TransLink is out of touch with Bowen Island and we should vote NO

March 26, 2015

Andrew Pietrow on why Bowen Island should vote NO

Mike Buda, the executive director of the TransLink Mayors’ Council, had his chance in-person on Monday, March 22, to clearly confirm to the Bowen Island Municipal Council what specific improvements TransLink will provide to our transportation network for us; he failed miserably.

He provided no written commitment to anything.

Why vote for the regional growth strategy of other municipalities when there is nothing directly for us? Our Island is not even on TransLink's own regional growth map although estimates have Bowen's overall yearly contributions exceeding $1.3 Million.

TransLink fails to improve questionable basic, poor coverage bus service ending at 7pm daily for Bowen Island, based on its inequitable model of network design objectives. Operating a needed commuter bus for us to get to town is incomprehensible to TransLink.

Mr. Buda's lack of commitment is consistent with past TransLink communication. TransLink's Director of Infrastructure and Planning, Brian Mills, in November 2014, conveyed to me that TransLink “does not currently have resources for expansion of this nature, nor justification to reallocate from other areas.”

The fact that TransLink's decisions are also primarily made by an unelected board where mayors have inadequate control – especially our mayor of 3,402 people – certainly does not help.

TransLink does not understand that we are the only island municipality within its jurisdiction. TransLink does not understand that we have no taxi service available. TransLink does not understand that we have few sidewalks, no street lights, narrow country roads, unique topography. The list goes on.

Why should Islanders pay additional tax to TransLink with continuing third-rate treatment for bus connection times in Horseshoe Bay, as Nanaimo and Sunshine Coast ferry users get TransLink priority?

On our Island, numerous private water taxi businesses historically have tried and failed in providing needed commuter passenger only service to Vancouver primarily because they receive no government subsidy unlike the SeaBus. TransLink has never taken action by operating one itself for our community. Never.

Bowen Islanders already pay an enormous toll on our marine highway to get to the Mainland via BC Ferries.

A sales tax is regressive and it is easy to see why the big time mayors like it... the small users (i.e. Bowen) pay more than their equitable share. “TransLink needs to show more fiscal restraint before they are allowed to feed at the public trough,” says Kim DeSantes - Bowen Islander.

An old time Bowener, Van Hayden, sums things up well: “We as Bowen Islanders get very little in return for all the money we send to TransLink. Secondly, TransLink is not responsible nor accountable to the taxpayers and they couldn't manage a wet paper bag, let alone a huge public transportation system.”

This painful, costly plebiscite does not help Bowen Island. We are part of the region and TransLink is not listening to us! Therefore, vote NO.