Nine actions to reform our municipal government – No reason to delay

City Hall StatueNothing is going to improve with our civic governments until the public turns up the heat — a lot hotter. The next civic elections in 2018 are far too late for that.

We need to see at least the following, and there is no reason for delay:

  1. Provincial government decision to ban corporate and union donations and put meaningful caps on dollar amounts of donations.
  2. Municipal lobbyist registry – perhaps at the Metro Vancouver level
  3. Powerful, independent whistleblower system at municipal level – perhaps at Metro Vancouver level
  4. Ombudsperson for handling complaints at the municipal level
  5. Better standards for handling of freedom of information requests
  6. A bid committee for municipal government procurement, with full minutes posted online within 24 hours
  7. Continuous mandatory reporting of political donations to municipal politicians and parties
  8. Live and archive web video of all meetings of the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors and its committees. (Most municipalities already have this, and Vancouver Park Board started at last in 2015)
  9. Less use of in camera meetings (closed to the public, i.e., secret)

For an earlier version of this list, see Behold! Six actions to clean up Vancouver politics (2013). If we cannot have these democratic tools introduced in our local governments, what hope is there for the rest of our world?

2 thoughts on “Nine actions to reform our municipal government – No reason to delay

  1. “Municipal Lobbyist Registry” — would that also include “community groups”, which exist only to block development?

    • Actually, it would be more along the lines of provincial lobbyist registries, or the model from Toronto. Neighbourhoods and their representatives are generally active on a volunteer basis and seek to protect the heritage, livability, character, and sustainability of their communities. In contrast, lobbyists are generally paid by corporate clients to influence elected officials to vote in favour of the lobbyists’ clients, which generally are motivated by profit. At the municipal level, lobbyists would generally be consultants paid by developers who want public servants and elected officials to create and adopt policies that favour them, or to rezone a site for higher height and density — i.e., profit. Quite a big distinction between the two types. Each has a role to play, but motives are different. In fact besides a lobbyist registry, another it would be a sign of good faith for mayors and councillors to publish online their meeting calendar. They actually do this in other major cities. That is where a meeting with a citizen or citizens’ group might show up. Public officials, when doing public business, might as well make public who they are meeting.

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