There’s a new chair at the Mayors’ Council.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan was elected to the position on Thursday, defeating incumbent Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who had been at the helm for three years.
The Mayors’ Council is made up of representatives from 21 Metro Vancouver municipalities. It governs TransLink (the council appoints the majority of the board members) and approves long-term transportation strategies. The council’s chair and vice-chair sit on TransLink’s board of directors.
Each mayor had one vote on Thursday, as opposed to a weighed vote, based on the size of each city.
Corrigan said he wasn’t surprised about the result because there’s “been a desire ... for a more neutral chair.”
“There’s obviously concerns as to whether or not there is a conflict and certainly the appearance of a conflict with the chair having such a strong interest,” he said of Robertson and the Mayors’ Council’s 10-year plan, which includes extending the Millennium Line, replacing the Pattullo Bridge and creating rapid transit connecting Surrey to Langley. “When the mayors are looking at how they can feel regional interests are being protected, it’s probably through looking at a couple more neutral parties like Richard Walton from (the District of) North Vancouver and me.”
Walton was elected as vice-chair of the council, and replaces Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, who chose not to run for re-election.
“When you’re in these kinds of jobs, there’s a time to press the refresh button. You’ve been in there for three years and it’s unique in the sense that only the chair and the vice-chair sit on the TransLink board, so what they get is information that is funnelled through those two people, and both Gregor Robertson and Linda Hepner were very much focused on the big projects in their cities, so I think there was a feeling that maybe there would be a little more regional perspective if they got people in that were from more neutral ground.”
Corrigan thinks his colleagues also wanted someone who will be able to “communicate” with B.C.’s NDP government. (Corrigan is part of the civic, NDP-affiliated Burnaby Citizens Association.)
The local mayor, who doesn’t believe in ramming through major transportation projects at one time, said projects will assessed based on priority.
“I’m not going to be the only one doing that. I’m going to try to bring it back to the board, and sit down and have some realistic conversations about what we can move forward (on), what we can accomplish. I think there’s every reason for us to be able for us to try and make sure we’re doing this in the most effective and efficient way for the region,” said Corrigan.
Not everyone was thrilled with Corrigan’s win.
Langley Coun. Nathan Pachal tweeted “with ani-TransLink Burnaby Mayor Corrigan as the new Mayors’ Council chair, this will be interesting. Thank goodness for weighted votes, we need to make sure transit investment and rail rapid transit gets built in Surrey and Langley.”
New Westminster Coun. Patrick Johnstone tweeted “Holy Christ. TransLink finally has a (provincial government) ready to work with them (and the) mayors put the most transit-regressive mayor in charge.”