Bula ponders merit of how policy is being developed at Vancouver City Hall

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

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Former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan hosts a meeting of the Four Pillars Coalition founded by former Mayor Philip Owen

My colleague on the CKNW civic affairs panel Frances Bula has a very interesting post on her blog where she asks what the role of politicians should be regarding the development of policy at Vancouver City Hall. She's asking her readers to weigh in on the debate and I would encourage you to check out what she's written. Here's a small excerpt:

Staff have always held meetings with stakeholder groups as they develop policies that are eventually brought to council. But here, we see the politicians getting more directly involved, by setting up those groups, deciding who the stakeholders are and sitting around the table with them to hear their advice. That’s all part of the Vision view that it should be politicians who drive change, not the staff.

There are many folks who believe civic politicians are there to set policy and the bureaucrats are there to implement it. There are an equal number of folks who believe that politicians can set the policy, but the bureaucracy will end up saving them from themselves by going in a slightly different direction. For us policy wonks, this is really a very interesting debate on civic governance that could easily translate into a full university course.

Bula observes that former Mayor Campbell and Mayor Sullivan also worked to develop policy by consulting with some key stakeholders: 

Former mayor Sam Sullivan had all kinds of meetings with stakeholder groups in the mayor’s office when he was developing his ideas about Project Civil City, the drug-substitution program and EcoDensity. So did Larry Campbell. There have been film task forces and crime coalitions, meetings with the Fair Tax Coalition, input from the arts community, and you name it over the years.

What do you think? How much is too much political involvement when it comes to developing city policy?

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