MetroVanWatch wishes Mr. Johnny Carline a happy retirement, starting today. This was the day announced back in 2011 that he would retire as the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of Metro Vancouver (i.e., the Greater Vancouver Regional District) after many years at the organization. During his career, he has contributed much to the GVRD, and to coordination among municipalities in the region. One of his final achievements was shepherding the 30-year Regional Growth Strategy (replacing the Livable Region Strategic Plan) into law in the years and months leading up to its adoption in July 2011. In itself, that is a major administrative achievement.
We have covered that RGS story in depth on MetroVanWatch, and raised many concerns about the process leading up to the RGS being adopted, as well as the content of the RGS bylaw. Many of those concerns remain unresolved, and the public still has virtually no awareness about its vast potential impacts on the future of this region for the next generation. Now Mr. Carline leaves it behind for the people of the region to deal with. Delta’s Lois Jackson, then Chair of Metro Vancouver has been replaced in that position by Port Coquitlam’s Mayor, Greg Moore. Many of the faces on the Board have changed already, and senior staff who worked behind the scenes have also changed. In a high-profile firing in January, one of the critical negotiators in the RGS, former Vancouver planning director Brent Toderian, has been released from employment with the City. Whatever words were spoken, what remains it the legal document of the RGS with which municipalities must now comply and create “Regional Context Statements” within two years of the bylaw being passed.
The day the RGS was passed in July 2011, during the break in the Board meeting, MetroVanWatch asked Mr. Carline personally if he would at last hold a public meeting so the true meaning of the RGS could be explained to the people of the region. He said yes, but nothing has happened yet. Citizens of the region should now be asking their elected officials for a proper, honest, and complete explanation of the RGS and its implications in each municipality. And Metro Vancouver should hold meetings and provide printed and online materials about the true meaning and functioning of the RGS. These tasks we ask Chair Greg Moore, and the yet-to-be-hired new CAO, to pursue.
Another important bit of homework for Metro Vancouver remains: Introducing web video recording and archiving for all board and committee meetings. The negotiations for the RGS went forward virtually under the radar, without the proper oversight of our civic society. Many critical decisions are made by the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors, and the organization itself, despite its major influence, is not directly accountable to the public. More reforms are probably needed to improve the accountability, transparency, and good governance of the Metro Vancouver organization, but an important first step will be the introduction of web video. The communications director has stated publicly that staff are working on this, but to our knowledge the task has not appeared yet in any official meeting reports. Actions will speak louder than words.