How would Vancouverites react if this man were their mayor?
It might not be making a lot of headlines out west, but in Toronto the topic of cutbacks at City Hall is front and centre on the nightly news. Mayor Rob Ford got elected last year on a promise to end “the gravy train” within his local government.
To prove that he was serious, Mayor Ford is doing what few other civic politicians in Canada would dare to attempt. He is proposing cutbacks to police, fire and library budgets. In spite of this, he still has tremendous support from the public.
Now close your eyes for a moment and imagine if Ford suddenly became the Mayor of Vancouver. What do you think would be at the top of his “end the gravy train” agenda?
I suspect his first order of business would be to imitate Coquitlam’s cost-effective model of privatized garbage pickup for single-family homes. In that city, if residents don’t like the service they’re receiving, they simply terminate the contractor and hire someone else. Just like you or I would do if someone is providing bad service.
Vancouver’s new Mayor Ford would then take aim at city services that could be easily delivered by the private sector instead of bureaucrats. He’d tell his city manager, “If you can find the service being delivered in the Yellow Pages, I want to know why we’re in the business of delivering it too.”
As a result, city employees who work as lawn cutters, pool cleaners and electricians would be wondering if their private-sector counterparts could start bidding for their jobs.
It’s hard to believe Ford wouldn’t demand efficiencies within the police, fire and ambulance services. If they can’t figure out which one of them should be called out to a fender bender, he’ll do it for them.
The reality is Ford, or anyone like him, will never become the Mayor of Vancouver – at least anytime soon. If you’re a city bureaucrat or union boss, you can take a big sigh of relief.
There is no way on Earth that Vision Vancouver and Mayor Gregor Robertson are going to pursue a Ford-like agenda here. Nor will the fiscally conservative NPA propose cutbacks with a liberal-minded mayoral candidate like Suzanne Anton at the helm.
Heck, even Vancouver’s tax-averse business community is only proposing to tinker around the edges. They’ve half-heartedly asked city hall to look at cutting back a few staff “gratuity” days and reduce some duplication.
Mayor Robertson was recently quoted as saying it was “ignorant” for provincial politicians to claim he could find one-per-cent efficiencies within his own “lean” government. Something tells me if a certain Hogtown mayor were in charge, he’d have a slightly different perspective.
- - Post by Daniel. You can follow us on Twitter @CityCaucus. Or you can "like" us on Facebook at Facebook.com/CityCaucus. This column first appeared in 24 Hours Vancouver on Thursday, August 4th, 2011.