Archive for February, 2015

Every time you think you have heard it all, along comes our Premier who makes public statements about Translink that is completely and unequivocally false! How she can stay in office by showing herself to be so inept is mind boggling.

Have you heard her comments pertaining to the Transit / Translink plebiscite as picked up by CKNW the other day? Premier, I hate to be so frank but as they say if the shoe fits wear it – “Madame Premier, you have been either lying to us or you are too stupid to be running this Province”! Read 0n – Quotes from our Premier –

“And for those who think Translink itself is the problem” Clark says, “its up to Metro Vancouver mayors to fix it.” Premier, they can’t YOUR legislation does not permit it!

“Translink belongs to the mayors, and only the mayors, if there are problems that need to be addressed in Translink, the mayors can fix those because it is not a provincially run organization.” Premier, they can’t YOUR legislation does not permit it!

“As for criticism that Translink’s bad image and lack of accountability are undermining the Yes campaign” Clark says “that’s also the mayor’s problem”. Premier, they can’t fix it your legislation does not allow it!

Conclusion – “The definition of INSANITY is accepting a NEW Transit Tax to generate more funds to feed a fiscally irresponsible Translink, expecting a different Result!”

The full BLOG Post follows!!!

From the brain dead idea of holding a Plebiscite by Christy Clark, to the creation of a brand new tax, to the manufacturing of the question, to the creation of a region wide Capital Transportation Plan (Which is Nothing more than a WISH / VISION LIST) ….

I started to write this BLOG Post about four weeks ago, every time I got ready to publish it more news comes out, I would suggest information on incompetence comes out in the News. The latest, Ian Jarvis CEO stepping out BUT not stepping down as he is staying on in an advisory capacity with a NEW temp CEO coming in at a rate of $32,000 PER MONTH for six months? WHAT???? Selecting a fall guy does nothing to change the incompetent culture and governance structure of Translink!


Metro Vancouver Mayors, a number that are friends and former colleagues, (I don’t know how many will be after this BLOG Post?) have given into the well-known bullying tactics of the Provincial Government. This is the EASY decision, not the responsible decision – Trust Me! What would the responsible would be to stand firm against the referendum and to demand the immediate transformation / change of the current bankrupt governance model that is in place. IF the Provincial Government is not prepared to do so, let the province wear it publicly, it is not the responsibility of the Metro Mayors to do so. I say this based on my first-hand experience on how this Provincial Government operates when I was sitting at the table. (For the record I am a staunch Free Enterpriser, a review of my BIO will clear up any confusion in that area, so this is not a political attack but it is the truth and something that needs to be said.) This exercise is a sad joke perpetrated on an innocent and unsuspecting public who is only wanting value for their tax dollar.

Remember “The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result”!    

A little history to start! The current Provincial Liberal Government is completely responsible for the inept, irresponsible, unaccountable and operationally bankrupt Translink Governance model currently in play. Until the governance model is changed NOTHING will change in Translink’s effectiveness, efficiency, accountability and/or responsibility to the communities they serve!

In December of 2009 after being elected Mayor of the Township of Langley I was appointed to the Transink Mayor’s Council. I am not sure anything could have prepared me for the reality of the politically dictated (Provincial) Governance Model of Translink. What was also so obvious at the time was that the Mayors were awakening to where the Provincial Government was leading them through the governance model they created. While I have written on this before consider the following (you can’t make this stuff up).

The Mayor’s Translink Council is responsible for funding approval, BUT their only choices they have by provincial legislation (up to the result of the pending plebiscite) is through gas tax (maxed out), fares (maxed out) and property tax (currently allows up to a 3% increase every year without approval of the Mayor’s Council). The Mayors Council has zero influence or input into Capital projects, region’s needs, regions priorities, or technology. (All of that is the responsibility of the Private Board) despite having the responsibility to approve funding.

OH yes the Mayor’s get to appoint members of the private board from a list of about six as selected by a separate Selection Committee. I can recall in my last year, I asked how many applicants we received and it was over 230. So, the reality is the Mayors are completely neutered in the management of Translink while taking the heat for all of its decisions and problems – Just like the Provincial Government planned and intended!

Welcome to the artfully constructed set up otherwise known as the B.C. Liberal Taxpayer Charade.

The first challenge we were confronted with was the need for $400 million as the region’s share to fund the Evergreen Line. Now to be clear, that commitment (years earlier) was made by the Mayor’s Council based on the Tri Cities and local groups calling for a Light Rail surface transit system, a fraction of the cost of elevated Sky Train. Unfortunately a message was sent and received – to receive approval of a NEW transit system, Skytrain was imposed on the region by the Federal and Provincial Governments of the day. The message to the Mayors – it was our way or the highway! An example of more irresponsible decision making off loaded onto the region (taxpayers) by the Province.

At the time of my election Kevin Falcon was the Minister of Transportation and was the one responsible for the firing of all Mayors on the Translink Board a year earlier. He is responsible for creating and imposing the NEW Private unelected and unaccountable Board of Directors onto Translink. Through the course of the next two and a half years (during my term), all members of the Mayors Translink Council fought off wide-spread intimidating efforts by the Provincial Government and the minister to impose an additional property tax increase (in addition to the 3% increase per year noted above). In search of a solution to find a source to fund our share for the Evergreen Line (The Provincial Government’s initiative) and the need for a change in the governance model (The Mayor’s initiative); the Mayor’s and the Province signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Premier Gordon Campbell which carried with it a mutual agreement to address the need for a change in the Governance Model. That promise and commitment has been broken! By the way, the initiative for that Memorandum of Understanding was strongly driven, negotiated and encouraged by Peter Fassbender, then Mayor of the City of Langley. Now Minister of Education for the Liberals, interesting! This is the same individual that oversaw the infamous RCMP contract with the government.

Source of needed funds? From the Province – Property Tax! From the Mayors – Carbon Tax!

So to today’s controversy(s)……

NOTE: In response to NDP questioning in Question Period, Transportation Minister Todd Stone stated that if the NDP had read the Translink legislation they would know that there are two Mayors on the Board and the Mayors are in charge of Translink Operations – Minister Stone YOU are WRONG, It appears you have not read your legislation!!  

The Reality is – It IS a Transink debate, it is a Translink plebiscite! While the Yes side of this Plebiscite debate wants to stay away from it being a debate on Translink, the reality is, that is exactly what we are voting on. Suggesting otherwise would be convenient, but IT IS NOT A FACT! Translink is inept, irresponsible and operationally bankrupt. How can anyone in their right mind suggest this isn’t about Translink? Where to start? From service levels, to non-cost effective technology, to the Compass Card financial boondoggle, to outrageous Transit Police Costs, to extravagant executive pay and perks (i.e. a $1,200 per month car allowance) and much much more, putting more hard earned tax dollars into this unaccountable money pit would be foolish. If we bend to their scare tactics today, we will be feeding this bottomless money pit with your tax dollars with no accountability.

To The Translink Question – Otherwise known as the “Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax” – What does it say? Here is how it will read!

Metro Vancouver

Transportation & Transit


The region’s mayors have developed a Transportation and Transit Plan called “Regional Transportation Investments” – a Vision for Metro Vancouver. The Mayors Transportation and Transit Plan will:

Add Bus service and new B-Line rapid bus routes.

Increase service on Skytrain, Canada Line, Seabus and West Coast Express

Maintain and upgrade the region’s major needs

Build a new Patullo Bridge

Build rapid transit connecting Surrey Centre with Guildford, Newton and Langley

Extend the region’s cycling and pedestrian walkway networks.

A new Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax would be applied as a 0.5% sales tax on the majority of goods and services that are subject to the Provincial Sales Tax and are sold or delivered in the region.

Revenues would be dedicated to the Mayors’ Transportation and Transit Plan. Revenues and expenditures would be subject to annual independent audits and public reporting.

“Do you support a new 0.5% Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax, to be dedicated to the Mayor’s Transportation and Transit Plan?”    Yes ____ or No ____

Why I say to VOTE NO? Where do we start – much to consider?

Reasons for NO with respect to the Question –

There is NO guarantee to deliver any of the above, this, as stated is only a vision!

There are no costs attached to the vision items in the question? It is a dream at best!

This establishes a NEW tax, today it is 0.5%, what will it be 2 – 4 or 5 years from now? You can be sure there will be no plebiscite asking your approval for an increase!

Through the creation of this NEW significant slush fund, under the existing Governance Model there are NO controls over expenditure. Audits on revenue and expenditure are nothing more than an annual accounting and security that the funds were spent as identified. The decisions on what to spend it on are still up to management and the Private Unaccountable Board.

There is NO oversight / approval by elected members of the Mayor’s Council, the only people accountable to voters.

Surrey keeps talking about light rail when in fact the Province changed that to Rapid Transit? Another way of stating Skytrain, a proven unaffordable option. (Bombardier is in a serious financial  crisis / SNC Lavalin, their civil partner are facing major scrutiny for their business practices)

Reasons for NO with respect to Translink’s proven record of financial mismanagement –

My first-hand experience on the Mayor’s Council suggests there is a better than fair chance that the funds collected via this new tax will be eaten up through operations and not the projects designated. Mayors have NO control!

Compass Card debacle

Expending tax dollars for unused rental space

Outrageous salaries of Translink executives / highest in North America!

Outrageous Translink policing costs and salaries

A Translink Efficiency Review conducted in 2012 for the Translink Commission compared Translink’s performance to four Canadian transit peer systems. It shows revenue hours increased by 24.7 % while costs rose 50.7% between 2006 and 2010. Translink revenue passengers per kilometer were the lowest. The highest operating cost per revenue passenger, a third higher than the average cost and the highest administration cost as a percentage of revenue, (The above quoted from Gordon Clark Vancouver Sun)

Unpaid fares – An FOI request by the CTF (Canadian Taxpayers Federation) shows that 2,762,363 did not pay bus fares in 2013.

Reasons for NO with respect to Translink’s current make up, mandate and tax introduction!

The introduction of a region wide tax increase will unfairly punish businesses and taxpayers in Metro Vancouver, driving business into the Fraser Valley – Abbotsford West! That could be devastating to Langley and Surrey.

The Mayors of Metro have, prior to the latest bullying tactic by Christy Clark’s government, repeatedly rejected the idea of a referendum and have strongly requested a change in the governance model.

The Mayors of Metro have consistently requested the use of Carbon Tax dollars which by definition would be THE best use of those dollars.

What is Plan B if voters turn down this tax?

A clear message will have been sent to Metro Vancouver Mayors and the Province that you are demanding accountability for your tax dollars. Fix the Governance Structure of Translink and bring fiscal accountability to the operation first.

The Premier suggests Property Tax is the only other option – Well Premier, show me a politician that will support a property tax increase in the face of this rejection I will show you a fool!

Options – Change to an accountable Governance Model and look to the Carbon Tax Funding option.

Remember the dire messages given if the HST referendum was turned down? The sun came up the next morning and the message was delivered – it is time to send a new message!

Cost effective routes and technology should be a part of the solution, something Translink has refused to consider despite the FACTS being laid out before them. Check this video out which was prepared by the South of Fraser Community Rail Task Force and produced by Shaw Cable

In summary – About Trust in Translink’s ability to manage your tax dollars? Seriously consider the following –

You know, what has become very true in my years as an Alderman and in the Mayor’s office, the public have a serious case of misplaced TRUST in their elected representatives. In my experienced opinion this is the case at every level of government but for today let’s talk Municipal Government. During my three years in the Mayor’s office I tried in spades to bring accountability to our local government, much of that has been in the public domain during those three years. I won’t rehash them here other than to say all of what we tried to do was met with campaigns to discredit and assassinate the character of the writer with apparent support of a local biased media. So be it, but all of that won’t stop me from delivering my message through this BLOG which is supported through first-hand experience which backs up what I have to say!

My arguments above speak to the entire region, as to the Township of Langley, it would be irresponsible to vote anything but NO. While three Mayors in the region had the guts and intestinal fortitude to stand up against this irresponsible tax (Burnaby, West Vancouver and Maple Ridge), Where was Mayor Froese? He was doing the bidding for the Provincial Government supporting the YES side! As of last night’s Council meeting, the majority of Council has decided to stay silent on where they stand – Yes or NO! Don’t you think the public have the right to know how your elected representatives will vote? All of this despite a serious imbalance of services vs what we currently contribute in tax revenue (property and gas). It is shameful but not surprising!!! Message to Council – Hiding behind the “I have to hear and understand all sides of the debate” political statement is a reflection on your inability to do the job you were voted to do. It is a political cop out and will be seen for what it is!

I will say it again; it is long past due that taxpayers stand up to resist another tax that will only increase in the years ahead.

What should happen? I can’t resist offering my opinion based on my experience –

There should be One Transportation Provider from Whistler to Hope. Merge Translink and B.C. Transit into one revamped transportation entity that is open and accountable. (Two transit providers are wrong). It should be managed by a Board of Directors consisting of elected municipal leaders, Business Community and Provincial representation. All meetings to follow the rules of the Community Charter.

There should be One Regional District from Whistler to Hope (Not two as there is today) as well with a planning function (currently in place within Metro and FVRD) with staff representation in the NEW transportation entity. (How can we properly plan the lower mainland without close ties to transportation planning?)

Post Script – Was there Political Interference in our Township of Langley Election? Are you happy with OUR democratic process being hijacked? Was it? Was there financial gain? Many questions and much to consider! Go to January 29th BLOG Post – You decide?


Stay tuned for discussion of top of mind topics that directly affect us in the Township of Langley and our region to be published in the months ahead and much more….!

Protect your Democratic Rights – Protect your NEIGHBORS Democratic Rights – stay informed, stay involved and VOTE!!!

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