Stephen Rees's blog

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

Translink overhaul in for a bumpy ride

with 2 comments

Richmond Review

Falcon again

Falcon said there’s no requirement for legislation to be passed to begin that work.

He said civic leaders opposed to the reforms are out of step with the public, which has lost confidence in TransLink.

“They are the lone defenders of the current structure,” he said. “I think they might want to contemplate on that.”

Yes, but people wanted more accountability, not less. They wanted to be able to control the local politicians who make the big money decisions, not hand it back to the province, that has done such a lousy job over the years, or their hand picked cronies from big business. They may not like the present structure very much but it is still measurably better than what is currently proposed. If reform is needed, it is to the way that Translink is funded. It has never had adequate resources under its own control. It has always had to go back cap in hand to Victoria. It is not the independent regional body it was supposed to be. The province still insists that it knows best when it comes to major rapid transit and highway decisions. Even though it is transparently obvious that the Canada Line and the Gateway are against the best interests of the region, and neither would have been chosen as high priorities region wide if it had come to some sort of local referendum. Translink is not even allowed to raise funds by a vehicle levy (which is actually in the GVTA Act, but the province refused the necessary regulations to implement,  after the region decided to go forward with it after intense local debate) or local road user charges on existing roads. It cannot, of course, raise the gas tax without the consent of the province, which keeps hungering for more and more property tax for transportation – arguably the most stupid ways to raise money for these services, if it wasn’t for the even dafter hydro levy.

I think people would be very interested in reform that saw regional government become efficient, effective and responsible. It may have to become bigger – but not yet, as the principle of expansion has to be based on consent of the participants. Local governments are not “creatures of the province” but the elected representatives of the people. Yes, we need thoroughgoing reform of regional and municipal government. They need more freedom, not less. They need their own sources of revenue. User pay for services – transport the same as water, sewers or waste disposal. Property tax is an anachronism. There are much better ways to raise revenue. Regional Government needs to become truly representative and responsible. And local referenda are a pretty good way to determine major capital spending projects too.

The guy we have no confidence in, Kevin, is you.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 18, 2007 at 2:50 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Amen Stephen! What both Translink and the GVRD need is more authority, more accountability, and more funding. Falcon just makes me completely sick. He’s more autocratic than Campbell! We need to get people to start making some real noise; to do Gateway, and Translink reform, properly – not the way Falcon wants it.

    Paul Hillsdon

    June 18, 2007 at 7:00 pm

  2. And it might not be a bad idea to consider merging them into an effective land use and transportation authority. The GVRD is also considered to be remote and ineffective, and cannot effectively implement its growth plan. Its board is large and its weighted voting system seems to baffle people. A directly elected body with real powers to ensure that the regional growth strategy was followed and with funding ability to wrest control of major transportation decisions away from the the Ministry of Highways, and thus ensure a coherent future where transport and land use changes work together, seems to me to be an essential precondition for a sustainable region.

    Of course, the feds would still be responsible for ports, airports and major railways, so its not like we would be free of all intergovernmental wrangling. But at least we could begin to control our own destiny. Maitres chez nous!

    Stephen Rees

    June 18, 2007 at 7:39 pm

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