All Vision, no insight 0
Vancouver's director of planning didn't stand a chance. With a majority of the city's development community calling for his head, Mayor Gregor Robertson had little choice but to fire Brent Toderian this week.
I first met Toderian when I worked as chief of staff to former mayor Sam Sullivan at Vancouver City Hall. He came out as the top candidate for the post after an extensive search was conducted to replace former co-directors of planning Ann McAfee and Larry Beasley.
Toderian came to Vancouver via the City of Calgary and was highly recommended for the post. He was billed as an up-and-comer who had the vision to build on the city's reputation as a model for sustainable urban development.
Unfortunately for Toderian, he's become the latest road kill as city politicos continue their quest to systematically cleanse the upper ranks. Without exception, every senior staffer hired by the former NPA administration has been terminated or retired from the public service.
If you recall, within days of first taking office, Robertson fired former city manager Judy Rogers and replaced her with the more Vision-friendly Penny Ballem. The move cost taxpayers over half a million dollars in severance pay.
That high-profile personnel change would prove to be only the first in a series of departures from 12th and Cambie. They include two deputy city managers, the manager of the park board, the fire chief and the chief electrician, to name but a few.
Therefore it should come as no surprise that Robertson would finally get rid of the last high-profile member of the civil service he did not have a hand in hiring. Toderian should thank his lucky stars he lasted as long as he did, considering Vision has made it clear they want their own people running the various departments at city hall.
I have no doubt Vision Vancouver's major donors are popping the champagne corks this week with news of this latest departure. That's because a number of major developers were quietly lobbying the mayor to turf one of Vancouver's most powerful bureaucrats.
Unlike his predecessors, Toderian was accused of being too focused on process and less interested in cutting deals. Something tells me these long-standing complaints won't dissipate even with the hiring of a new director later this year.
With Toderian set to receive $200,000 in severance pay, Vancouver can finally claim the dubious distinction of having the most partisan senior management team found anywhere in the Lower Mainland. But given Vision Vancouver's success in the last election, it's pretty clear most voters simply don't care who occupies the corner offices at City Hall.