Written by Rachelle Jones for Vancity Buzz
As we approach key dates in the transit plebiscite, we are seeing more and more information for both the YES and NO arguments from the Metro Vancouver City Mayors, various businesses, and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, among others. But apart from a slew of confusing Facebook comments, I haven’t seen an opinion from just an ordinary Vancouver citizen. So here are my thoughts on why I’m voting YES.
1. I love my beautiful city
I love how fresh the air is, I love walking to work, and I love that there is no major highway running through the heart of the city. I want my city to continue to grow and improve – better public spaces, more art and culture, cooler businesses and better transit. One day, I would love for Vancouver’s transit to be compared to the systems in Copenhagen, Berlin, Hong Kong or London.
2. Vancouver is amazing – and it isn’t a secret
In the next 30 years, one million or more people will move here. If you take transit you know that the system is already overtaxed. During rush hour, I’ve waited for three or more trains to go by because they are full, and then squeezed myself on like a sardine because I can’t wait anymore. I’ve waited at cold bus stops as full buses pass me by, and for buses that don’t come at all. I’m sure the same can be said about rush hour traffic. Imagine what our commutes will look like if we vote NO, and then add one million more people.
Vancouver’s new motto will be: “Vancouver, home of the perpetual game of sardines.”
3. TransLink isn’t perfect but this isn’t a vote about the agency
If you are really going to vote NO because you hate TransLink or you think they spent your money poorly (a whole 0.13 per cent in wasteful spending – just a little over a tenth of 1 per cent), please tell me where you came from that makes TransLink so awful in comparison? I moved to Vancouver from Duncan, B.C., where there is no public transit. The fact that I can live in a city and get around without a car is a miracle. Seriously, a miracle.
4. Speaking of not needing a car, I haven’t needed a car since I moved to Vancouver
Not only do I not need one, but to me it seems like more of a hassle to drive. I walk, take SkyTrains and buses, and my goal is to start biking. I recently signed up for car2go, but haven’t used it because finding a parking space sometimes takes longer than just hopping on the train. This is awesome, and I want this to continue to be the case.
5. Friends with benefits
I am very fortunate to have (and grateful for) friends with cars who help me when I need it. I want them to be happy, too. I’m excited for upgrades to major roads and bridges and less congestion. Who likes hanging out with friends who are super stressed from rush hour?
6. Safer walking and cycling routes
I’m not going to lie, biking in traffic seems intimidating. But personally, I want to start biking as a mode of transportation. I’m going to do it. (Look at me, broadcasting my goals). I want safer walking and cycling routes.
7. It’s only 0.5% – half a single per cent
I would be voting YES even if it was 5 per cent, because I believe that if we do not invest in public transportation, it will be detrimental to the livability of our city.
8. No vote sends the wrong signal
We need to stand up and speak for our city. If we vote NO, the province will assume that transportation is not a priority for Vancouverites, and in 10 years – when the system is so overtaxed that it is unusable and the services have been decreased due to lack of funding – we will wonder what happened.
9. Let’s stop thinking about ourselves for a moment
Let’s think about the polar bears, the whales and the rainforests. I’m voting YES because I care about the environment that we live in. I also care about the general health of our community, whether that is better air quality or more exercise because it’s convenient to walk or bike.
10. Increase in SeaBus frequency
No longer will I just use the SeaBus as a “poor man’s cruise ship”. We can use it as a frequent mode of transportation. Also, more light rail transit to Surrey and Langley means all our friends living in those regions will have more options for commuting (see #5 – who likes hanging out with friends who are super stressed from rush hour?).
Rachelle works for the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association and loves making places out of spaces. Perhaps you have seen her brightly coloured bistro tables and chairs popping up around downtown Vancouver. She loves travelling and music – especially when they are together. She’s travelled to music festivals in Amsterdam, New York, Puerto Rico, Las Vegas, and of course, all over beautiful B.C. Rachelle lives in the West End with her fiddle leaf fig tree.