A provincial government bill overhauling the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, known as TransLink, is “like a staged coup of our region’s transportation system on behalf of big business,” says CUPE B.C. President Barry O’Neill. He warns the bill paves the way for P3s in transportation without public scrutiny, and hands taxation powers over to an unelected group chosen by the business community.
“This is what the transition from democracy to dictatorship looks like,” says O’Neill. “In this case, it’s a legislative coup orchestrated by the B.C. Liberals and their business allies for control over transportation decisions in the region, and they’re determined to stifle democratic dissent.”
O’Neill sees this as the provincial Liberal government’s reaction to “democracy getting in the way” of the government’s objective to privatize the region’s transportation system and is driven by the government’s resentment of the difficulty they had pushing the Canada Line (RAV line at the time) through the TransLink Board. The P3 project was defeated twice, before narrowly passing on a third vote. At the time, Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon referred to the Board as a “circus.”
Bill 36 replaces the TransLink Board with a new agency called the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority – an unelected body pre-selected by a screening panel made up of Liberal insiders including representatives from the Greater Vancouver Gateway Society, the Vancouver Board of Trade, and the Minister himself. There is only one elected municipal politician on this panel.
A newly formed Mayor’s Council only meets twice yearly to make what O’Neill calls “rubber stamp” approvals of the new Authority’s recommendations.