The upcoming Transit Referendum was a hot topic at the Green Party of Vancouver Annual General Meeting held Sunday afternoon (February 15) in Downtown Vancouver.
Two GPV directors, Ira Heidemann and Jordan Bober, presented a motion to the membership calling for the Green Party of Vancouver to officially support a Yes vote in the referendum, while also spelling out the serious reservations about the referendum held by many GPV members and elected representatives.
Councillor Adriane Carr voted with the rest of her Council colleagues in favour of a January 20 motion by Councillor George Affleck, backing a Yes vote. On February 9, School Board Vice Chair Janet Fraser voted for a School Board motion (carried unanimously) to support the Yes side in the transit referendum. And today, February 16, the Park Board will be voting on a similar motion put forward by Green Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon.
Following vigorous and impassioned yet respectful and orderly discussion and debate by members representing many different points of view on the transit referendum, the motion was passed in amended form (see full text below) with near-unanimous support from the membership.
Key caveats and demands outlined in the motion include:
A call for an elected, accountable and transparent Translink Board.
A call on the Mayors’ Council to explore ways in which the poorest Metro Vancouver citizens can be compensated for additional costs that the proposed 0.5% Congestion Improvement sales tax would have on them.
A demand for open, accessible and genuine public consultation with respect to the implementation of specific transit and transportation investment proposals, particularly as they relate to the long term livability and affordability of neighbourhoods and communities.
A caveat that by supporting the Yes side in the transit referendum, the GPV is not giving its unqualified endorsement to all particular components of the Mayors’ Transit and Transportation Plan. Members and elected representatives at the AGM expressed a strong commitment to the transportation vision espoused in the party's 2014 election platform, which includes frequent and pollution-free transit that supports the quality of neighbourhoods in every corner of the city.
A rejection in principle of the notion that a referendum on transit ought to take place at all, when referenda are not held to approve other major transportation investments, including highways and bridges.
Many of these reservations had also previously been expressed by members of the elected Green caucus.
Also on Sunday, the Green Party of Vancouver elected several new members to its Board of Directors in a contested board election. In addition to re-electing directors Steve Kisby, John Whistler and Jordan Bober, members elected to the Board Rosemary Cooper, a sustainability consultant, educator and urban planner; Elaine Alpert, a public health-focussed physician and former medical school assistant dean; Ira Heidemann, an active community volunteer and former manager in the healthcare sector; and Pete Fry, who ran as a Green Party of Vancouver Council candidate in the 2014 civic elections.
Motion re: Metro Vancouver Transit and Transportation Referendum
As amended and carried at the 2015 Green Party of Vancouver Annual General Meeting
February 15, 2015
The Green Party of Vancouver believes in a robust and comprehensive regional transportation system and recognizes that public transit service levels in Metro Vancouver have remained practically unchanged over the past seven years, while demand has soared in that period;
The Province of British Columbia has requested that the Metro Vancouver municipalities hold a referendum on future transportation funding measures. The GPV does not support referenda for transit projects when other highway and bridge projects are not subject to referenda;
The Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council has put forward a regional transportation investment plan, which includes transit, cycling and road upgrades for the region;
The Ministry of Transportation has accepted this plan in principle;
Notwithstanding the imperfections in the proposed 0.5% Congestion Improvement sales tax to be dedicated to the Mayors’ Transportation and Transit Plan, it is currently the only financing option on the table for urgently needed transit investments in the current provincial and federal political landscape;
Mail-in ballots for the plebiscite are expected to be delivered to citizens and must be returned to Elections BC by residents between March 16 and May 29;
The City of Vancouver and the region face significant challenges should this plebiscite fail;
The Mayors’ Council projects that the proposed investments will save transit users and drivers on major corridors an average of 20-30 minutes in commuting time each day and prevent an increase in Metro Vancouver’s CO2 footprint, despite an expected population growth of 1 million citizens by 2030;
Moving people and goods (including by rail) and delivering services faster and more reliably is essential for job creation and a strong economy;
By taking vehicles off the road, the proposed transportation investments are expected to save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of serious injuries;
Members of the Green Party of Vancouver’s elected caucus at Council, Park Board and School Board have publicly expressed their support for a Yes vote in the Referendum;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED
A. THAT the Green Party of Vancouver will support the campaign for a Yes vote in the upcoming Referendum by urging its members and supporters to vote in favour of the referendum question if the following are pursued:
B. THAT in order to administer the additional funds that the proposed Congestion Improvement Tax would generate, as well as to carry out the proposed transportation investments in a manner that commands the full confidence of the people of Metro Vancouver, the Green Party of Vancouver also calls for the restoration of an elected, accountable and transparent Translink Board;
C. THAT the Green Party of Vancouver calls upon the Mayors’ Council, Translink, the Provincial and Municipal governments to commit to open, accessible and genuine public consultation with respect to the implementation of specific transit and transportation investment proposals, particularly as they relate to the long term livability and affordability of neighbourhoods and communities;
D. THAT by supporting a Yes vote in the Referendum, the Green Party of Vancouver in no way endorses all particular components of the Mayors’ Transit and Transportation Plan;
E. THAT the Green Party of Vancouver calls on the Mayors’ Council to explore the means by which the very poorest citizens of Metro Vancouver may be compensated for the additional taxation that the Congestion Improvement sales tax would impose upon them.