Saturday, January 17, 2015

Translink Referendum in Vancouver

I am voting NO on the Translink referendum. There are a number of reasons I am voting no, the first is that a sales tax is a punitive tax. An increase in sales tax no matter how small will hurts those at the lower end of the salary scale and with fees and gas prices going I am not willing to add another tax that will shift the burden of paying more to those least able to afford it. 

There are lots of other issues high salaries, lack of accountability, and inept management  and the provincial government who with its chronic meddling has caused havoc and in others worsened the region’s transportation woes.

A local columnist Don Cayo states that the question is, are these serious negatives a good reason to vote No in the March referendum that seeks voter approval to add half a percentage point to the provincial sales tax rate in order to fund transportation improvements?

In my view, the reasons listed give me every reason to vote no.

Where to start,  governance structure, management competence and the ranking of priorities, in addition to financing, So the defenders of voting yes,  claim that we because we only get to vote on one issue, we should not punish TransLink for its real and perceived sins, voting this proposal down will hurt only ourselves. So with this argument the defenders of Translink and the referendum are try to scare everyone into thinking that the world will fall apart when we vote no and that we will only be hurting ourselves, what crap.

First, I do not believe this is true,  congestion in our region will not rapidly go from bad to worse, it will take in my mind,  five to ten years for the worst case scenario to play out, and that assumes no changes from todays mess. Show me the figures from an independent source, not Translink, or the government, that says congestion will be unbearable tomorrow or the next year if we vote No. I suspect these reports do not exist.

It is the TransLink board or managers or their overlords in Victoria, should take responsibility and fix their mess, clean up Translink before I will consider voting yes. This referendum is exactly the place to take out broadly based frustrations with the way the regional transportation authority is run. and to stand up for the people and this done by voting NO.

The next provincial election, is  more than two years off, and in political life two years is forever, so it is not an appropriate place to start.. Politicians and voters have short memories and anything longer than six months is forgotten. So the argument that we can hold this government accountable in two years is a pipe dream. Hold them accountable now, vote No.

I agree that this governments  unwarranted heavy-handedness dates back to the Gordon Campbell era. Then-transportation minister Kevin Falcon showed little or no respect for the wishes of Metro citizens and/or their elected representatives when he bullied through his high-cost transportation priorities such as the Port Mann Bridge and the Canada Line. Then, for good measure, he dismantled the semi-accountable TransLink board structure that the Liberals had inherited from the NDP and replaced it with the appointed and thoroughly unaccountable board that’s in charge today.

Christy Clark and her transportation minister, Todd Stone, have added to the mess by repeatedly denying Metro officials the full range of revenue tools — most notably a comprehensive and well designed tolling system — to pay for road and/or transit expansion. In addition, the premier’s insistence that the current funding proposal can’t go ahead without a rushed referendum is baffling in view of her government’s willingness to dispense with consultation and push ahead with other major construction — including her own pet project, the replacement of the Massey Tunnel with a bridge.

So, while there’s no question that TransLink’s governance structure and very likely its management as well are in need of a substantial overhaul, there’s no prospect for progress until the province agrees to butt out and put regional transit decision-making in local hands where it belongs. So this is the perfect opportunity to tell the government NO FIX THE PROBLEMS ABOVE FIRST AND THEN WE MIGHT VOTE YES.

Mr. Carlos asks us: Would you rather hold your nose and pay a sales tax 0.5 percentage points higher than you pay now, or live though the congestion that’s bound to keep building if alternatives aren’t funded very soon?  My answer is NO, I will not be bullied or be frightened by the government or its defenders, and I will vote no because I am against a recessive tax, I want the government to clean up Translink before they get any more money, and I don’t believe the hype about the end of the world, if we vote no.  I see nothing in the plan that shows that  we get no benefit from any increase in Translink spending/ Vote No. Finally, give Translink a yes vote and our taxes go up, they don't learn to control their spending and next year we find the sales tax going up another .05 percent of even higher.  I don't trust the board of Translink to get their spending under control unless we give them a resounding NO vote in this upcoming vote. Those that trust the Board to reign in spending are, in my view, out of touch with reality.

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