It's been decades since Metro Vancouver residents could vote for regional directors
UPDATE: The Vancouver Sun has reported on the front page today that Metro Vancouver costs will increase by a whopping 44% in the next 5 years. You may want to read their story in conjunction with my post. I also thought you might want to re-read an old post I did about massive cost overruns at one of Metro Vancouver's infrastructure projects.
Most people who live in the Lower Mainland are somewhat familiar with their local city council.
These councils make decisions about roads, sewers and water along with other core services, as well as approving new developments. Every three years, the politicians head back to the polls in order to get nother mandate. If you don’t like what you see, you can kick that group out and start all over again.
What gets much less attention is the massive unelected (and therefore unaccountable) governing body known as Metro Vancouver. It is comprised of 37 mayors and councillors, each of whom collects a healthy stipend for the privilege of being appointed by their colleagues to one or more boards or committees.
How would you feel about Metro Vancouver if I told you their budget increased by 6.5 per cent this year, more than double the rate of inflation? And what if I said directors have been able to collect up to $966 for three four-hour meetings? Not a bad deal, eh?
Did you know the top bureaucrat at Metro Vancouver took home a hefty $312,676 in salary last year?
Or that this unelected body had a capital and operational budget of just more than $1 billion in 2010?
Do I have your attention now?
As you can see, anyone who pays taxes in this region should have a keen interest in what is going on at Metro Vancouver. Sadly, most of us know so little about the Metro Vancouver government it barely registers.
I suspect this apathy has a lot to do with the fact we don’t directly vote for the politicians who end up running the Metro Vancouver board. Rather, they are appointed by their local council.
A few decades ago, Metro Vancouver directors were directly accountable to the electorate. If you wanted to be on Metro, you had to put your name on the ballot.
Coquitlam city Coun. Lou Sekora thinks we should revisit history. Last week he made a valiant effort to place this issue on the agenda this fall. He introduced a motion asking the City of Coquitlam to hold a referendum about whether it’s time (again) to elect politicians to Metro Vancouver.
In order to save money, he proposed it coincide with the upcoming civic election in November. Great idea, right?
Unfortunately, a majority of the elected officials on council, many of whom collect stipends from Metro Vancouver, defeated his motion.
For those of us interested in democratic reform, Sekora’s initiative offers hope that at least one civic politician is listening. Let’s hope other local politicians join the chorus for accountability soon.