Monday, March 30, 2015

My Referendum Thoughts

I have been asked by many people what my thoughts are on the Transit Referendum.  For the record, I will repeat what I had earlier stated.  A referendum is not something I feel is needed in most cases as the process has flaws.  We elected the current government and with that election, have given them permission to move ahead with their stated election promises.  Nevertheless, we find ourselves in a referendum situation.

I have a good mind to vote no for the single reason I view a "yes" or "no" vote on the entire proposal as flawed.  If we are going through the time and effort of a referendum, it is a good time to maybe break out some of the programs into individual yes or no votes.

In general, I support far more infrastructure in public transit because it is both healthy for the economy and for the environment, but only if done properly.  Allowing hundred of kilometers of new bike lanes to be built without proper scientific research and oversight is a problem in my eyes.  As a cyclist, I do not support making cycling more dangerous as has been the result of some changes.  As an environmentalist, I do not support putting more CO2 into the atmosphere.  Unfortunately, the closure of Point Grey road does absolutely nothing to improve cycling safety (how can you improve over “zero” bike accidents in five years) and does a lot of cause further congestion which causes far more CO2 to be placed into the road.

Unfortunately, I have been born with a scientific and quantitative mind.  I actually read bills, study the fine print and do the math calculations.  There is not such thing as a free lunch and many of the current left wing propaganda is littered with the notion of “let’s throw up a few solar panels and ride a bike and we’re green!”.  Sadly, this is green washing and very far from the truth.  The average person amongst us, myself included, uses about nine times too much energy in general as we should be allowed to use.

So back to the current referendum. It would have been far better if each line item was listed separately and the ballot had a place to vote on improvements to the plan.  Where do I sit?

I would implement the following changes:

1. Require an external audit of the bike lanes with a stated goal, a scientific assessment of our track record towards the goal and an openness to hear ways the process can be improved. NO new bike lanes without some proper oversight please!

2. Instead of building more cars space on highways, I would like to see enhanced electric rail services around our region. I would vote for little improvements to be made to roads, instead having our region served uop with improved electric rail service.  If I lived in Langley, I would much rather ride a 180 KPH commuter rail and be downtown in 18 minutes and be able to read or work on the train than simply one more lane for cars.  Since the costs are about equal, it is worth thought.  Same for the new Massey Tunnel.  Why not electric rail that one could take from downtown Victoria to Vancouver (connected with the ferry system)?

3. The old Skytrain is an obsolete technology.  I would rather see more street level trains.

4. For Broadway corridor, use existing rail rights of way and augment it with branch lines.  If the data suggests that a tunnel will accomplish the goals while using existing rail corridors wont, then I will be ok with a tunnel. I would much rather see a New York style train than our hated Skytrain system.  It is bloated, old and costly.

As for walking, all for it. 

The tax itself is a bit of an issue.  We are taking on a very large debt here and it might be better to ask ourselves “do we really want 1,000,000 more people here?”.  Why not help other cities develop instead of Vancouver becoming this major metropolis?

All of this needs more discussion.  This is a band aid on a cast sitting on top of stitches to hold things together.  We, as a society, cannot keep growing like this.

I just stuffed my ballot. I voted “yes” despite the flaws.  After all, what is the real alternative?  Another flawed process with more wasted money?   GAH!  To think how much good I could have done if elected to the provincial legislature..