Opinion

Metro Vancouver dodges electoral reform bullet 0

Daniel Fontaine

By Daniel Fontaine, Dialogue with a Difference

David Cadman, a former Vancouver city councillor, enjoyed the perks of being a director on the Metro Vancouver board, going on numerous foreign trips on the public’s dime.

David Cadman, a former Vancouver city councillor, enjoyed the perks of being a director on the Metro Vancouver board, going on numerous foreign trips on the public’s dime.

Whether or not you are an avid watcher of federal politics, it would be challenging to completely shield yourself from the ongoing saga known as Canada’s Senate. Police investigations, charges of corruption and some serious finger-pointing are par for the course in the Red Chamber these days.

All of this has spurred, yet again, the age-old debate regarding whether we should abolish the Senate or elect those who claim to provide sober second thought.

As the spotlight shines ever brighter on Senate shenanigans, those of us living in Metro Vancouver have little to crow about. We have our own version of an unelected governing body which one could argue plays a bigger role in our daily lives, but gets nowhere near the same level of scrutiny.

Metro Vancouver has 40 appointed directors comprised of local mayors and councillors. It has an estimated $647 million annual budget and spends your taxes on a range of projects and infrastructure throughout the region.

One such item was a water filtration project on the North Shore. Initially budgeted in 2003 at $600 million, the total cost for the Seymour-Capilano Filtration Project skyrocketed to well over $800 million.

Local politicians are appointed to the Metro Vancouver board by their councils. There is no mechanism to put your name on the ballot to become a director. Once on the Metro Vancouver board, the paltry pay you receive from local taxpayers can be plumped up quite nicely if you are appointed to one of its many committees.

Spend an hour attending a meeting and receive $355 in extra pay. If your meeting goes one minute beyond four hours, jack that up to $710.

Not only is the committee pay good, so too are the perks. It was revealed through freedom of information requests that David Cadman, a former director from Vancouver, racked up quite a few air miles.

Between 2005 and 2008 he charged municipal taxpayers just shy of $100,000 for out-of-country travel. His overseas junkets included travel to the Ivory Coast, Holland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Korea, Bali, and Denmark.

Efforts have since been made to curb the travel habits of free-flying Metro Vancouver directors. But the fact remains this governing body remains just as unaccountable and unelected as our Senate.

Unfortunately, while Victoria recently announced plans to introduce a set of reforms for municipal governance, Metro Vancouver fell under the radar, once again.


Daniel Fontaine is a local political commentator. Follow him on Twitter @Fontaine_D. Comment online at Vancouver.24hrs.ca/opinion.

Poll

Do you think Metro Vancouver should elect its board of directors?

Reader's comments »

By adding a comment on the site, you accept our terms and conditions and our netiquette rules.


Featured Businesses

Go to the Marketplace »