Lower Mainland Transit/Transportation Plebiscite Offers No Shortage of Opinions

By Helen K. Peterson

Weighing the pro’s and con’s of the upcoming Lower Mainland referendum on transit and transportation issues going forward has offered no shortage of opinions from both riders and drivers.

Conducted via plebiscite form sent to registered voters, the referendum seeks a vote of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a .5% increase in sales taxes.

Luckily, a handy, independently-run website entitled Movinginaliveableregion.ca helps spell out the situation for Metro Vancouver’s Transit and Transportation Referendum.

The site advises that BC Premier Christy Clark pledged that a referendum on potential new revenue sources for Metro Vancouver transportation improvements will indeed be held.

A crowded Skytrtain platform is a typical sight in the Lower Mainland as the population and user base grows. Photo: Translink

The referendum seeks the public’s decision on the transportation funding measures identified by the Metro Vancouver Mayor’s Council. Accordingly, the mail-in ballots will be sent out beginning March 16, 2015, with voting [via mail-in] until May 29, 2015.

Many ask – what is a transportation referendum?

The website explains that, while common in the US, transportation ballot initiatives and referenda rarely, if ever, take place in Canada.

In this case, the transportation referendum lays out a set of transportation planning principles, potential funding sources, and/or specific transportation investments to be voted on.

Movinginaliveableregion says the Mayor’s Council has put forward a transportation investment plan, which outlines key transit, biking, and road upgrades that will be voted on.

Generally, it includes the construction of a new Surrey LRT and extension of the Millennium Line Skytrain as well as increased bus, Seabus, and HandyDART service.

The investments in the plan will allow for 70 per cent of the region’s residents to have access to frequent transit.

Buses may be plentiful in Marpole, but can often be late or overcrowded since the B-line express route was cancelled. Photo: Helen K. Peterson

Buses may be plentiful in Marpole, but can often be late or overcrowded since the B-line express route was cancelled. Photo: Helen K. Peterson

So what do the people really think?

BCNewsandViews took to the streets to ask a sampling of residents what they thought about the referendum, and whether they had decided which way to vote:

It’s all about the trust factor, according to Nancy Wong, a PR professional who resides in Kitsilano, and is keeping up on the issue with a watchful eye.

“I take transit all the time and am torn at the moment, because I don’t trust Translink to properly handle or respect the additional funds,” she says.

Nancy Wong is a frequent transit user who wants the improvements but also seeks accountability by Translink. Photo: supplied

Nancy Wong is a frequent transit user who wants the improvements but also seeks accountability by Translink. Photo: supplied

“I understand that transit needs more funding – but maybe it wouldn’t if there were different people running it who were more responsible and accountable for how the money would be spent,” she explains.

Wong also recommended Lower Mainland residents follow knowledgeable people on the subject via social media channels.

“Mi-Jung Lee from CTV posted a [very informative] piece on the transit tax last week,” she says.

Marcia Pedersen, who works downtown as a paralegal and commutes from Marpole, says, “We need to fund infrastructure and future development to keep up with an increasing population.

“But, we’ve been giving Translink millions in large chunks for several years and they’ve given us nothing in return.”

Driver Marcia Pedersen has strong views on the referendum, and doesn’t hold back on her opinion. Photo: Helen K. Peterson

Driver Marcia Pedersen has strong views on the referendum, and doesn’t hold back on her opinion. Photo: Helen K. Peterson

Pedersen reminds us: “There’s the Compass Pass fiasco. There are no turnstiles to collect payment on the trains.” This is a familiar refrain from many people I know, and I can imagine that millions of dollars have been lost due to Skytrain-riding cheaters.

“The fat cats that run Translink all drive and are provided expensive parking at the Metro Towers and elsewhere,” Pedersen complains.

“Transit service for users is poor at best. And it’s unsafe, especially for women having to deal with aggressive creeps who take transit.” Not surprisingly, Pedersen commutes to work by car, and will continue to do so.

“A .5 per cent transit tax? Not in favour. Should be a user-pay society; you use it, you pay for it,“ says self-employed driver Ian Gordon, who owns a disposal company.

As a resident of Tsawassen, he comes in to the city on a daily basis for his work, but Gordon will also use transit on the weekend to come in to Vancouver to enjoy a pint with the boys.

Ian Gordon drives for a living but takes transit on occasion, and doesn’t agree with the tax increase. Photo: Helen K. Peterson

Ian Gordon drives for a living but takes transit on occasion, and doesn’t agree with the tax increase. Photo: Helen K. Peterson

“Yeah, I take the bus or Skytrain at times,” he admits. “But I don’t think drivers should be made to subsidize my ride.”

Gordon says .5 % is so low you will hardly notice it. “But it’s still another tax and how many people will vote in favour of another tax? “I think the ‘no’ side will win,” he proclaims.

(Closing Summary erased!!!)

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Protected: Construction Accident Confirmed as Cause of Oceanburg Central Station Explosion

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Posted in Uncategorized

Arbutus Corridor Growers Still Producing After Train Track Access Derailed

By Helen K. Peterson

BCNewandViews.wordpress.com

Eight months ago, residents who live around the Arbutus Corridor (the area surrounding the rail line that extends from Granville Island to the Fraser River, mainly via Arbutus Street) were asked to cease and desist with their gardening activities.

For several stretches of kilometres, burgeoning gardens filled with produce (fruit and vegetables), flowers, plants and associated sheds, tools and décor, had been staking a claim [albeit unpaid-for] along the CP Rail right-of-way.

The destruction of community gardens along the Arbutus Corridor, July, 2014. photos: Helen K. Peterson

The destruction of community gardens along the Arbutus Corridor, July, 2014. photo: Helen K. Peterson

Residents are still shocked that they are now considered trespassers on once-farmed land. photo: Helen K. Peterson

Residents are still shocked that they are now considered trespassers on once-farmed land. photo: Helen K. Peterson

But in July, 2014, the actions were forbidden and gardeners were asked to remove all property from the area, as CP Rail’s mandate from its shareholders was to use the tracks once again after many years of neglect. A recent City of Vancouver stop-action was unsuccessful in court, and the opportunity for free land use by gardeners came to a permanent end.

Seeking viable alternatives

Now that Spring is awakening in Vancouver and citizens are hungering for freshly grown produce that they can cull from their land, the absence of land ‘beside the tracks’ looms large.

Local resident Juan Espinoza, a native of Spain who has been growing his own produce for decades, laments the lost opportunity, but realizes that there is no sense being angry about it.

“We had a good run of it,” he says. “My wife and I were able to grow a lot of kale, a variety of lettuces, zucchinis the size of footballs, and many other types of produce.”

It’s shocking how much you have to pay at the grocery for herbs, for example, he laments. “The parsley and mint we had was thick and leafy – and virtually free,” Espinoza says. “Now, we are growing things at a much smaller scale in our back garden.”

A local resident loves to get his hands dirty by growing his own produce. photo: stock image

A local resident loves to get his hands dirty by growing his own produce. photo: stock image

All is not lost

The City of Vancouver, in its bid to be green and sustainable, strongly emphasizes the use of community gardening. According to the website, if you are not able to grow your own vegetables at home, joining a community garden is an excellent way for you to benefit from locally grown food.

But community gardens are not just places to grow healthy vegetables, it states. Studies show that community gardens also promote community building, reduce crime, and more.

Vancouver has over 75 community gardens, located in city parks, in school yards, on private property – and even one on the grounds of City Hall.

Click for more on the Vancouver Park Board’s Community Gardens initiative.

Arbutus Victory Gardens

The area near Espinoza’s home has one such community garden – along East Boulevard from 50th to 57th, also 65th to 68th Avenues, on the west side of East Boulevard. It’s on City property next to the railway tracks, and is clearly marked with City signage. (For more information, call 311 or email: greenstreets@vancouver.ca.)

However, the City states that none of the community gardens in Vancouver are run or overseen by City staff. They are all administered by local community groups. To get a plot in a garden near you, locate the garden you are interested in joining from the list below, and then contact them directly.

Not surprisingly, there are many more people interested in garden plots than there is space available. The City advises that you may need to add your name to a waiting list.

Vancouver Community Gardens Map

FarmCity can help amateur gardeners get their vegetation booming. photo: supplied

Raised boxes from FarmCity are attractive and tidy, and require less stooping over. photo: supplied

Raised boxes from FarmCity are attractive and tidy, and require less stooping over. photo: supplied

A garden on your own property?

Have room to grow vegetation but have no idea where to begin? If a knowledgeable green thumb is all you need, FarmCity Food Garden Construction may be the answer.

Created to help homeowners convert their grassy yards to garden plots, this Vancouver business promises to help you obtain fresh, organic food on an ongoing basis.

At FarmCity head farmer and carpenter Darach Seaton and his team customize any type of fruit and vegetable garden to any size and specification. But taking on expert assistance does come with a price-tag, so it’s not for everyone.

See more images here: edible wall

Espinozaa thinks a sharing program within neighbourhoods is probably the best tack to take, if there are going to be limitations on getting a community garden plot.

“If I’m able to grow far more volume of robust, large kale [which is very trendy right now, I might add] than my neighbour, but she is having a great season of radishes, and someone else’s tomatoes or green beans are flourishing… why don’t we all get together and do a trade on Saturdays?”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Working with Photos

News photos that are cartoons:

 

A great place to get imagery for your WordPress blog is news.yahoo.com/comics/.

 

News anchors create trust.

News anchors create trust.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Embedding Videos and Social Media into your Blog

Canadian snacks is a fun Video from YouTube about Americans trying our local foodstuffs for the first time.

Twitter: The Tyee

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Embedding in a Post

Here is a Google Map of where BCIT is!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Langley records first traffic fatality of 2015

A dark and rainy residential road was the scene of a tragic accident between a truck and pedestrian last night in Langley’s rural area.

A 54-year-old male succumbed to his injuries, according to Langley RCMP.

Police were called to the 5700 block of 240th Street at approximately 9:20 pm, after an F350 driven by a 24-year-old male struck the pedestrian, who, according to witnesses, was wearing all dark clothing and walking northbound in the middle of the road.

Despite the driver and passers-by’s efforts to perform CPR on the male until BC Ambulance Service arrived, the 54-year-old Langley male was pronounced deceased at the hospital, according to Corporal Holly Marks of RCMP Langley detachment.

The distraught driver, also from Langley, remained at the scene and was cooperative with investigators. Marks said alcohol and speed were not believed to be factors in the collision; the dark, rural street and light rain contributed to lack of visibility.

Marks confirmed that the deceased man’s next of kin have been notified and Victim Services are assisting the family as needed.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment