We’re just over one month in to the transit referendum and my question is: how many people have actually voted? I ask because it seems like every person I talk to has some form of excuse for not exercising their democratic right on this issue. I get it, mail-in ballots are a hassle, the yes/no battle is confusing and irritating, and let’s face it; the topic really isn’t that sexy.

While I can’t do much for the lazy folk–no judgement, I didn’t mail mine until yesterday–I figured that perhaps I could make this topic a touch more relevant by catching up with Lower Lonsdale resident and Project Manager at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, Amanda Frazer, to get her take on why the vote is important for our community.

Amanda’s research team is focused on increasing health and mobility across the lifespan. In particular, their Active Streets // Active People research program focuses on the associations between neighbourhood design, transportation choices, and physical activity. Amanda mentioned the role of transit in freedom of mobility and health. While most people get the health link, it was the connection between independence and transit that caught my attention. It makes sense though–a good transportation system makes for a well-connected neighbourhood.

Having grown up in North Van, Amanda is well aware of the transit issues in our neck of the woods. Looking at the transit plan she pointed out a number of key improvements that would benefit the community. Her main focus was on increased Seabus service, which she believe is key not only for improving the quality of life for locals–less wait time means more free time–but also for stimulating our economy.

Secondary to the Seabus improvements, Amanda mentioned the value she sees in increased cycling infrastructure being part of the plan. She pointed to the rate of densification in the area, noting that if you combine improved cycling, transit, and pedestrian infrastructure you’ll see great improvements in walkability–and liveability!–in the neighbourhood.

Unsurprisingly, Amanda voiced her support for the “yes-vote” on the referendum. Despite popular belief, she feels that Translink is a great municipal body and that the plan will create healthier and happier communities for us to live in.  Amanda agrees that the plan isn’t perfect–she would like to see more skytrain routes, including one on the North Shore, however, she also believes that voting no is shortsighted.

I tend to agree with Amanda. I don’t see any reason to vote no, particularly as the vote is non-binding. All voting ‘no’ does is give Christy Clark a reason to not invest in our public transit. YES a referendum is not the best approach for changing tax policy, and YES Translink has let us down in the past. But we can’t do anything about those things, and the vote really has nothing to do with Translink. This small tax hike is reasonable for what we will get out of it and the increased services will benefit ALL members of society, which is rare in politics.

My question is, “Would you be willing to invest 35 cents/day in our future and our community?” Vague? Yes. But if politicians can get away with it, so can I.

Whether you’re a yes or no, go ahead and flex those voting muscles–it’s our right! You have until May 29th to mail in your ballot. If you aren’t yet registered to vote call Elections BC toll-free at 1-800-661-8683 BEFORE MAY 15.

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