Archived photo of Mayor and council for a place known as the Village of Belcarra, BC
If you live in Metro Vancouver, you're abundantly aware that our region is broken up into 22 separate jurisdictions. Each city has its own administration, city hall, elected politicians, street cleaning crews, pothole and street lamp fixers and so on...and so on.
About every three years or so during election season, we inevitably begin a debate about whether there is a better way to "do civic government".
Should we go the way of Toronto and Montreal and amalgamate all of our cities into a mega-city? Is there truly benefit in establishing a single police force that would provide more cost effective and coordinated investigations? For many people the answer to both those questions would be a resounding yes.
But for a significant segment of our population, the prospect of a mega-city in Metro Vancouver is abhorrent - even if they acknowledge the current structure is top heavy, bureaucratic and unwieldy.
For someone living in Vancouver, the thought of an Abbotsford politician dictating how Dunbar should be developed is a complete non-starter. But perhaps that's why we need to completely re-frame the debate.
Rather than amalgamating the whole region under one roof, how about a very middle-of-the-road approach instead? What would happen if we decided to cut in half the number of cities we have in this region and replace them with I refer to as mini-mega cities?
Now for the purposes of this post, please imagine the Premier has temporarily granted me the all-mighty power of amalgamation. Here goes!
For starters I would leave Vancouver, the province's largest city untouched. Of course, this being Metro Vancouver, all the other cities would whine about my decision. They'd be screaming from the hilltops about bias and that Vancouver got its way - again. I sit and listen...then move on.
Of course I'd justify my decision based on the fact that over 600,000 people already live in Vancouver. Therefore, amalgamating a few more cities within its boundaries would provide no real benefit.
Heading south, I take direct aim at Richmond and Delta. But before I do, can anyone actually tell me where the boundary of Richmond ends and Delta begins? From both above and on the ground, it's really hard to tell them apart. It's time for me to wave my wand and voila...a new city is created - it is known as Deltmond.
Now lets shift a bit northward toward the Burrard Inlet. But first a skill testing question. Can anyone tell me where the heck the Village of Anmore or Belcarra is in relation to Vancouver? Did you know they are actually part of our Metro Vancouver governance structure? Yeah right...sure you did!
By the power vested in me by her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth the second, I now pronounce that Belcarra, Anmore and Port Moody are from this day forward known as Port Belmore. This beautiful new city nestled on the eastern tip of Burrard Inlet is truly a west coast gem!
Moving right along to the geographic centre of the Lower Mainland (that's what Metro Vancouver used to be called before they spent a lot of your tax dollars hiring a new brand management consultant), it's now time to check out the cities of Burnaby and New Westminster.
At only 50,000 people, my hometown of New Westminster proudly boasts its own police force and some of the highest property taxes on Earth - well, at least it feels that way when I have to pay them each year.
I now wave my magic municipal wand and *presto*. I've amalgamated the two cities which heretofore are known as Burnminster. I decided to pass on Newburn in order to once again avoid being accused of bias.
I would then amalgamate the Township of Langley with the City of Langley. Heck, if you can't even pick different names for your city, then surely you are a top candidate for amalgamation. It might be a tad boring, but I'm simply renaming those two cities as Langley.
The same goes for the District of North Vancouver and the City of North Vancouver. Except this time I would also lump in West Vancouver and Bowen Island for good measure. It may be a tad long, but I would rename it as the City of North-and-just-west-uv Vancouver.
Okay folks...I know you may be getting a bit tired right about now, but bear with me as we only have a few more municipalities to go.
On the eastern front of our region, we have what would be considered a Vancouver city planner's nightmare. Row after row of single family homes sprawled over what used to be pristine farmland and forests. They are the cities known as Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge and its now time to squish (that's a planner's technical term for amalgamation) them together.
If I had more time I would have lobbied the Province to allow me to annex Mission as well (technically they're not in the region). Oh well. Time to wave my wand and introduce you to the new City of Maple Meadows.
In short order, I would also re-write the boundaries for both Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam (there goes that same name thing again). They may not like it, but I've decided to rename this part of Metro as Port Coquitlam. I figured "Coquitlam" remains in the name, so why should their residents raise a stink? Furthermore, think of all the money we'll save now that Port Coquitlam doesn't have to reprint its stationary!
Now to the kingdom of Surrey ruled by the ever-popular Mayor Dianne Watts. While I was tempted to treat Surrey like Vancouver and simply leave it alone, I couldn't.
After all, just imagine the look on the face of every White Rock resident when I tell them that once and for all - YES, you really do live in Surrey. Priceless!
It goes without saying the two cities should be joined together. After pondering many different options, I've decided to rename the cities as Surrey Rocks. Kind of cool eh? It also just happens to make for a great tagline too!
Phew...that was no easy exercise in democracy. But there you have it folks, your new Metro Vancouver cities.
- Burnminster (Burnaby, New Westminster)
- Surrey Rocks (Surrey, Whiterock)
- Langley (Township of Langley, City of Langley)
- Maple Meadows (Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows)
- Deltmond (Richmond, Delta)
- Port Belmore (Port Moody, Belcarra, Anmore)
- Port Coquitlam (Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam)
- North-and-just-west-uv Vancouver (Bowen Island, North Vancouver, City of North Vancouver, West Vancouver)
One final note. I've been advised by KPMG that my new mini-mega cities will cut administration costs by up to 15%! That will be more enough to help pay for the Evergreen Line!