Two excellent articles point at the need for a comprehensive approach in choosing the candidates for Mayor and Council in the various Metro Vancouver municipalities this Saturday.
Noted journalist Daphne Bramham points out the “complexity that the City of Vancouver has a voters’ planning guide on its website with candidate-supplied photos and profiles of the 21 people running for mayor, the 71 who want to be on council, and the 33 running for each of the park and school boards. Of course, Vancouver voters aren’t the only ones facing difficult choices with so few incumbents running, the collapse of traditional parties and so many Independents. In Surrey, there are 48 council candidates, eight running for mayor and 30 for school trustee, while Richmond has six mayoral candidates, 30 people running for council and 26 for school trustee.”
Decisions need to be made about housing affordability, transportation accessibility and the overdose epidemic. And it is the Duke of Data, Director of Simon Fraser University’s City Program that has come up with the “Handel’s Messiah or Highway to Hell” analogy. The people elected by citizens need to act for the greater good of all residents, not just the interests of the newly elected pundits’ inner circle. That includes diversity and listening to different voices.
“It’s about creating an ‘us’,” Yan said. “That’s hard and it’s a lot easier to create an ‘us’ if we all look the same, have same income and class.” So what do we do? “We have to look for candidates’ underlying humanity. Who appeals to our better angels?
Andy Yan was also interviewed by Vote Local and identified something that I have noticed has been missing in the discussion with Mayoral and Council candidates, and that is the importance of thinking regionally, not just insularly addressing the city.
As Andy states ” I’m seeing a shift to reacting as opposed to planning. One thing missing from the discussion is that we’re an interdependent region – economically, socially and in terms of transportation.It’s not just about Vancouver, but how we are connected as various regional nodes within Metro Vancouver. I don’t think that has been talked about enough… about how development, social infrastructure, and economic activity needs to be both integrated and spread out throughout region. We need discussion about creating comprehensive social,economic, and infrastructure networks – not about individual one-off projects in each municipality. How do our communities leverage each other and work with each other’s synergies? For example, the development of social housing throughout the region, and not having it concentrated within just a few concentrated areas in certain cities. We should be engaging in a discussion about the role of each Metro municipality in terms of its responsibility to deal with specific populations, such as seniors. How do municipalities deal with young families and their needs? Or those who are homeless? There’s a broad spectrum on the demand side of housing that requires thoughtful and integrated strategies and solutions, working as a region and a province.”
It’s not about electing independent councillors who make promises for creating more parks for people who own dogs. And beware of candidates who make those type of promises. It is about reviewing the established policy of the city as presented in Council reports and in committee reports by the City Manager and staff, and ascertaining that the direction is fulfilled . It is about ensuring that the work done is supportive of Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy .
It is about those councillors reading copious reports, asking questions of the city manager and of city staff, thinking about regional impacts and listening to all comment. It is about talking less, and taking in more, learning from the successes and missteps of previous Councils, listening to the public to do a more comprehensive job. As Andy Yan summarizes “The change in councils presents an opportunity for the next generation of leaders in the region to emerge and to learn from the past to build a better future together.”
Image: Deviant Art