Some breaking Vancouver news... Phil Heard, CEO of the Vancouver Economic Development Commission (VEDC) has quit. A letter of resignation is pasted below.
The recent history of the VEDC has had its share of controversy. After a 2006 decision by Vancouver city council NPA majority, and the loud protests of the Vision Vancouver opposition, it was decided to give the VEDC a larger budget to create an economic plan for the city. The VEDC have been working on a study of Vancouver's economic strengths and weaknesses over the past 24 months. CityCaucus.com reviewed a draft copy of the VEDC's plan several months back.
Then last year the Vision Vancouver government took a much stronger interest in the work of the volunteer advisory body, giving it new directions to make Vancouver a "Green Capital". Mayor Robertson announced the hastily prepared plan to the Vancouver Board of Trade (making his 'kick it into gear' bike analogy before the suits) before leaving for Europe on city business. Green Capital became the theme of the abysmal Vancouver House pavilion. Coincidentally, the senior manager in charge of Vancouver's LiveCity sites, Sue Harvey announced her resignation this week.
Finally, there have been the questions about all the hundreds of thousands of dollars of Olympic tickets given to the VEDC to dole out as part of the city's "business development". Dogged reporters such as 24 Hours' Bob Mackin and Mike Howell at the Courier have come up dry so far getting City Manager Penny Ballem or even Heard himself to reveal who got all those tickets.
One line stands out in Heard's carefully crafted text: "Fortunately for the city of Vancouver, and for VEDC, Vancouver elected a Mayor who not only has a strong economic development agenda, but also leads the work." By "leading the work" is Heard hinting that Robertson has been meddling in the VEDC's affairs?
Here below is a copy of Heard's resignation letter:
April 13, 2010
Maureen Kirkbride, Chair, Board of Directors
Vancouver Economic Development Commission
I am writing to let you know that I have been reflecting on the VEDC and my role, and have come to the decision that it is time for me to step aside as the CEO.
When I joined VEDC in September 2007, I agreed with then-Chair Tom English that my job was to achieve three goals:
- To stabilize the organization from a personnel point of view
- To grow and stabilize a woefully inadequate funding base
To improve a poor working relationship with the City, getting VEDC “inside the tent” as a trusted advisor to the many departments relevant to our work I believe that, with the support of the VEDC Board and staff, I have achieved all these goals, and have exceeded the expectations of those who hired me.
Fortunately for the city of Vancouver, and for VEDC, Vancouver elected a Mayor who not only has a strong economic development agenda, but also leads the work. The Mayor and his staff, City Council and senior City staff have been immensely supportive of VEDC’s effort, which has made for a highly productive and enjoyable working relationship.
One highlight of the last year was the success of the Metro Vancouver Commerce Olympic Business Program, where Mayor Robertson played a key role as chief salesperson for the City and region. As we move into the all-important follow-up phase of the Olympic Business Program, and developing and executing agreements generated through the Program, I believe the Mayor’s efforts need the support of a strong economic development professional at the helm of VEDC.
I am very proud of the progress VEDC has made under my leadership, but I feel it is now time for me to move on. I am therefore tendering my resignation, effective at the end of April, 2010.
It has been an honour and a privilege to help develop a strong and nimble VEDC team that has set a high standard in economic development for the City and the region, and built a firm foundation for future activities to strengthen the local economy.
I wish you, the Board, the VEDC staff and the City of Vancouver all the best in your endeavours to make our economy strong and vibrant for generations to come.
Thank you for the opportunity; I have enjoyed my time at VEDC immensely.