I first published this in June. Now that we have finally entered the election year months traditionally given over to politics in Vancouver, I thought it would be worth revisiting; and aksing whether any of our municipal parties will go along with all or at least some of these ideas:
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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.ancouver
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.
- Public “real time” display of all City expenditures.
- 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.
- 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).
- Return to line item budgeting with details enough for everyone to understand.
- Make Vancouver number 1 in North America with the openness, speed, and efficiency of our FOI system.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
I wonder how many of the parties contesting this year’s election would agree to any of these eight ideas?