Mary Polak is the fifth transportation minister since the Liberal government came into power in 2001. Kevin Falcon made his name here, of course, in the five years from 2004-2009 and became beloved of road builders everywhere for his aggressive championing of the something-billion Gateway project, which includes the Port Mann Bridge twinning and the perimeter roads.
He also changed the way TransLink is governed, with an appointed board that makes most of the decisions, instead of a mayors’ body. The mayors now get to have a council where they can decide on extras (mostly because they usually have to pay for them), but not on what or how the approximately billion-dollar base budget is spent.
But there was also Judith Reid (01-04), Shirley Bond (09-11) and recently Blair Lekstrom (11-12).
And now Mary Polak. Not surprisingly, in Day Four of her new portfolio, she was not veering off the road in any way. As you can see here, she stuck to what has been pretty much the government playbook: We are fully in support of certain services. But the TransLink mayors have to stop asking us for money all the time, because the deal was that they would use property taxes to help pay for transit and we would take away hospital taxes.
Also: There will be a Highway rapid bus on the Port Mann when it opens. We will talk to them and maintain lines of communication (tho Polak said she can’t make the upcoming Sept. 19 mayors’ council meeting). There needs to be a good land-use plan along with transit and a change in people’s expectations. Her quote (not in the story): “It’s going to take local communities different from what there have been. Now, everybody wants a two-acre property but they still want the bus to pull up to the driveway.”
Polak, by the way, drives a Dodge Caliber, which replaced her previous Honda Civic hatchback. But she knows commuting. She’s done the trip to downtown by bus and SkyTrain and, as a girl growing up in Cloverdale, she commuted to Catholic high school in Burnaby. (Fortunately for her, by school bus, not public transit or she might still be on the road somewhere.)