Thursday, January 27, 2011

Translink - North Shore Area Transit Plan

On Tuesday (Jan 25th) Translink held a meeting at the Pinnacle seeking input on what North Shore residents wanted over the next 20 years.

I saw a lot of familiar faces there plus some new ones and a lot of opinions were expressed. The District Official Community Plan Roundtable was well represented as well as several from the City, West Vancouver and Lions Bay. I was really disappointed not to see reps from the Squamish or Tsleil-wa-Tuth though the Translink people told me they had been invited.

It was a good session with a lot of 'cut and thrust' though I completely disagree with Translink's methodology since it pretty much ensured the North Shore will be last in line with Translink for some time to come. While there was some talk of financial implications this was not encouraged by the organizers which causes me to wonder whether this consultation is for real or simply pro forma.

This is important since under the current Translink 10 year plan, Translink takes $225-240million out of the North Shore municipalities but only gives back about $45 million - and about 2/3 of that was to be for a new depot and a third Seabus which was to be in full service by the summer of 2009. Given this levy was to be for capital improvements it is difficult to not feel betrayed when we are now told that when the new Seabus is fully operational one of the first two will be taken out of service. The levy was never intended to be simply for replacement of aging infrastructure but improvements in service and 'two Seabuses before, two Seabuses after' is not my idea of an improvement!

It was a good session but I did not get the answers I went there for.


Anonymous said...

Where was the notification of this meeting? I would have been there.

Anonymous said...

The transit "plan" is to milk the N. Shore through it's high assessments like the cash cow it is in order to pay for other jurisdiction's transit expansions.

Ergo, private transportation will be the N.S. status quo for the foreseeable future.

Therefore, politicians that actually serve the electorate must concentrate on ensuring the most efficient routes and means for personal vehicles and oppose any suggestion of tolling bridges.

Anonymous said...

.... funny what time does. Remember when TL wanted to pump a major investment (depot), we said no - and with it the ability to more easily increase service.

If money went penny to penny back to where it came from we would be screwed, sometimes you give.... sometimes you get.

Anonymous said...

$240million out - $45million back. I'll go penny for penny on that basis any day.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, how was this meeting advertized? Again TransLink DOES NOT want the public involved. I believe it is called fascism.

Anonymous said...

oh pulleeeeze. Facism because you missed a meeting? Take your meds.

Don McBain said...

First I must ask if all of the Anonymous posters actualy take transit?

I do when going into downtown Vancouver any time I need to. I also carpool for as many trips as possible and do drive a hybrid SUV.

We have a fairly good system to get downtown, but not so great on our North Shore itself. Service is not often enough on some routes, likley caused by lack of use.

Translink did want to move the ineficiant 3rd Street garage to the old BC rail site, which is still empty. The West Vancouver garage is just a short few blocks west of that.

Don McBain said...

Anonymous at 8:17 said

"oh pulleeeeze. Facism because you missed a meeting? Take your meds."

What is that all about?

Anonymous said...

How much does the Lonsdale Energy Corporation milk out of the pockets of the City of North Vancouver’s constituents? At the very least Translink doesn’t hide the fact that they are screwing you..

Anonymous said...

Don, read Anon 7:06. A bit of a leap.

Lyle Craver said...

Theoretically the meeting was billed as being for 'stakeholders' but I confess I wonder how some of the stakeholders were chosen.

In any case, I agree with those who say that the purpose of the current plan is to milk the North Shore for as much as possible and provide as little as possible so as to subsidize other municipalities.

As for the depot which was turned down by DNV in 2006, my personal view is that Translink 'cooked' their requirements to choose one and only one site. Among other 'requirements' Translink wanted fee simple land ownership and were not prepared to accept a 99 year lease. Having read the Community Charter my opinion on why that was a "requirement" is that there is a clause that would give Translink the right to seek exemption from all municipal taxation - likely in the range of $4-5 million/year which they would not be able to seek in a long term lease.

I was one of those who spoke against the location of the Norgate depot as Translink was not interested in making any accomodation to the neighborhood at all. Bear in mind we are talking about a site where diesel engines warm up between 4 and 5 am. In Richmond they had a similar situation and compromised by making a commitment that the diesels would be on the side of the property away from the residential area. In Norgate they refused to consider any such restrictions even though that would have increased the distance from the neighborhood manifold.

The bottom line is that in 2006 Translink went into the hearing with an attitude of 'my way or the highway' and predictably got a storm of protests. Even after the hearing there were no concessions offered so it is not surprising the depot was turned down.

There is no doubt in my mind that had Translink made a minimal attempt to work with the community the depot would be built and in operation. But they did not.

If you think that and other factors make me think that Translink and Marie Antoinette have something in common - you're right!

My apologies for a longer posting than usual.

Don McBain said...

Well said Lyle, and not that wordy really as it was good information.

You have obviously kept track of this situation over the years, as you do most anything in North Vancouver it seems. :)

The end result is we still have the way to small depot on 3rd and having to bring busses in and out from Burnaby for the peak periods. Not to mention that the property at the old BC Rail site is still largely not at all used.

John Sharpe said...

Echo the well said words.

I was one of those who spoke in favour of the bus barn site because there were no other sites being offered as can be seen today, 5 years later.

In retrospect I do see the cons of the site with regard to nearby residents.

Council was divided with a 4-3 vote against the site in which Clr. Nixon recused himself due to a conflict of interest. The Mayor must have broken the tie vote.

On a positive note; North van has received several of the new busses but, the main problem is there is no increased capacity to house those busses and make the 'real' improvements to service.

Anonymous said...

Given the travelling population of the N. Shore (including both passengers and drivers), does anyone know what % uses primarily what method of transport?

i.e. public transportation, bicycle, walking, private motorized transportation, other?

I think that this is an appropriate starting place for equitable proportioning of public resources of time and $$.

Are these figures available?

Don McBain said...

Anonymous at 9:23. I am sure that you can find the approximate figures somewhere. However it is the single person in a car going over the bridges to Vancouver that is the biggest problem.

Lyle Craver said...

The Mayor must have broken the tie vote.

Nope - under Council's rules a tie vote is defeated. The vote was 3-3 with Nixon out of the room over a perceived conflict.

(I was there that night and I didn't see his reason as a real conflict though I respect his exercising extreme prudence with respect to possible conflicts)

Like most Pemberton Avenue merchants I was strongly in support of the later Costco proposal for that site which foundered on BC Rail's refusal to underwrite the environmental cleanup on the site which I think was positively inexcusable.

Imagine if you behaved the same way when selling your house!

Anonymous said...

BC Rail, of course, at that point was essentially a non-entity thanks to some fantastic (read as not fantastic) policy by Team Destruction. Sorry, BC Liberals.

Anonymous said...

BC rail was a waste of the tax payers money. Best thing they did was sell it off.

Lyle Craver said...

The trouble is that while there is a desire for a "GO Train" type setup to Squamish and Whistler I've not heard that there's a demonstrated demand for it that would justify the business case - and now that the Pemberton Station is no more it seems more unlikely than ever.

At my table at the Translink meeting we had a VERY physically aggressive lady from Lions Bay who physically climbed on the map table to make her points who hijacked our discussion insisting we address her concerns.

The Translink folks insisted that an every 1/2 hour shuttle to Lions Bay would cost about 1/2 the cost of a new Seabus but would not provide numbers to us.

I was even more frustrated at the assumption by Translink staff who assumed North Shore residents consider the current funding formula entirely acceptable which is ironic given the surplus of what we pay to Translink over what we GET from Translink would pay for 15 Seabuses.

I don't say 15 Seabuses would be a good thing but offer that as an example of how badly North Shore residents overpay for what we get from Translink. But what is indisputable is that under the current Translink 10 year plan the North Shore was supposed to have 3 Seabuses running continuously from the Summer of 2009 onwards.

As for the Mayor of Delta's comments on Translink I think we on the North Shore have at least as good an argument as Delta.

Anonymous said...

Next best thing the government can do is sell off the BC ferries

John Sharpe said...

A publicly owned ferry system is the backbone of regional economic development in ferry-dependent communities. Our ferries are just as vital a part of our transportation system as roads and bridges. Privatizing BC Ferries has put both smaller routes and federal subsidies in jeopardy. Re-establish BC Ferries as a Crown Corporation. BC Rail should be re-established as well since criminal activities concerned with its sale were uncovered.

Anonymous said...

The ferries are part of an essential trans-canada highway system. Why aren't the feds contributing to its operation?

Anonymous said...

John, BCFS does not recieve federal subsidy. At least directly.

Lyle, do you feel that all tax dollars should go back dollar to dollar from where they came from, or do you just feel that the North Shore over-contributes to TL and that you'd like to see the disparity reduced some?

Anonymous said...

Also, again @ Lyle, while I understand the itent of your comment in the OP that"2 sea buses" is not an imporvement over "2 sea buses" you certainly must also understand the importance of renewing aging assets. Obviously TL was unable to come through with the previously promised improvement, but to deny any change is out of line with the reality.

Anonymous said...

"...out of line with reality."

Love that comment.

The average taxpayer is so predictable. Wants improvements to government provided services at all levels but HATES tax increases.

I would love to have truly representative government at all levels. A list of services could be provided to those that pay for them. Then a simple increase, retain, reduce questionaire made available to taxpayers.

By legislation, gov't would have to follow the direction of the funders (taxpayers). Special interest groups would need to convince the majority of their necessity for public funding or get busy and raise your own funds.

Taxes reduced, businesses able to hire and expand, frivolous public expenditures eliminated.

What a concept!

Anonymous said...

... you forgot my "the" in your quote.

Anonymous said...

Apologies. "...the..."

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Lyle Craver said...

Obviously I understand the need to replacing aging assets BUT when the property tax levy was introduced it was sold to us specifically on the premise that it was for IMPROVEMENTS not simply replacing what we already had.

I don't demand strict dollar for dollar payback for every dollar collected but the current 'balance' is $5 for every $1 collected. I'm all for fairness and balance but with respect to what North Vancouver pays versus what it gets the current property tax levy is neither - and it's been unfair on both counts for at least 5 years.

Anonymous said...

Lyle, I have no issue with your point that N. Shore residents overpay their share of transit costs in the face of actual return.

My point is that the general principle of tax increases at every level will typically just keep the status quo due to increased costs of labour and materials to the level of gov't providing the service.
Therefore, to have an actual improvement in service results in a super increase.
For that reason, I'd like to have the (tax)payers, not the politicians, decide what big ticket services at what levels are appropriate. Not interested in every little thing but let's take a look at the biggies...

Federally, want/don't want new jet fighters? Have your referendum say.

Provincially, more/less/same money to health care? Tick a box.

Regionally. Transit expenditures? Targeted where? How much?

Locally. Artificial turf playing fields? Library expansion? Street improvements? Policing? Firefighters? Let's vote.

I envision the job of the politicians to ensure that the services are provided in accordance with the electorate's direction. Period. Not to decide where and how to spend our $$. No special interest groups pressuring a politician and receiving juicy grants and public funding without public approval.

John Sharpe said...

Anon Sunday, February 06, 2011 7:26:00 AM,

Page 7, Globe, 'see Falcon',Feb. 7th, 2011;

'In a statement released Saturday, the Province said the annual subsidy is about $200-million, including federal funds."

Anonymous said...

Hey my comment showing BCFS's use (or lack there of for steady commitments) has been deleted, including the reference link!!

Anonymous said...

I have trouble with the DNV Director of Finance says a projected 3% tax increase is in line with inflation when she is withdrawing $ 3/4 million from reserves (which is about equivalent to a 1% additional increase)to make her numbers.

That's like me saying 'I'm living within my means but have taken $3000 out of my savings to pay my credit card bills'!