How will you advise your constituents to vote on the Transportation & Transit Referendum?
In spite of my frustration that the B.C. Liberals have completely abdicated responsibility for transit to an unelected, unaccountable board and pick and choose pet projects (i.e. replacement of Massey tunnel) without any consultation or regional plan, I will be advising my constituents to vote ‘yes’ on the Transportation & Transit Referendum. The alternative choice – voting ‘no’ – has serious implications for transit in the region that would cost citizens dearly in the long term.
What is the priority in the Mayors package (if any) for your riding?
For Coquitlam-Maillardville increasing the frequency of existing, high use bus routes will encourage more people to use the transit system and the new Evergreen Line. Many routes are currently served every half hour or every hour. Increasing frequency in high use corridors like Austin Avenue to every 15 minutes will attract new users to the transit system.
Increasing pedestrian/cycling connectivity to the Evergreen Line is critical in order to maximize this enormous capital investment. The city is currently making land use changes to higher densities around the Evergreen Line, but if the connectivity is poor this regional asset may not get fully utilized.
Increasing the capacity for the Westcoast Express is also critical. Currently, most runs reach capacity at the Coquitlam Station, with one more stop to go in Port Moody (at this point many are sitting/standing in the aisle and stairwells) suggesting that the WCE is presently at capacity. Population growth in the area is expected to increase by 62% over the 25 years. The Evergreen Line will also increase demand for WCE in 2016. Additional train cars are needed to meet these increased demands for service.
How do you plan to participate in the referendum campaign?
I plan to work with the coalition of labour, Chambers of Commerce, city councils, environmental groups and others who recognize that long term infrastructure planning and resourcing of transit is critical to our economic and social well-being. I will continue to speak with constituents and others about the return on investment and the risks of ‘no’ vote.
Any other comments?
The Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce policy analyst uses the following analogy when talking about the referendum: This referendum is about putting money aside for the future expansion of transit in the region – a worthwhile investment that is like putting a bit of money aside every month into an RRSP (0.5% for sales tax) or some other pension. This is considered good money management for the future where 1,000,000 more people are moving to the region. When investing in an RRSP, you do this with a money manager (i.e. TransLink).
If you are unhappy about how the money manager (TransLink) is making decisions with your money, then you change money managers. It’s not a reason to stop investing in your future. If we are unhappy with TransLink as money managers then we ought to ask the B.C. Liberals to do something about that. This referendum is not about our money managers, it is a referendum on whether or not to have an investment (e.g. ‘RRSP/pension’) to build the transit infrastructure we need to maintain our economy and our quality of life.