“If I Were Mayor”: Jak King reviews (absence of) progress on how City is governed since 2014

jak_king_bio-image(Below, with permission, we reprint a Feb. 8 blog post by civic historian/activist/blogger Jak King in which he reviews eight things he said he would change in how this City is governed if he were mayor, which he originally wrote in the heat of the 2014 civic election campaign in Vancouver. He concludes here there has been no forward movement on any of the points. Note that we are now in the second year of this council term, and approaching half way to the 2018 civic election.)

If I Were Mayor (Another Look)

by Jak King, 8-Feb-2016

I wrote the following in the summer of 2014, before the last Vancouver municipal election. I thought it about time to review these points and to see if matters have improved in the last two years.


There are, it seems to me, two types of municipal policies: the public policies (bike lanes, more parks, housing, support for arts, etc) that form the basis of most civic election campaigns; and then there is the question of how the City is run, the policies of governance.  I do have some definite ideas about public policy, but this article is about the second type — how this City is governed.

If I were Mayor with a majority on Council, there would be a lot of fundamental changes in governance policies, enough to ensure that we governed ourselves very differently, with much more transparency and far less politicization.  The difference between my ideas and those of the current Vision Vancouver Council will, I think, be obvious.

  1. Public “real time” display of all City expenditures.
  2. Immediate elimination of all Non Disclosure Agreements for City business; if it involves public money, then everything must be public; you don’t want to be public, then don’t do business with the city.
  3. If you or your company or your family members have made municipal political contributions to a party within the previous four years, you cannot do business with the City (this would be a City rule, no need to amend the Charter).
  4. Return to line item budgeting with details enough for everyone to understand.
  5. Make Vancouver number 1 in North America with the openness, speed, and efficiency of our FOI system.
  6. Move Planning out of the empire of the City Manager and have it report directly to Council. This should stem the distasteful politicization of the Vancouver public service.
  7. All documents regarding city policies, planning, and development to be made public at least six weeks prior to Council.  If new documents are created, then the meeting dates must be rescheduled in accord with this rule (no more showing up with 25 pages of amendments on the day of the vote).
  8. In camera sessions to be held exclusively for legal and personnel matters only.

There are probably others that should be included but, if just these eight proposals were adopted, our municipal government would be significantly more accountable and, I believe, far more efficient.  These proposals do not include the meta-changes that need to be made with the Provincial Governments help — such as a ward system and strict campaign finance limits on donations and expenditures.


Not one of these items has been dealt with in the interim, although we have some hope that (#6) any world-class city planner who applies for Brian Jackson’s old job would want the governing structure to change. Unfortunately, #5 has gotten worse if that is possible: I’ll be updating my own FOI story in the next few days. As for the others?  No forward movement.

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