In a move that surprises no-one that has been following the muncipal scene, the Provincial Liberals will table legislation this year to elongate civic terms to four years. In other words, the Vancouver election in November this year will be the last one until the end of 2018. Whoever we get this year will rule us for what will seem like an eternity. And, if it is the wrong crew, Vancouver will never be the same again, with huge towers approved throughout the City and disrespect for neighbourhoods and residents becoming even more the norm than it is today.
Vision Vancouver personnel lobbied the Union of BC Municipalities hard to get the UBCM to change their previous position and vote for four year terms. Their pals in the Liberal Party listened to them.
This extension to municiopal terms is a part of a much larger plan to move power away from the people. We have the unelected Translink Board being given powers over transportation and land use in our city, and the unelected Metro Vancouver controls a wide range of other important services. Being unelected, neither of these bodies see any reason to listen to the voice of the people. The benefits of municipal government are best seen when the people retain a close control and can influence officials; yet we are moving ever farther from that ideal.
We will get longer terms but we will have to wait for finance reform because Vision doesn’t really want it. In other words, fat wallets will still be able to fund the parties without limit for another five years and Council will remain beholden to the paymasters for the forseeable future. NPA, NSV, the Greeens, and COPE have all issued formal statements in support of expense limits. Vision hasn’t. Why is that?
Another issue: Why has the media not been covering the extension of municipal terms, thus enabling the public to have their say before the fait acommpli? A number of civic groups advised local reporters weeks ago that this was likely to happen, but have you seen ANY stories about this in the run-up to the announcement? None. Why the blackout on this story? Does it have anything to do with who pays the big real estate ads in the main newspapers?
In some countries, corruption involves public officials putting public monies into their own bank accounts. The corruption that money has on our system is far more subtle and impersonal, but just as insidious and damaging.