On Wednesday (Sept. 21), the Burnaby Green Party announced its transportation platform at the Lake City Way SkyTrain station.
The four Green council candidates and one school board candidate laid out a variety of transportation projects they want the city to promote.
“If we’re to achieve our climate change goals and make Burnaby carbon neutral, we need to speed up the process by increasing our active transportation infrastructure and to start getting people out of their cars,” said incumbent Coun. Joe Keithley.
He noted this is part of the Greens plan to create a 15-minute city, in which daily services are accessible within 15 minutes of walking, cycling and rolling.
The Greens said TransLink’s HandyDART service is not working properly.
“The waits to book it are too long and drop-off times and pickup times are terrible. So, the Burnaby Greens propose that the city establish a small bus service that will serve seniors and those with disabilities,” Keithley said, stating the project would be funded from grants from TransLink and the provincial government.
The Greens are proposing a variety of TransLink-related projects, including outfitting all bus stops be outfitted with benches, rain shelters and lighting for safety; setting up bike lockups at SkyTrain stations; and getting washrooms at every Burnaby SkyTrain station.
Jasmine Nicholsfigueiredo emphasized that roads have become very different than 10 years ago.
“We’ve got scooters, we’ve e-bikes, we’ve got bikes, cyclists. We need to do a better job of educating the people who are on the road – we are no longer strictly car-centric,” Nicholsfigueiredo said.
She said the Greens feel passionately about educating road users on the rights of the roadway.
Carrie McLaren said she wants to ensure cycling and sidewalks are accessible to everyone. “Everyone,” she repeated, “whatever mode of travel they may take.”
Tara Shushtarian said she wants to see dedicated bus lanes to get “faster, more reliable transit, which is accessible to everyone, and saves us time to get to work.”
School board candidate Harinder Parmar said it’s important to make sure children don’t become car dependent. She supported making transit free for those younger than 18.
“If we can prevent our younger generation from forming the habit of being in cars, I think it will go a long way,” Parmar said.
Initiatives that involve TransLink are not fully in the hands of city councillors – TransLink services are in TransLink’s jurisdiction.
When asked how a council of Greens would work with TransLink on these initiatives, Keithley responded it had been tough to this point, but said a collaboration between Metro Vancouver municipalities could effectively lobby the transportation agency.
McLaren added: “(We’ll) find out what they’re lacking on their side that they don’t want to do. Is it a lack of staff? A lack of money?”
Outside of transportation, the Greens have also proposed the creation of a city housing authority that would put aside city-owned property for long-term leases and below-market rate homes.
Coun. Joe Keithley said the provincial government has asked for cities to build 3,000 affordable units a year.
“We think that the housing authority would be the way to go to actually get this housing happening,” the councillor said. “Of course, it’s going to have to go through some hoops, and see how it’s run ... but we do have the land to provide low-cost housing to people.”
Civic elections in B.C. will be held on Oct. 15 this year.