Transport Action BC

2014, October 22

Proposed Society Act Changes Generate Controversy

Filed under: Announcement — Tags: , , — Rick @ 8:32 pm

The B.C. Government is reviewing the Society Act , which governs Transport Action BC. The result is a lengthy discussion document detailing proposed legislation, including annotations explaining the rationale for the proposals. The document was posted in August 2014 with a review period that ended October 15, 2014. A conversation with the BC Registry Services indicated that legislative changes could be implemented some time in 2016.

Clause (Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b)) resulted in considerable on-line discussion because it seems to open Societies to Court action based on the undefined concept of “activities that are detrimental to the public interest.” The entire text of Section 99 follows:

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 Complaints by public

99 (1)   A person whom the court considers to be an appropriate person to make an application under this section may apply to the court for an order under this section on the grounds that a society

 (a) is conducting its activities or internal affairs with intent to defraud a person or to otherwise act unlawfully, or

 (b) is carrying on activities that are detrimental to the public interest.

 (2)    On an application under this section, the court, with a view to remedying or bringing to an end the matters complained of, may make any order it considers appropriate, including an order referred to in section 98 (3).

(3)    Section 98 (4) applies for the purposes of this section.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 Detailed reporting about the issue is found on The Tyee  and The Huffington Post . West Coast Environment Law led the response to the clause  with a letter signed by 50 non-governmental organisations. 24 Hours dueling columnists’ discussed this issue on Oct. 20, 2014 here  and here .

 Transport Action BC expressed its concern over Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b) in an e-mail to the Ministry of Finance:

October 15, 2014

Financial and Corporate Sector Policy Branch,
Ministry of Finance,
PO Box 9418 Stn Prov Govt,
Victoria BC, V8W 9V1

Dear Sir/Madam:

Re: Society Act Revisions White Paper (August 2014)

Issues have been raised over Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b) of the Society Act revisions which proposes to allow anyone to take a Society to court by alleging that the Society “is carrying on activities that are detrimental to the public interest.” The section is very vague and provides no clear definition of “the public interest”. Indeed, defining “public interest” would appear to be a challenge in itself.

The vagueness of the proposed clause appears to open the way for frivolous and vexatious legal actions that could prevent a Society from carrying out its functions or even force it into financial insolvency. The White Paper’s annotations state the Courts will prevent abuse of Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b). However, the Courts can’t prevent claims from being filed or requiring that Societies use time and resources to defend against such claims, even if the Courts eventually decide the claim is an abuse of process.

No rationale for opening up Societies to potentially, open-ended, expensive court actions is provided in the White Paper. Illegal and fraudulent activities by a Society seem adequately covered by Section 99, Sub-section 1 (a) so what issue is Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b) supposed to resolve?

Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b) also appears to contradict statements made in Minister de Jong’s Introductory Letter to the White Paper in which he explains

The Minister states that “Each provision … is annotated to include … background information, such as the policy intent behind the provision …” No such policy annotation appears for Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b).

The Minister also states “stakeholders … requested the new Act be … simple and straightforward, so it could be used by all … including those without legal council[sic]”. As Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b) involves the courts, legal counsel will be necessary for any Society that runs afoul of an action initiated under the clause.

One of the Minister’s “objective[s] in publishing [the] White Paper is to ensure that any legislative obstacles preventing societies from functioning fully and efficiently are identified before legislation is introduced.” Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b) appears to be a new “legislative obstacle” to a Society’s functioning.

For these reasons – vagueness, lack of policy rationale, potential for unnecessary legal actions against Societies, apparent contradictions between the Minister’s direction on Society Act revisions and the Draft Legislation – it is respectfully requested that Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b), as drafted, be clarified, revised or eliminated.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the “Societies Act White Paper: Draft Legislation with Annotations”.

 

 

 

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2013, April 22

Annual General Meeting April 29th in Vancouver

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Matthew @ 9:43 pm

Transport Action BC

Annual General Meeting 2013

http://bc.transport-action.ca/

18:30 – 18:45 PM (Room Available at 18:15)
Terry Salman Library, 4575 Clancy Loranger Way (Route 33 eastbound from King Ed Station)

Terry Salman Branch of the Vancouver Public Library
http://www.vpl.ca/branches/details/terry_salman_branch

TransLink Bus #33
http://infomaps.translink.ca/Public_Timetables/89/tt033.pdf

Open Public Transport Lines Map
http://openptmap.org/?zoom=15&lat=49.24564&lon=-123.11279&layers=0B000TFTT

 

2013, April 6

Western Newsletter 2013 Issue #1

Filed under: Announcement — Tags: , — Matthew @ 8:44 pm

Western Newsletter of Transport Action BC and Transport Action Prairie

Transport Action BC logo

This issue’s contents:

  • BC President’s Message – Grim future for VIA Rail
  • ARE TRAINS FOR CANADIANS?
  • Vancouver LRT thoughts – A counterpoint to the City of Vancouver’s endorsement of a subway to UBC
  • VIA Rail service divides East and West, rather than linking it – letter regarding VIA Rail’s focus on the corridor
  • Mid-Sized Buses Make Their Debut in Saskatchewan – Sask Transportation company new buses explored
  • Island Corridor Update – the restart of the Malahat train on Vancouver island is pushed farther into the future
  • Greyhound bus cuts – BC service has been reduced
  • Talk about spin – VIA’s president’s speech disected
  • IN BRIEF – Pattullo Bridge, VIA new hires, TransLink rapid transit studies
  • Transport Action Prairie AGM – Oct 5, 2013 in Regina
  • Cool! Trains! – Commentary on VIA Rail
  • Humble trolley bus reborn as climate superhero – Excerpt of article on using trolley buses on rapid bus routes. Guest article by Eric Doherty. For the full article on the Vancouver Observer site.

2012, December 31

Transport Action BC Summary of 2012

Filed under: Announcement — Tags: , , — Matthew @ 1:51 pm

Here are some of the issues we talked about at our meetings this year, what we focused on as a group, good news for public transport in BC this year, and some setbacks.

Transport Action BC Activities

  • We are opposing the City of Vancouver’s plan to permanently close Robson St (aka Block 51) between Hornby St and Howe St. This will negatively affect the #5 Robson trolleybus due to a circuitous re-route that leads to slower connections with the rest of the network. See our post on this topic.
  • We contributed $1000 of our funds to the National Dream Renewed Campaign. A series of town hall meetings regarding the future of inter-city passenger rail has been occurring successfully in Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the fall. Similar meetings are planned for the West in spring 2013. Stay tuned for more details.
  • We oppose a 6 lane replacement of the Pattullo Bridge. We feel that there is excess capacity on the SkyBridge and more traffic lanes in New Westminster are not a solution.
  • Transport Action BC is concerned with service on the 3-year-old Canada Line.

Good News

  • The Grand Forks Railway, under threat of abandonment, will continue in service. Shippers have agreed to maintain 2 trains per week.
  • Federal and provincial bridge inspection funds for the Island Corridor Foundation required all Regional Districts agree to pay for any necessary bridge upgrades; All Regional District’s agreed. The foundation expects work to start in spring 2013

Bad News

  • VIA Rail Canada has reduced service on many routes across Canada this year. In the west, the thrice-weekly Canadian has been reduced to twice-weekly from October to May.
  • Continuing mudslides on the Amtrak Cascades corridor, especially between Everett and Seattle are causing service disruptions. BNSF embargoes in-service passenger trains for 48 hours even though other trains can proceed.
  • Greyhound has cut bus service throughout BC this year. Communities are losing their connections.

2012, June 27

The slow death of passenger rail in Canada continues

Transport Action BC calls VIA Rail Canada cuts ‘inexplicable’ and ‘wrong to the core’

‘Death by a thousand cuts’ continues while hundreds of millions invested in VIA’s renewal

VIA rail fading away slowly.

KAMLOOPS, JUNE 27, 2012 – Matthew Buchanan, president of the public transportation users and advocacy group, Transport Action BC, said that today’s announcement of yet more cuts to Canada’s nationwide rail passenger service is wrong and inexplicable given this federal government’s recent investment of $923 million in a renewal of VIA Rail Canada’s trains, stations and other assets.

“While the rest of the G20 nations invest heavily and wisely in expanding their rail passenger services, Canada’s longstanding policy of cutting VIA continues,” said Buchanan.

“These cuts are wrong to the core and the destructiveness of this latest round will soon become apparent, much to the detriment of the more than four million passengers who use VIA annually.”

In 2009, VIA began receiving $923 million for the largest capital renewal program in its 35-year history.  Transport Action BC applauded that wise decision, especially the leadership role played by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, who are strong supporters of public transportation, in general, and VIA, in particular.  Some of the investments in that capital renewal package are now being undermined by cuts to the very trains they were meant to benefit.

Respected sources, such as the U.S. Department of Commerce, have determined that every dollar invested in rail projects yields three to four dollars of economic spin-off, not to mention vast social and environmental benefits.  Furthermore, VIA’s public funding for its national network of passenger trains costs the average taxpayer only $1.60 per month – less than the cost of a large cup of coffee.

“We can only believe today’s shocking announcement is part of the usual Ottawa game,” said Buchanan.  “From the day it was born as a publicly-owned Crown corporation in 1977, VIA has been under attack by high-ranking civil servants at Transport Canada, Treasury Board and Finance.  They have engaged in a 35-year campaign that can only be described as ‘death by a thousand cuts.’  It appears these civil servants have once again misled the elected officials who have championed VIA and convinced them this is the right track to take.  Nothing could be further from the truth.”

The cuts – which are being portrayed by VIA as “the next phase of its modernization project” – will severely and negatively affect the following routes:

  • The Canadian (Toronto-Vancouver) cut from three trains weekly to two from the end of October until April each year;
  • The Ocean (Montreal-Halifax) reduced from six times weekly to three, cutting VIA service to Atlantic Canada in half;
  • Montreal-Ottawa;
  • Toronto-Stratford-London;
  • London-Sarnia;
  • London-Windsor; and
  • Toronto-Niagara Falls.

Deeper cuts will occur next year and in 2014, as VIA’s operating budget is reduced further.

2012, April 3

Next Meeting – 23 May 2012 (Wed) Vancouver

Filed under: Announcement — Tags: , , — Rick @ 1:57 pm

Transport Action BC’s next meeting is planned for Wednesday, 23 May 2012 from 17:45 to 19:45 at the Vancouver Firehall Library at West 10th and Granville. Our Annual General Meeting will be from 19:00 – 19:15.

Location of meeting

 

 

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