Funding Translink with DCC’s through Bill 33

Madame Speaker: Recognizing the member for Saanich North and the Islands. It’s an honour to stand today and speak
to Bill 33. It seems like a lot of sitting and standing going on this week. I spoke to a number of bills. This bill is an important one, as we continue the discussion in our communities and in the various regions in our province about transportation, the impact that transportation has on the overall family budget, on the overall budget of the province and, as well, the impact that it has on the mental health and well-being
of our people and our family. I don’t think that we have had, as part of
the discussion of community development, a loud enough conversation or a strong enough conversation about the impact that transportation and transportation planning has on the health and well-being of citizens, constituents and on families. There is, as we know, a social
cost to congestion, as was mentioned by the previous speaker. I would also like to emphasize that the fact remains, when you’re locked up in a car either going to or from work or to and from your
daily activities, there is an increasing level of frustration, increasing levels of stress.
The last thing that I want to be doing after a long day here in the Legislature is to be
spending time in the vehicle, locked up in my vehicle. My preference, of course, would be with my son, as he plays — he’s got a baseball practice tonight — or hanging out
with my daughter or going off to an event in our community. As we get locked in congestion, the stress levels rise and it decreases the quality of life. Of course, there’s a cost to the environment, the congestion on the environment, to damaging ecosystems, to increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The next bill, Bill 34, which will be debated in this very chamber, is going to be about
setting greenhouse gas reduction targets. Of course, we know that huge percentages, up towards 40 percent, of the greenhouse gas emissions in our society are created by transportation. Finding ways to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by providing other options — mass transit
options — in our communities will go a long way to us hitting the targets that we are
going to set by the end of this spring session. I think that it’s really important to point
out that we have had a generation or two of what I would classify as poor planning — poor planning in the sense that we’ve disassociated the construction of our residential and commercial infrastructure from the infrastructure required to transport people. We’d often say, when I was a counsellor in
the district of Central Saanich, that the roads are what the economy rode on. We provided the roads, and provided them connected to a provincial network, no question. I think that it’s important for us to strongly
connect the development of our communities, the development of residential and commercial infrastructure buildings for people to live and work in with really modern and state-of-the-art transportation networks. When we don’t have those networks…. I think we see right here in the capital region, where we’ve got one part of the region who will
boldly stand and proclaim, with great verbosity, the housing developments that they’re creating and the solutions that they’re creating for housing, while on the other hand, they diminish the challenges that they’re creating with transportation. Having differing levels of government responsible for that, it’s easy for a local government to approve housing developments. As was pointed out, the supply side of the housing affordability equation always keeps being talked about and for good reason. We have to continue to provide supply, but we also have to do it with care
and attention. We have to make sure that, as we’re building communities, that we’re
also extending the types of transportation networks that are going to allow those people a quality of life that’s going to be worth living in. We don’t want to be jamming people into neighbourhoods, just for the sake of driving housing costs down, while increasing transportation costs. That makes no sense. We often disassociate the cost…. We talk about housing affordability. The affordability of life also includes transportation costs. Well, we hear the former Minister of Transportation talk about the grand investments that were made in transportation. I would think that
it’s important to point out that there was considerable concern from the many people that I’ve talked to in and around the transportation field, my colleagues at the local government level — not only in Metro Vancouver but, as well, in the capital region, the Cowichan Valley regional district in Cowichan Valley as well in other parts — that the former
government did not make the kinds of investments that were needed in mass transit. We’d talk about lots of bridge building, building big, wide bridges for single-occupant vehicles to travel back and forth on. We don’t talk
enough about the kind of investments in green and clean mass transit, moving people in and around our communities that could have been made. In fact, arguably it could have been said
that the fight that happened, the referendum that happened in Metro Vancouver around TransLink and the insatiable desires the former minister talked about, could have gone a long way to the seat count in the last election, as we see the former government’s seat count strongly diminished in the Lower Mainland. That’s what happens when you fight people in their transportation and the feelings that they have around the increasing stress levels. I think that it’s important that the current
government look at that very closely in making sure that we’re providing people an ability
to be transported around their regions, around their communities and neighbourhoods. I think we often get into a discussion about transportation infrastructure and transportation funding. We have to recognize that you have to invest in transportation ahead of people utilizing transportation. It may seem like
a rather simple equation, but you can’t put the wagon before the horse on this. You have to build the infrastructure for people to be able to utilize it. These investments in transportation are often long-term investments, ones in which governments that are focused solely on a four-year plan
of getting re-elected and continuing to get re-elected term after term don’t focus on
— the long-term investments and the long-term benefits of transit and transportation. Having a much longer-term plan, not only for the Lower Mainland but, as well, for the capital region and the Cowichan Valley regional district, who have all seen cuts in their transit budgets — making those investments now will not
only increase the quality of life in the short term, but also will help the community development over the long term. Through Bill 33, as has been pointed out on several occasions but I’ll reiterate…. This allows TransLink — it’s focused on Metro
Vancouver — to apply a DCC, a development cost charge, something that those of us who have been in local government are quite familiar with. These are cost charges that are applied directly to new development. This allows for the community to put in certain amenities. They’re very
strictly focused towards specific amenities. In this case, through Bill 33, we’re enabling Metro Vancouver and TransLink to expend and charge a DCC on new development so that it can be targeted towards funding. This was part of the commitment that the government made to fund 40 percent of the projects that the former minister, now in the official opposition, was talking about. It allows for some stable source of funding to allow for the construction of much-needed transportation mass transit infrastructure. It also allows for municipalities and local governments to waive or reduce the fees should there be an affordable housing component in this. What was interesting from the member in the official opposition who just spoke was that the main concern was around housing affordability. I think that everything, from the backlog that was talked about when it comes to supply…. Every single aspect of development, the longer it takes, clearly, the more costs that the
developer must hold or must incur. Of course, developers then pass that along to the end-user. The same thing could be said, of course, for adding a charge for transportation. It is also important to recognize that the
overall affordability for people in our society includes transportation costs, so if we can be providing transportation options that will allow a family to go from a two-car family,
as an example, to a one-car family, then we can be…. If we’re providing that mass transit or the transportation infrastructure for them to transition out of their vehicle, then we
can also be decreasing the costs. I think that it’s very easy to simplify these
arguments in here and make things appear to be the way that they’re not, actually. It’s
important that when we have this discussion that we maintain the complexity within it.
These are not easy conversations to be having. It’s not easy to be making a decision to invest in transportation infrastructure that’s going to not only just benefit us in the short term but also benefit over the long term. It’s not easy to see that amortization in a short period of time. It’s important for us to be having the complex conversations and not just drawing this down to the simplest terms and turning it into
a purely emotional dollar-and-cents argument. We have to be talking about all of the benefits that transportation investments make and have for our families and for our communities in terms of quality of life. Finally, I would just like to say that this
is a bill that we, as a Green caucus, look at and are very supportive of. We’ll be supporting the government to move in this way. I think that it is important for us to ask some questions in the committee stage. We will be doing that. I’ll listen with great interest to the member
of the official opposition, the questions that he asks as well, in an effort to improve this bill so that we can get the funding necessary to build the infrastructure we need to provide for our citizens. I think that it’s important that we make these investments because they are, in fact, generational investments. They are ones that are not only going to improve our quality of life now but they will improve the quality of life for
our kids and our grandkids. If we make the right decisions and we connect that to the
planning arm of the municipalities, then we can make sure that our communities are moving much more smoothly than they are now. We see gridlock happening in our communities, and it is largely because we disassociated the community development and the transportation development pieces. I see the light come on. I’ll take my seat.
Deputy Speaker: Hon. Member, noting the hour, if you’d be so kind as to move adjournment of the debate. A. Olsen: This will be the first time I’ve
had the opportunity to move adjournment of the debate. I don’t even need to reserve my right, because I’m done. I thank you very much for the opportunity to speak. A. Olsen moved adjournment of debate.
Motion approved.

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