Letter: Realtors on Lower Mainland transit referendum failure

Real Estate Foundation of BC encourages support for mayor's plan and partnership between municipal, regional and provincial government.

To the editor:

Open letter to B.C. Premier Christy Clark:

Re: Sustainable funding for transportation in Metro Vancouver.

We are writing this letter to share information with the province related to sustainable funding for transportation and to encourage support for the existing Mayors’ Investment plan. We hope that it will continue to be considered by the province despite the recent plebiscite outcome.

The Real Estate Foundation supports real estate and land use practices that contribute to resilient, healthy communities and natural systems. We provide funding to non-profit organizations working to enable positive change in communities across British Columbia. Built Environment Sustainability is one of our five grant program areas. We fund research, education and law reform initiatives that help contribute to efficient, liveable development and infrastructure and address integrated community needs for housing, buildings, energy, infrastructure, transportation and open space. We promote regulations, policy, planning and practices that support a more sustainable built environment through complete, compact, livable, energy efficient, transit oriented development that responds to the diversity of community needs.

In 2013, our Board approved a grant to Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue, for a project called Moving in a Livable Region: Investing in Transportation for a Growing Economy.

This public education and outreach initiative aimed to engage people on potential policy approaches to help advance a sustainable funding regime for transportation in the region. The project goal was to raise the level of knowledge and public discourse on pressing issues surrounding the governance, planning and funding of Metro Vancouver’s regional transportation system, which influences land-use practices, quality of life, housing affordability and the health of the regional economy.

This research involved input from various local and international transportation experts, Best Management Practices from other jurisdictions, and consultations with local residents from across Metro Vancouver. We hope that the province will consider these findings, which highlighted why a Frequent Transit Network is essential for our economy and quality of life and provides the backbone to a regional transportation system.

In addition, findings indicated a need for more fact-based information about how transportation affects Greater Vancouver residents. In 2014, REFBC provided grant funding to Clean Energy Canada to conduct research with the CD Howe Institute on the economic costs of congestion for Metro Vancouver. The research analyzed the costs of commuting times, car ownership, and infrastructure associated with transit, roads, bikeways—all of which are important considerations for stakeholders and land-use decision makers at regional and municipal levels. The report highlights the societal benefits that arise from dense, transit-oriented communities, and assigns a comprehensive dollar value to the hidden costs of unsustainable land use practices and associated congestion problems in the Vancouver area in a way which had not yet been done. It provides valuable information relevant to decisions on the costs and benefits of transportation funding. The Foundation believes that this important research should continue to be considered and shared with the public and decision makers, along with more information on how transportation needs are currently funded.

Cooperation on investment in transit infrastructure in the region can have a positive effect on land use and real estate practices, with associated social, environmental and economic benefits. The Foundation hopes that TransLink, Metro Vancouver and its member municipalities and the province can partner in the future to ensure that land-use plans and transportation investments are well aligned.

Jack Wong, chief executive officer

The Real Estate Foundation Of BC