Price Tags Vancouver reported yesterday about the dual mandate or double jobbing of the new Rookie MLA from Delta who was also keeping his Councillor seat at the Corporation of Delta. As reported in Price Tags this has raised some Delta taxpayer eyebrows, folks that would like to see a separation between the Province and the municipality, and were also looking forward to some fresh thinking in a burb that needs some new ideas on communities, sustainable economy and industry diversification.
Immediately the same afternoon The Delta Optimist wrote that the new MLA Ian Paton, a stalwart supporter the Massey Bridge was also keeping his council seat to prevent an election. Yes you read that right. This has nothing to do with democracy-“Mayor Lois Jackson said by not having a by-election to fill his council seat, it will save the municipality $250,000.” Imagine, there is over a year in a mandate, and there is no democratic will to gain an interested and eager member of the community for that Councillor seat. Who might have some good ideas. But by not doing the right thing, the Corporation will save money.
Mr. Paton stated that both the Mayor and the City Manager asked Mr. Paton to also continue his Councillor position despite the conflict of interest of being an MLA. Mr. Paton says “I’m as keen as mustard to be on Delta council. I get up every morning and my first hour or two is dealing with municipal issues. I’m more than capable of doing both jobs and doing both jobs very well.”
It is uncomfortable that Delta Council and the Liberal party leader are happy for Mr. Paton to do his dual role and do not see the conflicts this represents. Meanwhile on Monday evening a block of residents approached Delta council with a lengthy signed petition for a street closure with traffic calming, as they were severely impacted by vehicles short cutting to arterial streets. Delta staff had no solution, saying that the street did not come up as a major crash site with ICBC statistics. Of course it does not, it is a residential street where speeding cars are ending up in side yards and taking out hedges. But this is also an example of the increasing disconnect perceived between Council and Delta residents, and the need for more community building and working with neighbourhoods, looking at innovative solutions. Sometimes the solution is not to save money, but to actively work with the community, be part of change, try new concepts. That new kind of thinking is also needed with the Massey Bridge in abeyance. Having a newly elected independent Councillor that does not represent the “same old” approach would be a good first step.