Politicians Criticize GVRD Appointments

The Straight

Some local politicians say they’re tired of Greater Vancouver Regional District chairman Marvin Hunt having sole discretion over GVRD committee appointments. Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan told the Georgia Straight that he thinks that Hunt, a right-wing Surrey city councillor, has “politicized” the process by dumping some of his opponents from the committees, which make recommendations to the GVRD board.

In the first week of this year, Hunt dropped Vancouver COPE Coun. Tim Louis off the finance committee and removed Bowen Island Mayor Lisa Barrett from the planning and environment committee. “The councillors and mayors who are chosen not to sit are people Hunt has decided are not of his political ilk or are people who do not agree with his position,” Corrigan alleged.

Corrigan said the entire GVRD board should start ratifying Hunt’s choices to reduce the likelihood of political interference. Barrett and Vancouver COPE Coun. Anne Roberts each told the Straight that they also think the GVRD should review its appointment policy. “It puts too much power in the hands of one person,” Roberts said.

Corrigan, a member of the NDP, alleged that Hunt dumped Coquitlam Coun. Kent Becker off the finance committee a year ago after Becker expressed “dissenting views”. In addition, Corrigan claimed that a favourite of Hunt, New Westminster Coun. Casey Cook, was appointed to a GVRD committee without the support of his own council.

Hunt rejected Corrigan’s allegations of bias, noting that the outspoken Burnaby mayor still chairs the GVRD water committee. Hunt added that on January 11, he replaced Cook with New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright on the GVRD parks committee. Hunt also said that COPE Coun. David Cadman, another political opponent, is on the planning and environment committee and is dealing with an international convention.

“Boy, if I was going to give political favours, I sure wouldn’t be doing that, would I?” Hunt said.

GVRD committee members receive $200 per meeting and $400 for any meeting that lasts more than four hours. Hunt recently replaced COPE Coun. Louis with Vancouver COPE Coun. Raymond Louie, who also sits on the GVRD labour-relations committee and on the TransLink board of directors.

As directors of TransLink, Louie and Hunt both voted in favour of the $1.72-billion Richmond/Airport/Vancouver Rapid Transit project; Louis, chair of Vancouver’s finance committee, opposed the project at city council and on the GVRD board. “I think the way Marvin Hunt is handling the committee system is ridiculous,” Corrigan said. “To cut Tim Louis out of finance and off of any committee at the GVRD is just insulting.”

Roberts said she was “shocked” by the removal of Louis from the GVRD finance committee. “He has a piercing mind,” she said. “Those are big, complicated issues involving a huge amount of money. He had the capacity to do an excellent job.”

Hunt claimed that it’s hard to accommodate Vancouver’s six GVRD directors. Roberts, a GVRD director, was not appointed to any committees in 2004 whereas Hunt appointed her alternate, NPA Coun. Peter Ladner, to the waste-management committee.

Hunt said he decided this year to appoint Roberts to the communities committee and created space by shuffling Louie over to finance, making Louis the odd man out. “I have got to know Raymond Louie at TransLink,” Hunt said. “I have listened to his questions. I have observed the processes that his mind works through. He is a nitpicker on an awful lot of things. I like that. I want that kind of a mind on my finance committee.”

Roberts said she is also troubled by Hunt’s recent decision to appoint Richmond Coun. and GVRD vice-chair Kiichi Kumagai as chair of the planning and environment committee. In 2003, the GVRD board voted against allowing the $40-million Riverport development in East Richmond because it clashed with the regional growth strategy; Richmond council ignored the GVRD vote.

Roberts alleged that Richmond and Surrey politicians aren’t committed to the Livable Region Strategic Plan, which preserves green space and concentrates growth in areas accessible to transit. “Surrey has been particularly guilty of plopping business parks anywhere and everywhere around its region,” Roberts added. “What that does is increase the amount of commuting out to these business parks.”

Hunt, however, claimed that GVRD vice-chairs have previously chaired the planning and environment committee, so it shouldn’t surprise people that Kumagai was appointed this year. “There is no surreptitious backroom shenanigans going on here,” Hunt said.

Hunt promised there will be public input into a planned review of the Livable Region Strategic Plan, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2005.

Explore posts in the same categories: News

%d bloggers like this: