Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Growing Smarter

leave a comment »

growing-smarter-webThis is the title of a new report. Actually the title is longer than that but I like to be snappy when I can. The publisher adds “Integrating Land Use and Transportation to Reduce GHGs” which you may be sure is right up my alley.

Two things before I go further. This report was published on September 27, and I have only just learned of it. I thought I had spent quite a bit of effort making sure that I kept on top of this topic since it is specifically addressing BC. It was not until today that I saw a tweet from Charlie Smith which linked to an article in the Georgia Straight by Carlito Pablo.

Secondly, the report was commissioned by The Real Estate Foundation of BC. Now my association with Real Estate in BC had lead me to create a mental link between realtors and the BC Liberals. During the campaign against the expansion of Highway #1 there were credible sources saying that the then Minister of Transport, Kevin Falcon, was holding fundraising breakfasts for the realtors in this region and the Fraser Valley and promising that highway expansion would enable them to continue to build and sell single family homes. As opposed to the denser forms of development that tended to support transit. The implication being that RS1 supports right wing voters.

The other important thing to note is that you do not have to rely on my opinion or that of Carlito Pablo. You can download the full report for yourself from the link above.

But I am going to copy here the list of recommendations

Recommendations include:

  1. Bolster regional government authority and integrate transportation planning with land use in ways that support climate action.
  2. Strengthen the Agricultural Land Commission’s authority to protect farmland and limit non-agricultural use of protected land.
  3. Strengthen coordination amongst key agencies, ministries, and orders of government and support collaboration through the Climate Action Secretariat and the Local-Provincial Green Communities Committee.
  4. Use market-based tools to more fairly share the costs of transportation infrastructure and expand transportation choice.
  5. Update tax and fee structures to support sustainable financing of civic infrastructure.
  6. Help establish a Low Carbon Innovation Centre in the Lower Mainland.
  7. Create long-term transportation financing agreements between local, provincial, and federal governments.
  8. Update community GHG reduction target requirements and provide provincial support to help meet these requirements.
  9. Establish GHG impact assessment standards for local and provincial transportation projects and planning agendas.
  10. Reinvest in BC’s Community Energy and Emissions Inventory (CEEI) system to provide defensible transportation sector data.

The report was commissioned by the Real Estate Foundation of BC as part of its research on sustainable built environments in British Columbia. The report was prepared by Boston Consulting, in consultation with the Smart Growth Task Force, with contributions from MODUS Planning, Design and Engage

This all looks very promising, and I am going to download it myself before I type anything else.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 5, 2017 at 2:46 pm

Jagmeet Singh on Transit

with 4 comments

I am not a member of the NDP and haven’t really been following their leadership race, but congratulations to Jagmeet Singh for securing the leadership. He says (on his blog)

a Jagmeet Singh-led government will:

Adopt a National Public Transit Strategy: Canada is still the only country in the G8 without a national transit program and people across Canada are looking for more affordable, reliable, and accessible public transit options. Congestion in our urban centres is hurting both our economy and our environment. A Jagmeet Singh-led government will implement a National Public Transit Strategy that will provide the long term and predictable funding for public transit that cities and communities across the country are seeking.

This appears under the “Carbon Emission Reduction” section. Good.

Now perhaps some of the dippers who read this blog can explain to me how a leader can impose his will on the rest of the party. I come from a UK Labour Party background where policy commitments of this kind have to be endorsed by the annual Party conference (convention in North American parlance). While a leader can espouse a policy, it is the membership at large which determines policy. And if you have a taste for such things try a search for “Clause Four” to see where that leads to.

I am, as I said, heartened by this commitment. But to what extent is this reflective of what the party rank and file actually want? Aren’t the big supporters of the NDP the union members in the car industry?  Isn’t that where most of the big bucks come from in the national party? 

The last bit has been deleted in response to a comment.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 1, 2017 at 7:34 pm

“Watermelon” wants free transit

leave a comment »

Straight picture

There are a lot of nice photos of Mary Jean “Watermelon” Dunsdon and a nice old bus in the Straight. I replied under the article but decided I should post here too. Not that I need to write much more

“she’s traded in her bikini for a business licence”

Erm, I don’t think so. Wreck beach is not the sort of place where people wear bikinis, is it. And her famous Georgia Straight front cover picture doesn’t have her wearing a bikini either.

watermelon

As for free transit, we have been around this argument several times over the years

https://stephenrees.blog/…/a-case-for-free-transit-in…/

https://stephenrees.blog/2008/03/31/free-transit/

https://stephenrees.blog/2007/12/20/free-ride/

And just to show I’m not the only one who thinks this idea is far from “sensible”.

https://thetyee.ca/News/2007/07/30/FareFree6/

The way to get more people using transit is to increase service – and make what you do provide more reliable. That means more trains and buses – and put the buses is exclusive bus lanes. Put a camera in the front of every bus, and paint the bus lane red, then the operator just clicks the button every time the bus gets behind a vehicle that is not a bus. Use the ticket revenue from that to buy even more buses. But you cannot afford to give up 50% of current revenues if you want to increase service.

By the way the City has no power to make transit free – but there is a great deal it could do to give buses priority on Vancouver’s streets.

I think we would be better off with Pete Fry on council.

344046049_dc52519e04_o

Seven Sisters Road by “sarflondonunc” on flickr

Written by Stephen Rees

September 26, 2017 at 3:27 pm

Should the rich be taxed more? A new paper shows unequivocally yes

leave a comment »

This Guardian post from Sunday covers the ground that can’t be in a ten minute radio interview. The toll removal commitment made by the NDP was not accompanied by any discussion of how the required funds would be found. The money raised by bridge tolls will now come from the provincial budget – stayed tuned for that announcement.

The problem revealed by the toll removal is that we still have not dealt effectively with how to pay for Translink. And the probability that the Mayors’ preferred alternative – road user pricing – is now hostage to the “Toll Free BC” slogan.

But there are people who have done very well indeed from the 16 years of BC Liberals. Not the general population, of course, just the privileged. The people who already had plenty have got much more. The inequity of the policies pursued by right wing governments, and vacuity of the “policy” framework based on falsehoods such as “trickle down theory” and ” the rich are job creators”, has been widely exposed but oddly not generally accepted. The fact that people still vote for these parties against their own interests has also been widely noted.

Is it actually likely that Mr Horgan will open the can of worms that is Translink funding? Will he really bring in more progressive taxation on the super rich? Or will he decided that the over heated property market in Vancouver allows him to rake in more from property tax which is always the favourite target for provincial politicians, as that is the one source of revenue that they don’t get the blame for?

While the article I am citing above does not mention Canada or BC the general principles do apply – which I why I am linking to it. Because I think you need to read that rather than whatever bright idea someone like me could come up with. Well researched, properly cited and evidence based policy recommendations – backed by hard data – is worth far more than just opinion.

If you would like to listen to me pontificating on Roundhouse Radio 98.3FM on this subject that is now online. Just make sure if you want to point other people to that link through social media you use  @Roundhouse983 and @mornings on twitter and Instagram and ‘Roundhouse Radio’ on Facebook.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 29, 2017 at 10:09 am

BC Natural Gas Revenues

with 2 comments

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.52.29 AM

The graph comes from a tweet by Eric Neilson.

When you listen to Carole James present her interim budget in the fall this picture is what you need to bear in mind.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 22, 2017 at 10:59 am

12th & Cambie today

leave a comment »

I got invited to an event by a contact on facebook

“Racists and Islamophobic groups are rallying at City Hall to spew hatred against Muslims, immigrants and people of colour in our communities. We, the anti-racist majority, want to be there in a peaceful counter protest to say no to Islamophobia and no to racism!

This rally is to counter the racist rally at Vancouver City Hall, organized by WCAI Canada (“Worldwide Coalition Against Islam“):

Hosted by the ad hoc group; Stand Up to Racism Metro Van. We are teachers, students and activists who want to stand up to Islamophobia and racism in our community.”

For a while there it seemed like a good idea to go to the counter rally and perhaps photograph the people supporting fascism, as I understand that has had a useful role on social media. In Charlottesville a number of individuals identifying themselves as Nazis have now lost their jobs. (Giving rise to chant “If your nazi, and you’re fired, it’s your fault …clap… clap clap” )

According to CTV

“Joey De Luca, the head of the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam Canada, was expected to address his supporters, according to the rally’s Facebook page. About two dozen people RSVPed to attend.

De Luca was expected to be joined by Brad Salzberg, the founder of the Cultural Action Party of Canada. CAPCDA is a B.C. political party seeking to preserve English, French and First Nations culture, according to its website. The anti-immigration group Soldiers of Oden is also expected to attend.”

I took 48 photos which you can find on facebook or flickr, but here are some of my favourites

Oppose the Racists in Metro Vancouver!

Oppose the Racists in Metro Vancouver!

Oppose the Racists in Metro Vancouver!

Oppose the Racists in Metro Vancouver!

Oppose the Racists in Metro Vancouver!

Oppose the Racists in Metro Vancouver!

This last one summarizes my feelings quite nicely. I do not like large crowds at the best of times, and the idea that there might have been confrontations was a bit alarming, but I was also very much aware of the warnings about being silent about fascism. 

Anyway, as far as a rally by fascists, that didn’t seem to get under way. It was swamped by the number of those who turned out to say the opposite. And those people seemed to quite enjoy the experience.

 

Written by Stephen Rees

August 19, 2017 at 4:12 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Privatizing Canada’s Ports

with one comment

DSCN4588

The federal Liberals seem to be turning out to be neoliberals – not that much different to the Harper Conservatives Canadians so soundly dismissed. The fact that privatisation has generally failed to deliver on its promises – except for enriching a few exceedingly wealthy men – is always ignored by the ideologues of the right. And that is who the C D Howe Institute are. It annoys me that the CBC runs the headline “New report says privatizing Canada’s ports could generate significant revenue” as though it came from an authoritative source, as opposed to yet more conservative propaganda. As usual the only thing that gets discussed is how much money is supposed flow – as though that will somehow benefit us.

What is ignored is that ports in Canada though supposedly under the authority of the federal government are in fact a law unto themselves, and have performed very poorly in terms of their impact on the environment and local communities. It is very significant that south of the border, no local community has permitted the expansion of coal exports through their ports. They have also successfully held back expansion  of LNG and methanol simply by insisting on adequate safety provisions. Things are different here. We still have a provincial government gungho for LNG and a port only too willing to expand thermal coal exports. Somehow Canadians do not deserve anything like the protections that US west coast communities enjoy. Privatising the port will only make matters worse. We are already losing the battle to protect the tiny percentage of land in BC capable of growing vegetables, being airily assured that we can continue to import all we need as though climate change and water shortage is not already damaging California’s ability to farm as it once did.

It was recently revealed that the Fraser Institute has long been funded by the Koch Brothers – something hotly denied up to now. C D Howe is just such another “think tank” set up not to promote objective policy research but rather to proselytize the Hayek philosophy, quite uncritically. Such studies always seem to be able to discount anything that does not produce profits for corporations. Considerations for ecosystems, or climate, or even equality are dismissed as irrelevant.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 20, 2017 at 3:13 pm