Moving in a Livable Region: Tomorrow's Vancouver commute

How do we want to commute, and how do we want to pay for it? Get involved in our transportation future.

Claire Havens, Project Manager for Moving in a Livable Region
Claire Havens, Project Manager for Moving in a Livable Region (Photo: SFU)

'Round, 'round, get around, I get around

Whether on the the bus or the bike; whether you take the Lexus or the legs-us; getting from A to B in Vancouver is not always easy. As our city grows, it'll only get harder: our transit and road networks were designed for a bygone era.

We have an opportunity to change that, and it's coming up soon. Metro Vancouver can vote on a transportation referendum within around a year. How do we want to commute, and how do we want to pay for it?

To that end, Claire Havens, Program Manager for the Moving in a Livable Region initiative, is leading a survey on how we want to commute.

“Whether they’re drivers who sit in traffic for half of their commute, or transit users who get passed up by buses, or cyclists who feel that there aren't enough safe routes on which to commute," said Havens, "people are worked up.”

Moving in a Livable Region evolved once the promise of the transportation referendum emerged. Havens said, “We decided to become the educational campaign for the referendum.” The group has been meeting monthly since December 2012, before the announcement of the referendum.

What's this referendum of which you speak?

The referendum is a still-hazy proposition that will be posed by the Mayors of Metro Vancouver, with an eye towards getting more provincial resources from Victoria to build out our transportation systems.

The question is not "is Vancouver getting a proper subway, or what?" It's about getting new revenue sources for Metro Vancouver's much-needed transportation improvements. Of course, we as a region have to tell Victoria exactly how we'd spend the money. It's sort of like Mom and Dad for a raise in your allowance: you gotta convince them that you'll spend it on big-kid things.

Premier Christy Clark promised the referendum during her re-election campaign. If the mayors of Metro Vancouver are able to provide a coherent ballot question, the vote can be held up until June 30, 2015. Otherwise, the referendum gets punted to the 2017 municipal election.

Facing the future

Supporters of Moving in a Livable Region range from the BC Taxi Association to the Real Estate Foundation of BC to Tourism Vancouver. Cycling groups, electric-car proponents, and municipal governments all want in. Havens described the project's supporters as "unlikely bedfellows with one common goal."

That goal is to secure Provincial support for better transportation in the Vancouver area.

The purpose of the Moving in a Livable Region survey is twofold, says Havens: to get the word out about the referendum, and to collect some data: what are y'all thinking?

Information sessions in Vancouver and Surrey were packed, said Havens: "We hit a bit of a nerve: people want to talk about the subject... this is a topic people are really passionate about."

The province has signaled that it would be willing to delay the vote until June 30, 2015, provided that the mayors of Metro Vancouver are able to provide a vision and ballot question. However, if the mayors are unable to come to a consensus then the earliest the referendum date would be in in conjunction with the 2017 municipal elections. - See more at:

Reading the spatial network analysis of Vancouver (pdf) is interesting, sure, but commuters are thinking more in terms of lived experience: "Is there a bus coming in the next half-hour? Will it randomly pass me by?"

(We can pretend to drive a SkyTrain, though: that must never change)

Therein lies the value of SFU's survey: it's not just about numbers. It's about you.

Choose your own adventure

Everybody's talking about what happens next.

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