Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts is accused of being more media darling than meat on the bones, but I don't agree. While I do not think her term as Mayor of Surrey has been a perfect record, there is something satisfying about her style of leadership that we've not seen in Vancouver for some time.
The Province newspaper features a full page report today where Watts not only confirms her goal to run again in 2011, she is effectively kiboshing any notion of running for Premier – yet. In a funny twist to the article written by reporter Kent Spencer, Watts signals her low opinion of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. Watts suggests that Gregor is "new to the job" and that some regional issues "needn't be politicized". Watts adds that –
Robertson would be judged by the electorate for a recent controversy in which he asked if dissenters at a public meeting were "NPA hacks."
Where Dianne Watts has reached out to other cities and tried to address issues as a region, Vancouver gets a giant FAIL for regional relations. I allude to this in my latest 24 Hours column, albeit in a humorous way. How is it that when it comes to issues that deal with Metro Vancouver, it's confounding that the region's biggest city seems so parochial. I blame the hubris of Robertson and his council colleagues for this.
Surrey's challenges are like those of other cities in the region, yet they seem to be facing them thoughtfully. A city known for its urban sprawl is aggressively pushing town centres to reduce car dependency. In the face of global economic woes Surrey is pushing a wide-ranging plan to woo business and jobs. Instead of symbolic gestures, Watts is engaging in real city-making. The goofy stuff is left up to Vancouver.
I have a few more things to say on this subject, which you can catch Friday morning @ 8:10 on Shore 104.3 FM, the morning show with Steve and Colleen.
- post by Mike