Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore has been acclaimed the new chair of the Metro Vancouver board, catapulting him into a prominent leadership role on regional matters.
Moore was not challenged by other local politicians in Friday’s board election and replaces outgoing Metro chair Lois Jackson, the mayor of Delta.
Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie was elected vice-chair.
Louie, nominated by Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, defeated North Vancouver District Mayor Richard Walton, who was nominated by Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie.
The regional district chair position comes with a $66,000 annual stipend in addition to Moore’s pay as mayor in his home city, while Louie will receive half that amount as vice-chair.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan considered running for chair, but said Moore will do a good job and said he did not have enough time to effectively serve the region and Burnaby, particularly since his wife is now an NDP MLA.
Among the challenges for the new board is the replacement of retiring Metro chief administrative officer Johnny Carline, who departs in February.
Moore said he intends to collaborate more closely with the provincial and federal governments – which Metro hopes will contribute to sewage treatment plant upgrades that are expected to cost at least $1.6 billion and drive up utility fees.
“Instead of going cap-in-hand to them I think we need to go to them and suggest how we can work in partnership together,” he said. “Money is an extremely important part of it, but there’s a lot more to the relationship than just money.”
One of the balancing acts ahead is working with the Fraser Valley Regional District and the province as Metro proceeds with its newly approved solid waste plan.
It allows the region to stop sending trash to the Cache Creek regional landfill and instead try to build more garbage incinerators or other types of waste-to-energy plants, but ultimate approval hinges on how consultations and more research on environmental impacts unfold.
The Metro board presides over a $614-million budget delivering a range of regional services, but most of it goes for water treatment and sewage handling.
Friday also saw the swearing in of the Metro board directors, who consist of councillors or mayors from each city, chosen by their councils.
Moore will decide whether to restructure the Metro committee system and which directors will chair and serve on each one – tasks that can come with a high profile.
Moore had been most prominent in regional politics as chair of the waste management committee that led a sometimes contentious set of public meetings on the solid waste plan.
He is not a member of any political party but was a BC Liberal member a few years ago.
“I’m a pretty center-of-the-road kind of guy,” Moore said, adding social issues including homelessness are major concerns for him.
The 41-year-old father is a former Port Coquitlam youth worker and urban planner whose hobby is building websites for non-profits.
After getting a master’s degree in business, Moore served two terms on Port Coquitlam council before being elected mayor in 2008 and was re-elected in November.
Walton had considered running for the Metro chair but decided to instead support Moore, who he said was a “better candidate than me” and who did “an outstanding job” handling the difficult and controversial waste strategy.
“He has superb people skills,” Walton said, adding that if there was any “horse-trading” that secured Moore’s unopposed run he was not part of it.
Walton is currently chair of the Mayors Council on Regional Transportation, which controls TransLink tax increases. That position is up for election in January.
He said he’s thinking of seeking the position again, but hasn’t made a final decision.
Walton led the mayors to a deal with transportation minister Blair Lekstrom that delivers a two-cent gas tax hike for TransLink in order to launch work on the Evergreen Line.
But the next mayors council chair will have to continue negotiating with the province to secure new funding sources which are almost guaranteed to be highly controversial.