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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Legislation or not, Falcon pushes ahead with his pet projects

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Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun

Published: Friday, June 08, 2007


The controversial legislation to change the governance of Translink did not get to the floor of the legislature in the session recently concluded. Palmer outlines the reasons and goes on

 Falcon was not happy. But with his characteristic style, I gather he intends to proceed “as if” the legislation were enacted.

That means moving on one of the most controversial provisions, the creation of the new board of experts.

First step will see the appointment of a panel to begin screening potential candidates — experts in transportation, finance, management, accounting and so forth.

Once that pool is assembled, a second step would see the names submitted for vetting to a council of mayors, who are supposed to provide a measure of political accountability to the new entity.

The selection process is expected to stretch through the summer. The enabling legislation for the revised transportation entity could then be approved at a fall session, assuming there is one.

But Ministers of the Crown cannot act “as if” the legislation was enacted. It is, quite simply, illegal. And since he needs the co-operation of the Mayors, the very people who are the least happy with his proposals, it would seem to me that to call them together for a meeting to approve something to which they have already voiced opposition is asking for trouble. I think we could have quite a lively summer, when it is much harder to bury stuff on the inside pages. For of course the provincial government as always, under any party left or right, believes that it is not limited by the law and can do whatever it wants. But it really cannot ride roughshod over municipal politicians and certainly not in the full glare of media that are desperate to fill their alloted space with something during the slow news months. My bet is that the spin doctors will rein him in before the lawyers do.

Meanwhile, the activist Falcon is getting going on another, no less controversial, item on his agenda. His determination to twin the Port Mann Bridge is opposed by environmentalists and some local leaders.

But when I expressed doubt recently that the project would go ahead any time soon, Falcon assured me I was dead wrong.

He’s “never been so confident” that any transportation project will go ahead.

But it has yet to receive environmental assessment approval, necessary under both federal and provincial legislation. Again he may be right in his estimate of the value of the stated independence of the Environmental Assessment Office – but I would not bet on it, if I were in his position. Independent civil servants like Sheila Fraser (our heroine!) have shown that they can and will rein in over ambitious ministers.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 8, 2007 at 12:45 pm

Posted in Transportation

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