It's been a busy week in Canadian cities with another round of interesting stories floating their way to the top of our weekly CityCaucus.com roundup.
Port Coquitlam, BC Mayor Greg Moore must have read our recent post on Burnaby's long-standing case of NIMBYism. This week he was doing a bit of finger wagging at Mayor Derek Corrigan for his opposition to a new pre-trial centre that is being proposed for his community. Moore's hometown has been home to a remand centre for years. Our research team has confirmed there isn't mass chaos or crime breaking out in the streets due to the facility.
In an interview with the Burnaby Now, Moore makes the following statement:
"We have not seen any safety concerns because of the remand centre...our remand centre is located in an industrial area, and it looks no different than any other building in the area.
"Our experience is that having a remand centre hasn't destroyed the community...it has fit into our community like any other business."
We at CityCaucus.com applaud Moore's bravado in exposing Corrigan's hypocrisy whereby he claims he wants to fight crime then actively opposes a deserately needed remand centre.
Meanwhile in Winnipeg, big brother is alive and well. The City has now installed a number of security cameras throughout the downtown core as a means of reducing crime, and increasing the chances of catching the bad guys.
According to the Winnipeg Free Press, a total of 10 cameras will be in operation when the whole program is operational. Mayor Sam Katz is a supporter of the one-year pilot project, but says the jury is still out as to whether the cameras will actually work. In BC, Vancouver, Surrey and Kelowna will also be installing cameras in some high crime areas.
In Toronto, they are debating whether to remove politicians from the Metrolinx board and replace them with professionals. For residents of Metro Vancouver, this is going to sound like deja vu all over again. That's because the same debate took place a couple of years back when the Province restructured TransLink and appointed a new professional board made up of people with transportation and business expertise.
According to the Toronto Sun "eight politicians sit on the 11-member Metrolinx board, which -- according to critics -- is mired in red tape, funding disputes, residents opposition and parochial decision making."
TTC Chairman Adam Giambrone begs to differ with Metrolinx critics. Here's his reaction to the prospect of having city politicians removed from the process:
"I think the board is working very well...there are more important things to do than wonder about the make-up of the board."
"We have been making a lot of progress...we have many projects on the verge of being started."
When TransLink's previous board was dismantled by Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon, here's what former TransLink board member, and City Councillor Suzanne Anton had to say:
"He [Minister Falcon] says the previous board was unprofessional, and I disagree with that...He says that the previous board was parochial, and I disagree with that. He says the previous board didn't have an eye for the taxpayers' dollars. I have to say that the continuing board–the board that I am on–is one of the most professional and best boards I have ever sat on. It is a very good board, and we are professional policymakers."
So Toronto's debate sounds a lot like the one that took place in Vancouver a couple of years ago. My bet is Toronto city politicians will be given the boot, and replaced by a new professional board.
A very divisive debate took place at Winnipeg Council this week regarding the implementation of new conflict of interest rules. A vote requesting the province to strengthen the rules was passed by the narrowest of margins 7-6.
Winnipeg Mayor Katz was more supportive of a motion to create an accountability commissioner, but that motion went down to defeat. According to CJOB radio, this motion was introduced to address an issue that "came to the fore last September over the renegotiation of a city lease with an organization that sublets land to the Winnipeg Goldeyes, owned in part by the Mayor."
Lastly, kudos to Mayor Richard Stewart in Coquitlam for signing up his City for the BizPal program. According to the news release issued by the City:
"BizPaL is an innovative service that provides entrepreneurs with simplified access to the information on permits and licences they need to establish and run their businesses. This unique partnership among federal, provincial, territorial, regional and local governments is designed to cut through the paperwork burden and red tape that small business owners encounter. The BizPaL service in Coquitlam was developed by the City of Coquitlam, the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada."
Mayor Stewart had this to say:
"BizPaL and the OneStop Business Registry are two examples of how we can support local businesses by making it easier for them to grow their enterprise in our community. We're looking for new and better ways to facilitate growth and add value, and BizPaL is a great step in the right direction."
And that folks was the week that was in Canadian Cities. See you all back here next Sunday.