The Georgia Straight published a column yesterday by Charlie Smith claiming that “selfish old people” will vote “no” in the upcoming transit referendum, depriving younger generations of a decent quality of life and an opportunity to act on climate change. We were shocked by the inflammatory tone of the article, and the very inaccurate picture it paints of seniors’ transportation needs. We submitted the following letter to the editor — and since we were already collaborating on an article outlining why transit is vital for seniors, we’ll have more to say soon…stay tuned. ~ Shannon Daub & Sandra James.
The unfortunate article of March 9 entitled “Are Selfish Old People Going to Deprive Students and the Young of Better Transit” imagines a world where seniors drive everywhere, only look out for themselves, and will be unlikely to vote “yes” for the Transportation Referendum. This type of misinformation is inflammatory and incorrect.
There are many seniors living below the poverty line, and many more with incomes just above the poverty line, who require and rely on transit for all of their needs. Seniors also will benefit from less congested buses, more frequent service, and in the case of an emergency, being able to access a hospital by ambulance 20 per cent faster due to less traffic.
In Metro Vancouver our decision on this referendum will impact the development of the region now and for many years to come. The plan includes road and bridge upgrades, enhanced quick “B” line bus service including new lines in South of the Fraser and in the Tri-Cities/Ridge Meadows areas, another 220 train cars for the Skytrain system, a full five lines of light rail transit, and 30% more HandyDart services for seniors and people with disabilities (among other improvements).
To call the population of seniors “selfish” based on a one person’s anecdote about his parents’ voting is not acceptable. Instead of perpetuating incorrect stereotypes about seniors and pitting generations against each other, please help all of us make an informed decision that will support livability in Metro Vancouver for the next generation.
Sandra (Sandy) James LEED AP MCIP CCPI
Director, Walk Metro Vancouver Society www.walkmetrovan.ca
Co-Director, Seniors Project, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives