

    Then of course the tax its self it simply another method of downloading cost of government to the average citizen in B.C. I have a really good idea. Raise corporate taxes in this province to what they once were and pay for infrastructure that way. I know its very big to use the “user pay” phrase, but corporations use everything in this country but don’t pay for it. If workers couldn’t get to work how would they run their companies? If their trucks carrying goods couldn’t move, how would they make profits? Clean water, schools, hospitals, police, courts, etc. all benefit corporations, yet they don’t pay their fair share.

    Canada has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the G-20 and in Canada, B.C. has the lowest corporate tax rate. I’d suggest we change that. Up the corporate tax rate and use the money to pay for transit. It benefits those corporations just as much as workers and the workers have no more money left.

    Like

  12. Jean

    Bill T would be included in the ‘special interest groups’ and personal substantial financial gains.
    I definitely decided to vote NO and will vote NO.
    I’m expecting a rigged referendum, typical of the BC Harper/Clark liars. They just keep spending money we don’t have (something like $170 billion in debt) and they still spend, spend, spend.
    When the time is right this whole gang of BC Libs need to be recalled. Too bad we can’t recall Hepner and her slate of one man rule.
    What the hell do we pay all these incompetent BC destroying goons big bucks to do except look after their corporate donors…..
    Excellent post, excellent research Laila. Thank you for all your hard work.
    Jean

    Like

  13. zalm

    I’m holding my nose and voting NO. I’ve been manipulated here in Vancouver by both the provincial government and council, and resent it. The province had no business abdicating its leadership in this matter and going ahead with a replacement of the tunnel, and then at the end playing around with the question so we don’t know what it means for us here in Vancouver.

    What it means is that the “suggested route” of the Skytrain, which City engineers have been working on for a couple of years, could be easily abandoned in favour of a cheaper route from the original design in April 2000 (of which I have copies) which would put a cut-and-cover tunnel right down 10th Avenue in the heritage district – on my street right past my house. And I can’t take that chance. Nor can any of my neighbours.

    City engineers and Geoff Meggs themselves are unable to reassure me this won’t happen – which I already knew because this is – guess what? – a plebiscite, with no binding authority to require any party to do what they promised. Geoff Meggs actually had the audacity to accuse me of playing into Jordan Bateman’s hands in as rude a comment as I’ve ever heard. I’m surprised he was re-elected with his snarky attitude.

    But that’s not the “manipulation” part. The manipulation is that for five years, since before the RAV line was finished, I have called on City Hall to remove parking for extended hours on Broadway where the B-line buses run to speed their path and provide additional passenger-carrying capacity, I’ve called on the City to implement light-holding measures for the buses, provide suitable bus stops for the B-lines so passengers load easily and don’t block sidewalks for others; I’ve called on them to remove the right of developers to blockade the outside lane of Broadway for construction of buildings (such as 550 W. Broadway) for more than two years further impeding bus passengers. And at every turn my communications have been ignored or I’ve been told in a patronizing fashion “That won’t work.” Not by staff, but by Mayor and Council.

    Mayor and Council are manipulating bus riders with these obstructions to their movement and have refused to do anything about it. Mayor Robertson promised “a new era of listening” to the citizens before November’s election. Well he can damn well start now.

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  14. brianp 1950

    I asked a bunch of specific questions directly to Mr. Rees and or Mr. Tieleman and neither took the time to address my concerns. The lack of any answers tell me all I need to know to vote no. If these guys cannot answer questions in regards to pricing, taxes, and overall general questions why the heck would they even bother to vote. Inam actually now of the belief that anyone working for either Translink or any of its other agencies shoukd not be allowed to vote. This vote for them is about keeping their jobs and benefits.

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  15. So let me get this straight: you seemingly want better transit, but until now all y’all “No” folks apparently couldn’t organize anything to push for better governance of TransLink, returning more fundraising powers to the Mayors’ Council so that they don’t necessarily need to go through the BC Liberals -at all- let alone have this referendum…plebiscite…whatever-you-want-to-call-it charade, or do -anything- for the 2013 provincial election demanding that either the Liberals OR the NDP take an actual stance on transit. Furthermore, you center your organizing not around being pro-transit, but around the explicitly anti-tax Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, an AstroTurf group that claims to be grassroots yet seemingly has no actual grassroots, just Jordan Bateman yelling at things he doesn’t like.

    In short, you approach this issue like people who simply react to a new tax they don’t like, center yourselves around a reactionary anti-tax organization, focus on attacking the credibility of TransLink and the “Yes” side over promoting your supposedly-viable funding alternative, and yet somehow expect to be viewed as something other than a reactionary anti-tax movement trying to punish TransLink for its intransigence, damn all of the splash damage that does to those of us who rely on transit.

    Like. Seriously. I get that sales taxes are regressive but…if you wanted something better, you had three years to organize. As far as I can tell the “Yes” side has recognized this failure and sees this referendum campaign properly: as the beginning of activism for better transit. This is not a progressive push forward; this is a rear-guard action to defend transit from reactionaries like the CTF and a base on which to build for further progressive actions.

    So what about you, “No” folks? Are you going to be organizing anything going forward? Are you even going to shift your focus slightly and promote your alternative so you can show that yes, you are more than just anti-tax, anti-transit reactionaries? In short, what do you want*?

    * – and now I have “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls stuck in my head 😛

    Like

    1. nonconfidencevote

      Gee, Im soooooo sorry we’ve offended you with our simplistic “anti tax” diatribe.
      IM SICK OF SEEING MY TAX DOLLARS WASTED!
      Is THAT simplistic enough for you?
      Is THAT so wrong?
      Spend the tax money as if it were your last 10 cents….FRUGALLY with carefull deliberation. Not like a drunken sailor on pay day at a whorehouse during Mardis Gras.
      As for Translink and their latest “proposals” .
      Sorry.
      They havent even got the goddamned transit passcard working yet after 3 years and $100? , $200 million dollars? WTF!
      A monkey fornicating with a football could organize this sh#tshow better than these self serving donkeys!

      NO more tax increases until the incompetant morons at Translink are fired ( without the obligatory obscene severance package….fired is fired ….they dont need a years salary to “soften the blow” because they were either too inept or too arrogant to do what any 6th grader would have done if a person continued to fail again and again and make ridiculous excuses…..GONE.).
      No more taxes until we get real representation from our elected “leaders”

      Like

      1. nonconfidencevote

        Hmmmm, well the 6 Mayors that are voting “Yes” in the Transit referendum were trotted out on the 6pm Global “News” Hour to give the most insipid excuses for why we (the overly taxed taxpayer) should vote ‘Yes” for another tax increase. Gregor gawking and blinking at the cameras,
        “If this referendum fails it will be gridlock”. Thats the alternative……………
        Wow! How well prepared. How eloquently explained. This ‘Yes” vote isnt a slam dunk.
        Reminds me of the dreadful ,multi million dollar HST fiasco that blew up in the Liberals face. Voters dont like taxes and they like voting themselves a new tax even less…..
        We “No” voters wont organize.
        We’ll just vote “No” .
        Oh, and once the new tax is implemented….it’ll NEVER be increased ….right? Right?
        Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
        Taxes are NEVER increased.
        P.S. Where was Burnaby’s Mayor ? Wisely not in favour of another cash grab hated by voters?

        Like

  16. brianp 1950

    Translink does not get a penny from the carbon tax. Two thirds of the revenue from carbon has gone to reducing corporate income taxes in the name of “revenue neutrality”. And in a nutshell Mr Rees this is why no more money should go to Translink. Think about your comment, why should taxpayers subsidize corporate tax rates? take the money earmarked for tax recuction for corporations and put it into Transportation. Raise corporate tax rates to offset the loss of the carbon tax recuction and problem solved. There is enougn freaking tax money being used for things it should not ge used for and the carbon tax is a perfect example. This should get defeated and put the responsibility back where it belongs, tax grabbing free spending BC Liberals.

    Like

  17. H C

    The Carbon tax is not for transit, Its another way for Liberal friendly companies to cash in at the expense of taxpayers of BC! Bottom line is the string pullers of Christy Clark don’t want to PAY ANY TAX ! and that is why there is a plebiscite on transit.

    Like

    1. nonconfidencevote

      Gee, ANOTHER Quebec multinational company accused of corruption a la SNC Lavalin.
      And this after the televised Charbonneau Commission into Public corruption in Quebec was the most viewed tv program when it was on in Quebec. EVERYONE in Quebec was watching the rotten fruit falling from the tree

      http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&sqi=2&ved=0CB0QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FCharbonneau_Commission&ei=Pg7QVNmEGsitoQS_04HwBQ&usg=AFQjCNG3S4xz2YLRdbUBxG0t3oHNkyck9Q

      And Quebecers think it will be better if they seperate…….. Good Luck mes amis.

      At least they had a public commission into corruption. Ours is long overdue.

      Like

    1. Laila

      It is tough to figure out for the average person, which is partly why I’m so bothered by this entire debacle. There is a lot of misinformation and fear mongering, on both official campaign sides.

      To date, a lot of the questions I have asked and the readers above have asked, have still gone unanswered, both here and in the public arena. And that alarms me. There are no guarantee’s on anything other than we all pay more tax.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Laila

    Mayors could be looking to developers for transit improvement funding… why aren’t they? Translink does it. They could also easily add a new or bigger Development Cost Charge transit improvement levy,in particular along high density zoned areas where townhomes are popping up by the hundreds… yet very little to no transit is available.

    Long term, sustainable funding, in particular for Surrey which still has a large land base to build on.

    http://news.uic.edu/value-capture-funding

    http://www.biv.com/article/2014/10/developers-step-pay-transit-stations/

    Like

  19. As always Laila, I very much appreciate your comments and the thought that goes into them. You speak very well about the lack of transit in Surrey and also point out that Vancouver residents, for the most part, don’t come out here and have little to no interest in this part of the region. There are exceptions, of course.

    I know firsthand from members of my household who use transit daily from Surrey to Burnaby just how difficult it is to get from Point A to Point B, even during peak periods.

    One of the many commenters on your post stated that Vancouver has the density to support the level of transit service it has.

    That is completely inaccurate. Most of the major transit lines in Vancouver are based on the streetcar and interurban lines built from the 1890s through the 1910s, when the B.C. Electric Railway built lines to areas with little or no population, largely to sell real estate.

    That includes the Expo SkyTrain line, built on the route of the Central Park interurban line. Vancouver has densified around existing transit lines, not the other way around. In some cases, such as along Dunbar or in East Vancouver along SkyTrain, densities are still low, but transit service is far better than on most bus routes in Surrey.

    In Surrey, by contrast, we had an interurban line from 1910 until 1950, when the population was 1/20th of what it is today. Then we had no transit at all until 1973, when the NDP government of the day instituted BC Hydro bus service here.

    Promises made about transit expansion have often been broken from that day until the present.

    The 555 fast bus across the Port Mann Bridge was supposed to be an alternative to paying the toll for Surrey residents – a promise made by Premier Gordon Campbell and Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon.

    The bus did not even stop in Surrey until last fall, and then only because 18-year-old transit advocate Daryl Dela Cruz and others pushed and pushed until someone finally listened. People from all parts of Surrey should have access to such a service as a real alternative to paying tolls or using the Pattullo Bridge.

    I urge all residents to do some independent research on the claims of the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ sides, figure out how the extra sales tax will affect them, speak directly to MLAs, mayors and members of city councils and then be sure to vote.

    If you aren’t registered (the situation one member of my household is in), by all means register.

    Like

  20. In 2007 Transportation Minister Keven Falcon Press Release said:

    Bill 36 includes a new sustainable funding framework that involves:

    o Enabling the Authority to increase the fuel tax rate in the service region by up to three cents per litre in the coming years, on the condition that additional revenues from any increase in fuel taxes is balanced with increases in property taxes and other revenues including fares. This will ensure funding requirements are met for the next two decades and be balanced fairly between road users, transit riders and property tax payers; and …..

    http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2005-2009/2007TRAN0017-000525-Attachment1.htm

    Two Decades from 2007 is ….2027

    What went wrong?

    Why are we voting, now?

    Like

    1. brianp 1950

      Apparently it was not enough, there will never be enough. Way to many cities want the same things and there will never be enough money for all the infastructure. One thing not being mentioned is that most of these large projects are 8-10 years away, is the money figure quoted for the projects todays dollar or the dollar amount at construction time? We all kniw tonwell how much things cost from budget extimates all one needs to do is look at past project budgets and the final cost. So if a new Pattullo bridge is estimated to cost 3 billion dollars today in the time it will actually be built maybe the final cost is 5 billion dollars, where is the other 2 billion or whatever the final cost is going to come from? This would be true of all projects if they are based on estimates today.

      Like

  21. Jrtokin

    I was over at Borg’s site reading some information. Love graphs, they can be.. so graphic!

    When we have TransLink paying themselves MORE in compensation (38% of TOTAL EXPENDITURES HAVE BEEN “COMPENSATION” TO CEO’s) than they actually spend on “maintenance or growth” for the system, I’d say we have a real problem.
    WHY IS THIS CONTINUING?

    Throwing more money at them ain’t going to help (the CEO’s made sure of that).
    How about:
    A MAXIMUM WAGE (PRIVATE AND PUBLIC) and no more letting them “write their own cheques” and,
    “Performance and Entitlements Packages” of ALL BC Corps (including government) to be scaled back until the books are in the black “for real”.
    A good example why:
    Deferrals from BC HYDRO debts to the next year so CEO’s can claim BONUSES (http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-b-c-hydro-dividend-is-an-illusion-1.1731018)
    is tantamount to “entitlement” THEFT (taking something you didn’t earn, or deserve, yet thinking you do) and this is RAMPANT in both government and private sectors

    I ADVOCATE A MAXIMUM WAGE (yes, I’m yelling! IS this NOT a good idea???) for all corporations and companies, private and public.
    ]No CEO should be paying themselves 180x (or grossly higher) than what the “average” worker gets, no matter “how deserving” they feel they are.

    A great example is “THE $MILLION DOLLAR HAHN”. The guy who ran the BC Ferry service into the ground, literally, and took top dollar (for himself and his YES BoD) claiming he was “doing excellent work and deserved it”
    http://www.news1130.com/2012/06/28/pay-for-former-bc-ferries-boss-david-hahn-tops-1-million-salary-documents-reveal/
    Yet the service did worse during his employment than almost any other time in the Ferry’s history!
    Seriously… how messed up do things have to get before (the right) people stand up??

    Ps. Sorry Laila if this is a double. First post didn’t seem to go through as I wasn’t “logged in’.

    Like

  22. nonconfidencevote

    Well .perhaps the desperation (or the negative polling numbers) have the “yes” side a tad uneasy?
    OR we are finally seeing the millions of taxpayer dollars being spewed around?

    What am I babbling about you ask?
    I recieved a “junk” email a few hours ago from “Leadnow” advising me to vote “Yes” because……………wait for it……….. “Big Oil doesnt want more transit”……….

    After deleting this pathetic horseshite I’ve decided to ask ”
    Has anyone else recieved unsolicited emails from Leadnow?

    Like

  23. Sharon Best

    I’m voting no because of the mismanagement of Translink.
    And because I think we need to stop this plebiscite nonsense.
    If this one passes, it will be the first of many.
    Much easier than having a politician display leadership, and make the decisions he/she is elected to do.
    I’m pretty frosted with the ‘yes’ side, particularly the folks telling me I’m not a progressive because I don’t want to funnel more money to an unelected, unaccountable organization with lousy service.
    Being on the south side of the Fraser, I don’t relish the idea of walking home for a mile and a half in the pitch black (no street lights) because I took the bus.
    It’s not safe for a woman to do so.
    So I drive.
    And some of the taxes I pay already should be enough for the folks at Translink.
    I’m like a lot of other folks. I’m tapped out and fed up.

    Like

    1. Laila

      You bring up a very important issue for many in Surrey Sharon. It isn’t safe to wait and take the bus in many areas,particularly after night. The Newton bus loop remains a what has been referred to as a ‘walking zombie zone’ after dark, or simply in the later evening.Despite all the media focus on Newton for the last couple of years, it remains a sketchy place to wait for transit after dark.

      David Ball of the Tyee did an excellent column recently on one womans experience, which I know is mirrored by others. http://thetyee.ca/News/2015/03/05/Vancouver-Transit-Odyssey/ Will this plan offer more night buses in areas out here south of the Fraser? Read that link to find out.

      Like

  24. Scotty on Denman

    No government has ever lasted near as long as the projected lifetime of this proposal: part addition to existing, part new development, and, if it’s any good, capable to some extent of availing unforeseen technological innovations… for some fifty to a hundred years. The most popular opposing positions appear to be about the legitimacy of imposing another tax when so many already feel overtaxed, with the issue of public trust either tied or running a close second; seems a given something needs to be done about transit, the devil being the details. Wariness of BC Liberal-style malfeasance is palpable though: if “yes” doesn’t win, there’ll never be another chance to do something about transit, and if “no” doesn’t win it’ll be impossible to disinfect the newly parasitized taxpayer. This one-shot deal, however, is a ruse that distracts from the fact the BC Liberals are shirking what should be ordinary, ongoing, and prudent governance (I mean, following it to its logical conclusion, there’d be a plebiscite for the paving of each and every street— how stupid is that?) Could instead just elect a government that does what it’s supposed to do, in which case it’d hardly matter at this point whether either side wins—with the exception of all those juicy directors’ pay packages in the event the “yes” side wins, of course, and those golden severances when the whole thing is revamped after the BC Liberals get bounced from office.

    This plebiscite is way too simplistic, the tax way too blunt and indiscriminate. A government that does the job it’s paid to do would, for example, take better, more discerning stock of private and public components of transit in apportioning tax burdens and benefits. Christy’s “that was easy!”, presto-logic approach is totally inappropriate, but a “yes” win wouldn’t be the end of the world either.

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  25. Apologies…this may be out of context with the blog but, really….is this really about transit? Everyone knows transit doesn’t work except for the few and even they are too frequently displeased at all the interruptions to service and various other cattle controls imposed. But mostly, no one can completely rely on public transit. It is a motion supplement at best and a poor one. Public transit works only in much denser areas – NOT Metro Vancouver – and even in denser areas it is a desperate system intended as relief more than primary motion. The emperor was naked and transit doesn’t work – what more do you need to know?
    Well…………….there is this: transit is just another so-called service run by the extortionists and bullies. They get wealthy and you have to do as you are told, when and where you are told. Enter their world and play by their rules or get billed, levied, taxed, tasered, fined, herded and/or left in the cold. I know it sounds whacked but it is true – this tax is just another step in relinquishing more and more control of your own life. And, if you’ll give it up, they’ll take it. My point: you have given up way, way too much already. This is not about transit (too stupid to consider), this is just another reason to think about getting out.

    Like

    1. brianp 1950

      amen JDC, this is proposed because they cannot raise gas taxes any more without a revolt, same with our property taxes. There is certainly enough money already collected to serve our needs it just needs to be allocated by priority and not a wish list of a bunch of people. Way to many questions about the 10 year plan and not enough sensible answers other than there will be gridlock. What a crock! The carbon tax collected was meant for this kind of stuff but unfortunately 2/3 of the $1.2 billion dollars goes to subsidize corporate tax rates, why? Give the carbon tax collected by the Province back to the taxpayers in Transportation initaives problem solved. We certainly do not need to have lowest corporate tax rate in Canada. The pendulum has swiping to far to the right and needs to come back more towards the center.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, BP50. But I know we sound crazy….like conspiracy theorists. And I am NOT one of those. Well, insomuch as all bullies and thieves will take and cheat as a function of their natural character anyway. No plan, really. Just primal greed and power tripping. Ego – in a sociopath is all it is. But, regardless if you believe that or not, they are playing with you. I advise getting out of the game – it’s rigged.

        Like

  26. Curt

    Fortis BC = 15.94 carbon tax per month; BC Hydro = 3.93+GST Regional transit levy, that’s just part of all the different taxes/levies we pay already, each and every household, so think about what they’re receiving already. And of course, you have the gas tax on gasoline, the tolls. Where will it end. Now you want .05% more income tax? When it comes to all the ads presently being advertised, STOP wasting our money. Put it to transit, that’s why we pay taxes, levies, tolls and fees. Enough of the bureaucrats in every department wasting taxpayer dollars. We pay more than enough taxes for roads, bridges, infrastructure. Time to rein it in, start at the top – rid yourselves of CEOs, COOs, Manager to whatever branch, and then mid manager etc., and the list goes on.
    What part of NO do you not understand?
    And to us taxpaying citizens, remember to vote, make it count. They’ve got enough money, they need to budget just like the rest of us and cut out the fat and wants.

    Like

  27. Barry

    “Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on thee…”

    I’ve seen this movie before. Back in 2000, when Translink started, the fares went up under the catch phrase “paying more for better transit.”

    What happened? Well fares did go up, the Provincial Gov’t [both NDP and Liberal] refused to collect the extra taxes proposed to fund transit expansion. As a result fares went up even more and service was cut back.

    Fast forward to today. Again, if we agree to pay more, service will magically expand and we will enter the Age of Aquarius. But look a little closer–many of the projects, like Broadway and Surrey, making up the bulk of the wish list will need funding from the province and the feds to happen. What happens if that doesn’t happen?

    Nope, I have no confidence a yes vote will produce anything more than some extra service around the edges. Now if there was a solid plan with deadlines, definite commitments and the like, that would be different. Right now it’s a little more than “trust us.” And I’m not that foolish.

    Like

  28. Translink’s proposal for the Evergreen line a few years back, gave us a glimpse of what it would look like as a real estate company. I simply don’t trust that this motion is solely about infrastructure. Rather I believe it’s about creating more desirable land to develop luxury investment properties, and raising some other taxes (and kickbacks) else where. It seems to be our main forte these days. If they were planning to build low-income housing around the stations, or relieving the cost of living anywhere remotely close to jobs. They should be dangling it in our faces right now. Instead they chose David Suzuki and drunk driving as their battle cry.

    Most people who can afford to live along the BC line have cars. Others need to bus there (not bike because there are no places to lock it up *face palm*).

    Like

  29. Stan Mortensen

    Vote yes or Vote NO or just plain “kiss my grits”. The biggest lie to this whole plebiscite fiasco foisted on us by “Good News” Christie and the Metro Mayors is that if you vote NO, which I intend to, that that will be the end of it and that civilization and transit planning as we know it will just end. Guess what, it won’t. This plebiscite is non-binding, in other words the powers that be can go ahead and just request that the 7.1% increase in the PST affecting only Metro just go ahead as planned. Of course, the downside to that is their re-electability which might not be a bad thing.
    What the Yes side is forgetting in all of this discussion about the future, is that a great many families in Metro are already struggling, just getting by pay to pay, watching every dollar and trying to make ends meet in the face of downward pressures on middle class and lower incomes by even so-called progressive employers. In the Metro economy, with families struggling in the here and now pulling out reports about possible savings down the road just will not work. Down the road does not put groceries on the table today unless of course you are a highly paid head of just about any Board or Agency funded by taxpayer’s dollars.
    To combine this increase with increases in just about every other fee or levy imaginable it can be construed as the proverbial straw breaking the proverbial camel’s back.
    It is difficult for folks in this region who are struggling to see Translink with its executives pulling down excessive salaries that exceed those in other parts of Canada and North America by a wide margin in some notable cases. They look at the various Boards of Directors involved with Translink and question why this cannot be streamlined into a single board.
    It is difficult for folks in this region to comprehend that Translink with all of the billions of dollars already spent that something as simple as ensuring that replacement circuit boards were in inventory to replace existing ones on an ongoing basis to prevent system wide shutdowns. Seems logical electronics fail and need to be replaced on an ongoing basis to keep the overall system running.
    If this was a serious binding “capital projects referendum” the voters would expect to see something decidedly different than the Metro Mayors plan. It would include funding guarantees by all levels of government, it would see a clear projection of budgets (including margins for cost overruns), it would include authorizations to raise funds through bond offerings and it would see perhaps a sunset clause on the tax itself. In other words, it would see an honest assessment of capital costs, something that governments really and truly do not like to do.
    As much as the Yes side wants this plebiscite to be about the Metro Mayors Plan, it is really about Translink. How it is structured? How it is fiddled with by the Provincial Government? It’s about Translink being a political football being kicked back and forth between governments, with everyone pointing fingers at each other and saying, not me, it’s them, and they are responsible.

    Like

  30. We can’t quite figure out why Translink, and Yes-sayer backers are promoting the Mellennium line extension from Broadway and Commercial to Arbutus when CPR owns the intersection “western terminus” with a value pegged at $200 million for the whole corridor. Has Translink offered a land swap? Corridor for four city square blocks surrounding Arbutus and Broadway AND an unheard of density bonus that allows for 90 floor overall heights?

    Like

  31. Insiders of the System

    As a professional working intensely in this field of transportation, I don’t usually have time to read up on blogs. But I tend to come up on yours often and I am impressed with your insights over the years. Thank you for one of the most heart-felt, clearly laid out points as to why this whole plebiscite process is messed up.

    “It’s basically a very costly opinion poll, and nothing more.”
    “Non-binding…”
    “There is no Plan B”

    Those three phrases you wrote say it all. There is really nothing here to vote for. And for these supposed intelligent people to suggest (and believe) there is no Plan B, what spell are you under? There is always a Plan B, C…..Z unless you have absolutely no creativity or concept of anything you are doing. And you arm-chair transport experts, you need to go out once in a while and learn how the system works from top to bottom. Go actually work in the industry at all levels, positions, and locales and live it.

    I speak for those that are untainted professionals in the industry, ex and current Provincial, Federal, TransLink, and municipal employees, academics, private sector consultants, and thought leaders of good public policy, transparency, accountability, and visionary values-based leadership.

    Please keep up the good work, Ms. Yuile. Your neurons are wired to cut through the BS and B-line to the truth. Keep trusting yourself as we trust in you and your integrity.

    Like

  32. canadianlatitude

    Tran$links gets those that park, pay property taxes, hydro bills, 17 cents a litre for gas. Yet the compass programme is two years past due, they have 6 boards, paying two ceo’s and us South of Fraser have contributed over half a billion and received very little as it all goes to Vancouver and yet places like Surrey will have more people than Vancouver in a few years..

    As well TranSlink/BC Government come out with these grandiose plans every now and then and never follow through like The $14 billion transit plan the B.C. Liberals conveniently forgot about

    I do not trust tran$link to run a free peanut stand for chipmunks and squirrels….

    The Patullo and Surrey Light Rail is going to get built regardless. (And tolls for Patullo). Why does only Bridges etc south of the Fraser get tolls? Same with potential new Deas Island bridge as it will be tolled.

    I was on the Canada Line last week as it has only been open six years and they are planning station extensions if this passes yet why did they not make them full size to begin with? It was money (as over budget) and the rush to get it done for the Owelympics. Sure it is full but that is because they have force fed buses into Richmond to force people to take it. Before I could take a bus straight downtown with no transfers from Surrey but not since Canada line either which takes longer.

    This is also a non binding plebiscite not referendum either. If one believes the polls the NO side is going to win with 60%+ of the vote.

    I also wonder what Clarks and the BC Liberals game is too?

    I also do not appreciate all the tax dollars the mayors are spending to try and get a yes vote either. When the No side wins they should all step down.

    Like

  33. nonconfidencevote

    Hmmmmm, Little ol’ Vancouver is famous!
    The “plebisite” has earned a mention in this weeks(Mar28-Apr3) “The Economist magazine”.
    Page 42 ‘More tax,less traffic?”
    The article mentions the Lower Mainlands traffic congestion and the promises of the local politicians to remedy the situation. The article talks of the politicians concerns of net immigration increasing the population by 1 million people over 30 years?
    It also mentions voters disdain and mistrust of Translink.
    The articles’ conclusion?
    If the plebisite fails and traffic worsens……perhaps not as many people will want to move there.

    Like

  34. Taxpayers rightly rejected the ill-conceived Plebiscite. Taxpayers paid $744 million in taxes to TransLink in 2014. Where did that money go? Why they can’t use this huge amount of money to build transit infrastructure?
    TransLink is known for bad management and wasting taxpayers’ money. Compass card system with a total cost of $314 million (194+120 for maintenance for 10 years) is a complete waste of money. Paying 2 CEOs very high salaries is another example. TransLink has 4 or more Boards of Directors, that’s another example of wastage of money.
    Also major projects like bridges, tunnels, and roads is the responsibility of Provincial Government, not the cities.

    Like

  35. Pingback: Page not found | No Strings Attached : Laila Yuile on politics and life in B.C.

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