Just a couple of days ago, I launched my campaign for a New Governance Model for Vancouver. It has already been accessed a significant number of times and generated some lively discussion on Twitter and email.
I have been pleased — not to say surprised — that no-one has yet written off the proposals as a waste of time. In fact, one retiring City Councillor RTed the piece to City staff and all incoming Councillors calling them “excellent ideas for fixing City Hall.” He noted that
“Adriane Carr and NPA Vancouver are open to many of these ideas. Maybe not all. But let’s push for debate. We can do better. And we can create made in Vancouver solutions.”
The case to be made for wards seems to be well accepted by many that I talk with. A few have suggested a mixed Council system where there are both ward and at-large Councillors. I see that as an unnecessary complication (do they have different voting rights? they will need different balloting and financing rules) without any genuine value-add. However, as I have written this weekend, a mixed Council might be a first step towards a full ward system; a first step that would be better than what we have today.
I had suggested 15 wards (or about 50,000 residents per). It was noted that we have 11 Provincial ridings in the city that could act as de facto wards for the municipality(with about 68,000 residents per).
That seems logical at first glance, but it has problems. As Joseph Jones pointed out, the boundaries could be subject to partisan gerrymandering for Provincial purposes that serve o value for the City. I would also be concerned that the riding associations of Provincal political parties would become involved in a way unsuitable for a non-party municipal setup.
Another correspondent suggested something completely different:
“I would simplify the vote by having to pick one mayor, school board, councillor & park board. SB, PB & councilor will pick their candidates to fill in the rest of the admin. The rest of the candidates can be fired while first 4 are voted in. 3 voted in can oust the mayor.”
Definitely radical, but that idea has some issues that need to be worked on, I think. Another writer, one who’s opinion I have valued over the years worried, I believe, about the lack of a Mayor:
“Always thoughtful and interesting, Jak. I agree with a few points here, but you’re missing a crucial piece: the relationship with the civil service or: responsible government. Who takes ownership of staff work and can reps keep denying agency by following staff recommendations?”
I had assumed that the rotating chair would, in the absence of a Mayor, fulfil whatever executive management functions the former Mayor had completed. I am hoping he expands on the issue as I am not sure I see a major problem here. At least the discussion on that point allowed many of us to agree that the politicisation of the public service needs to stop and be reversed.
Another regular correspondent wrote to complain about my suggestion of not being allowed to do business with the City if one had donated to a municipal campaign. We have agreed to disagree on that point.
I hope the discussions continue and I look forward to some actual changes!