No doubt the Minister of Transportation, Kevin Falcon, would like to thank all those who criticized TransLink for its failings and lack of accountability. That provided the necessary cover to ‘reform’ an organization which had few defenders. And to turn it over to an unelected board dominated by business interests.
Though there’s not been a lot of coverage in the major media, the proposed governance model is not going uncriticized. Most effectively, Johnny Carline, the CAO of the GVRD, weighed in with a report that was affirmed by the Board.
You can read the whole report here. But here’s the critical thrust:
… the Panel Report recommends that the new TransLink Board be composed of appointees with a strong emphasis on business expertise. That expertise is important in any governance model. It is usual to assume that senior staff will bring many of these skills to an organization and that it is desirable that a body of elected officials on a governing body includes business expertise amongst its skill set.
But to make ‘business expertise’ the central focus and overwhelming emphasis of what will be the effective governing body for transportation within the region is to take a dangerously narrow view of transportation as a ‘business’ divorced from its broader, vital public policy role.
If, however, it is to be argued that the new business Board will in fact be responsible for making the public policy decisions centrally involved in urban transportation decision making, and that having an ‘expert’ board unaccountable to the electorate is an appropriate model for such a role, then it would appear that far more than amending the governance of TransLink may be happening. The whole concept of what is considered to be politics and democracy versus what is considered to be business may be under reconstruction. (My emphasis.)
In other words, the new TransLink is fundamentally undemocratic. To turn the future of this region over to those whose allegiances will be suspect doesn’t pass the smell test.
But will people in this region raise a stink?
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