Thursday, January 22, 2015

Voting No in upcoming Transportation and Transit Plebiscite bad for Langley

On Tuesday night, the Langley Chamber of Commerce held a debate about the Mayors’ Vision for transportation in our region, and the proposed 0.5% sales tax that would fund it. Citizens in Metro Vancouver will have the chance to vote for or against this vision via a mail-in ballot starting March 16th and running until May 29th.

The Mayors’ Vision includes Light Rail for Surrey and Langley, a Broadway Subway, and a new Pattullo Bridge. The plan also includes 11 new B-Line rapid bus routes, a 25% increase in regular bus service, and more money for roads and cycling. There is a lot more in the plan, and you can read about it on the Mayors’ Council website.

The Langley Chamber event was focused around what the Mayors’ Vision would mean for Langley.

In Langley, the Vision would deliver:
-200th Street Rapid Bus Service
-Fraser Highway Rapid Bus Service
-New bus service for Walnut Grove
-New bus service for Willoughby
-New bus service for Brookswood
-More bus service for Fort Langley
-More bus service for Aldergrove

The Vision would also deliver millions of more dollars to support major roads in Langley like 200th Street, Fraser Highway, and 16th Avenue. All in all, it works out to tens of millions of more dollars in transportation service and infrastructure for Langley. I’m working on more detailed numbers, and will be posting them up to the blog in the coming weeks.

I’ve been fight for light rail to Langley for the last eight years. Citizens in Langley will now have a chance to make this a reality. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, a possible game-changer for Langley; creating tremendous economic growth while making our community more accessible. This is a big reason why I’m advocating for people to support the Mayors' Vision.

At the Langley Chamber debate, I was paying attention to what the opponents of the Mayors’ Vision had to say about it.

The opponents of the Vision really had nothing bad to say about the projects outlined. They did have three things to say: sales tax is bad, TransLink is evil, and Langley gets screwed over by the region.

I can tell you for a fact that the proposed 0.5% transit tax will not hurt business in Langley, it will actually benefit business. You can read more about this in a previous post.

The opponents of the mayors’ vision like talking about “waste” at TransLink. If we take their word for it, they have identified just under $2 million of “waste” within TransLink’s $1,406 million budget. That $2 million wouldn’t even pay for one regular bus route, let alone the $250 million needed annually to support the Mayors’ Vision.

TransLink has had is governance changed three times. They have had both public and private boards. Changing the governance will not address the funding challenges. When TransLink was formed in 1999, the NDP refused to enable a vehicle levy which was a critical part of the TransLink funding formula. TransLink has been limping along ever since.

Finally, the opponents of the Mayors’ Vision like saying that Langley isn't getting its fair share of transportation funding and transit service. That is simply not true. You can read a previous post which shows that Langley is actually getting more from the region that it is putting in.

The really odd thing it that the opponents of the Mayors’ Vision propose to pay for the projects identified in the Vision by having local governments and TransLink cut their budgets by 0.5% each and every year for the foreseeable future. Not only does this not make any sense, but it is impossible. One only has to look to the Rick Green era in the Township of Langley. It makes even less sense to ask TransLink to cut its budget as it is supposed to delivery more transportation services, not less.

At the end of the day, people in Langley will have a choice. They can vote yes for light rail, B-Lines, more bus service, and better roads for Langley; or they can vote no and get nothing. For me, it is a simple choice.

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