" An organization such as TransLink, that takes money from Vancouver taxpayers and from transit riders, should do its business in public," said Vancouver COPE Cllr David Cadman.
Cadman, a former member of the TransLink board, will move a motion at Vancouver City Council’s January 29 meeting calling for the new TransLink board to reverse their decision to hold board meetings behind closed doors and with no public input.
"All decisions on the funding and operating of public transit should be made in the open and with full public input," said Cadman. "These important decisions on taxation, funding and service allocation impact on people lives and must not be made in secret by appointed bureaucrats."
The decision to meet in secret was made by new TransLink chairperson Dale Parker, who is also vice-chair of the Vancouver Police Board and former head of the Workers’ Compensation Board.
Parker is one of nine directors appointed to the TransLink board by the provincial government after BC Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon pushed through Bill 43 which replaced the old 12-member TranLink board of elected municipal councillors and mayors with the new structure of government appointed directors.
Like the previous board, the new appointed directors can run their own force of transit police, raise taxes, buy property, and amend tax rates. A council of Metro mayors, including Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan, will meet three or four times a year to approve decisions made by the appointed board.
Cadman’s concerns about the change from an elected to an appointed structure are shared by other municipal observers.
"It seems outrageous that you have an appointed body doing that sort of thing," said former NPA councillor and municipal legal expert Jonathan Baker. "It seems to me the public should have the right to vote out of power someone that levies a property tax if they don’t like it. Didn’t someone once say that taxation without representation is tyranny?"
Even George Puil, former NPA councillor and first TransLink chair, said "public meetings can be disruptive," but "if I’m elected, I figure I’ve got to go through this."
Members of the public can speak at Vancouver City Council and let Mayor Sam Sullivan and city councillors know how they feel about secret TransLink meetings by contacting the City Clerk at: 604-873-7276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.