Tuesday is election day in B.C. At some point in time Tuesday night, B.C. residents will have a good idea which direction the province will go in the next four years.
Voting in a provincial election, which at one time was seen as vital by the vast majority of citizens, has fallen out of favour in recent times. In 1983, 70 per cent of the population voted, and earlier elections had an even higher turnout. In 2009, the turnout was just over 50 per cent.
Yet provincial governments make a lot of decisions which affect our day-to-day lives. The impact is much greater on most people than federal government decisions.
The province controls funding for education and health, the two most-used public services. It decides if new schools will be built, and which hospitals will be expanded. Through the health authorities, it determines which services are offered in which communities. It can be argued that Langley hasn’t received as much attention in this regard as neighbouring communities.
The province determines the shape of transportation projects, and in the Lower Mainland, this is a particularly important task. The new Port Mann Bridge and road improvements are the most obvious recent example of this.
Langley has been shortchanged in the transit department. There have been some improvements lately, notably the Carvolth Park and Ride and new 555 bus that connects directly to SkyTrain.
While TransLink is responsible for transit, TransLink, like boards of education and health authorities, is a creature of the provincial government. It can decide to giveTransLink more powers, or it can dissolve TransLink altogether.
Municipal governments, similarly, are creatures of Victoria. While provincial governments have traditionally left municipalities on their own, for the most part, they exercise strong financial control over them — simply by not giving them access to many streams of taxation.
The province also has a big role to play in land use decisions, through agencies such as the Agricultural Land Commission and legislation such as the Right to Farm Act. Both have a major impact on life in rural Langley — now and in the future.
These are all important reasons to vote on Tuesday, or at advance polls which are open until Saturday. Our two MLAs ensure there’s a Langley perspective to decisions made in Victoria.