See why Vancouver’s Dragon is voting Yes to transit
Transit plebiscite: Vikram Vij's perspective. Star chef says new taxes can be a "pinch" for small business, but this one is worth it.
"Any major city in the world," says celebrated chef-preneur, Vikram Vij, "whether it’s London, whether it’s Bombay, whether it’s New York, must have good transit. It needs that for people to commute back and forth from the downtown core."
The Dragons' Den star and Surrey's 2014 Businessperson of the Year is an emphatic 'YES' voter and supporter of the Mayors' Council Transportation and Transit plebiscite. He sees a strong business case for improving transit in the region.
"It brings tourists from all walks of life, not just the affluent ones who can afford downtown hotels," he says.
"We have the beauty, we have the ocean, and if we want this to be a place where people love to come, we need a good transit system."
With businesses in Vancouver and Surrey, many of Vij's employees live in South Surrey and car pool to work because of a lack of transit options.
"The people who work in Vancouver use transit a lot," he says of his employees. "The people who do not live in Vancouver would use the transit if it were available for them."
He would like to see more transit options for getting people to work safely, economically and without adding congestion and pollution to the region.
He maintains that to be "proactive" and more "environmentally conscious," we must increase our reliance on renewable energy sources and decrease our reliance on oil and gas.
VIj believes transit will have a "huge impact" for his clients travelling to his newest location near the Canada Line station at Cambie and Broadway.
A survey of Metro Vancouver business owners by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses showed that 80 per cent would vote 'NO" to a 0.5 per cent increase to the PST to fund transportation improvements.
"I do understand why small businesses feel that way," says Vij when asked to comment, adding that as a small business owner any tax increase "definitely hurts. It’s a pinch." He would like to see TransLink and the provincial government address small business concerns about perceived inefficiencies, he says.
But it's not just Vikram Vij, business owner, who embraces public transit. It's also Vikram Vij, citizen and dad.
When Vij flies home to YVR he hops on the Canada Line to get home instead of taking a cab. His kids also take public transit to and from school.
"There’s no question in my mind that Vancouver needs it," says Vij about improving Metro Vancouver's transportation network. "It's not just a business decision. When you have less traffic, it’s less frustrating, it’s relaxing and productivity goes higher."