TransLink, responsible for public transportation in the Metro Vancouver region, is treated as an “affected government” under the Regional Growth Strategy and sits with the Board of Directors of Metro Vancouver. Yet TransLink’s board consists of politically-appointed directors who are not directly accountable to the public. This could spell trouble in the future as control and decisions are kept from public view, and as TransLink engages in more multi-billion dollar projects and has influence in land use decisions that will also affect our taxes, pocket books, and way of life. This page will address issues related to governance, transparency, and public accountability of this body.
On June 13, 2011, amended Articles of TransLink entered into effect, with the single most important change being that the Board Chair now has the sole power to declare a board agenda item as “confidential,” which keeps the topic off the agenda and off any public reporting. We have been unable to confirm whether or not the Board has articulated any criteria for this discretion to be exercised. We feel that this could spell trouble for public accountability and transparency in the future, especially as TransLink exercises greater power in rezonings and land use planning in the Metro Vancouver region.
Article: “Watchdog questions TransLink board secrecy” (The Georgia Straight, Matthew Burrows, 11-May-2011)
Official web page on governance. For download is a Board Manual describing the “governance framework,” consisting of four guidelines: (1) Culture, Vision and Values, (2) Roles and Relationships, (3) Decision-making, and (4) Accountability:
Other governance information from the TransLink website.
TransLink Governance and Board
As guided by the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act (the Act), TransLink has a multi-tiered governance structure that includes: the Board of Directors, the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation and the Regional Transportation Commissioner. A Screening Panel, established annually, is responsible for nominating candidates for appointment to the Board. The Board has the responsibility and the mandate to make decisions in the interest of TransLink within the limits established by the Act.
- The TransLink Board Articles establish rules of procedure for the conduct of meetings and includes information relating to matters such as Public Input and the publication of board materials.
- Pursuant to 185(3) of the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act, the TransLink Board of Directors advises that it intends to amend the Articles of the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority.
- The amendments to the Articles will take effect on May 12, 2011.
The TransLink Commission and TransLink Comissioner is appointed by the Mayor’s Council. Link is here: http://www.translinkcommission.org
[Posted in April 2011] Some people may have noticed this notice in the Vancouver Sun, page A7, on April 12, 2011. Do the amendments mentioned enhance transparency, accountability of the Board to the public, and public engagement in decision making? Actually, it seems the reverse is true.
Only a few words of text are affected, but the amendment takes power away from the Board and allows the Board Chair sole power to deem what matters are confidential, and therefore not required to be published in meeting agendas. The amended articles can be downloaded here. The red text indicates changes that take effect June 13. (After a citizen queried, TransLink discovered that the wrong version had been posted online, so the date was postponed from May 12 to June 13.) Note that to view TransLink documents in a PDF reader you must type “.pdf” at the end of the filename.
More to come…