Here's why I'm voting 'No'

Dear Editor:

In response to both Mr. Lundy's (Why I'll be voting 'No' in referendum, Inbox, Jan. 23) and Mr. Johnstone's (Why I'm voting yes, Inbox, Jan. 28) letters about the transportation needs and plans for Metro Vancouver. The reality here is that the governance of Metro Vancouver is a mess! Twenty-two city governments, police departments, fire departments, and unelected Metro regional government and TransLink: A gong show that needs a serious overhaul. The reality is that Metro cities are sitting on a massive cash reserve in the order of $5 billion as reported in annual financial reports to Dec. 31, 2013. Of the $5 billion,  the five cities most serviced by SkyTrain hold $3.4 billion. The reality is that the development of public transit infrastructure creates growth and, unlike traditional sprawl growth, does not cost municipal governments massive amounts of money to support. In fact the direct costs for public infrastructure directly related to density growth is charged back to the developers in the form of development cost charges, in reality a pre-paid tax which then becomes part of the purchase price of the units that are developed. So, while we all know that municipal spending growth has far exceeded the increases in the cost of living, municipal tax revenues in the cities that benefit directly from transit infrastructure development has even outstripped these massive increases in spending.

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What we have here is a giant power struggle and a fight about taxpayers' money. If transit development creates a "development dividend" for cities, some or all of that dividend should be spent on the continuing development of public transit infrastructure across the district instead of simply fattening the coffers of individual municipalities.

The reason I'm voting 'No' is that the money is already there and the provincial government should wrest our money away from those municipalities and invest it in regional transit infrastructure with the emphasis being on moving people and goods using transit infrastructure like SkyTrain, LRT and short sea shipping instead of building more roads, tunnels and bridges. The people are ready; isn't it about time politicos and bureaucrats stopped protecting their own turfs and do what we pay them for: serve the taxpayer!

p.s. The new bridge to replace the Deas tunnel isn't as much about cars and trucks as it is about getting bigger ships farther up the Fraser River, and since that's the case, shouldn't Port Metro Vancouver and the federal government be funding that one?

Harm Woldring, New Westminster

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