Tag Archives: vancouver

Cough cough

8 Jul

Cough cough, much like Vancouver and Western North America, this blog has gotten a bit too dusty and dry from neglect. Forest fires and droughts aside, a few notable political events have passed since I last posted something in cyberspace of meaningful value.

Most recently Greece went bankrupt and may now finally slip out of the Euro. It seems there is barely enough liquidity in Greece’s financial system to continue paying bills through to the end of the month. Even with banks closed, the government has probably run out of Euros and will need to start printing IOU’s or Drachmas in the next couple of days, unless it can convince the dreaded Troika to keep them afloat with less dreaded Deutsche style austerity. The Greeks are probably roasted, but for the rest of us, who knows what the fallout will be.

In national news, our oily neighbours to the east did the impossible, electing a social democratic government, turfing out 45 years of single party right wing rule. It appears Albertans had grown tired of being too oil dependent and having no savings to for it. It shall be most interesting to see what the Notley Crew will do to turn things around there, many are watching them closely, perhaps none more than our federal politicians, who will be going to election this October.

An interesting federal election it will be in October, as for the first time there is a serious possibility that Canadians, tired of 148 years of Liberal/Tory hegemony, may be ready to try a new flavour of ice cream. The chances look good for Notley’s federal NDP cousin, Tom Mulcair: a fatigued Tory government handcuffed by a stalled economy and falling oil prices, and a soft Liberal leader who is only there because of his name – all this adds up to an interesting mix of possibilities. Many would say this election is Tom Mulcair’s to lose.

Greece, oil, and federal politics aside, what has most perked my interest this spring and early summer has been the disastrous plebiscite imposed on all of us in Vancouver by our dear BC Premier Christy Clark. The plebiscite asked us whether we as taxpayers would be willing to cough up an extra 0.5% of PST to pay for metro lines, improved bus service, transit upgrades, and much more. The plebiscite result was a resounding No.

I was not surprised by the result. I mean, who in their right mind would vote to pay more taxes to big government for something they may never use (for the record I rarely use transit and live in the city centre, but I voted Yes)? The whole plebiscite exercise, much like many things done in this province, was poorly planned and executed. At $20 million it was also a waste of taxpayers’ time and money. Quite simply it should never have happened. Instead the premier should have assumed the role she was elected for: to govern and make the big decisions of how to invest taxpayer dollars.

By going the route of a plebiscite on transit investment, our premier abdicated her responsibility as leader and foisted upon us and junior levels of government to do the dirty work for her. Like the Greeks and the Albertans, we now have one big mess and no easy way out. Who knows what the fallout will be.


Greater Vancouver Mobility Fund – anything but the word tax

13 Mar

I am a strong advocate for voting yes. I’ve lived in Rio de Janeiro and have seen what poor long term choices lead to.

My only question is why we decided to call this .5% levy a tax? Tax is a considered negative word by the public, and easy for the lobby groups to rally against. I would have chosen Transit Levy, or Congestion Charge, or the Greater Vancouver Mobility Fund – anything but the word tax.

Ultimately there shouldn’t even be a referendum on this. Especially since the premier decided to unilaterally impose another 3 billion dollar bridge on the region, despite the fact the other 3 billion dollar bridge her party imposed on us is a total financial disaster.

It’s Raining in LA

10 Feb

After days of non stop rain in Vancouver, I cannot help but think of drier climes, images of figs, palm trees, and sunny beaches float through my mind. Ah yes, down with biking in yet another Pineapple Express, it’s time to move to Los Angeles!

Talking LA, this weekend an article in the Economist caught my attention. It was about the great lengths LA’s rich and famous go to to bypass the enormous traffic jams the “city” suffers from. For those who can afford it, the options include paying a chauffeur to drive you around in a built out GM suburban mega SUV, complete with office, TV room, and bathroom on board – a must if one is stuck and no loo is nearby. The vans include AC and curtains to block out the ever present pesky LA sunshine.

Some of the mega SUV’s even come with built in fitness bikes and baths, so you can get your ride in while being driven to the office. I mean, why bike to work in one of the world’s most perfect climates for cycling? That would be too simple…

SFU or UBC – The Gondola Solution

9 Feb

If the Broadway Line were built and extended as far as Alma Street, could a gondola system be implemented to get students the rest of the way to campus? It would certainly be cheaper than running buses or continuing the line to UBC.

What about SFU, why is NIMBYism still holding up the gondola line from Production Way up to the campus? Why can a few home owners force delays and unsafe commutes upon tens of thousands of people who live, work, and study up on Burnaby Mountain?

Barcelona and Medellin have it, why can’t we have it to?

Where is our Premier? What was she elected for?

2 Feb

The upcoming transit referendum is statement of our times. A provincial government too scared to take a stand on anything, has imposed on the recently elected mayors of Greater Vancouver a plebiscite on funding essential upgrades to transit in the region. The provincial government has said they will take no position on the plebiscite, this despite the fact that the region is by far the most important economic motor of the province.

Translink is the provincial corporation responsible for transit in the region, it operates in a similar fashion to another provincial corporation called BC Ferries. Both Translink and BC Ferries were divorced from the core Provincial Transport ministry, so as to get the hot potato of transit funding out of the provincial government’s hands, and into pseudo independent corporate bodies that can be blamed whenever fares rise or service is cut. While the issue here is not about BC Ferries, one need just pick up a local paper to see the state of that particular provincial “corporation”.

The result is the mayors are being forced to campaign for funding from the public to finance the expansion of transit and road and bridge infrastructure that is operated by a corporation that is kind of run by the province. Sounds crazy, but in fact it is worse than that, because if the funding is turned down by the public, the gridlock here will get worse, and the only ones who will take the blame will be the mayors and Translink. Christy Clark and the provincial government will be able to wash their hands of it.

English Bay Boathouse Area: Congestion Caused by the Cactus Club and too much Roadway

5 Jan
The area around the Cactus Club at English Bay is an accident waiting to happen, the result of placing the front door of a popular restaurant right onto the busiest bike way in the cityAnyone who bikes, walks, or rollerblades through this narrow section knows it is a shambles of a limited sidewalk, a narrow bike lane, bus shelters, and pylons; however, with a bit of creativity the problem can be easily rectified.
The solution – move the bike lane onto Beach Road and redirect Stanley Park in/out traffic onto Morton Ave to the north side of the “Laughing Men” statues – this will connect these statues to the beachfront, as the short section of Beach Road and Davie Street that lies between it and the seawall would become a bike path and pedestrian space.
The drop-off parking in front of Cactus Club is also part of the problem, but can be fixed by also relocating it to the north of the “laughing men” statues.
The impact of these changes to traffic will be minimal, as the area is a 30km/hr zone access road to and from the park, which means drivers should not be travelling in a hurry.

Half a percent is a little for a lot

11 Dec

Half a percent is a little for a lot.

The next couple of months will be critical to ensure the message is put out as to why this plan needs a yes, and how simple the funding strategy is.



For those that argue against, saying they’re not getting enough, or they’re paying more than those free riders, the reality is that for the public good, someone is always paying less than you, just as there is always someone else paying more than you. Ultimately all of Vancouver wins if the referendum succeeds. If it fails, then our region will continue to fall behind cities around the world where public infrastructure is viewed as a funding necessity, and not a pain in the ass.