The following message was sent to all Mayors and Councillors in the Metro Vancouver region today, ahead of the inaugural Board of Directors meeting on December 16, 2011.
Dear Mayors and Councillors of the Metro Vancouver Region:
MetroVanWatch is writing to congratulate you on your election (or re-election) to municipal councils in the Metro Vancouver Region and to open up the lines of communication for this new three-year term. Below are some of our aspirations, concerns, and requests for this term.
Each municipality appoints a mayor and councillor(s) to represent its councils and citizens on the Metro Vancouver Board and committees. But we believe the public expects that all elected officials in the region — not just those on the Board or committees — are responsible for stewardship of the regional organization, for promoting communication to citizens about Metro Vancouver policies and decisions, and for encouraging citizens to be actively interested and engaged not only in their home municipality but also in decision-making at the Metro Vancouver organization. It is in that spirit that we offer these points below for your consideration.
- The inaugural Board of Directors meeting at 9 am on Friday, December 16 will elect a new Chair and Vice-Chair. We hope that your councils will encourage your directors to carefully consider and choose persons who will promise to foster and enhance an open, transparent, accountable and accessible culture throughout the Metro Vancouver organization.
- Metro Vancouver will soon be searching for a new Chief Administrative Officer. We hope that in your search you will also seek a person who embodies those values.
- In the next several months, each municipality will be working to create a Regional Context Statement that complies with the newly adopted Regional Growth Strategy — an important and powerful bylaw that will affect all aspects of land-use planning and has a time window of 30 years, to 2040. We hope that each municipality, and Metro Vancouver as an organization, will enhance and expand communications on the RGS. We hope that Metro Vancouver will hold a number of large, well-advertised public events with adequate time for open questions and discussion on the RGS. This we ask because we strongly feel that the public was not well-informed or involved in the most important final stages of adoption of the RGS in late 2010 and early 2011. We feel that some of the processes used to get the RGS adopted were not adequately open, accessible, or fair for the public.
- We are concerned that some B.C. municipalities have the most expensive civic elections (per vote) in Canada, a new record probably having been set again in November 2011, and that the major funders include developers, unions and foreign interests. This relationship could create a structural conflict of interest when the elected officials try to balance the public interest against the interests of their funders, especially where municipal political parties have dominant control. We hope that all mayors and councillors will be vigilant in watching over affairs for the entire Metro Vancouver region in order to balance the complex needs of the economy, agriculture, greenspace protection, environment, housing, jobs, and more.
- Finally, we hope that all municipal councils will join our call for greater transparency and accountability. One concrete step would be to introduce live web video (and archive it online) for all Board and committee meetings of Metro Vancouver (and in fact, for TransLink too, as it is now counted as an affected local government under the RGS).
For further information about MetroVanWatch and issues of concern going forward, please visit http://www.MetroVanWatch.ca
http://www.MetroVanWatch.ca. Our dream: A socially, environmentally, agriculturally sustainable “Metro Vancouver.” Our focus now: Problems with the “Regional Growth Strategy.”