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Role of civil society organizations in sustainable transportation planning : a case study of better environmentally… Furukawa, Satomi 2005

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Role of Civil Society Organizations in Sustainable Transportation Planning: A Case Study of Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST) in Vancouver, Canada by Satomi Furukawa B.A., Kinjo Gakuin University, 2001 A THESIS S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E O F M A S T E R OF A R T S ( P L A N N I N G ) in T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E S T U D I E S (Planning) T H E U N I V E R S I T Y OF B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A A p r i l 2005 © Satomi Furukawa, 2005 Abstract Much has been researched and written about automobile dependency, its history, and the various problems it causes, but only a little has been written about the opportunities and constraints faced by c iv i l society organizations as they work to reverse the political and social dynamics that create the cycle of automobile dependency. This thesis studies the opportunities and constraints that transportation-advocacy and -education groups face in working toward their goals of promoting sustainable transportation planning, through a study of the role and experience of Better Environmentally Sound Transportation, B E S T , a well-organized sustainable transportation advocacy and education organization in the Greater Vancouver region. The findings of this research show that c iv i l society can play an important role in sustainable transportation planning, and does so in the case of B E S T ' S work in Vancouver. Opportunities that B E S T has captured in promoting sustainable transportation planning are: willingness of local and regional policy- and decision-makers to work on sustainable transportation issues, existence of other sustainable initiatives in the region, growing awareness of sustainable transportation related issues amongst general public, and willingness of competent and committed people to lead and play active roles in c iv i l society organizations like B E S T . Constraints facing B E S T in promoting sustainable transportation planning, however, lie in: a lack of secure and stable core funding for organizations like B E S T , limited access to decision-making at higher levels of government such as the Provincial, the complex and counterintuitive nature of sustainable transportation issues, and a variety of structural, institutional, and political constraints. The research identified potentially useful strategies to overcome these constraints including: making alliances with scholars and other N G O s , having a wide range of programs mobilizing the organization's membership and the public at large, becoming pro-active in securing the necessary core funding, and strategic planning for prioritizing its work. Table of Contents Abstract ii Table of Contents iii List of Tables v List of Abbreviations v Acknowledgements vi Chapter 1: Introduction 1 1.0 Introduction 1 1.1 Thesis purpose, objectives and methodological approach 3 1.2 O rganization of the thesis 4 Chapter 2: Sustainable Transportation Planning and Civil Society 5 2.1 Sustainable Transportation Planning and Civil Society 5 2.1.1 Problem of automobile dependency and conventional transportation planning 5 2.1.2 Defining sustainable transportation 6 2.1.3 Planning strategies to achieve sustainable transportation 7 2.1.4 Barriers to the attainment of sustainable transportation 9 2.2 Role of civil society organizations in planning 11 2.2.1 Theories of civil society organization 11 Chapter 3: Methodology 15 3.1 The case study approach 15 3.2 Data collection methods 15 3 .2.1 I nterviews 16 3.3 Analysis of the data collected 18 3.4 Limitations of methods . 18 Chapter 4: BEST'S History and the Context 19 4.0 Introduction 19 4.1 B EST: its mandate and brief history 19 4.2 Transportation planning policies and practices in the Greater Vancouver area 24 4 .2.1 The GVRD 24 4.2.2 The City of Vancouver 29 4.3 R ecent transportation investment projects in the GVRD—RAV and Port Mann 30 4.3.1 Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Rapid Transit (RAV) project and decision-making around it 30 4.3.2 The twinning of the Port Mann Bridge and the expansion of the Highway 1 project 32 4.3.3 B EST's approach to the projects 33 4.4 C onclusion 34 Chapter 5: Presentation and Analysis of the Findings 36 5.0 Introduction 36 5.1 Achievement of BEST 37 5 .1.1 Success 37 5 .1.2 C hallenges 39 5 .2 O pportunities 41 5 .3 C onstraints 45 5 .4 S trategies for capturing opportunities 52 5 .5 S trategies for overcoming constraints 55 5.6 Summary of the findings 60 5 .7 D iscussions 61 5 .7.1 D iscussions on strategies 61 5 .7.2 B EST's role in promoting sustainable transportation planning 64 Chapter 6: Summary and Conclusions 67 6.0 Introduction 67 6.1 R evisiting the research question 67 6.2 L essons to be learned 69 6.3 I mplications for planning 71 6.4 I mplications for further research 72 Bibliography 73 Appendix I: Map of the GVRD 77 Appendix II: Map of Road and Transit Improvement in the 10-Year Outlook plan ...78 iv List of Tables Table 4-1. P artial Summary of Income of B E S T P.23 List of Abbreviations B C : British Columbia B E S T : Better Environmentally Sound Transportation C V G : Central Valley Greenway G H G : Greenhouse Gases G V R D : Greater Vancouver Regional District G V T A : Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority H O V : High Occupancy Vehicle / L R C : Livable Region Coalition L R S P : Livable Region Strategic Plan N E S Rapid Transit: Northeast Sector Rapid Transit N G O : N o n Governmental Organization O E C D : Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development R A V : Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Rapid Transit S G B C : Smart Growth British Columbia SOV: Single Occupancy Vehicle STP: Strategic Transportation Plan T D M : Transportation Demand Management V T P I : Victoria Transport Policy Institute V Acknowledgements The whole process of completing this thesis has been an invaluable learning experience for me, though at times it seemed like a never-ending journey. This thesis research and writing would not have been possible without the support and understanding of many people. I would first like to thank my supervisor, Prof. Peter Boothroyd, whose patience, support, encouragement and guidance enabled me to write this thesis. I would also like to thank Prof. Rob Van Wynsberghe, for advising me as my committee member. H is insight, direction, and critical and constructive comments enriched my learning experience greatly. Sincere thanks to staff and the Board members at B E S T who participated in my research as interviewees a nd p rovided v aluable c omments a nd w arm s upport. 11 ruly a dmire t heir inspiring work. A special thanks to Andrea Gil lman and Yvonne H i i for their friendship and their help in editing this thesis. I also would like to thank the inspiring, open-minded, and supportive S C A R P community, which constantly reminds me of how one can contribute to make difference, both as a planner and an individual. Lastly, I would like to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to my friends and family for their understanding and support. In particular, I would like to extend a special gratitude to my mother, Yoshiko Furukawa. W ithout her support and encouragement, my studies at S C A R P wouldn't have been possible. V I Chapter 1: Introduction 1.0 Introduction In North America, dependency on the automobile has been increasing year by year. According to the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, automobile dependency can be defined as "transportation and land use patterns that result in high levels of automobile use and limited transportation alternatives" (VTPI 2003). Problems associated with automobile d ependency— h ealth, environment, and s ocial—-have also b een i ncreasing. Negative impacts of automobile dependency include traffic congestion, accident damages, inequity in mobility, human health impacts, community livability, air and water pollution, habitat loss, and depletion of non-renewable resources (Litman 1999, Greene and Wegener 1997). Examples of adverse public health outcomes triggered by automobile dependency are respiratory diseases due to bad air quality and obesity due to physical inactivity (Frank, Engelke and Schmid 2003) 1. Transportation planning has significant implications for sustainability, in terms of environmental, social, and economic factors. Sustainability planning can be defined as creating a future in which ecological, social, and economic well being is balanced within the limit of the eco-system. For example, the transportation sector is the largest single contributor to greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions in Canada. It accounts for about 25% of total emissions (Transport Canada 2003). Also , the transportation sector accounts for more than 25% of the world's commercial energy use, nearly 80%) of which is consumed by motor vehicles (World Resources Institute 1998). Conventional transportation planning that focuses mainly on improvement of automobile mobility is not sustainable, as it has encouraged automobile dependency. In order to achieve sustainability goals, conventional transportation planning requires changes in its scope and focus, as well as its practices. Conventional transportation planning focuses solely on improvement o f automobile mobility. For example, a common solution for the 1 According to their study on the relationships between public health and built environment, the automobile dependent type of built environment, including land-use patterns, urban design characteristics, and transportation systems, inhibits many forms of activity in people's daily lives such as walking and biking and has become a significant barrier to more active lifestyle. Physical inactivity contributes to various health problems, such as premature death, chronic disease, poor mental health and obesity. 1 problems of congestion is to construct additional roadways. The traffic flow w i l l be eased for a while; however, increased road capacity often attracts more traffic; the long term result is to worsen the congestion and increase problems such as air quality. Zoning by-laws and development practices that encourage automobile-oriented land use patterns have also reinforced automobile dependency (Litman 1999). In order to change the current unsustainable trend of automobile dependency, changes in current transportation planning towards sustainable transportation planning are required; sustainable transportation planning strives to shift the focus of transportation planning from vehicle mobility to accessibility (Litman 1999) 2 . It calls for reduction in total volumes of automobile traffic through measures such as transportation demand management ( T D M ) , improved alternative transportation modes, and growth management. C i v i l society is expected to play a significant role in fostering sustainable transportation planning. There are two reasons for this expectation; a. ) Fundamental change, for example in achieving a better environment or social justice, rarely come from the state or the market, but rather from the c iv i l society (Friedmann 1998, Newman and Kenworthy 1998). b. ) C i v i l society is increasing its influences on politics through organized social movements, its increasingly important role in providing social services, and its own initiatives of advocacy planning (Checkoway 1994; Douglas and Friedmann 1998,; and Clayton, Oakley, and Taylor 2000). The role of c iv i l society in transportation planning, however, has not been well studied. "Citizen participation in transportation planning" has been narrowly defined and exercised as a process in which citizen has limited control over decision making, i f any at all (Grengs 2002). Literature is mainly concerned about how citizens can participate in the existing municipal planning process. The emphasis is on methods for involving citizens from municipal planners' perspective. What roles citizens might play in transportation planning outside of the usual existing processes is little discussed in the literature; nor is there much documentation of experience in transportation planning from 2 As discussed in Chapter 2, there is no universal definition on sustainable transportation. This is working definition. 2 the citizen's perspective 3. Kenworthy and Newman (1998) touch upon the importance of c iv i l society in providing the visions for change and acting upon them towards environmentally sustainable transportation planning; however, they do not discuss further what role c iv i l society plays. 1.1 Thesis purpose, objectives and methodological approach Even though much has been researched and written about automobile dependency, its history, and the various problems it causes, only a little has been written about the opportunities and constraints faced by c iv i l society organizations as they work to reverse the political and social dynamics that create the cycle of automobile dependency. The purpose of this thesis is to contribute to knowledge about the opportunities and constraints transportation-advocacy and -education groups face in working toward their goals of promoting sustainable transportation planning. The methodological approach of this thesis is a case study; specifically a study of the role and experience of Better Environmentally Sound Transportation, B E S T , a well-organized sustainable transportation advocacy and education organization in the Greater Vancouver region. Through this case study of B E S T , I w i l l explore the following research questions: • What opportunities and constraints has B E S T encountered in advocating more sustainable transportation? • What strategies has B E S T found to be effective in capturing opportunities and overcoming constraints so as to have an impact on transportation decision-making? Research objectives of this thesis are: • To describe and analyze opportunities and constraints that B E S T has encountered in 3 An example of this is a case study by Khisty and Leleur, "Citizen participation through communicative action: towards a new framework and synthesis". The authors examine how citizen participation possibly could be enhanced and improved in the existing transportation planning process (1997). 3 advocating more sustainable transportation planning. • To describe and analyze strategies that B E S T found to be effective in capturing opportunities and overcoming constraints. • To draw lessons for fostering sustainable transportation planning through transportation advocacy and education organizations. 1.2 Organization of the thesis Chapter 2 provides a review of literature on role of c iv i l society in fostering sustainable transportation planning. First, a review of literature on sustainable transportation is presented which includes the problematique of current transportation planning, a working definition of sustainable transportation planning, discussion of planning strategies to achieve it, and barriers for attainment. Following this, a review of selected literature on role of c iv i l society in planning is presented, including its role and importance in planning and its influence in political change. Finally, the role of c iv i l society organizations in fostering sustainable transportation planning is discussed. Such a literature review is helpful in analysis of the findings of the case study and drawing lessons from them. Chapter 3 outlines the research method; its approach, methods of data collection and analysis, and limitations of methods are discussed. Chapter 4 introduces the context to the case. First, section introduces Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST) ; its mandate, brief history, and features of programs and funding. Then I introduce the institutional and planning context in which B E S T work; transportation planning policies and practices in the G V R D and the City o f Vancouver. Chapter 5 presents the findings and analysis of the case study findings. Chapter 6 concludes the thesis by providing a summary and overview o f the thesis and the implications for planning and for future research. 4 Chapter 2: Sustainable Transportation Planning and Civil Society 2.1 Sustainable transportation planning 2.1.1 Problem of automobile dependency and conventional transportation planning Several scholars have written about bias in conventional transportation planning and economic and political systems in favour o f excessive automobile use (Newman and Kenworthy 1999, Litman 1999). The main focus of conventional transportation planning led by transportation planners and engineers is to improving traffic flow by constructing more road and highway; this has contributed to exacerbating automobile dependency. Litman states that conventional planning defines and measures transportation primarily in terms o f vehicle travel. Under that definition, the objectives o f conventional transportation planning have been "to maximize road and parking capacity to meet predicted traffic demand (1999)". Measures used to make transportation plans are mainly focused around efficiency and safety of vehicle movement; such as Level of Service (LOS), congestion delay, and average vehicle speeds4. Black (1990) reports in his case study o f the Chicago Area Transportation Study, a transportation planning process conducted during the late 1950's and early 1960's that little or no consideration was given to the problems associated with the transportation plan, such as air pollution due to increased automobile use, or transportation problems that the poor, minorities, the elderly and handicapped people would face due to decline of public transit. Other factors that contribute for excessive automobile use and thus further exacerbating automobile dependency are as follows (Litman 1999, 2003; Newman and Kenworthy 1999; O E C D 2002): * Dedicated funding for highway facilities that encourage roadway construction. • Generous parking and road capacity standards. • Zoning by-laws and development practices that favour automobile oriented land use patterns. * , Under-priced roads and parking. 4 There are new attempts to develop LOS for pedestrians and cyclists; however, LOS is mostly used for automobiles. 5 Inexpensive automobile use, since most vehicle costs are either fixed or external. Inexpensive fuel. A lack of travel alternatives, including poor transit service and road conditions that are unfavourable for walking and cycling. 2.1.2 Defining sustainable transportation In response to these problems posed by automobile dependency, several researchers call for "sustainable transportation planning" (Litman and Burwel l 2003, Newman and Kenworthy 1 999, O E C D 1 996). T here i s n o u niversal a greement o n t he d efinition o f sustainable transportation; the problems are similar to the ones encountered in defining sustainability itself. Litman and Burwell express that problem as follows: " A narrow definition of sustainable transport tends to favour individual technological solutions, while a broader definition tends to favour more integrated solutions, including improved travel choices, economic incentives, institutional reforms, land use changes as well as technological innovation (Litman and Burwell 2003:1)". Some examples of definitions of sustainable transportation are as follows: A sustainable transportation system is one that is safe, efficient and environmentally friendly. Sustainable transportation is about integrating economic, social and environmental considerations into decisions affecting transportation activity (Transportation Canada 2002). A n e nvironmentally s ustainable t ransport s ystem i s o ne t hat d oes n ot e ndanger public health or ecosystems and meets needs for access consistent with (a) use of renewable resources at below their rates of regeneration, and (b) use of non-renewable resources at below the rates of development of renewable substitutes ( O E C D 2003:18). A sustainable transportation system is one that: • Al lows the basic access needs of individuals and societies to be met safely and in a manner consistent with human and ecosystem health, and with equity within and between generations. • Is affordable, operates efficiently, offers choices of transport mode, and supports a vibrant economy. • Limits emissions and waste within the planet's ability to absorb them, minimizes consumption of non-renewable resources, limits consumption of renewable resources to the sustainable yield level, reuses and recycles its components, and minimizes the use of land and the production of noise. (Centre for Sustainable Transportation 2002:1) 6 I would like to use the following working definition in this thesis, which is also working definition that B E S T uses: Sustainable transportation is cost and fuel efficient, accessible and affordable, and as environmentally benign as possible (per person and per kilometre). Sustainable transportation does not include single occupant, fossil fuel burning motor vehicles. Sustainable transportation policies reduce reliance on fossil fuel burning and single-occupancy motor vehicles (SOV). They also favour a broader mix of active (or self-propelled) transportation, public transit, ride-sharing and car-pooling, and clean-powered vehicles 5. This definition clearly state that sustainable transportation requires reduced reliance on SOVs . Reduction in total volumes of automobile traffic, especially S O V , is the key in achieving sustainable transportation goals, even though a narrow definition of sustainable transportation tends to favour technological solutions, such as improved fuel efficiency and reduced emission. 2.1.3 Planning strategies to achieve sustainable transportation A combination of strategies is needed to achieve sustainability goals, say many researchers (Litman and Burwell 2003, Newman and Kenworthy 1999, O E C D 2002, Greene and Wegener 1997). A comprehensive perspective assumes that sustainability is a broad set of integrated challenges that cannot be met using existing transportation planning approaches which allow solutions for one problem to exacerbate others. For example, easing air pollution by designing highly efficient, low-emission vehicles rather than modal shifts can increase other automobile-based problems such as land-use and equity. The improvement o f technical performance o f vehicles achieved in the past several decades has itself become a barrier for attainment of sustainable transportation, as it supports arguments that sustainable transportation can be achieved entirely through improved vehicles, fuels, and infrastructure, according to O E C D (2002). Some of the technical improvement has resulted in reduction in environmental impacts, such as 5 According to Straatsma, this working definition is used in its work, even though BEST does not have an official definition. (Personal communication, Ray Straatsma, Policy and Communications Director, BEST, August 16, 2004) 7 improved fuel efficiency and reduced emission; however, these potential environmental gains have been offset by increased vehicle miles driven. Sustainable transportation planning requires a comprehensive perspective which defines and measures transportation in terms of access, as opposed to vehicle mobility. Broad tools such as land-use planning and growth management are important strategies of sustainable transportation planning. Accessibility to work, school and services can be improved by creating dense and mixed-use land-use pattern; hence, there is reduced demand for traveling. Patterson summarizes the interaction among land-use patterns, transportation and the environment as follows (2002: 2-3): The spatial distribution of housing, working, shopping, leisure, and other activities determines average trip distances in urban transport. High population density, as well as a mixture of land uses for various social and economic activities, maintain low distances b etween origins and destinations o f urban trips. Conversely, low-density development and large road areas increase trip lengths and lead to a higher share of automobile trips. B y influencing the spatial structure of locations in the urban environment, land use planning can contribute to a minimization of kilometres driven, and support a high transit share. Dense and mixed-use development helps to keep walking and cycling attractive. These are the most environmentally friendly transport modes. Some strategies for attainment of sustainable transportation are as follows (Litman and Burwell 2003, Newman and Kenworthy 1999, O E C D 2002, Greene and Wegener 1997): • Traffic calming—to slow auto traffic and create more urban, humane environments better suited to other transportation modes • Transportation Demand Management ( T D M ) 6 6 TDM encyclopaedia explains TDM as following (Victoria Transport Policy Institute 2003): TDM refers to various strategies that change travel behaviour (how, when and where people travel) in order to increase transport system efficiency and achieve specific objectives such as reduced traffic congestion, road and parking cost savings, increased safety, improved mobility for non-drivers, energy conservation and pollution emission reductions. There are many different TDM strategies with a variety of impacts. Some improve the transportation options available to consumers, while others provide an incentive to change travel mode, time or destination. Some reduce the need for physical travel through mobility substitutes or more efficient land use. 8 • Improved alternative modes—to provide genuine options/ alternatives to the car, such as, public transit, bicycle, and walking • Land-use/ community design changes—to create multinodal centers with mixed, dense land-use that reduce the need to travel and that are linked to good transit • Growth management—to prevent urban sprawl and redirect development into urban villages • Taxing transportation better—to cover external costs and to use the revenues to help build a sustainable city based on the previous policies (fuel tax, car levy, etc) • Technical solutions (information technology, improved fuel efficiency and reduced emission, etc) 2.1.4 Barriers to the attainment of sustainable transportation Barriers to the attainment of sustainable transportation are identified in some studies. The O E C D (2002: 73-78) identifies individual, social and technological barriers in Policy Instruments for Achieving Environmentally Sustainable Transport. Individual and social barriers identified by the O E C D are as follows. Individual barriers to attainment of sustainable transportation are: • Lack of awareness of the need for change • Cognitive dissonance • Lack of concern for future generations • Fear of change, and thus resistance to change • Attractiveness of present transport modes • Absence of transport alternatives • Resistance to collective alternatives • Car ownership • Lack of adequate professional advise Societal barriers to attainment of sustainable transportation are: • political factors • institutional barriers • ongoing societal trends • Urban form • Methodological barriers • Professional barriers 9 A l l barriers identified above are also the factors that contribute to automobile dependency, and current practices of transportation planning support those. Unless active effort is made to overcome these barriers, attainment of sustainable transportation planning is difficult. A s stated in the previous section of this chapter, a combination of strategies is needed to achieve sustainable transportation planning. Examples of current institutional arrangement that help perpetuate the transportation status quo are a lack of integrated transportation planning and a lack o f coordination among different agencies and departments in government, for instances transportation agencies and planning agencies. Integrated transportation planning, i.e. "full-cost accounting of all available options to secure the access (as opposed to mobility) that people need in their daily lives ( O E C D 2002: 83)," requires to consider all available options, giving equal treatment of both demand-side as well as supply- side alternatives. In discussing these barriers, O E C D raises a question whether policy-makers are receiving advice from "appropriate quarters" that represent sustainable transportation concerns, as it states (2002:87): M u c h advice appears to be provided by professions prevalent in the transport sector, such as engineering and economics, whose practitioners may not have relevant training and experience in matters concerning human behaviour and societal organization, as well as the environmental impacts of transport and sustainability requirements, (p.87) The Centre for Sustainable Transportation (2002), a non-profit organization based in Ontario, Canada that promotes sustainable transportation, identifies more general and structural barriers as follows: a) [DJecision-making about transportation by governments, corporations, and individuals has become locked into modes that reinforce the present unsustainable arrangements and trends. b) There is a mindset that achieving sustainable transportation is too costly, difficult, and w i l l threaten our quality of life and lifestyle. 10 c) Combustion of low-cost oil provides more than 99 percent of the energy for motorized transportation and creates many of the environmental problems that result from transportation. Harnessing renewable alternatives w i l l be a major challenge. d) Mechanisms for identifying improvements in sustainable transportation, and disseminating resulting success stories, and beneficial trends are inadequate, (p.4) The Centre (2002:4) further states that "overcoming the institutional barriers that prevent good decision making for transportation may be a greater challenge than overcoming the technological barriers that stand in the way of reducing the use of fossil fuels." Various attempts to overcome these institutionalized barriers are being made by c iv i l society organizations. 2.2 Role of civil society organizations in planning 2.2.1 Theories of civil society organization According to many scholars, the significance of c iv i l society in planning has increased in the past few decades. John Friedmann states that c iv i l society is one of three collective actors that shape the cities, along with government and corporations. Friedmann (1998a) discusses c iv i l society and planning as follows: One meaning of planning refers to the conscious intervention of collective actors— roughly speaking, state, capital and organized c iv i l society—in the production o f urban space, so that outcomes may be turned to one or the other's favor. It is, therefore, obvious that planners need to have a good understanding o f how these city-forming p rocesses work b efore w e i mpose o n t hem a n ormative s tructure o r, what is currently more likely, mediate among the interests affected (p.251). While a narrow definition of planning defines the state as the only legitimate planning actor, under Friedmann's definition, c iv i l society also bears important roles in planning; c iv i l society addresses the vast social issues that the state alone cannot or does not handle. For achieving goals like greater social justice, a less polluted environment and wider prosperity, planning has to be informed by c iv i l society, argues Marris (1998). The approaches by which c iv i l society addresses these social, environmental and political issues include "mobilizing constituencies, protests, strikes, c iv i l disobedience, community organization, professional advocacy and research, publicity, the proposing 11 and drafting of laws and programs of social intervention (Marris 1998:9)." Fullinwider also supports such a role of c iv i l society in relation to the state, as he discusses ways in which people are becoming increasingly "disillusioned with centralized governmental programs that deal w i th p overty, crime, [...], and community decay (1999: 1)". A s a result, he states, people are turning towards N G O s as the preferred agents for addressing these problems. He further suggests that "private, community-rooted organizations are more flexible and effective than large scale government programs and are better able to tailor their activities to community needs and circumstances (1999: 2)". For the purposes of this thesis, I would like to use the following working definition of civi l society offered by Friedmann (1998a:251): C i v i l society refers to that part of social, as distinct from corporate, life that lies beyond the immediate control of the state. It is the society of households, family networks, civic and religious organizations and communities that are bound to each other by shared histories, collective memories and culturally specific forms of reciprocity. In this thesis, I want to focus on two aspects o f c iv i l society: first, as a means of political mobilization and active resistance to the state, and second, as a mediating third domain between the state and market. Some scholars emphasize c iv i l society's role in "political mobilization and active resistance to hegemonic discourse (Friedmann 1998b:21)" through means such as social movements, self-management and the practice of direct democracy. While some emphasize the role of c iv i l society as a means of active resistance to the state, that is not the way this thesis is conceptualizing it. This thesis is concerned with the ways c iv i l society can influence, complement and even support the state in moving urban transportation toward more sustainable forms. Douglas and Friedmann (1998:3) propose the role of c ivi l society as "not to overturn the state, nor to replace it, but to transform the state in ways that w i l l serve all o f its citizens, and especially the least powerful, as a matter of ideology and intention as wel l as actual practice." 12 Others define c iv i l society as a mediating third domain between the state and market (Fullinwider 1999; Clayton, Oakley, and Taylor 2000). C i v i l society not only functions as a force to affect social and political change, but also as a provider o f basic social services, such as education and health care, that the state does not provide and/ or to people t hat t he s tate h as f ailed t o reach. T he role o f c iv i l s ociety i n p roviding s ocial services has increased since the 1970's, as the role o f government has shrunk (Friedmann 1998b; Clayton, Oakley, and Taylor 2000). Theory of advocacy planning also suggests importance of c iv i l society in planning. Paul Davidoff, who initially founded advocacy planning theory, criticizes the rational comprehensive approach to planning led by technical experts as it works to preserve the status quo. Rational comprehensive planning was believed to be neutral, as Checkoway states, "planners were akin to technical experts who worked outside the realm of politics, advised decision-makers without promoting particular policy positions [...] (1994:140)." Advocacy planning challenged this notion and acknowledged the nature of planning as political and value driven process. Davidoff states ""who gets what, when, where, why and how" are the basic questions that need to be raised about every allocation of public resources (1965:336)." Davidoff argued that advocacy planning can promote participatory democracy and positive social change by expanding representation and participation of traditionally excluded groups in the decision-making. Advocacy planning takes various forms, according to Checkoway (1994). Some advocacy planners work for community organizations to oppose state led plans or to develop services of their own. Others run advocacy planning programs with funding for demonstration projects. C i v i l society organizations can be deemed as an important instrument o f advocacy planning that reside outside o f the direct state control. Advocacy planning is also relevant to sustainable transportation planning as the conventional transportation planning is biased in favour of automobile. In order to challenge the transportation status quo and promote sustainable transportation planning, voices of sustainable transportation need to be represented. 13 Literature on c iv i l society and advocacy planning discussed in this section indicate that c iv i l society can play an important role in making urban transportation more sustainable. This thesis is concerned with the ways c iv i l society can influence and complement the state in making transportation planning more sustainable. 14 Chapter 3: Methodology 3.1 The case study approach The research for this thesis is in the form of a single case study. The rationale for choosing a case study approach is based on its suitability for an empirical investigation of a particular phenomenon within a real life context using multiple sources of evidence, as described by Robson (1993). The case study approach is applied in order to foster a better understanding of a transportation advocacy organization and its role in promoting sustainable transportation planning within a specific social and political context in which it exists. The research is exploratory and descriptive in nature. According to Robson (1993:42), exploratory research is employed to find out what is happening; to seek new insights; to ask questions; and to assess phenomena in a new light. The rationale for choosing B E S T as a case organization to study in this research is as follows: B E S T is a well-organized and established transportation advocacy and education organization in the Greater Vancouver area. It strives to overcome individual, societal, and institutional barriers identified in Chapter 2. A s discussed in Chapter 2, sustainable transportation planning requires a comprehensive approach. B E S T employs a holistic vision and approach in promoting sustainable transportation planning. It is not single-issue focused, that is, it is not focused on particular issues in a particular neighbourhood or a single issue such as bicycle. Rather, it works with different groups of people and has various programs and projects that address various aspects of sustainable transportation issues targeted towards various groups. 3.2 Data collection methods Data collection methods used for this case study are document reviews and in-depth interviews. Information on the case was gathered through the review of primary documents and website. The primary documents of B E S T reviewed include its 15 Constitution; Board meeting minutes (December2002- March 2004); Annual General Meeting minutes (2002-2004); newsletters (Moving for Change Summer 2003- Summer 2004); and Annual Reports (2001- 2003), press releases and position papers (2001-2003), and other resources available at the B E S T website. For the research on background and context of local and regional transportation planning, local and regional planning documents such as the 2005-2007 Three Year Plan and 10 Year Outlook ( G V T A 2003), Livable Region Strategic Plan ( G V R D 1996), Down Town Transportation Plan (City of Vancouver 2002), City Plan (City of Vancouver 1995) are reviewed. In addition, local newspaper articles provided general information regarding transportation planning and decisions being made and discussed in the region. 3.2.1 Interviews In order to obtain insight into the opportunities and constraints that B E S T has faced, one-on-one interviews were conducted with participants who have previously been or currently are affiliated with B E S T . Potential interviewees were identified in consultation with current Executive Director of B E S T , Marion Town, and the Pol icy and Communications Director, Ray Straatsma, on the bases of the following criteria: • Executive directors (past and current) • Staff—those who have played (or are playing) a major role in B E S T ' S policy work • Staff/ Board members— who have worked at B E S T for a long time • Staff/ Board members—who are knowledgeable about the organization as a whole, including its vision and goals Six people were interviewed, including three Board members (current and past), two Executive Directors (current and past), and a staff member 7 8 . In order to protect confidentiality of the data and minimize risk for the interviewees, I asked each 7 One interview was carried out via e-mail instead of in person, due to personal circumstance of the interviewee. The same set of questions was send to the interviewee via e-mail and the interviewee wrote the answers and e-mailed it back. 8 Some potential interviewees contacted were unavailable for interview due to scheduling or other constraints. 16 interviewee prior to the interview i f she/he wants her/his comments to be attributed to her/him or reported anonymously. A l l Board members interviewed chose to remain anonymous, while all staff, including Executive Directors, chose their comments to be attributed to themselves. The staff members interviewed are: Marion Town, current Executive Director (January 2003- current) Cheeying Ho, past Executive Director (1997-2000) 9 Ray Straatsma, Policy and Communications Director (1999-current) The same set of questions was posed to each interviewee. The interviews were open-ended in-depth interviews. The interview questions were: 1. What is your involvement with B E S T ? 2. How long have you been involved with B E S T ? 3. In what ways do you think that B E S T has been successful in moving towards attainment of their goal/ vision? 4. In what ways has B E S T not been successful in attainment of their goal/vision? 5. Specifically, what are the opportunities, provided by the Greater Vancouver context, that B E S T has taken advantage of in working towards its vision statement? (Factors that help B E S T approach their vision/ goals; e.g. funding opportunities, willingness of , politicians to listen, concern of cyclists with larger transportation issues and willingness to work on them, and general attitude shift in society toward sustainability.) 6. What are the constraints faced by B E S T ? (e.g. lack of secure and stable funding source, and political decision making that allows only limited participation.) 7. What strategies has B E S T found to be effective in capturing opportunities? 8. What strategies, do you think, are effective in overcoming constraints? The interviews were tape recorded with the consent of the interviewee and transcribed. 9 She worked as a staff member from 1995 to 1997, and as the Executive Director from 1997 to 2000. 17 3.3 Analysis of the data collected Collected data was analyzed, using an approach suggested by Grounded Theorists Strauss and Corbin (1998). First, themes and categories were sought through the interview transcripts. Once themes and categories were established through inductive analysis, significance and meaning of the data was analyzed based on knowledge informed by the preliminary literature review. 3.4 Limitations of methods This research relies on a single case study: the uniqueness of the case makes generalization difficult. In response to this limitation, this thesis does not seek to make any generalization about the findings from the case study. T his research seeks to aid researchers and professionals in understanding opportunities and constraints faced by BEST i n f ostering s ustainable t ransportation p lanning i n a s pecific s ocial a nd p olitical context which may, or may not, exist in other cases. Data gathered through the in-depth interviews relies on interviewees' personal insights, experiences and reflections that might be subjective. Each interviewee has different opinions and experience with BEST, depending on the position and relation that the interviewee has/ had with BEST, and time and duration of the affiliation with the organization. Each interviewee's insight, experience and opinion is valuable for the purpose of this thesis; it helps us to understand the opportunities and constraints that BEST has faced in promoting sustainable transportation. 18 Chapter 4: BEST'S history and the context 4.0 Introduction This chapter will introduce the history of BEST and the context in which BEST operates. The first section will introduce the cast study organization, Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST), including its mandate, brief history, and features of programs and funding. Then I will introduce the institutional and planning context in which BEST works, including transportation planning policies and practices in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) and the City of Vancouver. 4.1 B E S T : its mandate and brief history BEST is a non-profit organization and registered charity based in the Greater Vancouver area. Its mission is "to make our communities healthier places to live by promoting sustainable transportation and land-use planning, and pedestrian, cycling and transit oriented neighbourhoods (BEST n.d.)1 0." BEST was established in 1991 as a bicycle advocacy and education group. In 1996 BEST expanded its vision and range o f activities "to include a 11 modes o f sustainable transportation in addition to bicycles. (BEST n.d.)11". Currently it has about 200 members (Hough 2004) 1 2 and thirteen staff members. Through various projects and programs, BEST works with diverse group of people, such as educators, decision-makers, planning professionals, transportation advocates, community groups and the general public. Its education and community activities include: • Trip reduction consultation and education programs for workplaces (Go Green 1 0 BEST , (n.d.) History and vision. Retrieved July 10, 2004, from http://www.best.bc.ca/aboutBest/histoivAndMission.html 1 1 BEST, (n.d.) History and vision. 1 2 Personal communication with Lucy Hough, Volunteer and Development coordinator of B E S T , July 9, 2004. A member pays membership fee annually and is eligible to vote at Annual General Meeting. Members are different from monthly donors, who donate money monthly, but are not necessarily members. 19 Choices and Provincial Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Training), for secondary schools (off ramp), for the general public (Street Reclaiming, Bike Month campaign); and for combined audiences including transportation and land-use professionals (National TDM Conference); • Together with the cities of Vancouver, Burnaby, and New Westminster, and regional planning and transit authorities, B E S T is prompting and building a 22km greenway for cyclists, pedestrians, rollerbladers and wheelchair users. In 2001, the Greenway Project was awarded the first ever $1 mil l ion VanCi ty Award; • Engaging and informing local, regional, provincial and federal government agencies and decision-makers/ policy-makers about sustainable transportation alternatives and better land-use planning, and the impact on air pollution, traffic congestion, and energy consumption of various transportation options; • Providing public outreach, marketing and promotional efforts, and working with media outlets to raise awareness, inform and encourage the use of sustainable transportation by the public and employers; • High profile public events (Bike Month, Commuter Challenge, Election Candidates Forum, visiting speakers and lectures); • A variety of educational resources including brochures, booklets, a slideshow, interactive workshops, a video and a community toolkit. ( B E S T 2003c: 74) More detailed description o f BEST 'S work and programs, Bike Month, Go Green Choices, Central Val ley Greenway, and policy/ advocacy work is as follows. Bike Month: In the month of June, what B E S T calls "Bike Month", B E S T organizes various events 1996, first as Bike Week, later developed to become Bike Month. In 2004, more than 60 events were organized throughout the G V R D in the month of June. Events include organized bike ride tour of the Central Val ley Greenway, bike festivals at various parks, such as Stanley Park, and bike safety workshops. B i k e Month is an effort to educate citizens about benefit of biking, assist citizens to familiarize with biking, and raise awareness around sustainable transportation issues. A s for 2004, the sponsors of Bike Month are TransLink, T D Friends of the Environment Foundation, and C B C Radio and Television. In addition, three municipal governments and seven corporations supported various events ( B E S T 2004). Go Green Choices: 20 Go Green Choices is a TDM program that provides training, education, and follow up support to workplaces in the GVRD. It is a program that BEST planned and has been operating. The program is funded by TransLink. The program offers a training course that outlines the different strategies that make up a comprehensive TDM, including cycling, walking, transit, ridesharing, telecommuting, variable work hours, parking management and various types of incentives. In addition to the training course, the program offers information and support to successfully introduce and manage TDM programs at different size and types of workplaces. Since the program started in 1997, the program trained more than 300 TDM coordinators and support over 100 workplaces in the GVRD as of 2004. Central Valley Greenway (CVG): The CVG is predominantly traffic-separated corridor designed for cycling, as well as a wide range of non-motorized transportation, such as jogging, walking, wheelchairs, rollerblading and boarding for transportation and recreational use. It will be the only flat, direct route through New Westminster, Burnabyand Vancouver, 22km long once completed. Its route cuts through the region's designated Growth Concentration Area, connecting residential and employment areas, shopping malls, post-secondary institutions, and several business parks in the region and Downtown Vancouver. It also connects SkyTrain stations and twelve other trails and bike paths. The Greenway is expected to contribute to region's modal shift increasing bicycle usage from 2% of trips today to 5% (GVTA and GVRD 2003). The CVG is a good example of corporate and non-profit sector contributing to the success of public projects. A corporation, VanCity Credit Union, provided $ 1 million award that enabled the project to be launched in 2001. BEST has been playing critical role in ongoing programming, promotion and physical enhancement and maintenance of the Greenway. The CVG is a part of Urban Transportation Showcase Program, a showcase program of Transport Canada that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the 21 implementation of showcase demonstrations and through the dissemination of information. The GVRD and TransLink jointly submitted a proposal and it was selected as one of the showcases. The GVRD and TransLink's proposal consists of six projects including the C V G , marketing of public transit, pilot project of hybrid bus demonstration, and pedestrian and transit priority measures. In developing the proposal, the C V A working group was formed that consists of planning staff from the G V T A , the GVRD, the Cities of New Westminster, Burnaby and Vancouver, and BEST. The partner agencies and organizations roles in the planning, funding, implementing and marketing t he C V G , as outlined i n t he S howcase p roposal are a s f ollows ( G V T A and GVRD 2003:26): • TransLink is primary responsible for providing technical assistance, planning coordination, project monitoring and evaluation and cost-share funding to municipalities; • GVRD will plan, design, and construct sections of the Greenway (in New Westminster) where its Parks mandate is met; • Cities of Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster will play lead roles in planning, designing, cost-share funding and constructing their respective sections of the C V G , and managing related public process; • BEST will be responsible for developing and managing community involvement programs, coordinating the C V G working group, marketing and promoting the Greenway and providing capital funding to municipalities for "value added" infrastructure. Policy and advocacy work: BEST's policy and advocacy work includes reviewing transportation plans and policies of various levels of government, participating in various task forces13, providing critique and alternatives for these plans and policies, providing public outreach, working with media outlets to raise awareness and inform citizens about sustainable transportation issues in the region, and encouraging citizens to participate in transportation planning 1 3 List of task forces that BEST currently sits are the Cool Vancouver Task Force (Vancouver City Council), B C Climate Exchange (Fraser Basin Council), Smart Growth Canada, Smart Growth on the Ground, and Downtown Transportation Plan Committee (City of Vancouver). 22 processes. Discussion on B E S T ' s approach to transportation projects in the region, such as R A V and Port Mann w i l l be provided in the later section of this chapter 1 4. Funding A significant portion of B E S T ' s revenue comes, from charitable and corporate donations and government grants. In 2003, charitable and corporate donations and government grants accounted for 48 % of its revenue 1 5. Major grants are from organizations such as: B C Transit; Climate Change Action Fund, Environment Canada; Mov ing on Sustainable Transportation, Transport Canada; TransLink; and Vancouver Foundation ( B E S T 2002b). Another big source of revenue is contract income, such as income from consulting and providing T D M programs; this accounts for 35% of the income in 2003. Membership fee accounts for only small portion of B E S T ' s revenue, about 6% in 2003 1 6 . Table D D I . Partial Summary of Income of BEST. Sources: Annual Report B E S T 2003, 2002, and 2001 Year 2003 2002 2001 Amount ($) Percentage (%) Amount ($) Percentage (%) Amount ($) Percentage (%) Contract income 215,472 35 219,215 25 212,780 36 Government grants 183,821 30 202,489 23 140,463 24 Charitable and corporate donations 111,801 18 319,360 36 - 175,726 30 Individual donations and memberships 33,802 6 35,336 4 18,309 3 Other 1 ' 62,588 10 102,846 12 47,431 8 . Total revenues 607,484" 100 879,246 100 594,709 100 4.2 Transportation planning policies and practices in the Greater Vancouver area 1 4 Section 4.4.3 BEST's approach to the projects 1 5 (18% charitable and corporate donation and 30% government grants) 1 6 BEST annual membership fee is $30 for individual and $40 for a household, $10 for students and low income individual. Apart from membership fee, BEST promotes monthly donation system called BEST Friends, where individual donate the amount set by the individual monthly. 1 7 Other income includes casino income, interest income, events and fundraisers, conference fees and other. BEST reports those categories separately; however, the author complied those into one category. 1 8 Interest income from Greenway fund ($36,006) is calculated separately from 2003. 23 4.2.1 The GVRD At present, B E S T ' S work is mainly focused on the Greater Vancouver area. The G V R D has an area of 300,000 hectares. Its physical boundary is distinct, with the American border to the south, the Coastal Mountains to the north, and the Strait o f Georgia to the west. Many agree that geography helps contain G V R D ' s sprawl ( G V T A and G V R D 2003). The current population of the G V R D is about 2 mil l ion. It is forecast to grow to 2.8 mil l ion by 2 0 2 1 ( G V T A and G V R D 2003). TransLink The Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority ( G V T A , also known as TransLink) is the authority that is responsible for planning, financing and operating a regional transportation system. Its mandate is "to plan and finance a regional transportation system that moves people and goods efficiently and supports the regional growth strategy, air quality objective and economic development of the Greater Vancouver Regional District ( G V R D ) 1 9 (TransLink n .d . ) 2 0 " . The services that TransLink's subsidiary companies operate are the following: • Public transit- buses, SeaBus, SkyTrain, West Coast Express commuter rail, and, HandyDart (services for those with disabilities) • Small river-crossing ferries • A i rCare -a vehicle emissions testing program • Transportation Demand Management ( T D M ) - trip reduction programs, which also include promoting transportation alternatives such as cycling and carpooling • Major road networks, bridges and bicycle facilities- in partnership with municipalities, TransLink helps fund the maintenance, rehabilitation and improvement of those infrastructures (TransLink n.d.) 1 9 Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) is a federation of 21 municipalities and one electoral area. The GVRD is responsible for the maintenance of quality of life in the Greater Vancouver area and for the delivery of region-wide essential services, including the delivery of water, sewerage and drainage, and solid waste management utilities. GVRD also deliver services related to environmental stewardship and the liveability of the region, such as air quality, regional parks and housing. It also has financial and planning oversight responsibilities for the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority. Its 35 member Board is. made up of representatives appointed from each of the municipal councils in the region. (TransLink/GVRD showcase 2003) 2 0 TransLink website Responsibilities and Services http://www.translink.bc.ca/ 24 TransLink has a 15-member Board of Directors, 12 of the members are appointed by the 21 G V R D annually, and three are appointed by the Province of British Columbia (BC) . In addition to appointing the Board members of TransLink, the G V R D also has responsibilities for o verseeing TransLink's finance and p lanning. TransLink Board o f Directors generally meet once a month. The Board Meetings are usually open to the public and any individual and groups can speak to the Board i f they register in advance. Prior to the formation of TransLink in 1999, the regional transportation planning authority in the region was an agency of the Provincial government. A s mentioned above, one of TransLink's mandates is to support a regional growth strategy, such as the Livable Region Strategic Plan (LRSP) . Prior to the formation of TransLink, there were no mechanisms to ensure that transportation planning would be incorporated as a part of regional growth management and land-use planning. The L R S P acknowledges transportation planning as a strategic component of land-use planning and growth control as discussed below. The G V R D , a s w ell a s the C ity o f V ancouver, have b een t aking v arious i nitiatives t o make the region and the city more livable and sustainable. Creating compact and high density, mixed-use town centres that are accessible by public transit, and increasing transportation choices, especially alternative modes to Single Occupant Vehicle (SOV), are some examples of such sustainability initiatives. This section reviews plans which are relevant to sustainable transportation planning in the Greater Vancouver region: I w i l l first discuss regional plans, followed by the plans of the Ci ty of Vancouver, where B E S T is based and where the majority of its work is concentrated. The Livable Region Strategic Plan (LRSP) (1996) 2 2 is a strategic land use plan that set the context to regional and municipal planning and decision making, planning in general 2 1 Currently none have been appointed by the Province 22 According to GVRD, the LRSP "was adopted by the Board with the formal support of all municipalities in 1996. The Province of BC has recognized the plan under the Growth Strategies Act. ... The LRSP is used by all levels of government as the framework for making regional land use and transportation decisions. (GVRD web site, Livable Region Strategic Plan retrieved on August 16, 2004 (http://www.gvrd.bc.ca/growth/lrsp.htm)." 25 and especially transportation planning. It guides planning and decision-making at the municipal and regional level. It recognizes the importance o f coordinating land use, transportation supply and transportation demand management to achieve the region's livability and sustainability objectives. The primary goal of the L R S P is to "help maintain regional livability and protect the environment ( G V R D 1996) 2 3", along with the growth of the region. The L R S P encourages regional growth to be concentrated in the designated town centres along transit corridor. 11 also promotes a lternatives to single-occupant automobiles. Its main objectives include: • Achieve a compact metropolitan region: The plan avoids widely dispersed and accommodates a significant proportion of population growth within the "growth concentration area" in central part of the region. • Increase transportation choice: The plan supports the increased use of transit, walking and cycling by minimizing the need to travel (through convenient arrangement of land-uses) and by managing transportation supply and demand. • Build complete communities: The plan supports the public's desire for communities with a wider' range of opportunities for day-to-day life. Focused on regional and municipal town centres, more complete communities would result in more jobs closer to where people live and accessible by transit, shops and services near home, and a wider choice of housing types. ( G V R D 1996) The following section discusses three transportation plans currently in effect in the G V R D : Transport 2021 Report ( G V R D , British Columbia Ministry of Transport 1993), Strategic Transportation Plan ( G V T A 2000), and 2005-2007 Three-Year Plan and 10 Year Outlook: Strategic Transportation Plan Amendment ( G V T A 2003). Transport 2021 Report (GVRD, British Columbia Ministry of Transport 1993) This report makes recommendations to promote use of public transit and discourage dependence on single-occupant vehicle travel throughout the region, including: • Transportation demand management that discourages the use of single-occupancy vehicles in peak periods is critical in changing transportation behaviour. • Increased and broader parking charges, higher fuel taxes and bridge tolls. 2 3 GVRD web site, Livable Region Strategic Plan retrieved on August 16, 2004 (http:/Av\vvv.gvrd.bc.c-a/growth/lrsp.htm 26 Strategic Transportation Plan ( G V T A 2000) Based on the LRSP and the long-range plan, Transport 2021, the Strategic Transportation Plan calls for a major expansion of transit, including expansion of bus services and introduction of new rapid transit lines. It also promotes the idea of T D M by promoting alternatives to SOV, such as waking, cycling, and ride sharing. The proposed improvement by 2005 include: • 50% increase in bus service • More direct routes between regional city centres • Increased access for persons with disabilities • Expanded rail capacity Strategic Transportation Plan called for an introduction of an automobile levy to fund transit improvements. However, the decision caused a huge controversy in the region and the Provincial government did not give it the necessary approval 2 4 . Failure to successfully introduce the auto levy in 2000, has meant that many of the STP goals have not been achieved yet. However, the following goals have been achieved from the previous two plans, Transport 2021, and the Strategic Transportation Plan: • Some expansion of carpool and vanpool initiatives • Implementation of high occupancy vehicle (HOV) measures The following has not been achieved: • No measures to fund the transportation system and influence demand, such as bridge tolls, and parking strategies, has been implemented • Little implementation of the policies to provide priorities for goods movement vehicles has been achieved These are the very strategies that have big impacts on people's transportation choices by discouraging people to drive and releasing the congestions. These strategies need to be 2 4 Depending on the size and type of automobile, the levies were planned to vary between $40-$ 190 annually. It was supposed to have raised $95 million in 2002 (Vancouver Sun 2001). 27 implemented in order to achieve sustainable transportation goals such as increase transportation choices, reducing modal share of S O V , and relieving problems of congestions. 2005-2007 Three-Year Plan and 10 Year Outlook: Strategic Transportation Plan Amendment(The Outlook) (GVTA 2003) The Outlook is a specific plan of actions from 2005 to 2007 with the context of a ten-year outlook to 2013. Objectives of the Outlook include: Make transit a real option (by improving transit services and increasing the share of transit in modal split.) Reduce gridlock especially for goods movement Maximize economic potential ( G V T A 2004) The plan claims to support one of the objectives of the L R S P , increasing transportation choices, through construction of R A V and Northeast Sector (NES) Rapid Transi t 2 5 . However, the goal for bus service increase has been set-back from the previous plan, Strategic Transportation Plan in 2000, while transit fares are slated to be increased again . There is ample concern that these measures w i l l effectively discourage transit use and reduce bus ridership. Both R A V and N E S Rapid Transit are expensive projects. H o w to finance these expensive projects while improving transit network and services are real concerns, and there is a great need to increase revenue. In the first three-year period, proposed sources of increased revenue are increases of fares, parking tax and property tax in the region. However, those revenue sources do not directly impact and shape transportation choices. Introduction o f strategic funding that help fulfill regional goals o f land-use and demand management, such as road pricing and congestion charges among others, w i l l be considered over the longer term. 2 5 Expansion project of the rapid transit network from the existing SkyTrain Millennium Line to Coquitlam City Centre. 2 6 2000 STP targeted to supply 1600 buses in operation by 2005. The target of 1600 bus fleet is delayed to 2013 in the Outlook. Its new targets of bus fleet increase are: 1200 (2003), 1400 (2007), and 1600 (2013). 28 4.2.2 The City of Vancouver The City of Vancouver has been taking various initiatives to improve the livability of the City. Creating complete communities where people can live close to work and services are an example of this commitment. The City of Vancouver supports sustainable transportation planning in principle through following strategies: • Acknowledging land use planning as an important strategy for T D M • Not increasing the existing road capacity • Clearly setting the transportation priorities as non-motorized transportation over goods movement and private automobiles A n overview of each plan is as follows: City Plan (City of Vancouver 1995), a long-range plan of City of Vancouver also has a similar approach to its principles on land use and transportation planning to the LRSP. Its main principles include: • Create complete communities, where people live close to work and services • Increase transportation choices with a emphasis on walking, biking and transit Central Area Plan (City of Vancouver 1991) "Living F irst" policy, which scaled back potential office development and encouraged housing development close to the downtown commercial core. One of the rationales df this policy was to balance future transportation demand and supply. City of Vancouver Transportation Plan (1997) In accordance with CityPlan and the Regional Transportation Plan, and LRSP, the plan established the following transportation priorities: pedestrians, bicycling, transit, goods movement and then private automobiles. The key elements of the plan include: • Meeting growth in the demand for transportation with the existing road network. Changes to the road network will be designed so as not to increase road capacity2 7. With the exception of the extension of the Port Road which is now completed 29 • Accommodating growth in demand for transportation, especially for trips to the downtown by improving alternatives to the car: primarily transit, but also walking and cycling. • Supporting regional measures to manage traffic demand, such as car-pooling, parking limits, bridge tolls and electronic road charges to help to prevent traffic congestion in peak periods. (City of Vancouver) Downtown transportation plan (City of Vancouver 2002) The City states that the major challenge facing transportation planning downtown as "accommodating growth without adding traffic lanes to the existing bridges and roads is (City of Vancouver) ." Its strategies to achieve its goal of improving access to downtown include: • Promote a walkable downtown- "Pedestrians First Pol icy" • Create a network of downtown bike lanes • Develop an easy- to- use network o f downtown transit routes • Implement safe and sustainable traffic management and goods movement practices 4.3 Recent transportation investment projects in the GVRD—RAV and Port Mann In this section, I w i l l briefly introduce two recent transportation investment projects in the G V R D , Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Rapid Transit ( R A V ) project and the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge and the expansion of the Highway 1 project. Fol lowing that I w i l l discuss how B E S T tackled issues around these two projects. 4.3.1 Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Rapid Transit (RAV) project and decision-making around it The need for better public transit infrastructure and service in the Greater Vancouver Region is prominent. According to B E S T , the Vancouver region has "the lowest per-capita transit service amongst large Canadian cities" (2003). Current plans for the City of Vancouver. (1997) fundamentals of the Vancouver Transportation Plan http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/com (Sept 23) 2 9 City of Vancouver. Downtown Transportation Plan http://www.city.vancouver.be.ca/dtp/ 30 construction of a new rapid transit line along the North-South corridor, R A V , which would connect Downtown Vancouver, Vancouver International Airport and Downtown Richmond, could be a great opportunity for improving transit infrastructure and services in the region. However the scope, design and financing of the proposed R A V line are highly controversial. A s B E S T summarizes: N o v iable a lternative a nalysis h as e ver b een d one b y t he R A V t earn o r i ts f unding agencies. The core project design—an expensive tunnel under Cambie Street—was determined well in advance of all the technical and ridership studies. The very high risks of cost over-runs of a tunneled rapid transit project design have been underplayed or ignored. Future cost overruns w i l l be borne by TransLink at a time when the agency is already overextended by debt-servicing and other proposed future projects, and has no clear plan to generate new revenue. The project is very expensive and carries strong financial risks. Several news sources stated the projected cost to be between 1.5 bil l ion to 1.7 bil l ion dollars, with a risk of cost over-run ( C B C 2004, Vancouver Sun 2004). A high-cost R A V project threatens to draw significant money from the existing and future transit services throughout the region. The potential opportunity costs of funding R A V over transit investment priority identified in the L R S P , such as Northeast corridor rapid transit line, which would extend SkyTrain Mil lennium Line to Coquitlam City Centre were also not examined. There are concerns that the ridership projection of 100,000 people a day is too optimistic (BEST 2003, Vancouver Sun 2004) 3 0 . With such concerns, TransLink Board initially voted against R A V on M a y 7 t h 2004. After the vote, the Provincial government offered to take over the financial risks and pledged 170 mil l ion dollars investment for the construction of the North East Sector Rapid Transit line. Even with the provincial offer, the TransLink Board did not approve R A V in a second vote. The reported reason for the opposition was that even i f the According to the Vancouver Sun, Sky Train Expo Line is just now meeting its ridership projections after nearly 20 years since its opening, and the Millennium Line "has come nowhere close to meeting its projections (Vancouver Sun 6.19 2004)." 3 1 Province takes over the financial risk it would not solve the fundamental problem: the project would still be too expensive and too risky. No matter which levels o f government were to assume the risk, tax payers would still end up with paying it. After the second denial for approving R A V , the Board was planning to look into less expensive alternatives, such as an at-grade light rail system. Provincial government reacted to the rejection of the R A V line with pressure. Transportation Minister of British Columbia, Kev in Falcon commented that the Province would not provide money for a cheaper alternative, and there would be no other investment before 2010 (Vancouver Sun 2004). There had been pressure to complete the project before the 2010 Olympic Games slated to be hosted by Vancouver and Whistler, B C . Falcon also commented that with TransLink's decision not to approve R A V , the Province in turn would not approve the proposed levy of a tax on commercial parking stalls that would help finance TransLink's transit service improvement. A t the third round of voting on June 30th, 2004, R A V was approved by the Board with a motion to put a cap on $1.35 bil l ion in public funding for the project. The motion also shortened the length of the tunnel along the Cambie Corridor so as to minimize the cost over-run for the tunneling. With this vote, the two companies bidding for R A V were asked to put forward their "best and final offers". The construction of R A V is to be completed in time for the 2010 Olympics. 4.3.2 The twinning of the Port Mann Bridge and the expansion of the Highway 1 project In July, G V R D Board voted to ask the provincial government to delay plans to twin the Port Mann Bridge and to add two lanes to the Trans-Canada Highway, until the G V R D and TransLink can could asses the project's impact on traffic and long-term regional planning. According to Vancouver Sun; however, B C Transportation Minister Kev in Falcon stated that the project w i l l proceed regardless of the outcome of consultation with the public and local governments. The minister reported, "We're still in the midst of 32 determining the scope and the technical aspects of the project. [...] Once we conclude the technical and scope work, that's when we begin our public consultations (Vancouver Sun 2004). 3 1" This statement indicates that the public consultation result will not affect the already-proposed scale of the project, let alone whether or not the project will proceed. The G V R D is concerned that this road and highway expansion will not solve existing traffic problems, because added road capacity will likely encourage more people to drive. Also it could be a setback for the LRSP. The Highway and the Bridge expansion could exacerbate automobile dependency by worsening suburban sprawl, low-density land-use. It would attract more people to drive and discourage people from taking SkyTrain. It goes against the planning for sustainability and livability that the region has been building up. The p roject o f t wining Port M arm B ridge h as b een d iscussed a s p art o f t he 1 ong-term regional transportation planning at the B C Ministry o f Transportation; however, at the time, it had been seen as "a future goal rather than a project to be tackled in the short term (Vancouver Sun 2004)" (Ministry of Transport n.d.). After TransLink voted against building the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver r apid transit line, Falcon announced that he would spend the $300 million, the province's contribution for R A V , to advance the Port Mann project instead. This announcement can be perceived as "a threat to persuade TransLink to change its mind (Vancouver Sun)". Even after TransLink approved the R A V project, the Ministry of Transport continued its attempt to proceed with the Port Mann project. 4.3.3 BEST'S approach to the projects Both projects have huge implication on the sustainable transportation planning and the future of the region as a whole. For both projects, B E S T has issued press releases 3 1 G V R D tries to delay twinning of Port Mann— Transportation minister angers councilors with vow to forge ahead. (2004, July 31). Vancouver Sun [Vancouver], p .A l . Retrieved August 22, 2004 from Canadian Newsstand Database 33 analyzing the projects and expressing issues and concerns around them and stimulated public debate. In the case of R A V , B E S T argued that the scope, design and financing o f the project are inappropriate, for example it carries high risk of cost over-run and the accuracy of the ridership projection is questionable. Even though B E S T supports the importance of transit infrastructure and service improvement in the region, it argued that those cost and benefit needs to b e assessed prudently and 1 ess expensive alternative p lans need t o b e examined. In order to challenge the Port Mann project, B E S T formed the Livable Region Coalition (LRC) with other N G O s , researchers at the University of British Columbia and citizens. In its position paper, the L R C argues that the proposed project is flawed for four reasons ( L R C 2004:3): 1) It w i l l not solve the problem of congestion 2) It w i l l have negative consequences for our livable region, particularly in the Fraser Val ley 3) There are more affordable and effective alternatives 4) The decision-making process lacks transparency The L R C analyzes the current situation, challenges the effectiveness of the project, and points out the implication of the project on the future development o f the region. Then it proposes alternative counter measures. 4.4 Conclusion B E S T is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable transportation planning. It works with diverse group of people, through various programs and projects. The context of transportation planning and practices in the G V R D and the Ci ty of Vancouver, provide a background for the majority of B E S T ' s work: it is in these places that B E S T advocates for more sustainable transportation planning. Theoretically, the G V R D and TransLink support sustainable transportation planning: TransLink is obliged to support the L R S P , a regional growth management plan. In 34 practice, however, TransLink has faced problems in the implementation of rigorous plans. In its newest plan, for example, the goals for bus service improvement are set back, and the strategies for financing up-coming expensive projects in ways that support goals of transportation demand management for the longer term are not clear. The City of Vancouver has been striving to create a sustainable and livable city in general, and sustainable transportation planning has been an important and tangible component of its plans and practices. The decision- making processes for the major transportation projects in the region were not transparent, for example in determining the scope of the project and in examining the benefit of the project over the cost. Sustainability of the projects, already approved R A V and proposed Port Mann, is also questionable. It is in this context where B E S T promotes sustainable transportation planning. 35 Chapter 5: Presentation and analysis of the findings 5.0 Introduction When discussing the achievements of B E S T , it is important to consider the scale and scope of its work. In a broad sense, promoting sustainable transportation means "challenging two of the biggest industries on the planet, automobile and o i l " , as Straatsma stated. A s defined by B E S T , the purpose of the organization is "to foster a higher quality o f life through the promotion of sustainable and appropriate forms of transportation primarily in the Greater Vancouver area and the rest of B . C . , [...] (BEST 1999)." It also aims to promote sustainable transportation policy and planning, to raise awareness, locally and regionally, and to facilitate discussions around sustainable transportation. However, implications of its work go beyond that narrow definition: policies and decisions at all levels of government, federal, and provincial, as well as international, affect the situation around local transportation. Not only government decisions, but also the trend in the market, and situation of the international society (e.g. oi l prices, marketing of automobiles, global warming and the ways in which different nations deal with G H G emission reduction, amongst others) have significant implications for the local transportation. Also as discussed in Chapter 2, promoting sustainable transportation involves more than transportation planning: other important components of achieving sustainable transportation include land-use planning, the involvement of c iv i l society, T D M , among others. In this Chapter, I w i l l first present interviewees' perceptions of B E S T ' s achievements. The section on B E S T ' s achievement provides the context for the following section, which discusses the opportunities and constraints that B E S T has faced in promoting more sustainable transportation. Following that, I w i l l present strategies that B E S T found to be effective in capturing opportunities and overcoming constraints. Each section starts with an overview of the section, introducing the themes found. I w i l l discuss each theme in detail. In the final section of the Chapter, I w i l l then analyze the findings as a whole. 36 5.1 Achievement of BEST 5.1.1 Success B E S T has been successful in making incremental change through educating citizens, and promoting sustainable transportation alternatives. Interviewees brought up many examples of BEST 'S success. These can be categorized into the following themes. High profile programs (Bike Month, Go Green Choices, Greenway) Policy achievement (City of Vancouver, TransLink Outlook 10) Working in cooperation with staff and politicians o f various levels of governments Gaining credibility and respect (being asked to comment on various issues and invited to Roundtables) Growth as an organization High profile programs B E S T has succeeded in increasing awareness through its outreach and education programs, according to a l l the interviewees. Bike Month, Go Green Choices, Central Val ley Greenway are the major programs that interviewees mentioned as successful in reaching out and increasing awareness of the issue around sustainable transportation and of B E S T as an organization. Bike Month is a serious of events to raise awareness and promote cycling throughout the Greater Vancouver region in the month o f June. A survey demonstrates success of Bike Month; more than 700,000 adults in the Greater Vancouver region recalled seeing or hearing information about Bike Month, and over 120,000 were encouraged to ride a bike more often ( B E S T 2003 Annual Report). Go Green Choices, a trip reduction consultation and education program for work places, has been in its operation since 1997, delivering T D M services, education and training to work places in the region. Central Valley Greenway project, a 22km greenway for non-motorized transportation, has won $1 mil l ion award from VanCi ty in 2002. Currently B E S T is working on the Central Val ley Greenway project in partnership with G V R D , TransLink, various municipalities, and o t h e r N G O s . In 2003 TransLink and G V R D ' s submission was accepted as Transportation Canada's Urban Transportation Showcase Programme o f which the Greenway project was an important component. 37 Straatsma, Policy and Communications Director of BEST, commented on the increased profile of BEST as follows; We've been able to increase the profile of organization, the attention, getting our name out there into news, commenting on different issues, holding evens, or introducing new projects... these kind of initiatives have gained BEST a fairly significant profile in Vancouver area. That helps in a broad and subtle sense that how seriously we are taken and what kind of credibility we have in the region. Having various programs targeted to different groups of people accounts for BEST'S success as well; "because of this multilayered approach, we are able to reach a fair number of people" stated Straatsma. This point will be discussed further in the section of strategies for capturing opportunities in this chapter. Policy achievement BEST's success can also be seen in its policy achievement in pushing the public policy envelope. There are many "policies and initiatives that the City of Vancouver and TransLink have taken and BEST has been part of it," recounted Straatsma. He mentioned an example in which TransLink doubled its spending for its bicycle infrastructure and program in its last decision. Originally, the amount of their bicycle funding dedicated was inadequate to achieve the full goals of TransLink's plan. BEST asserted that it wouldn't support the plan unless various changes were made. Some of these changes, including the doubling of bicycle funding were incorporated in the plan. Gained credibility Through its success of these high profile event and programs, as well as by working closely with different levels of government, business and non- profit sectors, BEST has gained credibility and respect, stated four interviewees. One piece of evidence BEST has gained trust over the years is that it has been invited to sit on various roundtables, such as the Cool Vancouver Task Force (Vancouver City Council), B C Climate Exchange (Fraser Basin Council), the Regional T D M Working Group 3 2 , Smart Growth Canada, Smart Currently off 38 Growth on the Ground, and Downtown Transportation Plan Committee (City of Vancouver). Structural growth Correlated closely with its external success, B EST has grown in terms of organizational structure as well. When it has started, B EST was a small organization driven by volunteers. Currently it holds 13 staff members, including Executive Director. Its membership has grown to about 200. A mature organizational structure and its operation also contributed to its successes, according to three Board members. 5.1.2 Challenges BEST 's event and projects have been successful in increasing public awareness about sustainable transportation issues, and about B E S T as an organization. However, these successes do not necessarily lead to direct or immediate change in Vancouver region's transportation system. The areas in which BEST has not been successful can be categorized into the following two: Making visible differences on the ground, such as modal shift and sustainable transportation infrastructure in place - Affecting negative trends, such as urban sprawl and low-density office park development outside of the growth concentration areas Making visible differences In terms of shifting people to sustainable transportation; [this is a] very very difficult goal. You know, BEST is a transportation based organization, but a lot of transportation has to do with land use decisions. So, what BEST has been trying to in the last 10 years, or since it's been around, is to raise public awareness of alternative modes of transportation like cycling, public transit, etc. In that sense, I think they've been very successful. People around the region have heard about BEST, they know what's B EST is about. B EST is really established itself in the media. It's a spokesperson for alternative transportation. I think they've been very very effective along those lines, in terms of awareness and outreach side. In terms of actually shifting the actual modal split between people; marginally yes, sure they've attracted some people. ... But I don't think they've resulted in a huge 3 9 modal shift across the region. I think in many ways that's our vision, but it's not a particularly attainable goal in a short term. It's an enormous shift. It's good to keep it as a pie on the sky, as a long term vision, but in terms of achieving it in the last 10 years, no. I don't think they had a negligible effect on modal shift. But it's just a factor of land-use, population growth, references, marketing, you know, of all these reasons, people don't get out of their cars. But they have raised people's awareness. That's fundamentally important, because people won't even consider making a modal shift unless they have awareness. (A Board member) In support o f the above perspective, all staff members also stated that there are a lot of challenges. This is not to say that B E S T ' s outreach and educational programs have not been successful; it is the nature of such programs that may not lead to direct and immediate change. Also, behavioural change requires not only education and information, but various factors, for example economic incentives and infrastructure and land use that enables the behavioural change, among others. Even though positive decisions and plans have been made in building infrastructures that promote sustainable transportation, such as increasing bike paths, it also takes time for those plans to be implemented and infrastructure to be built. Powerless in affecting negative trends Urban sprawl and office park development in the suburbs are on-going trends in the G V R D . B E S T has been quite powerless in affecting negative trends towards automobile dependency, such as suburban sprawl and low density office park development outside o f regional growth c entres specified i n the L ivable R egion Strategic Plan ( L R S P ) . E ven though B E S T acknowledges the relationship between land-use and transportation planning, as a transportation advocacy group, B E S T has not been influential in land use planning. Ho, former Executive Director of B E S T stated that "it is difficult to influence and change transportation decisions without addressing the broader land use planning issues in the region; [however,] these are also difficult to sway." Straatsma also mentioned that the bigger the project [or issue] is, the harder to influence it; he cited examples of the R A V 40 line and twining of Port Mann Bridge and expansion of Highway One J J . Details w i l l be discussed in the constraint section of this chapter. Another challenge is geographic focus of B E S T ' s work, which centred around the Vancouver area. Two interviewees suggested that because most of B E S T ' s work has been focused in Vancouver, it has not been able to work in the suburbs, such as Surrey and Coquitlam, where actually negative trends are prominent and where B E S T ' s work is most needed, stated two interviewees. Four interviewees also stated that it is difficult to expand its work into the suburbs with the limited resources B E S T has. 5.2 Opportunities A l l interviewees listed many opportunities in promoting sustainable transportation that are open to B E S T , stating that it is a good time to be working on sustainable transportation i n t his r egion. The following t hemes a re i dentified a s o pportunities f or B E S T in promoting sustainable transportation: • Context Institutional structure— G V R D and TransLink Existing priorities, visions and plans for sustainability (e.g. the L R S P , the City of Vancouver) Willingness of local and regional staff and politicians to work on the issue with B E S T • Timeliness - High interest in transportation issues amongst citizens, policy- and decision-makers - Growing awareness and interest in sustainable transportation related issues, such as G H G and the impact of transportation on health • Environmental setting, people's life style in the region 33 A summary of the Port Mann Bridge project and politics around the project is in the Chapter 4, the section 4.3.2. The section 4.3.1 provides a summary of RAV. 41 Context—institutional structure and existing priorities for sustainability Two interviewees mentioned that it is a great opportunity to have a regional 'government' in place that has a regional growth plan, such as the L R S P . The L R S P acknowledges "the importance of coordinating land use, transportation supply and transportation demand management to achieve the region's livability objectives (TransLink/GVRD 2 0 0 3 : 8)". The L R S P designates regional growth centers along transit corridor and assigns high density development at the regional growth centres (as mentioned in Chapter 4) . Land-use is a critical factor in attaining sustainable transportation planning. The context that B E S T works in provides a great opportunity for integrative and holistic decision-making, as transportation and land use decisions are made on a regional basis, as opposed to local level. Having a regional transportation authority, such as TransLink is another contextual and institutional advantage. Prior to the establishment of TransLink, regional transportation decisions were made at the provincial government. The establishment o f TransLink enabled the Greater Vancouver Region to have transportation decision-making power, including taxing and spending coordinated at the regional level. Prior to the establishment of TransLink, there were no institutional mechanisms to ensure that transportation planning was tied to land use planning that G V R D and municipal governments made. Integration of transportation planning, land-use and growth management is a critical strategy to achieve sustainable transportation planning, as discussed in the Chapter 2. Holistic transportation planning, which includes all modes of transportation as opposed to focusing solely on vehicle mobility, is another component of sustainable transportation planning. Under TransLink, roads, highways, bridges, transit, and cycling paths, as well as T D M are integrated as key parts o f "transportation planning". The existence of a regional transportation authority which is-in charge of all modes of transportation planning is advantageous, said Town: "Transit isn't carved off piecemeal, b ecause people already—politicians i n particular, but also bureaucrats—are forced to look at how [it] all integrates." 42 Both Straatsma and a Board member, however, suggested that the way TransLink is set up is not always advantageous as in the case of decision-making on the R A V line. Even though the TransLink Board initially voted against R A V , the Provincial government persistently intervened and influenced decision making process there. TransLink Board's attempt to vote against the R A V line led to another contentious issue of the twinning Port Mann Bridge, alluded two interviewees 3 4. Various problems regarding the institutional set up of TransLink, both internally and in relation to the provincial government, were identified. Details of this problem w i l l be discussed in the constraints section of this chapter. Politicians' and bureaucrats' willingness to work on sustainable transportation issues The willingness of politicians and bureaucrats to work on sustainable transportation issues in cooperation with B E S T is another opportunity brought up by two interviewees. Plans and institutional structures that set the context for fostering sustainable transportation, and B E S T has been part of the forces that pushed for creating them; however, this is only made possible by working with regional politicians and staff, and by finding allies among them. A s one Board member stated: With the regional level of government in the Greater Vancouver; the G V R D , I think there are a lot of strong allies; both staff and politicians who have been thinking on regional basis about transportation. Since the L R S P and now with the Sustainable Regions Initiative, people have been pushing for transit based options to land development, to official community plans, to the way we built cities and towns. I think that's what B E S T has been taking a hold. They have been involved throughout the L R S P and helping to push for regional town centers along the transit route. They are still pushing for public transportation in these areas. They are always involved in any debates about changing public transportation. I think they have strategically found great allies in the G V R D , both staffs and politicians. Sustainable initiatives at the City of Vancouver Two interviewees mentioned that existence of progressive decision-making at the City of Vancouver, especially around transportation planning, is advantageous for B E S T , allowing them to help plan for a healthy and sustainable city. Extensive housing 3 4 Refer to Chapter 4, section 4.3 43 development in the downtown, explicit statements that prioritize non-motorized transportation o ver automobile are some o f the examples o f the strategies that C i t y o f Vancouver has been taking to address sustainability and livability o f the City, as discussed in Chapter 4. Growing awareness and interest (timeliness) Growing awareness and interest in transportation issues in general was listed as one of the opportunities for B E S T . Transportation is an issue that most citizens face daily and citizens in the Lower Mainland are highly interested. A poll result shows that 47% of citizens in the Lower Mainland felt that transportation was 'the most important local issue facing local residents'. Citizens showed higher concern in transportation issue than crime (17%>), healthcare and education (12% each) (BEST n .d . ) 3 5 . In the past few years transportation issues have been making headlines regarding debates over rapid transit lines, transportation taxes and vehicle levies, and transit strike, among others. B E S T explained that this poll result indicates "public recognition that transportation is a central force shaping the current growth and livability of the Vancouver region ( B E S T n.d.) 3 6 ." Straatsma also mentioned that there is a general understanding not only among the public, but also among planners and politicians in the region that good transportation planning— especially transit—is critical for the future of the region. Increased transportation choice is one of the focuses of both the L R S P ( G V R D 1996) and City Plan (City of Vancouver 1995). The attention around transportation issues can be a great opportunity for B E S T in its outreach and delivering its message, even though it does not necessarily mean that everyone is interested in hearing what B E S T has to say; making the voices of sustainable transportation heard remains to be a challenge for B E S T . Awareness and attention around environmental and health issues related to transportation is also growing, as four interviewees stated. The government of Canada, having ratified the Kyoto Protocol, has committed the Federal government to action to reduce G H G s -and recognizes that significant emissions come from automobiles. Growing attention towards air quality issues, Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas emission could lead to 3 5 BEST (n.d.) Transportation Facts- Commuter and Transportation Trends in the GVRD 3 6 BEST (n.d.) Transportation Facts- Commuter and Transportation Trends in the GVRD 44 increased funding opportunity for BEST. Examples of such funding that B E S T was able to utilize are Climate Change Action Fund (Environment Canada), Moving on Sustainable Transportation (Transport Canada), Climate Change Action Fund (Government of Canada), the Vancouver Foundation, the Bullitt Foundation and Urban Transportation Showcase Program (Transport Canada) 3 7 . Increased awareness and interest also means increased opportunity for funding, as well as outreach and partnering. Environmental context Other opportunities that interviewees brought up include the political and natural climate, environmental context of Vancouver r egion, and the life style of Vancouverites. Two interviewees stated the natural beauty that surrounds Greater Vancouver region, such as mountains, ocean, and vast forest in the hinterland, are a constant reminder to people in the region about environmental issues. The physical boundaries of the region limits sprawl, to a certain extent. A lso, there are various initiatives to foster growth o f this region sustainable and livable way as mentioned in Chapter 4, such as LRSP and City Plan. In terms of climate, winter in Greater Vancouver region is not as cold as the rest of the country; this makes biking, walking, and using public transit viable option during winter. One interviewee mentioned that the existence of a progressive activist community and healthy life style in Vancouver region in general also is a factor that supports BEST 's work. 5.3 Constraints Lack of core funding is the biggest constraint brought up by all the interviewees. Stemming from that, various constraints were discussed in the following categories: • Lack of secure and stable funding Cannot finance policy work (constrains media and policy work) Cannot fund s uccessful proj ects t hat go b eyond the p iloting s tate, d ue t o t he nature of funding programs Staff retention 3 7 Submission of GVRD and TransLink, but BEST is a partner in its component of Central Valley Greenway project. 4 5 • The tension between receiving funds from governments and of necessity playing the role of watchdog and critic to those same organizations • Structural/ institutional/ constitutional constraints • Not having access to higher level decision makers (e.g. Province) • Nature of transportation issues— counterintuitive and complex Lack of core funding All interview participants stated that the biggest constraints that BEST faces is the lack of secure and stable funding. The most of the funding that BEST has had access to is project-specific funding. It has been always a challenge to secure core funding which is not tied to any specific project. Lack of core funding means that BEST does not have control over what kind of work it does and for how long; the projects that BEST focuses on are those for which funding can be secured, but not necessarily continuing those which have been successful or which are most needed. It destabilizes the organization by making it difficult to make a long term work plan and to attract and retain competitive staff. The lack of core funding constrains BEST's media and policy work. Due to the lack of funding for work that involves policy decisions, which would be difficult for government to finance and therefore requires investment from foundations and individuals, it has been a challenge to fund policy and communications work. The position of Policy and Communications director is critical to BEST's policy work, including media release, research and report writing, commenting on transportation policy issues, attending meetings with politicians and bureaucrats, and sitting on various roundtables and taskforces . Currently, there is only one staff member at BEST who is specialized in policy and communication work. Without question, due to the nature of, number of and breadth of local, regional and even provincial and federal decisions linked to sustainable transportation, there is much more policy and communication related work that BEST can and should do, more than one person can handle. When immediate issues arise in the 3 8 BEST is currently on the following taskforces: the Cool Vancouver Task Force, BC climate exchange, Smart Growth Canada, Smart Growth on the Ground, and Downtown Transportation Plan Committee (personal communication with Town 2004) 46 region, such as debate over the R A V line or the twining of Port Mann Bridge, B E S T is not capable of engaging itself in the debate as much as it would otherwise do, due to lack of resources, such as staff time and money. Most staff members are working on their own projects, funded by project specific funding, and there is only one full time policy and communications staff who already has hands full. Ho also discussed the lack of funding as a big constraint for B E S T in achieving specific transportation policy goals: It is difficult to focus on achieving specific transportation policy goals because funding is almost always project specific. The projects B E S T focuses on are those for which funding can be secured. A l l too often B E S T ends up responding to immediate issues arising in the region at the expense of being proactive in pursuing a specific (policy) goal. Lack of core funding also leads to a problem of staff retention. Most staff members are hired on a project-by-project basis; when projects end, B E S T cannot retain the staff. Under such conditions, and with not very competitive wages, it is also difficult to hire experienced staff and retain them, recounted three Board members. However, two Board members stated that B E S T is becoming successful in attracting experienced staff for longer term, as organization become mature and more stable financially. A Board member stated the issue of the lack of core funding and staff retention as follows: The [funding] constraints lead to all the way to the food chain with B E S T , because I know when I first started working with them, they [BEST] had such a tiny budget, most of their staff were very young, right done with university. There were lots of enthusiasm, but there was no experience. A n d there was a lot of turn over, because salary was so low. Once people got a couple years o f experience, they got better job with consulting firm or the city planning department we saw a lot of that. [.. .When staff retention is bad, it] destabilizes the office. It's pretty stressful, but now, they have more professional people. They've got some bigger funding. Like with M a r i o n 3 9 and K e i t h 4 0 came in with lots of experience outside. We have enough funding to maintain them. B E S T didn't have that money before. We couldn't have hired Marion, when I started. We didn't have the budget. But now we've got core Marion Town, current Executive Director Keith Ross, Greenway Program Coordinator 47 funding and that pays off. A s the organization grows, you need more experience. They've been able to maintain some of the core staff now, they've been there for quite a while. Another Board member supports the statement above, as follows: Retaining their staff for a long term, it's often a challenge with non- profit, but it's been a testament with the organization [at B E S T ] that a lot of staff have remained in their place for a long time. Where you tend to see with non-profit, I guess this is a s uccess o f B E S T r ather t han a challenge; w hat w e t end t o se e as challenge i s because the wages are lower than other sectors. But B E S T has really attracted a passionate group who have been there for a long time. In terms of success, B E S T has also been successful in securing multi-year funding in the last few years. Secure multi-year funding allows B E S T more predictability in staffing and project development. Another challenge of B E S T related to funding is securing long term program funding for programs such as off ramp, a T D M program for secondary school students. Due to the nature o f funding programs, B E S T found it difficult to fund successful projects that go beyond the piloting stage; i.e. funding can be found for one-offs but not necessarily for continuing projects. A n example is off ramp; even though the program has been extremely successful and needed according to three interviewees, B E S T has not been able to sustain the program, because it could not find funding for it. Balancing independence and financing Another constraint related to the funding lies in dealing with the tension between receiving funds from governments and of necessity playing the role of watchdog and critic to those same organizations. Three interviewees mentioned that it has been a challenge for B E S T to balance; being in a position of receiving government funds and working as partners on projects, while still playing the role o f critic/watchdog. B E S T delivers its T D M project under the contract with TransLink's, the regional transportation authority that B E S T often criticizes its policy and plans. There was at least one occasion, when B E S T has tried to speak out against TransLink's decisions, the continuation of the project was threatened. Since these two organizations are legally under the contract, the 48 project should legally be secure. However, in reality TransLink could make it difficult for B E S T to speak out against them, three interviewees recounted. There was a lot of internal controversy at B E S T when it accepted the contract under TransLink: some members thought that B E S T was 'selling out' because the relationship could restrict B E S T ' s ability to criticize TransLink's policy, recounted two interviewees. Doing contract work is a good way to stabilize its revenue; however, doing it under TransLink, the regional transportation authority could constrain B E S T ' s policy and sustainable transportation advocacy work. More discussion on having TransLink as a funder is in the section of discussion on the strategies. Institutional and political constraints The structure of transportation planning and decision-making in Canada is also a constraint. Town stated that there is limited federal investment in public transit that Canadian cities are under-funded when it comes to federal investment in transit, when compared to the United States, for example. This means that local and regional governments h ave b een forced t o b e f rugal o r a 11 east c autious i n their i nvestments i n transit—the one of the most sustainable forms of transportation in urbanized areas. Even t hough T ransLink has d ecision m aking p ower c oncerning r egional t ransportation planning and policies, various political factors interfere with its process and power both internal and in relation to the provincial government, as three interviewees cited examples of R A V and Port Mann to illustrate this constraint 4 1. Regional governance can result in fractious decision-making depending on local advantages or disadvantages stemming from the decision. For example, in the case of the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge, municipalities that are currently affected by the congestion of Port Mann Bridge, such as Surrey and Langley advocate for the expansion, while other municipalities in the G V R D are against it, claiming that it could be a set back for the L R S P 4 2 . In addition to the problems of regional governance, there are problems 4 1 Refer to Chapter 4, the section 4.3. and Appendices I and II. 4 2 Victoria's traffic plans upsets some mayors. (2004, October 2). Vancouver Sun [Vancouver], Retrieved October 3, 2004, from Canadian Newsstand Database. 49 regarding to the lack of coordination between the regional and provincial decision-making, as well as politics. Regardless of what the G V R D and TransLink decide, the provincial government plays significant role in the GVRD/ TransLink decision making and implementation of the plans already approved by the GVRD/TransLink. A Board member stated the problem as follows: It's not a logical decision making process. Yeah, there's certainly a lot of politics in there; you see that with R A V line and Port Mann. OK, you don't want R A V , we are building the Port Mann then. We are not putting any parking stall tax, because you are not doing R A V line any more. Politics can swoop in anytime and completely change reality. So while BEST can spend lot of effort working with local politicians, with local planners, with regional politicians, with regional planners; the problem is just by the nature of the structure of government in B C and in Canada. The province can come in any time, swoop in, make an investment, change the law, [and] change the policy that throws everything out of the window. Those wild cards can and do come along. They are quite disruptive at the organization. You know, a plan will be in place, a strategic plan, and a program will be set up, and all of the sudden the reality of transportation in the region changes over night, just by an approval or new law. So it's really disruptive to the organization. Straatsma stated that it has been challenging to gain access to provincial politicians and bureaucrats, let alone to influence their decisions. The reasons for this, according to Straatsma, depend on the organizational structure of the Ministry of Transportation, as well as the limited working relationship that BEST has with the ministry. The Provincial governments' decision making process is quite closed, recounted Straatsma. In recognition of the widespread effects their decisions regarding regional transportation planning will make, TransLink holds monthly Board Meeting, and the public, any individual or organization can come to the meeting and speak to the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Board of Directors. There is no such openness at the provincial level in the Ministry of Transportation. Also, when it comes to decision making at higher levels of government, including provincial and federal, B E S T has been quite powerless to influence the decisions. It does not have as strong a relationship with provincial politicians and bureaucrats as it does to regional and local level. B EST has been working closely with local and regional bureaucrats and politicians to build a more constructive working relationship and has since gained a certain amount of credibility and 50 respect. However, given the limited resources, such as funding and staff, B E S T has not been able to build a strong relationship with higher levels of government. Straatsma also discussed the example of the Port Mann project. Once when Straatsma talked to a staff at Ministry of Transportation about the status of the Port Mann project, he was told that the province was not yet talking to the public. The next day, he found it in a newspaper that quotes the Transportation Minister as saying that the Ministry would conduct a public process and make a decision on the project in the f a l l 4 3 . The way that provincial government is set up is not as accessible as local and regional government, especially under the British Parliamentary model in which cabinet secrecy exists and the decisions are made behind the closed door. The size of the government and the location, Victoria, which is away from where B E S T is based, also makes it difficult for B E S T to gain an access to. Straatsma went on to indicate the challenges that B E S T faces in trying to influence decision making at any level of governments: I don't want to give you an impression, even with TransLink at the regional level, when they put together 10 year plan, we still have real challenges. I don't want to give you an impression, oh with TransLink we have so much influence there, they have meetings once a month, but i f we go there, we only speak to the board for five minutes. Y o u don't have that much influence at that level. It's stuff behind the closed door.... I guess what I 'm trying to say is the bigger the issue gets and the more senior the government is, it becomes even more challenging. (Straatsma) A s Straatsma pointed out, the decision-making process even at the regional level is not entirely transparent and accessible; the case of R A V provides an example. The scope of the project was already determined when it was presented for approval. Even though the project as presented carried high risks of cost-overruns, no adequate assessment of alternative routes, design or grade options for the rapid transit line was carried out before the project approval (BEST 2003). Nature of transportation issues: Counterintuitive and complex The nature of sustainable transportation, described as complex and counterintuitive according to two interviewees, was also listed as a constraint. Because of the complexity 4 3 Refer to Chapter 4, the section 4.3.2. 51 of the issues, it is difficult for B E S T to decide on its position on various issues and deliver the message. Examples mentioned were again, the R A V and Port Mann projects. In case o f the Port Mann for example, it seemed counterintuitive for many people that adding more lanes would exacerbate the problem of congestion in the long term. In case of the R A V , even though B E S T supported the idea of improving transit system in the region, the project is highly controversial in various aspects, including its scope, projected benefit over cost, and implications for sustainable transportation planning as a whole in the region 4 4 . Deciding on B E S T ' s position on those issues, as wel l as reaching out public with the right message has been challenging, especially when most staff members are tied to specific projects that fund their positions, rather than to the organization itself. 5.4 Strategies for capturing opportunities Strategies that B E S T found to be effective in capturing opportunities for promoting sustainable transportation planning are having a holistic vision and approach; and becoming a reliable organization that provides: - well researched and thought-out messaging and positioning, - professional researches and service delivery, and constructive relationship with politicians and bureaucrats. Becoming a reliable organization; positive strategies and partnership One of the strategies in which B E S T has been successful in capturing opportunities is becoming a credible organization. B EST has succeeded i n establishing a constructive relationship with local and regional governments and relevant organizations, such as the City of Vancouver, the G V R D and TransLink. A l l of the staff interviewees recounted that B E S T has been making a real effort to be a positive, credible and constructive organization, as opposed to being confrontational, while not losing its advocacy and lobbying role. 4 4 BEST supports "the urgent need for better public transit infrastructure and service (20031)" in the region; however, BEST expressed deep reservations about the proposed RAV project—its scope, design, and financing. For the details, refer to Appendix I, abstract of the RAV project and decision-making around it. 52 A piece of evidence, for example, is that the press releases and position papers that BEST provides are well-researched and well-thought out. It provides reasonable and measured analysis t o t he i ssues a nd t ries t o p rovide constructive a lternative; t his h elps B EST t o build and maintain its credibility. It is found to be effective also in delivering messages in complex and counterintuitive debate. For example, when B E S T criticized in its position paper that TransLink's funding for bicycle was inadequate in the 10-year Outlook plan, BEST made an argument that improved bicycle infrastructure would significantly contribute to some of the regional goals of increasing transportation choices and relieving the congestion problems. The argument was based on research with numbers about regional trends of transportation and land-use planning and mode shift in recent years. Increasing credibility through its professional work and positive partnership has contributed to BEST 's success as discussed in the earlier sections of success and opportunities in this Chapter. Through working closely with staff and politicians of local and regional governments, BEST, especially the Executive Director and the Policy and Communication Director, have been building constructive working and personal relationships with them. Building positive relationships is another positive strategy of BEST. Holistic vision and approach BEST 's holistic vision and approach to sustainable transportation has contributed to its success, stated three interviewees. As discussed throughout this thesis, sustainable transportation involves much more than just transportation planning. There is no single and simple solution. BEST has been successful in its multilayered approach and in being open lo new opportunities as they arise. Straatsma discussed its multilayered approach as follows: I think BEST has been able to achieve a number of things by looking at transportation issues in a fairly broad way, and by using different strategies to achieve, to make change, and to see improvements in more interest and knowledge around sustainable transportation in the region. ...one of the ways that we've been 53 successful is, because we do look at transportation issues from a number of different approaches and strategies. There's the work that I do . . . which is around policy and government decisions at the local and regional level; whether they'd be introducing bike lanes, or better bicycle facilities in the region, or improvement to transit system or issues around road building. But there's also, this organization also does a fair amount of work in education side and programming side, so things like Bike Month program which is basically about information, awareness, and education, trying to make c ycling a s p ositive a nd e njoyable activity. T hat's o nly o ne e xample, i dling campaign, there's program at work places, trip reduction programs. So we engage different type of audiences, and we have different kinds of programs, so it's not so, we are not focused on the political side. We engage students, transit users, just the general public, as well as government leaders and government staff, bureaucrats, and things like that. . . . I think, because of that, multilayered approach, we are able to reach a fair number of people. B E S T has been quite good at "taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves (Town)" agreed four interviewees. B E S T has been playing an important role in "hot debates" in the region, such as the bus drivers strike in 2002, R A V , and the twinning of Port Mann Bridge. Also, being open and flexible in expanding its scope of work, so as to capture opportunities as they arise, contributed to B E S T ' s success. B E S T ' s work does not focus narrowly on transportation issues, but it includes various aspects of transportation, such as, impact of sustainable transportation on human health and global warming; these are the areas where public and governments' awareness and attention are growing. B y keeping its scope holistic and inclusive, B E S T has been successful in framing the issues in a way to reach out more public and partner with various groups and professionals, as well as increasing funding opportunities. For example, Health and Transportation*5 project enabled B E S T to reach out to new audiences and work in partnership with new groups such as medical associations, health professionals, and academics 4 6 (BEST 2003a). Also , making allies with various partners, such as professionals, academics, and other N G O s is a positive strategy that B E S T has taken advantage of. I w i l l discuss this point further in the next section of strategies for overcoming constraints. 4 5 Funded by the Vancouver Foundation, the Bullitt Foundation and the Climate Change Action Fund (Government of Canada), Health and Transportation project is a research project on adverse health effects associated with automobile-dependence. 4 6 Examples of the new partners for BEST are British Columbia Lung Association, and Dr. Larry Frank at the School of Community and Regional Planning, UBC. BC Lung association is a NGO whose mandate is to improve lung health and air quality is one of the focus area of the Association. Dr. Frank specializes in the relationship between land-use and transportation planning, and their impacts on human health. 54 5.5 Strategies for overcoming constraints Strategies that the interviewees stated would be effective for B E S T in overcoming constraints are found in the following themes: Making coalition with other N G O s and scholars to tackle bigger issues Mobi l iz ing public Strategies for funding Strategic planning Some of these strategies have already been found to be effective; however, B E S T has not been able to utilize many of these strategies to its maximum potential. If utilized effectively, these strategies would help B E S T to overcome constraints, according to the interviewees. Coalition building In order for B E S T to have a stronger voices in contentious issues, especially with its limited resources and limited access to the decision making process, three interviewees recounted that making coalitions with various groups and people, such as other N G O s , academics, and professionals, would be effective. Building coalitions could be effective for B E S T in overcoming constraints of lack of resources and strengthening its voice. For example, B E S T works closely with Smart Growth British Columbia (SGBC) , a Greater Vancouver area based N G O that advocate for sustainable land-use planning which is an essential part of sustainable transportation. Examples of the work those two organizations do together are the following: 1) B E S T and S G B C has co-published op-ed pieces in the local media on transportation and land use issues (for example TransLink's 10-Year Outlook plan). 2) Director o f policy at S G B C often discusses issues with Pol icy and Communications Director of B E S T , so that the two organizations present a common front. 3) They often share hints and tips on fundraising with each other. 55 4) Both organizations will be working together to oppose the twining of Port Mann bridge. 5) BEST and SGBC are both members of the Smart Growth Canada network. A Board member discussed some advantages of making alliances with various groups: I think the organization has been really good with making alliances...; sort of building loose coalition with different groups. When you see BEST working with Vancouver Cycling Coalitions; they are very similar but very different. I see BEST working with high ends, high level staff, some of the regional decision making bodies, TransLink and the G V R D , and becoming close allies with those people. B EST working with businesses, some of the businesses are more strategic thinking about sustainable transportation. I think that's been one of the real strength of the organization to create those alliances and to maintain them. That's done a couple of things. First, it helped to establish credibility, bringing in all those diverse constituencies of people as supporting base. But second, more importantly, it allowed some of the higher level staff at regional organizations or agencies, who knows that something is wrong with the decisions being made, but cannot say it. It allowed them to outlet through BEST to say the emperor has no cloth and say to be the voice of sustainable transportation, when people cannot say it because of their position. I think that's been a really important role. That's a fundamental role of the society, to have the outlet to say the emperor has no cloths, and provide that outlet to the people who are stuck in the context where they know something is wrong, but they just c annot say it. That's been f undamentally important. That's b een a real good strategy to create alliances with different agencies in different sectors and creating that role for themselves. Mobilizing public Making alliances with other NGOs would make BEST 's voice more powerful and better heard, especially when the project or decision is too big for one organization to influence, stated Straatsma. He continued, what could also be effective is to mobilize more of the public. B EST has been trying to encourage members and public to participate in transportation decision making by having them comment on the issues and write letters to decision makers on specific decisions and policy issues. For example, in its newsletter, Moving for Change, B EST sometimes includes a section which keeps members updated on transportation debates and decisions being made in the region, and including informing about where and how the public can get involved (BEST 2003 MFC) . 56 Straatsma also noted that a lack of financial and human resources, has been the factor that has prevented BEST to work on mobilizing more people extensively: What really makes difference is not only us speaking to TransLink board, but we have members or supporters or other people we are able to convince them to write letters or e-mails to the board and then the board feels like it's not just BEST, but there's a whole bunch of citizens and people who vote for me, who are raising concerns about R A V line etc. A l l those kinds of organizing effort, makes lots of difference. It takes lot of time to get people to do that. To convince someone, this is the issue that you should know about and you should write a letter. What should I say? What do I write in this letter? OK, well do this and that.. So those are all constraints we deal with. It's difficult, even at the local and regional levels. (Straatsma) Strategies for funding Various strategies for stabilizing and securing funding were recounted in the interviews: Doing more consulting work Building up donor and member support Becoming proactive in convincing funders Doing more contract work, such as consulting and delivering projects and programs on behalf of other organizations is one way to stabilize the revenue source for BEST. This approach has its drawbacks, however, as B E S T has encountered with its highly controversial contract under TransLink, as discussed in the constraints section of this chapter. Providing a professional service in the field of sustainable transportation planning also helps B E ST to polish its profile and credibility. Building up donor and member support is another way of stabilizing funding, mentioned three interviewees. Straatsma stated that given the importance and significance of the work that BEST does and the interest around transportation issues, its membership could be bigger. Currently BEST has about 200 members; individual donation and membership fee accounts for 5% of its revenue (BEST 2003d Annual report, Hough 2004 4 7). Ultimately, doubling the membership would provide BEST with a more stable source of funding. Also, increased membership would provide BEST with more credibility in terms of whom it represents. Personal communication, July 2004 57 Another idea for stabilizing funding, brought up by a Board member, is to develop a corporate partnership program. Another strategy for funding with which BEST has had less success so far, is to be more proactive in educating and convincing funders about which issues are most important and where their help is most needed. As discussed in the constraints section, B E S T has not succeeded in. securing core funding; the organization has been facing difficulty in planning and funding its work as it wishes. Recently BEST has tried to convince some of the funders that BEST needs resources for lobbying. B EST sees the "new deal for the cities" 4 8 as a great opportunity to advance sustainable transportation infrastructure and wants to make sure that this money is spent on sustainable transportation, as opposed to be spent for building road and highways. In order to lobby for this, B E S T approached some funders and applied for funding for this specific purpose. It is always the case that such political work does not get funding from charitable and corporate foundations, while projects that do not lead to immediate change, such as education programs and events are more popular to be funded. Even though such education programs and events are important, when one big decision is made such as expanding highway or distributing more money in constructing road, it could overrun all the incremental changes that BEST has been making, stated Ho and Straatsma. While the multi-layered approach of having various programs targeted at different groups of people, have been very successful in a way, BEST can and should be more proactive in political work, explained Straatsma. It means that BEST needs to prioritize what are most important and influential issues and approaches to achieve its goals and visions. Strategic Planning Define geographic scope of the organization Prioritize their work Plan ahead 4 8 New deal for cities: Prime Minister Paul Martin announced that part of federal fuel tax will be given to the municipalities. This budget is to be spent for infrastructure, mass transit, housing, and urban renewal48. (Globe and Mail 2004) 58 Three interviewees stated that B E S T should be more strategic internally, in order to make best use of limited resources it has and be more effective, by redefining its geographic scope, prioritizing its work and focusing more on the top of its priorities, and becoming better able to plan ahead. The current constitution of B E S T defines the scope of its work to be mainly in the Greater Vancouver region. However, three interviewees stated that there have been discussions about the geographic scope of B E S T . There are differing opinions among various members, Board members, and staff members. Some say that B E S T should expand the scope o f its work to be province-wide or even nation-wide, because its work is so needed. Others say that even within the Lower Mainland, which is current stated focus of B E S T , there is much more work need to be done outside of the City of Vancouver. Actual work has been mainly focused on the G V R D and the City of Vancouver. However, it is in the suburban municipalities where negative trends in transportation are most prominent and where the negative decisions are most often made. In order to fully address the sustainable transportation in the region, there's much work needs to be done in the suburbs. One of the biggest challenges for B E S T is how do we address and best sort of move into those suburban area and how to tackle these issues, fully be a regional organization. Our work is pretty much focused in Vancouver. Vancouver area is doing O K , and returns are pretty positive and we need to get outside Vancouver and go to Coquitlam, Surrey, New Westminster, and Richmond and see what kind o f improvement we can make out there. But it requires big change in focus. (Straatsma) Other interviewees as wel l as Straatsma, however, acknowledge that although the suburbs are in need of B E S T ' s work, it is really difficult to expand their work into suburbs, with the limited resources that B E S T currently has. In order to make the best use of limited resources, the organization needs to strategize its work. Straatsma stated that B E S T needs to plan ahead: anticipating issues coming in the future, becoming proactive in dealing issues that are the most important for sustainable transportation in the region, and convincing the funders and Board so as to becoming able 59 to deal with such issues. Ho stated if BEST had enough resources, they could be more proactive; for example, [...] to get regional alternative transportation policies in place, at the regional and municipal levels, then ensuring they are implemented. Some other proactive things would be to do more education to professionals, e.g. engineers and planners, and to city councils about sustainable transportation. Being proactive, choosing an issue and proactively advancing a goal, is a strategy that stands in contrast to reacting to decisions such as the twinning of Port Mann Bridge, continued Ho. 5.6 Summary of the findings As an N G O with both a local and regional focus, B EST has been successful in outreach, programming, and participating in and having impacts on local and regional transportation decision-making process. However, there are a number of further challenges for B EST to undertake in order that it may have even greater impact on transportation decision-making processes and decisions. Having a holistic vision and approach towards sustainable transportation, and becoming a professional organization by doing contract work and by working in cooperation with politicians and bureaucrats (as opposed to being confrontational and radical) are the strategies that BEST has found to be effective in promoting sustainable transportation. Their ability to position themselves in this way is what makes B E S T unique. By working with various groups of people and having programs and projects targeted to various groups of people, it has raised awareness around the relevant issues, and has made positive impacts on society and in both local and regional decision-making. BEST has been successful in capturing opportunities to promote sustainable transportation planning, by recognizing and being strategic about such key elements as institutional context, willingness of local and regional policy- and decision-makers to work on sustainable transportation issues, existence of other sustainable initiatives in the 60 region, and growing awareness of sustainable transportation related issues amongst general public. B E S T has used these elements to their advantage, actively increasing their opportunities to address sustainable transportation issues. Constraints for B E S T in promoting sustainable transportation planning, however, lies in areas such as a lack of secure and stable core funding, limited access to decision-making at the higher levels of government, the complex and counterintuitive nature of sustainable transportation i ssues, a nd a v ariety o f s tructural, i nstitutional, a nd p olitical c onstraints. The strategies that interviewees identified as potentially useful ones to overcome these constraints include making coalitions with other N G O s and scholars, mobilizing the organization's membership and the public at large, becoming more pro-active in securing the necessary core funding, and strategic planning for prioritizing its work. 5.7 Discussions 5.7.1 Discussions on strategies Comprehensive approach Strategies found to be effective for capturing opportunities and overcoming constraints from this research are increasing organizational strength so as to be able to seize the political opportunity, and building coalitions amongst activists, experts, and other organizations. In addition, its comprehensive approach and its cooperative working relationships with bureaucrats and politicians are also identified as effective approaches that are significant features of B E S T . A s discussed throughout this thesis, sustainable transportation planning requires a comprehensive approach. B E S T uses this approach to addresses sustainable transportation issues by working with various groups of people to develop a range of programs and projects that focus on different aspects of sustainable transportation issues, and which are targeted towards various groups. Through education, raising awareness, participating in decision-making, facilitating citizen participation, bringing together diverse groups that share a common interest in sustainable transportation, and working closely with politicians and bureaucrats, B E S T has been 61 contributing to fostering change in sustainable transportation planning in the Greater Vancouver region. Strengthen Policy work BEST needs to strengthen its policy work, while maintaining a broad range of programs. Policy work is critical for long-term sustainability planning; as several interviewees suggested, without an overarching vision and strategy that policies can provide, all the incremental change that BEST has made could be overrun by a single big decision, such as the highway expansion and the twinning of Port Mann Bridge. However, to date, BEST has not been able to engage itself in immediate policy-related issues to its full capacity, due to a lack o f core funding: the policy and communication work has been particularly difficult to fund, and most staff members are employed on project-specific basis (Ho 2004, Straatsma 2004) 4 9. Potential strategies for strengthening BEST 's policy work are to prioritize its work around the most important and influential issues and approaches to achieve its goals and visions, and to find and stabilize sources of core funding. Balancing independence and financing A lack of stable core funding was brought up as one of the biggest constraints that BEST faces in promoting sustainable transportation planning, detracting from BEST 's ability to strengthen its policy and advocacy work. Doing more contract work in the research and delivery of projects and programs can be strategically beneficial to BEST, because it stabilizes source of revenue and gives credibility to the organization and its work. However, the nature of the funding source itself can be contentious. For example, as a major force in transportation decision-making in the region, TransLink, is one of the key organizations for which BEST provides critiques and criticisms in policies and decision-making, since signing a contract with TransLink, some interviewees feel that BEST 's ability to be objective may be compromised. It was the case in the past (and has a potential to be in the future) that a contractual relationship with TransLink threatens to restrict BEST 's policy and advocacy work. In the interview. 62 Does government funding necessarily lead to the restriction of advocacy and political work? It should be possible to establish a mutually beneficial relationship between the state and non-profit society. It would be beneficial for B EST to clarify its relationships with funders such as TransLink as well as to clarify BEST 's own stance on contract and advocacy work. There are precedents which BEST may follow in creating an agreement or understanding regarding funding partnerships (Voluntary Sector Initiatives 2001). A n Accord between the Government of Canada and the Voluntary Sector was developed to guide their relationship and promote greater mutual understanding through the Voluntary Sector Initiative. The Accord is based on the following guiding principles: It acknowledges that the Government of Canada and voluntary sector are independent of each other, but the some of their goals are interdependent. It recognizes that, if the relationship is to be mutually rewarding, both parties must adhere to the principles of ongoing dialogue, cooperation and collaboration. Finally, it calls on both sectors to be accountable to Canadians. (Voluntary Sector Initiative, n.d., emphasis in original) It acknowledges significance of voluntary sector in "improving the quality of life in Canada and in building strong, healthy communities (Voluntary Sector Initiative, n.d.)". The Accord establishes: Commitments to action for the Government of Canada and the voluntary sector Measures for implementing its provisions, including practical tools like the Codes of Good Practice on Funding and Policy Dialogue Obligations by the Government and the sector to monitor, report on, and improve their relationship (Voluntary Sector Initiative, n.d.) The case of B EST and TransLink is slightly different from typical government-volunteer relationship, as BEST is a voluntary organization, which also does advocacy and political work. However, an agreement or understanding of this sort might help B E S T to clarify its stance internally and in relation to TransLink. 63 5.7.2 BEST's role in promoting sustainable transportation planning The case of BEST illustrates the immature condition of public participation in transportation planning. Specifically, room for citizen participation is limited in the typical existing process: at the regional level, for example, even though the public can speak up at the TransLink Board meetings, the type and timing of this participation does not effectively influence the decision-making process. At the provincial level, there is even less occasion for citizens to participate, and it is even more difficult to gain access to policy-makers and decision-makers. However, BEST has been striving to influence transportation policies and decision-making process through various other channels, including: • working with local and regional policy- and decision-makers, • being a member of state-led roundtables and task forces, • proposing policy alternatives and conducting research, and • advocating for more sustainable transportation planning in a constructing and professional manner Such a role of BEST, striving to make voices of sustainable transportation heard and to make the decision-making process more transparent, can be deemed as advocacy planning. Flyvbjerg suggests that decision-making in planning, politics and administration is strongly influenced by the interplay of rationality and power. He argues that not rational thought, but power defines reality (Flyvbjerg 1998). Power-based political manoeuvre in order to win an argument or to influence decisions is quite common in planning. For instance, cost-benefit analysis cannot be trusted as a base for project approval, because it is often the case that costs are underestimated and benefits are overestimated. Flyvbjerg's study shows that (2003): 90% of the projects' cost begin to soar, after the projects have been approved "Cost overruns of 50% are common. Overruns above 100% are not uncommon. (Flyvbjerg 2003:61)" - Ridership projection tends to be overestimated as well; "for half of all rail projects [actual patronage] is more than 50% lower than forecasted (Flyvbjerg 2003:61)." 64 Flyvbjerg further states that it seems intentional deception rather than error, because such problems of costs over-run have been common for over 70 years with very high frequency. Examples that support such argument can be seen in transportation planning in the GVRD as well: BEST critically examined the projects proposals and pointed out that the cost-benefit analysis of RAV project was questionable and the highway expansion project proposed as the single solution for the problems of congestion on the Highway One was inappropriate. Critical questioning may be key for challenging such a power-driven, behind the closed door decision-making. One of the critical roles of BEST, I argue, is such a policy and advocacy work; promoting sustainable transportation planning, and striving to make its process more transparent and sustainable, by critically examining the plans presented by the state, proposing alternatives in a constructive manner, and stimulating public debate. BEST's achievement can also be assessed through its contribution towards overcoming barriers for the attainment of sustainable transportation. BEST's work contributes to achieving sustainable transportation goals by addressing and challenging the individual, social, and institutional barriers identified in Chapter Two of this thesis. Through its education and events, BEST strives to raise awareness, educate, and foster behavioural changes in citizens. BEST also questions and challenges societal and institutional barriers by taking a stance against on-going trends in society, and against transportation decision-making by the state that "reinforces the present unsustainable arrangement and trends (Centre for Sustainable Transportation 2002)", by calling for the provision of more sustainable transportation alternatives in its policy and advocacy work. In addition, BEST has been contributing to sustainable transportation planning, through its own planning initiatives, such as Central Valley Greenway, a planning process to build a 22km greenway for non-motorized transportation, in cooperation with cities of Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster, GVRD, and TransLink50. BEST has been fostering change in sustainable transportation planning by raising awareness, fostering Refer to Chapter 4, section4.1 65 behavioural change, influencing transportation decisions in- and out- of the existing citizen participation process, and taking planning initiatives of its own. 66 Chapter 6: Summary and Conclusions 6.0 Introduction In this final chapter, I will first revisit the research questions and present a summary of the findings. Then, I will summarize major lessons to be learned from the case study of BEST, followed by the implications for planning drawn from the findings and lessons. Finally, the implications for future research will be presented. 6.1 Revisiting the research question This thesis has attempted to contribute to knowledge about opportunities and constraints transportation-advocacy and -education groups face in working toward their goals of promoting sustainable transportation planning. Through this case study of BEST, I have explored the following research questions: • What opportunities and constraints has BEST encountered in advocating more sustainable transportation? • What strategies has BEST found to be effective in capturing opportunities and overcoming constraints, so as to have an impact on transportation decision-making? Through the review of literature on sustainable transportation planning, civil society, and the role of civil society in planning, document analysis, and in-depth interviews, the following has been found: Civil society can play an important role in sustainable transportation planning, and does so in the case of BEST's work in Vancouver. As the findings of this case study show BEST has been making significant contribution in promoting sustainable transportation planning in the Greater Vancouver region by: • participating in the existing transportation decision-making processes at local and regional governments, • working with local and regional transportation planners and politicians, • developing and delivering various educational events and programs, • raising awareness about sustainable transportation issues, • fostering behavioural change towards more sustainable transportation alternatives, 67 • fostering citizens' participation in transportation planning process, • conducting research on sustainable transportation planning, and • advocating for more sustainable transportation planning. Major opportunities that B E S T has encountered in promoting sustainable transportation planning are: • Institutional structure— existence of regional "government" and transportation authority, G V R D and TransLink • Existing priorities, visions and plans for sustainability (e.g. Livable Regions Strategic Plan) • Willingness of local and regional staff and politicians to work on the issue with B E S T • High interest in transportation issues amongst citizens, policy- and decision-makers • Growing awareness and interest in sustainable transportation related issues, such as G H G and the impacts of transportation on health Major constraints that B E S T has encountered in promoting sustainable transportation planning are: • A lack of stable core funding that constrains B E S T from financing media and policy work, and having control over planning for and continuation of projects • Having TransLink as one of the funders that could restrict B E S T ' s policy/ advocacy work • Structural/ institutional/ constitutional constraints • Insufficient access to higher level decision makers (e.g. Province) • Nature of transportation issues— counterintuitive and complex Major strategies found in this research to be effective for capturing opportunities and overcoming constraints are: • Becoming a credible organization that provides well-researched and -thought-out messaging and positioning, and 68 - builds constructive relationships with politicians and bureaucrats • Building coalitions with other NGOs, scholars, and professionals • Mobilizing the public • Strengthening various sources of funding 6.2 Lessons to be learned Here, I present a summary of major lessons to be learned from the case of BEST, in the following categories: leadership, range of activities, strategies, funding, and relative government receptiveness. Leadership Through my research, I came to speculate that leadership may be the key to developing and maintaining an organization like BEST. L eadership at B EST, including articulate and devoted Board and staff members, are able to see the big picture of sustainable transportation planning, while working on individual issues and projects such as planning bike routes, education and advocacy. They are also not tied up in bureaucratically constrained decision-making and short-term political considerations that often constrain state-employed transportation planners and politicians. Availability of such human resources is an opportunity that BEST has captured well: the existence of such leadership enables civil society to make unique contributions to sustainable transportation planning that state-employed planners often cannot or do not make, due to their bureaucratic and political status. Range of activities BEST's multilayered approach of having various programs and projects targeted to different groups of people has enabled BEST to reach various groups of people in order to stimulate change on multiple levels. Such a wide range of BEST's work reflects the need for a comprehensive approach in promoting sustainable transportation planning. Having a wide range of activities, however, is a double-edged sword: with a lack of core funding, BEST needs strategic planning and prioritizing its work according to it. 69 Strategies This research has identified several powerful and important strategies which BEST has used to overcome constraints in promoting sustainable transportation planning, such as building coalitions with other NGOs, scholars, and professional transportation planners, and being a credible organization that provides reasonable and measured analysis to the issues and tries to provide constructive arguments and alternatives. Funding Securing the core funding found to be essential for stabilizing the organization more, strengthening its policy and advocacy work and becoming able to plan ahead. The case of BEST indicates that civil society organizations face great difficulty in securing funding, especially that for work involving policy decisions. Relative government receptiveness At the local and regional levels, BEST has effectively taken advantage of the willingness of bureaucrats and politicians to work on sustainable transportation issues in cooperation with BEST. However, the higher levels of government were found to be less open and more difficult to influence their decision-making, especially under the British Parliamentary model where cabinet secrecy exists and decisions are made behind the closed door. Where cooperative working relationships exist, however, I argue that not only BEST, but also the state employed planners and politicians can gain from the work that BEST undertakes, including independent research and policy recommendations and initiatives that promote sustainable transportation planning, and that less politically and institutionally restrained. For example Central Valley Greenway project may not have been developed without the initiative of BEST supported by the 1 million dollar award presented to BEST by VanCity. 70 6.3. Implications for planning The following implications for planning are drawn from the findings and lessons above: Problem of funding This research shows that civil society organizations can make important contributions to sustainable transportation planning; however, a lack of core funding is one of the biggest constraints that such organizations face. Agencies such as the GVRD, which claim to be serious about sustainability, should provide core long-term funding to civil society organizations such as BEST. Such agencies need to recognize that civil society can make important contributions to sustainability and should be supported to do so, as this research shows. For that to happen; however, some mechanisms need to be developed to ensure that state funding does not negatively constrain or influence the independence and objectivity of advocacy and policy work. Politics in planning Planning, in general, is a political endeavour (Davidoff 1 965, Friedmann 1 998). T his research suggests that this is the case in transportation planning as well: politics influences transportation planning significantly. In this aspect, a strong civil society is critical for changing the existing planning practices and decision-making processes. For instance, TransLink and the GVRD have continuously stated that improvement of public transit system is critical for the future of the region. However, actual implementation has been set-back because of various political reasons, such as the Province not approving implementation of automobile levy. Also, the decision-making process for major transportation projects in the region found to lack transparency. In this regards, civil society has a great potential: when a change is needed in the existing practices and decision-making that continue to support and promote automobile dependency, the change rarely comes from the inside of the state, but from the outside, civil society. BEST educates citizens, raises awareness, fosters citizen participation in decision-making process, and challenges the actual decisions made and the decision-making processes when they exclude civil society from participation. There is great potential to change decision-making and politics around cases like Port Mann, if a significant enough 71 constituency could be mobilized and strongly enough argument and debate are made to influence policy- and decision-makers. Whose (who's) planning? Is transportation planning only the purview of the technically trained and bureaucratically employed? The case of BEST shows that it should not be if sustainability is one of the goals. It shows that it is possible for civil society to play significant roles in sustainable transportation planning. Organizations like BEST can assist citizens to see the big picture when working on particular issues or projects, and to not be tied up in bureaucratically constrained decision-making and short-term political considerations. 6.4. Implications for further research: Through the case study of BEST, this research explored the experience of BEST in promoting transportation planning in-depth and drew lessons for fostering sustainable transportation planning through civil society. In order to advance the knowledge of the role of civil society organizations in sustainable transportation planning, more research is needed on other civil society organizations that promote sustainable transportation planning in different context. It would also be interesting to study further the kinds of impact BEST would be able to make in large up-coming transportation projects in the region, such as the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge. The impact of the state funding on civil society organization, especially the potential constraints on their advocacy and policy work, also needs to be studied more. 72 Bibliography Arnstein, S.R. (1969). A ladder of citizen participation. Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 25. 4, 216-224. 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Retrieved August 22, 2003, from http://www.vtpi .org/tdm/tdm61 ..htm Voluntary Sector Initiative. (2001). An Accord Between the Government of Canada and the Voluntary Sector. Retrieved October 12, 2004, from http://www.vsi-isbc.ca/eng/relationship/the accord doc/index.elm Wachs, Martin. (1986). Technique vs. advocacy in forecasting: a study of rail rapid transit. Urban Resources, 4.1. World Resource Institute. (1998). 1998-1999 World resources: a guide to the global environment. New York: Oxford University Press Newspaper articles: GVRD tries to delay twinning of Port Mann— Transportation minister angers councillors with vow to forge ahead. (2004, July 31). Vancouver Sun [Vancouver], p .Al . Retrieved August 22, 2004 from Canadian Newsstand Database Martin's cities agenda belongs in major cities. (2004, August 20). Globe and Mail [city], p... Retrieved August 22, 2004, from Canadian Newsstand Database. 1 $75 car levy approved, sparking rift in GVRD. (2000, May 27). Vancouver Sun [Vancouver], p .Al . Retrieved August 22, 2004 from Canadian Newsstand Database Victoria's traffic plans upsets some mayors. (2004, October 2). Vancouver Sun [Vancouver], Retrieved October 3, 2004, from 76 Appendix I: Map of the GVRD. Greater Vancouver Regional District 77 Appendix II: Map of Road and Transit Improvement in the 10-Year Outlook plan Wtelf Vamaavtt SkyTraJn «>«««'•«' West Coast Express Source: TransLink website. http://www.transfinkte 

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