‘If we’re not in?’

Mayor Read’s decision against TransLink tax plan shows discord that will kill the referendum’s chance for success

Editor, The News:

Re: Mayors want to increase PST (The News Views, Dec. 12).

Mayor Nicole Read’s decision not to approve the draft transit referendum question is understandable, but disappointing.

Understandable, because she is right: this referendum makes local politicians accountable for regional transportation planning without giving them the power to implement their plan.

Mayor Read has been dealt an especially bad hand in that she is new to municipal hall and, therefore, her support of the mayors’ council transportation plan means supporting a document she had little input on.

Disappointing, because Mayor Read’s decision exemplifies the discord that will kill the referendum’s chance for success.

The mayors’ transportation plan, or even the mayor’s council itself enjoys credibility only with consensus.

While every Lower Mainland mayor has the standing to comment on TransLink’s control structure, rejecting the draft referendum question is the wrong place to make this comment. The referendum question was never going to propose a change of governance; such a question would not likely be approved by the province. If Mayor Read, as she says, supports the mayor’s council vision and believes a regional increment on the sales tax is likely the fairest fundraising option, she has a responsibility to approve the referendum question drafted, which indicates new funds will be subject to independent audit and public oversight.

As a walker, cyclist, transit-rider, and driver, I implore the mayor to work with the majority of regional mayors on this issue and to not waste her influence. Rejecting the mayor’s initiative may risk her ability to leverage and argue for service improvements, such as a B-line buses from Maple Ridge to Coquitlam, that she made part of her campaign platform.

I’m worried for Maple Ridge. This is the table and this is the deal: if we’re not in, we’re out.

Matthew Shields

Maple Ridge