Written by: Mahdi Dialden, News Writer

The 2020 Provincial Election All Candidates’ Forum on Mobility and Land-Use, hosted by the SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, took place on October 15 via Zoom. The event was centred around a debate on various mobility and environmental issues like transportation emissions and highway expansions. The forum consisted of three candidates running during this month’s BC election. 

Bowinn Ma, BC NDP candidate for North Vancouver-Lonsdale, George Affleck, BC Liberals candidate for Vancouver-Fairview, and Harrison Johnston, BC Greens candidate for North Vancouver-Seymour, all represented their respective parties for the debate. 

Questions were asked about the amount of support each party would give to TransLink to expand its services and maintain affordability. Liberal candidate Affleck stated that he’s surprised that BC has no long-term plan in relation to transit infrastructure, adding that BC should have multiple planning projects to ensure a long-term plan is in place. NDP candidate Ma said that the “NDP has already stepped in to save transit here in British Columbia” as “early-on in the pandemic, TransLink warned that they were on the verge of collapse” and stated that the NDP worked with the federal government to secure transit services. Green candidate Johnston said he’d like “to see the government work to make public transit free for everyone under the age of 18 [and] free to low-income residents.” 

A question was raised to the candidates about introducing mobility pricing. According to  TransLink, mobility pricing refers to “transit fares, bridge tolls, road usage charges, and fees for any other services involved in the movement of people and goods.” Liberal candidate Affleck said that “mobility pricing is something that really needs to be explored in partnership with municipalities [ . . . ] to redesign our transit and transportation models and that includes a review of the possibility of mobility pricing because we need to do whatever we can into these alternate modes of transit.” Liberal candidate Affleck restated his position regarding a long-term transit plan for mobility pricing. NDP candidate Ma said she isn’t opposed to mobility pricing in theory, but added that it needs to make socio-economic sense. She stated, “The last thing we want to do is to be punishing people for not being wealthy enough to live close to where they work.” On a radio debate earlier that day, John Horgan had made it clear that support for mobility pricing is not included in the NDP platform and “never will be.”

When asked about reallocating funding from highways to more effective transit methods, George Affleck of the BC Liberals said, “I am very supportive of public transportation at any given time in order to not build more highways.” He followed, “We still have to build highways now because we’re stuck in this situation where we have bottlenecks [which are parts of highways that cause a disruption to lanes forcing congestion] in the Valley where people are very frustrated.” Green candidate Johnston expressed that he fully supports investment into long-term public transport infrastructure. He stated, “We know it’s a proven fact that if you widened highways within about 10 years, the traffic will be back to the same level [ . . . ] widening highways does not reduce traffic long term.” Johnston also emphasized the need for alternative modes of transportation. NDP candidate Ma said, “I’m a big fan of public transit over a highway widening of if they can provide similar benefits and actually take people off the roads and provide greater mobility.”

Advanced voting began on October 15 and will continue until October 21, with polls open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., daily. It is recommended that you wear a mask and bring your own pen or pencil to ensure a safe voting environment. Valid ID with your residential address is required