March 5, 2015 12:49 am
Updated: March 13, 2015 7:49 pm

Canadian Taxpayers Federation gives TransLink lifetime achievement award for waste


WATCH: TransLink was awarded a lifetime achievement “teddy waste award” today. It comes from the national arm of the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation. Ted Chernecki explains why the Federation felt compelled to honour TransLink so close to an historic plebiscite asking voters to approve a half percent hike in the provincial sales tax.

VANCOUVER – Another day, another announcement by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation lambasting TransLink.

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The organization gave Metro Vancouver’s transit authority a lifetime achievement award Wednesday, for what it says are nearly 100 separate examples of waste within the organization.

“We have 90 stories to post, and the list keep growing,” says Canadian Taxpayers Federation director Jordan Bateman.

“TransLink is really in a league of its own because with politicians you can vote them out after a period of time, but with TransLink they just to be here forever and no matter who seems to be on the board of directors or who is running the show or what influence the politicians have they just keep wasting more of our money.”

It’s been a consistent message from Bateman, also the spokesperson for the No TransLink Tax campaign, as he tries to convince Metro Vancouver voters to vote against the upcoming transit plebiscite. If it passes, a new 0.5% sales tax in Metro Vancouver would fund billions of dollars in transportation projects and upgrades. Ballots will be sent out to registered voters beginning March 16, with people having until May 29 to mail in their vote.

“People don’t trust TransLink, people don’t believe they can deliver on this plan, people don’t trust mayors to be unbiased,” he said.

READ MORE: The full ballot can be seen here

His message seems to be resonating. Despite a substantial amount of support from political, business, environmental and labour groups, the YES side has seen their support continually fall during this campaign, according to periodic surveys done by Insights West. Their most recent poll had 53 per cent of people saying they would definitely or probably vote No, compared to 38 per cent who said they would vote Yes.

Global BC legislative bureau chief Keith Baldrey says the slide in popularity comes from discontent with TransLink.

“Shortsighted, tone death. Call it what you want, TransLink has been a detached monopoly from its customers for years now, and it’s going to take a long time to get back.”

“It has absolutely no friends out there, everyone seems to be its enemy, and it seems to be a favorite whipping boy for a lot of people. You don’t get out from under that reputation in a period of weeks.”

READ MORE: 5 reasons TransLink needed to ‘restore public confidence’ by removing Ian Jarvis as CEO

However, many urban advocates claim the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s focus on individual miscues and salaries obscures a larger success story.

“It’s great to have high standards, but we’ve kind of let the no vote frame the characterization as a failure,” says former Vancouver Chief Planner Brent Toderian, who says cities across the world are envious of Vancouver’s transportation system.

“Lots of failures? Come on. If you actually compared our transit system to say, an average highway that has traffic accidents, other modes of transportation break down far more than ours does, and other places that have transit break down far more than ours does.”

WATCH: Former Vancouver Chief Planner Brent Toderian weighs in on transit plebiscite

Bateman says the increasing attacks on his message are attempt to deflect focus from TransLink’s performance.

“The yes side is desperate, so they’re off to demonize the CTF and me,” he said.

“Oh it’s all Jordan Bateman’s fault. Look in the mirror. If TransLink is so great, why did they hire a second CEO?

Toderian says that such debates are short-sighted.

“If you get bogged down in debates about how much the CEO makes – and let’s be clear, the CEO makes too much money – but if you let those distractions make you vote against your own self-interest, which is what happens in American politics, then we’re not punishing any of them, we’re punishing ourselves, and punishing future generations,” he said.

WATCH: With just weeks left before the ballots are posted out in the transit plebiscite, Seth Klein with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative and Jordan Bateman went head to head on Unfiltered.

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