Delegates representing MVAs member organizations enthusiastically endorsed project RouteSpeak at the MVA Annual General meeting, held June 8th.
The next step in MVA's transit campaign, project RouteSpeak will bring community members from across the Lower Mainland together to build consensus and citizen civic power on a range of issues that affect access to and operation of transit and transportation.
Here's MVA's proposal ...
A proposal to the Metro Vancouver Alliance AGM/delegates’ assembly
The need for accessible, affordable, reliable transit was identified as one of MVA’s four priority issues through a listening campaign involving conversations with over a thousand people in our member organizations. Low paid workers described their struggle to reach home after late shifts. Students shared stories of long waits at overcrowded bus stops. Single parents, seniors and those with disabilities felt abandoned by a service that had not grown since 2007, despite the rising population in the Lower Mainland. Transit operators expressed deep concern for the passengers left behind by the system.
MVA played a significant role in the YES campaign in the Transportation and Transit Plebiscite, holding transit forums across the city to help people learn more about the issue and discuss their own transit stories. Over and again we heard from people who were deeply cynical about their ability to shape the agenda around transit.
With its appointed Board and in-camera meeting policy, Translink appeared particularly unaccountable. What people wanted was a vehicle that provided citizens with a genuine, informed, collective voice on the transit and transportation decisions that affected their lives.
Building on the momentum and interest generated by the Transport and Transit Referendum, MVA proposes to form permanent neighborhood accountability groups with a mandate to create working relationships with transit managers and governing bodies. Called ‘RouteSpeak’, the project will build consensus and citizen civic power on a range of issues that affect access to and operation of transit and transportation.
How will it work?
RouteSpeak will build structures at two levels: the neighborhood, and sub-regional transit areas, as defined by Translink.
In the first year, four or five pilot RouteSpeak groups will be set up in neighborhoods where there is a concentration of MVA member institutions. This will provide a base from which other organizations and individuals can be recruited. A steering committee will be established in each neighborhood, drawn from participating institutions. RouteSpeak forums will be held quarterly to gather information and develop proposals.
RouteSpeak forums will be run on the model of ‘civic academies’. These are forums where local people educate themselves on key civic issues, with the help of experts. Aimed at moving people from "opinion to judgment", civic academies also allow people to share their own stories and discuss what they would be willing to do to bring about change.
Neighborhood structures will also help to tackle social isolation by building trust between neighbors as they work together on local projects. MVA practices of listening, research, alliance building and leadership development, can be harnessed to create strong local groups that have real impact on transit governance, policy and operations.
Neighborhood issues will be tackled at the local level, while more global concerns will be brought forward to be prioritized at a semi-annual meeting of a Sub-Regional RouteSpeak Forum. The most strongly held, widely supported proposals will go forward to be negotiated with Translink.
Over the three years of the project we expect to grow the organization to up to 15 RouteSpeak areas across Metro Vancouver, all with representation on their Regional Sub-Area RouteSpeak Forum. Along with the impact on transit policy, MVA expects that the skills and knowledge developed by local RouteSpeak groups will be applied to other issues of common concern.