We need accountability from local governments as we reopen

Dan Toulgoet/files

B.C. has a reopening plan, and we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. As we look to reopen and rebuild, we should expect our leaders to deliver increased transparency and accountability.

 

Vancouverites (as individuals, community and business leaders) should be provided with a clear plan and the opportunity to build a prosperous future together, by investing in themselves and their neighbourhoods. 

 

We are not seeing that from our mayor.

We need a plan to bring back tourists

While the U.S. Congress was planning to bypass British Columbia during the 2021 cruise ship season, our leadership, at all levels, either ignored or failed to see this risk. 

During the week the bill was tabled in Congress to strike a blow to our tourism economy, the mayor of Vancouver spent his time filming a video on World Migratory Bird Day. 

I am a fan of birds, but the job of the mayor is to be a champion for our city. In a normal year, cruise ships support roughly 6,900 direct jobs and $300 million in wages in Vancouver. 

Now there is talk in the U.S. about making the temporary law, allowing cruise ships to bypass Canada, permanent. This would be a catastrophic blow to our city; Vancouver cannot afford to ignore the threat. Our civic government must show leadership and push Ottawa to act quickly to resolve the border closure issue.

We need a plan for safe public spaces

It has been more than a year since local governments implemented trial runs on safe, responsible drinking in public spaces. While more than half a dozen neighbouring cities have launched safe public drinking plans, the Vancouver Park Board is still thinking about it. The Park Board tabled a plan in 2020, but continues to drag its feet. 

This is another reason why I am committed to abolishing the elected Park Board, and rolling responsibility back under City Council, where it belongs. Let’s take politics out of our parks.

We are being overtaxed

In February 2020, just weeks before claiming that the city was in financial crisis, our mayor said that property taxes would not increase in 2020/2021 by more than 5.0%.

The mayor admitted that he was just “putting his finger in the air,” to arrive at that number, and he was wrong on both.

Last year, the city posted a surplus instead of a loss, despite the mayor’s declaration of a crisis. Nevertheless, he is still raising our taxes by 5%, and sliding in an additional 0.2% of utility fees.

To a lot of people, that might not seem like much, but in the context of the entire city, that 0.2% is an additional $3 million of revenue. 

The mayor committed to 5%, and then used increased utility fees to get it to 5.2%. He has not been transparent.

Our city needs a plan for recovery. Our tourism sector is facing its second straight summer without cruise ships or international visitors. The restaurant sector has been brought to their knees. We can’t even have a casual drink in a park with our friends.

The list of personal and financial impacts to our citizens and businesses is long, but our mayor thinks it is OK to slide in an extra $3 million on top of an annual increase that is more than double the rate of inflation. This is not what accountability looks like. 

Our mayor is completely disconnected from financial responsibility. We deserve a leader who does not get by on technicalities. 

Vancouver needs and deserves better.

Ken Sim, FCPA, lives with his wife, four boys, and their dog Hank, and he’s running to be mayor of Vancouver in 2022. Find out more at KenSim.ca