The appointment of former civic bureaucrats from Surrey and Vancouver to the TransLink board of directors further shuts out smaller communities, Burnaby’s mayor says.
Earlier this month, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Peter Fassbender (who is the MLA for Surrey-Fleetwood) announced Murray Dinwoodie and Jim Chu had been appointed to the TransLink board.
Dinwoodie is the former city manager for Surrey and Chu is the ex-chief of the Vancouver Police Department.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said the appointments further isolate smaller communities.
Corrigan charged that other regional municipalities are already rendered effectively voiceless by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner – who as chair and vice-chair, respectively, of TransLink’s Mayors’ Council – control the agenda.
The Mayors’ Council appoints the majority of members on the board of directors and approves various transportation plans, including transit service levels, major capital projects and regional funding strategies.
Corrigan said Surrey and Vancouver used their “weighted votes” to install themselves as heads of the Mayors’ Council.
“This only adds fuel to that fire, (with Fassbender) appointing former employees of both Vancouver and Surrey as the (provincial) representatives,” Corrigan said.
He questions how two former civic bureaucrats qualify as provincial representatives.
“That was the reaction from the mayors, is how do these two represent the province’s interest?” Corrigan said. “The expectation was always that (the province) would appoint MLAs, or at the very least, deputy ministers to that position.”
In those cases, the provincial representatives would have the authority to speak for the provincial government, he said.
“But in this case, neither of these parties have the authority to speak on behalf of the provincial government, because their relationship is so distant.”
Fassbender acknowledged the two new directors won’t have any powers beyond a regular director, but said they will represent the province.
“Both Jim Chu and Murray Dinwoodie have extensive experience, not just in the civic level but at the regional, provincial and national levels,” Fassbender said. “I’m positive that their contributions will be invaluable.”
Hepner was pleased with the naming of the two new directors, and said Corrigan’s concerns are unfounded.
“On a personal level, I have always been a collaborative player,” Hepner said Wednesday. “I don’t see it as a power struggle, I see it as an acknowledgement of the importance of the projects that have been determined by the entire Mayors’ Council, with the exception of Corrigan.”
Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore (who is chair of the Metro Vancouver board of directors) said he thinks it’s great that local expertise has been brought in.
“(Dinwoodie and Chu) understand the region and I think that’s a good thing,” said Moore. He noted that the pair both have experience working on regional initiatives.
“I think most of us as mayors, when we go to Metro Vancouver, we go to TransLink, we think it’s from a regional perspective,” Moore said. “And I expect that they (Dinwoodie and Chu) will do the same thing.”
Delta Mayor Lois Jackson was also positive about the two appointments.
“I’m really hopeful that we will be able to count on these folks to represent what we actually need here in the Lower Mainland,” Jackson said.
But Corrigan disagrees, saying the already abundant influence over TransLlink decisions enjoyed by Vancouver and Surrey has effectively been “doubled.”
The TransLink board was expected to meet Thursday (Aug. 27) – the first meeting for Chu and Dinwoodie.