The most important governance body in the region, Metro Vancouver Board of Directors, is comprised of elected officials from each of the municipalities in the region. Elected, that is, in their home municipalities, but not specifically selected by the public to represent them at the Metro region. That selection is done internally by each City Council.
Since it first got control of City Hall, Vision Vancouver has consistently claimed 100% for itself the power to represent over 600,000 citizens of the City of Vancouver at the regional level. Is this fair and equitable representation for the Vancouver citizens?
Citizens and governments across the region should sit up and note that the actions and votes of Vancouver Directors may not be representative of the public interests or the wishes of Vancouver citizens. Especially since Vancouver has such power at the Metro level.
The City of Vancouver has the largest population in the region, and has the largest contingent allocated to Metro Board, with 7 Directors. At the Regional District Level, Vancouver Directors combine for a total of 24% of the vote (or 31 weighted votes out of 129). The votes are allocated based on formula that uses the population of each municipality.
At the inaugural meeting of Council starting at 5 pm on Monday, December 8, 2014 (see agenda here), there is a proposal to again fill the positions for all 7 directors for the City of Vancouver with Vision Vancouver mayor and councillors. Is this a fair representation for Vancouver?
We urge citizens and elected officials to have a good discussion during the meeting about how things have worked since Vision controlled Council starting in 2008. Have they consulted the rest of City Council adequately regarding Vancouver’s votes at the Metro region? Have they shared information adequately? Have they shared power? The other parties on City Council (NPA and Green) have a right to protest the proposed appointments and seek more fairness.
The mayor of a municipality is generally one of the representatives on Metro Board (where there is a mayor). Hence Mayor Gregor Robertson should have a seat there. But what about the remaining 6 seats? If our civic government was fair, would it not allocate these votes fairly?
Election results show that Vision Councillor candidates received 31.8% of the total votes that were cast (462,384 out of 1,452,811) in the November 2014 election. The NPA received 32.7% (475,210) — a higher number than Vision. The Green Party was at 11.6% (or 168,163 for 3 candidates). Yet Vision took a total of 6 out of the 10 seats for Council, with the NPA receiving 3 seats and the Greens 1 seat. Does Vision Vancouver really believe it has a mandate now to take all of the seats on Metro Vancouver Board?
The only time that one of the NPA or Green Party Councillors can take part of in a Metro Vancouver Board or Committee meeting is when they are designated as an alternate Director. Few people know this, and few people are watching, but we are: Vision Vancouver Councillors have a poor track record of sharing information from Metro Vancouver with other non-Vision members of Council. They also rarely let their alternates know that they will be absent (Stevenson and Jang in particular). In such cases, the votes allocated to that Vancouver Director are lost, wasted. The practice of not letting alternates attend Metro meetings potentially harms the interests of Vancouverites, as the votes from alternate directors may be needed on close votes. If someone wanted to pursue this topic, it could be the basis for a challenge under the Vancouver Code of Conduct, which requires City elected officials and staff to put the public interest above all else.
As a gesture of good faith, should Mayor Robertson suggest that NPA and/or Green Party Councillors are also appointed full Directors at Metro Vancouver Board? Also, what is the role of mainstream media in all this? Do they look the other way? Or do the take the time to explain the importance of Metro Board to the residents of Vancouver? And monitor the behaviour of Vancouver Directors on the Metro Board?
MAKE METRO VANCOUVER MORE ACCOUNTABLE TO CITIZENS OF THE REGION: JOIN OUR EFFORTS!
Though most (if not all) local municipalities have live web video transmissions, plus archived video, of all City Council and committee meetings, Metro Vancouver does not. CityHallWatch and MetroVanWatch have been calling for this service at the Metro Vancouver level for years. At the moment the only video stream provided at the Metro Vancouver level is for Board meetings — but it is only provided live (during the meeting) and NOT archived online. And committee meetings are NOT recorded on video. Combine this with the fact that many Board meetings handle only minor administrative matters before going “in camera” (meaning CLOSED to the public and NOT recorded), and we have a large bureaucracy that is NOT publicly accountable. Voting records are usually not kept.
It is time for Metro Vancouver to get with the program and provide live and archived video of ALL Board and Committee meetings. It is not rocket science. (And in fact Metro already provides video for general meetings, such as the Sustainability Breakfasts and other outreach activities.)
Metro Vancouver, what are you trying to hide?