OneCity calls on Vancouver voters to 'hold their noses' and vote YES in the Transit Referendum

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Vote YES for a better transportation system: a clear and obvious answer – but what a MESS!

Metro Vancouver needs a better transportation system. We need the money to fund that system. "By voting yes, we play a part in addressing climate change, economic development, individual health and equality," says, RJ Aquino, former council candidate for OneCity.

A yes vote could ensure 70% of Metro Vancouver residents live within 5 minutes of a fast and frequent transit line. A yes vote could make it possible for drivers to save 15 – 20 minutes per day on the region’s most congested roads. A yes vote could maintain our current carbon footprint even with an additional 1 million people in the region. A yes vote could increase the movement of goods and services, creating jobs and expanding our economy. Finally, a yes vote could save about 400 lives and prevent about 8000 serious injuries.

So, we in OneCity will vote ‘Yes” on the referendum and we encourage our supporters and friends to do the same.

But what a mess.

First, why in the world is there a referendum at all?  When we built a new Port Mann Bridge we didn’t have a referendum.  When we replaced the roof at BC Place we didn’t hold a referendum.  Why a referendum for public transit?  Why a sales tax to pay for improvements when we know sales taxes are regressive?  They affect most those who can least afford to pay.  

Every level of government bears responsibility for the fiscal mess transit is in.  The Federal Conservatives have off-loaded and starved cities’ basic urban infrastructure, maintenance and improvements budgets. While Canadian cities are important economic engines and talent-laden creative crucibles, the federal government continues to de-invest in them.

The Provincial Liberals had a chance to take leadership on this issue. Knowing that better transportation is needed and that it will benefit everyone in the province, they could have funded transportation improvements avoiding a costly referendum. Instead, they chose to download their public policy responsibilities onto resource poor Metro Vancouver.

To make matters worse, the BC Liberals took a democratically accountable Translink governance structure and turned it into an undemocratic, opaque, financially bloated and wasteful organization. Instead of a clear vote for a better transportation system, voters are distracted by Translink’s lack of legitimacy and effectiveness.

Vision Vancouver and the Mayors’ Council are also to blame. They’ve failed to provide an appropriate and cost-effective transportation plan. Instead, they propose an expensive subway that’s more about developers’ plans for West Broadway than the desperate need for affordable and efficient public transit across the whole city.

Buses are at capacity and pass-ups are common. And transit accessibility is a critical issue for Vancouver residents. But the planned Broadway subway line does little to address this issue.

A Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system would cost about $410 million. The $3 billion budgeted for the Broadway subway (and nobody believes it could possibly be built for that amount) would build 7 to 9 BRT lines, blanketing Vancouver with a network of efficient, fast and convenient rapid buses to service the whole city, not just the Broadway corridor.

Despite all of this, we’re going to vote ‘YES’, because to defeat the referendum is to go backward on public transit.  A ‘NO’ vote won’t make Translink more democratic or more efficient.  A ‘NO’ vote won’t increase transit service across the city.  A ‘NO’ vote won’t force the federal and provincial governments to fund transit.  A ‘NO’ vote won’t fix the flaws in the Mayors’ plan.

We’re going to hold our noses and vote yes – and then we in OneCity will work as hard as we can to make sure public transit is a priority, that it’s affordable and accessible and that it meets the needs of the people of Vancouver.

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OneCity Continues Push for Campaign Finance Reform

VANCOUVER — Fresh from its first municipal election campaign, the OneCity team today continued its call for campaign finance reform in a written submission to British Columbia’s Special Committee on Local Elections Expense Limits. OneCity is putting forward a series of specific recommendations to overhaul what is clearly a broken system, beginning with strict limits on donations and spending for municipal political parties and candidates.

The ability to raise funds through donations and for parties and third-party groups to spend money on advertising should not be determining factors in any election. That is why OneCity is calling for individual donations during the civic election period to be limited to $250, and for strict spending limits for parties, candidates and third-party organizations. If and only if those limits are enforced for donations and spending, OneCity supports the complete removal of corporate and union donations.

OneCity is also calling for political parties to disclose all non-campaign period donations and to do so annually. Municipal political parties are currently only required to publicly report campaign-period donations, leaving three-plus years to stockpile unreported “dark money” and contributing to a lack of transparency and growing cynicism among residents.

OneCity’s first candidate for City Council, RJ Aquino, received 30,050 votes in the Nov. 15 election. The party’s full submission to the Special Committee is available here: http://www.onecityvancouver.ca/campaign_finance

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Beginning of Something Special

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Remarks by RJ Aquino, OneCity's first candidate, at our election night celebration on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014:

I would like to acknowledge that we are on unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples.

Thank you so much for joining us here today. I am RJ Aquino and I ran for Vancouver City Council with the support of the OneCity team. I want to congratulate all of my fellow candidates and thank everyone who voted and made their voice heard. Voting, especially for young people, is so important for our city, our province and our country.

Tonight we are celebrating a victory. Tonight we are celebrating how far we have come in so short a time. This OneCity project only started a few short months ago. We wanted to build a political home for people who are being left out, people who are struggling in this city, despite its many advantages, to make ends meet.

We know working people and young people and single parents and families -- we are all under pressure. My wife and I have seen friends move away because they have lost faith, or perhaps never had faith, in a political system that should work with us and help us build the kind of city we can afford to live in. A kind city that we can live in and love.

That’s why we started OneCity, to give a voice to people and communities and to those values. And that is one of the victories we are celebrating here tonight.

We have talked about the things that matter and we have put forward fresh, practical solutions. For real affordable housing and child care. For paying people who work here, a Living Wage so we can put down roots and grow together. Innovative ideas for building a truly sustainable economy. And for putting our neighbourhoods and residents back into the decision making process at City Hall.

We have taken the lead on campaign finance reform. And we have tackled the kinds of issues that get people talking -- like beer!

We have put out these fresh ideas and people have noticed. The Georgia Straight and so many others endorsed not just me for City Council, but this whole project and movement. We built kindness and stories and people into a political campaign. Rabble.ca called it “endearing, creative, a campaign that punched above its weight” -- like Manny Pacquiano!

But the end goal of this project is not this election. And so tonight we are celebrating what is to come in the next four years and beyond. I believe that together, with all the expertise gathered in this room, with your passion and your values and your willingness to work hard, we can continue to build this movement.

We can continue to engage people in politics in new ways. We can share our stories and our ideas and get involved in our communities. We can have fun and be inclusive and accessible. And most important of all, we can continue to listen to the many voices of Vancouver.

The victory I am celebrating tonight is that we set out to build a political home for people, and that as your lone candidate this time around -- or the "One Dude" as the Province called me -- I am at home.

There are so many people I want to thank for helping with that and I simply can’t list them all without missing somebody. But for me it starts and ends with family. JL and I met in this city, started a family in this city, and are building a community in this city.

Thank you. Thank you everybody for being here to celebrate the end of an amazing campaign and to celebrate the beginning of something special that we can all build together.

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A Straight call to save one vote for Aquino

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The Georgia Straight has given a glowing recommendation of RJ Aquino for Vancouver City Council.

"OneCity has developed some of the most thoughtful policies of any party competing in this election ... Aquino, a high-tech worker, pointed out that he and his wife spend more each month on childcare than they do on rent, and he’s promising to push for a $10-a-day child-care program 'in a Vancouver neighbourhood that desperately needs it' ...

"Aquino has the support of some thoughtful community activists, including public-health-care advocate Colleen Fuller, urban aboriginal leader Scott Clark, and writer Trish Kelly, as well as comedian Charlie Demers and NDP MLAs David Eby, Mable Elmore, and Jenny Kwan. If Aquino gets elected, he will become the first councillor of Filipino descent in the city’s history."

Remember, just like the Straight you get 10 selections for City Council in Saturday's election. Save one of those votes for RJ Aquino.

Read the full Straight story here.

Check out RJ Aquino's take on what one councillor can accomplish at City Hall in The Huffington Post.  

And sign up now if you want to join the fun on Saturday (and find out where the party is):

http://www.onecityvancouver.ca/eday_volunteer

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