In a vote that could have major implications for transportation in Metro Vancouver moving forward, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan defeated Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson for chair of the mayors' council.
The decision ends Robertson's three-year tenure as council chair, which approves the long-term transportation strategies and investments of TransLink and appoints a majority of its board members.
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After Robertson was defeated, TransLink's vice-chair, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, decided against running for re-election.
District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton, who said he chose to run with Corrigan, defeated New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Coté for the position.
The votes were cast by the mayors of Metro Vancouver in a secret ballot. Corrigan believes he won based on support from smaller municipalities.
"I knew a majority of them wanted to see a change, but we are dealing with the two biggest municipalities in the Lower Mainland in Vancouver and Surrey, and both them, because of their population, carry a lot of votes," he said.
Unlike most decisions, where votes are weighted based on the size of the municipality, this vote was conducted under one municipality, one vote rules — a choice Robertson and Hepner did not object to.
"I greatly respect the fact they were concerned with ensuring the future of the mayors' council's cooperative efforts."
Corrigan and Walton take their positions at the beginning of 2018.
Slow down on megaprojects?
Looming over the election of Corrigan and Walton is the future of several megaprojects the Mayors' Council has pursued under its 10-year plan: a replacement of the Pattullo Bridge, an extension of the Millennium Line to Arbutus Street and the extension of rapid transit in Surrey to Newton, Guildford, and eventually Langley.
In his speech asking to be re-elected, Robertson said "this is not a time for disruption and blowing things up. This is a time to really stay focused and work on those partnerships … we need to keep our focus. Get these big deals done."
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But the provincial government has not approved funding for any of those projects yet, and Corrigan — who has been publicly critical of Robertson and TransLink's philosophy on a number of issues in recent months — suggested the current strategy was too aggressive.
"They're looking at a very ambitious plan. And I think they were trying to proceed very quickly to accomplish everything in the plan. I think there will be a slow down. I think we're seeing that already from the provincial government, that there certainly hasn't been the due diligence from the provincial government level at this stage to be confident in proceeding with all of the elements of the plan," he said.
"So, what I'm going to do is prioritize with them those discussions with how we're going to be able to move forward over the next year in establishing our priorities. And, I think definitely, the question is what are our priorities for the new provincial government to address."
He also said it was beneficial that people from outside Vancouver and Surrey be more responsible for talks about funding those megaprojects, given their location.
"We're into the hot and heavy negotiations between the Mayors' Council and the TransLink board … I think the majority of the mayors felt that it would be better to have someone who was in a more neutral position representing their interests."