The citizens of Vancouver have lost trust in City Council. People say they feel left out of decision making, and they are right. The public consultation process of open houses and on-line “Talk Vancouver” input are frustratingly superficial. Power is centralized. Not enough information is shared. Many members of City Hall staff are sheltered from media. Developers’ interests appear to trump citizens’ interests. There are a record number of citizen lawsuits against city planning decisions.
Ensuring the public interest requires a more transparent, collaborative and better-balanced council, not dominated by the power of a majority.
Ensuring the city is well run for all Vancouverites requires a civil service that functions well, sound city infrastructure and thoroughly scrutinized budgets.
Your Vancouver Green Council Team will work for:
Transparency and accountability at City Hall
• Public disclosure of lobbying activities by organizations and developers by requiring full disclosure of City Councillors’ and City Managers’ appointment schedules.
• City Ombudsperson to investigate citizen complaints, with a goal to resolve issues and reduce the number of citizen law suits against the city.
• Review the in-camera process of decision making to ensure that it’s not overused and all relevant information is made public in a timely way, especially regarding public hearings.
• Detailed line-by-line operating budgets like the city’s capital budget, and the federal, provincial and Metro Vancouver operating budgets.
• Faster, more thorough responses to Freedom of Information requests. In 2014 Vancouver ranked as the slowest city in Canada for FOI responses.
• No more last minute reports. Require three-week advance distribution of all reports to Council, as San Francisco requires, to enable public and media scrutiny.
• More open data files on land use planning, including how much growth is possible under current zoning.
• Searchable database of Council voting records.^TOP
Better access to Council
• Hold public hearings in neighbourhoods affected by Council decisions.
• Schedule evening meetings of Council to offer people with daytime jobs the chance to speak to issues.
• Reduce the size of the City’s Communication Office and use those funds to provide assistants to Councillors to respond to citizen inquiries, complaints and requests. ^TOP
A collaborative Council and City
• Create a culture of collaboration instead of partisanship on City Council.
• Revamp public consultation. Make “open houses” interactive. Require community collaboration in decision making. Incorporate processes as we had in the 1990s where residents voted on options for their neighbourhoods.
• Provide support to neighbourhood representatives to genuinely involve the public in city decisions, like the Community Vision Implementation Committees that were funded in Vancouver until 2010, and Portland’s Office of Neighbourhood Involvement where neighbourhood associations are supported with staff, resources and recognition in order to collaboratively work on land use and planning issues.
• Restore community information that appeared on the City's former website, for instance community profiles and committee reports that were removed with the city’s website redesign.
• Record and consolidate the voting records of elected city officials as part of a commitment to open data and transparency.^TOP
An independent, happy civil service
• Allow Councillors and media direct access to city hall staff.
• Ensure the independence of the City Clerk in setting Council agendas.
• Engage an independent civic auditor, similar to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, to monitor municipal budgeting in the public interest.
• Review the impacts of budgetary “efficiencies” on city staff and implement bottom-up suggestions to improve efficiency and job satisfaction.
• Require exit interviews of staff leaving City employment; report findings in camera to Council.^TOP
A City Council independent of developer donations
• Advocate to prohibit political donations from developers and out-of-country donors.
• Advocate to limit election campaign spending.
• Establish rules for voluntary compliance of civic parties on campaign finance reform until the Vancouver Charter is changed. ^TOP
A city budget that makes sense
• Assess cumulative impacts of development on infrastructure and city services and ensure there are adequate funds to upgrade and expand public amenities to meet growth, including community centres, childcare facilities, firehalls, parks, pools and libraries.
• Ensure there are adequate timelines and funds to maintain, upgrade and replace the city’s basic infrastructure, including sewers, waterworks, sidewalks, roads and city buildings, especially in light of risks related to earthquakes and global warming.
• Modestly increase development fees to more adequately service growth.^TOP