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|I Am Skooter|
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
In less then a week, approximately 15% of Vancouver’s voters will go to the polls to vote on the issue of whether or not the city should adopt Thomas Berger’s ward system.
My sense of this one is that the pro-Wards side is going to win, largely becuase of the lack of compelling argument on the no-side. The spokespeople that have been trotted out have been less than compelling, and the general perception is that Vancouver is the odd man out in terms of wards.
The sad truth is that wards or no wards, this is not going to solve the problems with government in Vancouver.
The GVRD is dysfunctional. More so than any other region I’ve ever lived in. The recent RAV fiasco was a wonderful demonstration of it.
Contrary to popular belief, RAV is not an example of why we shouldn’t vote for wards: it has little to do with it, actually. RAV never should have been a political issue, it should have been a TransLink issue. TransLink is a regional body working with a series of non-regional governments: the two have different priorities.
The GVRD as a region has a population of approximately 1.7 Million people and growh is faster outside of Vancouver than inside. Vancouver is the cultural and financial hub of the region, but it will not remain the population hub for very long. Economics dictate it: people are moving to the valley, not downtown.
At the moment there are more than 10 municipal governments forming policy for the GVRD region. Wards will do nothing to change this solution.
The Greater Toronto region had - prior to its merger - 2.5 million people and 7 regional governments: that’s approximately a population approximately 50% higher than the GVRD with half the number of regional governments.
If you take this down to a councillor level the situtation gets even worse: with 44 councillors, each Councillor in Toronto represents approximately 57,000 people. Compare this to the District of North Vancouver where 6 councillors represent (in an at large system) approximately 82,000 people or approximatley 13,600 each.
This is repeated throughout the GVRD: 6 councillors in Delta (encompassing Lander, Tswassen, and Delta) represent approximately 94,000 citizens; Richmond’s 8 councillors represent 168,000.
There is, quite simply, too much government throughout the GVRD and that government is too fractured: the proposed Ward system in Vancouver will actually aggravate the situation by adding 4 councillors to the City itself. At our current population of 560,000, each of our 10 councillors would theoretically be responsible for approximately 56,000 citizens: fewer than Toronto already has.
Why - this leaves me to ask - would anybody vote to make Vancouver’s government larger when the proposed solution still doesn’t address the fundamental problems with our region.
It’s popular to criticize the mega-citying (which is not a word, but it’ll do) of both Toronto and Montreal because of some of the logistical problems faced, but there is a solution to the problem: Vancouver should take the lead and work with neibouring municipalities to form a reasonable structure for regional government. If this means merging municipalities, this would make Vancouver the first bottom-up mega city: Toronto and Montreal both had mergers pushed down onto them by their respective provincial governments.
Don’t vote for wards unless you really think they’re going to result in better and more efficient use of your tax dollars: there’s no evidence that this is the case.
Push for a merged Vancouver; phone your councillors and tell them you want to work with your neighbours, not against them.