Kerry Jang tells a crowd that citizen committees are creating silos – see video
So which is it? Does Vision Vancouver support the City's citizen advisory committees or don't they? I guess it all depends on which member of their caucus you ask.
During the last term of council, Vision raised a mighty big stink when the previous NPA administration attempted to reform the citizen engagement process. Former Mayor Sam Sullivan was continuously attacked by Vision Vancouver for suggesting that the citizen advisory committee structure needed some reforms. In the end the committees were restructured, but the NPA pulled back on major reforms that could have resulted in more meaningful citizen engagement.
Over the last few weeks, we've been unearthing some interesting videos featuring Vision Councillor Kerry Jang. It's pretty obvious that he's been suffering lately from a serious case of foot-in-mouth disease. Now it looks like he may have put the ol' size 12 in it – yet again. We've found another Jang video where he's sounding rather "NPA-ish" when it comes to his assessment of the value of citizen advisory committees.
Jang was recently speaking to a bunch of students at UBC regarding his views on the recent Maclean's article which discussed how US & Canadian universities were grappling with the perception of – as some US universities describe it – being "too Asian." Jang went off on a tangent and offered his opinion regarding the myriad of citizen committees council works with at City Hall.
He starts off by telling the UBC crowd he doesn't want anyone to misconstrue his comments as a "criticism" of Vancouver's advisory committees, and then proceeds to criticize them.
One thing I have learned at city hall that is very interesting. On the one hand we try to make sure everyone is included. So we have so many committees. Citizen advisory committees. This is not a criticism, but rather they start becoming unwieldy. Because you have to have a special committee for every special group. And it gets to the point where after a while it gets all mixed up and you end up building silos. The very silos you are trying to break down in Canada. It's by trying to recognize each group. So everybody would say "I'm putting my gender lens on today" or "I'm putting my ethnicity lens on today" as I'm looking at a city report. Even if it has nothing to do with it. They put it on and they speak at length about it. It comes to the point where you're trying to be too good you kind of slow things up.
As I listened to Jang's remarks, I couldn't help wondering what his COPE coalition partner Ellen Woodsworth would think about his "gender lens" remark. Or does Vision's George Chow agree with his comments about city reports being assessed against an "ethnicity lens"?
Ironically, just as Jang was making his remarks regarding citizen committees creating "silos" and slowing things up at city hall, his colleague Andrea Reimer was praising them in a Georgia Straight opinion piece. Unlike Jang, Reimer says she supports the committees, and even took a partisan shot at the previous NPA administration for daring to alter their scope during Sullivan's government.
Pictured on straight.com in a glum pose on a dock with her laptop on a sunny summer day, Reimer told Straight readers that Vision had a lot of work to do after they got elected back in '08. First off was "solving" the Olympic Village development issue (it's now gone into receivership), then addressing citizen advisory committees. She says:
Next up was dealing with the NPA’s shutdown of several citizens’ committees. Seniors, people with disabilities, multicultural communities, the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer) community, and women, who were shut out of city hall by the NPA, now all have committees specifically designed to give them a clear voice at city hall.
Funny how Jang goes out of his way to say that advisory committees are creating silos and slowing up the process, but Reimer is writing opinion pieces saying Vision couldn't re-establish enough of these "silos" within weeks of being re-elected.
As we've reported here in the past, Vision Vancouver has been openly criticized by dozens of community groups for not listening nor consulting with them before implementing their agenda. Whether it's the Hastings Park expansion or the STIR program, Mayor Robertson and his team have clearly not been willing to listen to citizen input. The most visible expression of Vision's distaste for public input came when Robertson himself was caught slagging citizens as "&#@%! NPA hacks" for merely coming to council and expressing their views.
So should I believe Jang or Reimer's position regarding how Vision Vancouver view their citizen advisory committees? Based on their track record, I'd say Jang's comments are more closely aligned with what the current civic government really thinks about the value of public input.
What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comment below.
- Post by Daniel