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Columbia Journal logoVolume Nine, Number Two    April 2004    www.columbiajournal.ca

    Direct Democracy may Play Greater Role in GVRD

    CPP News service

    Referenda on major policies and project may become a reality for lower mainland residents.

    Delta mayor Lois Jackson proposed the idea at the March board meeting of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, and she says most of the mayors on the board like the idea. It passed overwhelmingly at the meeting.

    Major projects, like rapid transit and other major developments funded by municipal levies and property taxes, could be subject to regional plebiscites if the proposal is adopted.

    "It might impact future plans or future dollars, so that your children and my grandchildren are not going to be impacted by a decision made now for the next 30 to 50 years," she said. However, she insists this is for future consideration, and it would not affect current projects like the Translink ten-year transportation plan.

    While most of the mayors liked the idea, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum spoke out strongly against it, claiming they are expensive and undermine the executive authority of elected officials to make decisions.

    “I'm not a believer in referendums because I think the public... if I say certain things and I support certain things, if they don't want that, then every three years they can decide whether they want me as mayor or not,” he says.

    The GVRD finance committee will now study the idea and estimate how much such referenda would cost. It would then be up to the board to initiate a study on how they would be implemented.

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