Full text is here. A new governance model is needed to help build a stronger community, and Coquitlam’s refusal to fall in line can only help. Excerpt: Metro Vancouver deserves a bigger vision. If citizens feel disconnected from governments of every level and dismayed about the state of democracy, it’s with good reason…. it’s Metro Vancouver that is probably the most egregious example of Canadian citizens having no voice in decision-making. Not a single director is directly elected by the region’s 2.2 million citizens. We have no say in who gets appointed. The appointments are made by each member municipality’s council behind closed doors. Those appointees then meet in closed meetings to determine who gets which positions at Metro. Its 37 directors control the mechanics of the region – water, sewer, roads, transit and planning – and a budget this year of $607.5 million or the equivalent of $422 out of the average property taxpayer’s bill. It’s absurd…
… Metro chair Lois Jackson, Delta’s mayor, got 12,104 votes in the 2008 election when fewer than 32 per cent of eligible voters bothered to cast ballots. (By contrast, Vancouver’s Mayor Gregor Robertson got 67,598 votes, with 31 per cent voter turnout.) Metro’s vice-chair Richard Walton is the mayor of North Vancouver District (pop. 82,562). He’s never faced a challenger or the voters. He’s been acclaimed twice…The chair of Metro’s planning committee, Burnaby Mayor Derrick Corrigan, got nearly 67 per cent of the popular vote. But his 20,365 votes is less than a third of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson’s vote count…It’s highly unlikely that Walton, Jackson or Corrigan have ever spoken during municipal election campaigns about their vision for a region, which is the national gateway to Asia, home to Canada’s largest and North America’s fourth largest port, one of the most ethnically diverse places in the world and one of the most expensive to live in….It’s not their fault. Metro and its board are the result of poor provincial legislation that created this undemocratic, unaccountable behemoth in an already over-governed and overadministered region…It’s Metro’s plan for the next 30 years that’s the impetus for citizens and stakeholders to once again question whether this is the best way to oversee and manage a dynamic, major metropolitan area…..Fortunately, Coquitlam’s mayor and councillors have put the plan in limbo. It requires unanimous consent of the 24 local authorities and Coquitlam has said no.
This 30-year plan – put together with scant consultation under the direction of parochial, unelected and unaccountable directors – lacks complexity. It provides no grand vision for the future…Coquitlam’s brave stand has given Chong – the latest in a decade-long string of ministers – and Premier Christy Clark the opportunity to reassess more than just the plan…Metro Vancouver is not only the province’s heartland and its economic engine, it has an important role to play in Canada’s economic, cultural and social growth. It’s outgrown the ability of part-time, unelected directors to plan and govern it, regardless of how well-intentioned they all may be.
The region and its citizens, present and future, deserve governance and a better plan.