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

“Yes” coalition calls on voters to support Metro Vancouver transportation improvements

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Press Release

The Better Transit and Transportation Coalition — the biggest, most diverse coalition in B.C. history — highlights opportunity for Metro Vancouver to determine its transportation future

VANCOUVER, Jan. 29, 2015 /CNW/ – Victory for the “Yes” vote in Metro Vancouver’s upcoming transportation referendum will benefit people from all walks of life, according to the broad-based Better Transit and Transportation Coalition, which calls the referendum “one of the most important decisions facing our region for the next generation.”

The BTTC, the largest and most diverse coalition of its kind in B.C., is backing the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation Plan to expand transportation options, cut traffic congestion, reduce pollution, improve the health of our communities and strengthen the local economy. The plan is also accountable in that independent auditing and public reporting requirements will ensure money raised is spent on the proposed projects.

The BTTC has come together from incredibly diverse backgrounds to become a formal non-profit society with a common purpose, appointing four co-chairs representing business, labour, environment and student groups, among others. All are encouraging Metro Vancouver residents to vote “Yes” in the binding plebiscite mail-in ballot, which takes place from mid-March through the end of May.

“The plan will make our regional and provincial economy more competitive by dramatically improving the movement of goods, services and people,” says coalition co-chair and Vancouver Board of Trade president and CEO Iain Black.

Improvements in the plan include better service on existing SkyTrain and bus routes, light rail transit in Surrey andLangley, Broadway Corridor rapid transit, replacement of the Pattullo Bridge and 11 new B-Line routes throughout the region.

“Saying ‘Yes’ to these vital projects is the most important step we can take to show we care for the environment and to improve our quality of life,” says coalition co-chair and David Suzuki Foundation CEO Peter Robinson.

The Mayors’ Council Plan will cut traffic congestion by 20 per cent, shortening commute times by an average of 20 to 30 minutes per day, and give 70 per cent of Metro Vancouver residents more frequent transit service. It also addresses Metro Vancouver’s future transit needs as the region prepares for one million more residents by 2040.

“Better transit and transportation benefits workers in a real way by making it easier and faster for them to get to and from their jobs and to spend more time with their families instead of wasting precious time on long commutes and traffic gridlock,” says Gavin McGarrigle, coalition co-chair and Unifor’s B.C. Area director.

The plan will be funded by a 0.5 per cent regional Congestion Improvement Tax. This funding method will be fair to everyone, including visitors and tourists. It is affordable — on average about 35 cents a day per household — or $125a year.

“Students rely on transit,” says Bahareh Jokar, coalition co-chair and VP External at the Alma Mater Society of theUniversity of British Columbia. “A stronger transit system will help thousands of students across Metro Vancouver advance their education, while building a better region for generations to come.”

The BTTC will work throughout the Lower Mainland with speeches, public appearances, editorial boards, digital media efforts and other ways to help ensure Metro Vancouver voters understand the benefits of expanded transportation options.

The BTTC is inviting the media and supporters of the “Yes” vote in Metro Vancouver’s upcoming transit and transportation referendum to a campaign event:

Time: 12 noon, registration at 11:30 a.m.
Date: Thursday, February 5
Location: SFU, Segal Building, 500 Granville Street, Vancouver, B.C.

About the BTTC:
The Better Transit and Transportation Coalition is a new coalition — the biggest, most diverse ever in B.C. — supporting the Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council Plan to dramatically improve transit and transportation in our region. The BTTC has more than 65 organizational supporters representing more than 250,000 Metro Vancouver residents, including organizations from business, labour, environment, student, community, health and other groups. Learn more at the BTTC’s new website: Follow us on Twitter @voteyestransit and FacebookBetterTransitInfo

Better Transit and Transportation Coalition co-chair bios:

Iain Black is president and CEO of the Vancouver Board of Trade. He has been in this role since 2011, leading the organization through fundamental transformation and returning it to increased membership growth, financial health and relevance in the public and business domain. He joined the board after serving six years as an elected MLA and cabinet minister for the government of British Columbia, where his various responsibilities included three cabinet posts encompassing economic development, labour and small business.

Bahareh Jokar is a fifth-year political science student and vice-president external affairs of the Alma Mater Society of UBC Vancouver. She sits as the chair of Get on Board BC and vice-chair of the Alliance of BC Students. Her work focuses on advocating for student issues to different levels of government, while ensuring that students are informed and engaged during elections. Metro Vancouver is home to upwards of 100,000 students.

Gavin McGarrigle is the B.C. Area Director for Unifor and a vice-president and officer at the B.C. Federation of Labour. McGarrigle has represented workers and bargained agreements in many industries, including transit and transportation, with Vancouver’s container truckers, and in aerospace and hospitality. Unifor is Canada’s newest union and largest in the private sector, with more than 305,000 members across the country, working in every major sector of the Canadian economy. The B.C. Federation of Labour represents close to 500,000 members throughout British Columbia and includes many unions representing transit workers, including COPE Local 378, CUPE and BCGEU.

Peter Robinson is the chief executive officer of the David Suzuki Foundation, a non-profit science and education organization working to address some of Canada’s most pressing environmental challenges. He brings to this position a diverse background spanning four decades in business, government and the non-profit sectors. Robinson began his career working as a park ranger in wilderness areas throughout British Columbia, where he was decorated for bravery by the Governor General of Canada. After his park career, he worked at BC Housing, a provincial crown corporation, eventually becoming its CEO. Immediately prior to his appointment as CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation, he was the CEO of Mountain Equipment Co-op.

SOURCE Better Transit and Transportation Coalition

Written by Stephen Rees

January 29, 2015 at 10:53 am

5 Responses

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  1. I do support the Yes side. I do worry however that starting off with grandiose statements that may be a stretch at best to be starting on the wrong foot. It’s one thing for the side “against” something to stretch the truth be murky around the facts. Its another when the “for” side does it. After all, those who advocate for a change and make promises about that change inevitably have to prove that while the other side does not.

    The “biggest and most diverse coalition in BC history”? Debatable I suppose. Sounds like you are about to provide a cast of thousands ready to march the streets. Not sure you’re on the scale of the BC solidarity movement.

    “Cut traffic congestion by 20%, shorten commute times by an average 20-30 minutes a day, and give 70% of Metro Vancouver residents better transit service”. There is only one figure there that I believe.

    What would non automobile modal share need to move to in order to cut traffic congestion by 20%? This is a bold statement particularly when you are looking at congestion generally ramping up year after year. To simply tread water would be a bold accomplishment and the plan would be a success if it could do that given the level of growth expected.

    As for shortening commute times, that statement really should be qualified. Some commute times may drop that much….but an overall drop of that magnitude to everyone? This plan is good enough to set the clock back a good 15-20 years or more on congestion (whenever it was that average commute times were 20-30 minutes shorter than they are now)?

    If the plan involved comprehensive road pricing, I might buy some of those arguments. Does it mean the plan fails if these grand statements cannot be met? Not by any stretch! Again, given the anticipated growth and population increases…to tread water or even get a 5% reversal would be significant.

    Bold claims are made by both sides. Unfortunately only the side advocating to take the money and do something with it has the burden of actually proving and selling those claims. If people get the sense they are being sold something that is inflated…particularly when trust of TransLink is already generally quite low…the Yes side will crash and burn in a spectacular fashion. Trust is a huge issue…if not THE issue in this referendum. This is not starting things off on the right foot. Big claims require big proof. The rules of engagement are not equal for each side on this one.


    January 29, 2015 at 10:20 pm

  2. The plan does indeed involve some form of road pricing. The Mayors and Translink have always been clear about that. But you cannot introduce road pricing when there is no spare capacity on the transit system. There has to be some alternative mode available to those priced off at peak times and currently that is not the case. Not only that but road pricing must not be thought of as an easy fix. There is going to be a period – five years seems reasonable – both to build up the transit system and to conduct the necessary consultations, education and technical trials needed before throwing the switch.

    Most places that have introduced some form of pricing have done less than what is needed here. We need a system that covers the whole region – which includes existing provincial highways and bridges where current policy forbids tolling. The tolls need to vary by the amount of congestion – which means rates that are interactive with traffic conditions – and there has to be some measure to ensure that there is no diversion of traffic into residential areas. That is a very tall order indeed and requires buy in by the public and three levels of government. Simply tolling all water crossings – as some have suggested – will not do it.

    Stephen Rees

    January 30, 2015 at 8:18 am

  3. Yes John,

    *Average commute time is today ~30mn (statcan)…
    *Mayors plan financial sheet infers traffic will be exactly the same with or without the plan (see link), something any decent transit advocate will also say (google “do transt really reduce congestion”)”
    *Yes side trumpets tourist will contribute -directly- 10% of the tax, that has been proven wrong…
    *Better transit website claims 1the mayor pla will increase the number of B lines to 14: that is wrong too

    When you have a large coalition, you will have many voices with many messages: If those voices are not provided with clear and indisputable facts, that will just add confusion because those voices will fatally end up to contradict themselves (what we already see at play).

    The active “no” side could be not numerous, but that has an advantage: it can sticks on its core message (and like it or not, its numbers can’t be disputed, put in context yes…but you can’t assail the root numbers without the risk of loosing yourself, like I said here).

    MLA David Eby has stated on the Pricetags blog:
    …the proposed tax and this referendum are poorly planned, and the revenue will go to a broken and wasteful administrator in Translink, … I’ll be voting yes

    When the core mesage of the “no” is repeated by the “yes” side as virtually all mayors and NDP MLA do,
    the “no” side don’t need to do much work to get its message out…


    January 30, 2015 at 8:41 am

  4. I think the core Yes message has to be simple and powerful. But the Yes campaign also has to have the rebuttal and data ready to counter the opposition when necessary.


    January 30, 2015 at 9:00 am

  5. I am all for road pricing and agree it must be comprehensive and not just toll water crossings. If it applied to every motorist for every mile or arterial traveled, it would be fair and it would also be manageable. I’ve always lamented that the poor working joe who lives in Surrey and works in Coquitlam and who has limited timely transit options must pay $3 each way to cross the Port Mann while Mr. and Mrs Well to Do in Kitsilano can drive their Porsche to work Downtown and pay nothing extra while having some excellent transit options at hand.

    If the Mayor’s plan relies on road pricing at some point to reach the advertised reductions…and that road pricing is not planned to offset the sales tax….then they are very well proving the allegations of the “no” side true that they plan on coming to the table again and again. If they are not telling the public the full plan and holding cards to their chest so as to keep the goriest of details from leaking, this will end very badly for the Yes side.

    If road pricing is part of the plan AND it is planned to partially or totally offset the sales tax if ever approved, this is something that the Yes side should very much advertise. If road pricing is part of the plan necessary to keep it afloat and will not offset the sales tax….where the plan’s goal cannot be achieved in 10 years without road pricing augmenting the sales tax part way through…then its time to prepare for the tar and the feathers.


    January 30, 2015 at 9:17 pm

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