Painful Truth: Plan B absent in Taxpayers diatribe

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is a strange beast.

It exists to bash any and all attempts to raise taxes, and to call attention to wasteful government spending. And sometimes that sends it down weird rabbit holes of stupidity.

Take the recent case of TransLink’s proposed 0.5 per cent hike of the PST. We’re going to get to vote on this sometime next spring, in a region-wide referendum. The provincial government will be staying neutral, but business groups and unions are forming a Yes lobby already. On the No side are a lot of people who hate TransLink on principle, and the Taxpayers Federation.

TransLink wants the money to expand transit service, of course. More buses, more light rail in Surrey and out to Langley, money for bike lanes and pedestrian improvements.

But the Taxpayers Federation reminds us that TransLink hasn’t always been the best custodian of cash, calling it “a stunningly bad record of waste.”

I have no argument with the fact that TransLink is badly managed – their CEO is vastly overpaid for the job he is doing – or that it is badly governed. In fact, let’s take a moment to remember some of TransLink’s greatest hits!

Broken down SkyTrains! Blaming trapped riders for making the problem worse instead of actually fixing the trains! Overpaid executives! A system of governance so needlessly complex it would make the court eunuchs of ancient Byzantium weep! Some of the highest paid police in the country! And in the big tent, the Compass Card system – massively over budget, behind schedule, hopelessly mired in technological bugs! A big hand, folks, it’s TransLink’s biggest blunder to date!

But…

The Taxpayers Federation’s position has two, closely related parts: 1) TransLink is wasteful and generally messed up (true) so 2) we should not give them any more money.

“Instead of finding efficiencies, TransLink Mayors want your family to pay $258 more in sales tax every year,” says the Taxpayers Federation’s call to action. 

The problem is the word “efficiencies.” They’re implying that we can find enough money to expand transit if we dig into the couch cushions and maybe fire some executive vice-presidents of made up do-nothing jobs.

You know what? I’m all for house cleaning. Hell, I’ll even put some of the Taxpayers Fed guys on a task force! Let ’em loose with a dozen meat-fed forensic accountants hungry for blood. Drag Victoria’s legislators kicking the screaming down here to clean up their mess. Let’s do it now!

And from that we’ll save how much? Maybe $5 million a year? If we’re very, very lucky, maybe we could find $10 or even $20 million in efficiencies? Nothing to sneeze at, but it’s not enough.

We need enough to buy a whole lot of buses, to pay an expanded roster of bus drivers, mechanics, cleaners, and maintenance workers. We need serious capital cash to start building more rail lines.

Seriously, what’s the alternative? We are drowning in fast-growing new communities, especially South of the Fraser in Surrey and Langley. We planned for transit, and transit never came. The Port Mann expansion has helped, but we’re choking on local gridlock, and students, the elderly, and the poor have little to no mobility across vast stretches of the Lower Mainland.

It’s good to have a critical voice when TransLink is wasting money. But the Taxpayers Federation needs to offer its own plan. Because right now, it looks like it simply doesn’t care how, or if, we ever get better transit service at all.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Giants draw first blood in Western Conference championships

In Game 1 of the best-of-seven series between Vancouver and Spokane, the G-Men emerged triumphant

VIDEO: Multiple people injured after Aldergrove deck collapses during celebration

UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

Championship action kicks off tonight at Langley Events Centre

Giants prepare to do battle in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals Friday on home ice

PHOTOS: Langley RCMP volunteers ‘represent the best of our community’

Dozens were honoured Thursday night during the 27th annual Langley RCMP’s volunteer dinner

Langley MP describes most recent diagnosis as a ‘miracle’

Tory Member of Parliament Mark Warawa doesn’t have pancreatic cancer, but operable colon cancer

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

B.C. RCMP receive application for Police Cat Services

RCMP announced the launch of the Police Cat Services unit as an April fools joke

Rats available for adoption in Vancouver

In a social media post the City of Vancouver says you can adopt a rat for $5.

Kirkland Signature veggie burgers recalled due to possible metal fragments

Recalled products came in 1.7 kg packages with a best before date of Apr. 23, 2019

Chaos at the ferry terminal for people heading from Vancouver to the Island

Easter crowds create backlog at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

Parents of 13 who tortured children get life after hearing victims

One of their daughters fled their home and pleaded for help to a 911 operator

Crews battle Burnaby blaze; 2 people sent to hospital

Emergency Support Services helping residents displaced by fire

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Storms blast South, where tornadoes threaten several states

9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia at a moderate risk of severe weather

Most Read