A motion at city hall to assign specific councillors to Vancouver neighbourhoods as "liaisons" is being criticized as a veiled attempt to create a ward system.
The motion put forward by Vision Vancouver Coun. Andrea Reimer proposes the city's 22 defined neighbourhoods be assigned between the 10 councillors, based on a system of ranked choices.
The reasoning behind the proposal is to make it easier for residents to know which councillor they can contact to resolve an issue.
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Non-Partisan Association Coun. George Affleck believes the motion is a disguised return to the ward system.
"They are creating their own ward system without the support of the people of Vancouver … a ward system that basically is decided by the mayor and the mayor's office," he told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn, noting that a ward system has already been defeated in several referenda over the past 100 or so years.
"I can't trust, I'm sorry, the mayor and the mayor's office will do it in a way that doesn't benefit Vision Vancouver more than anybody else."
Affleck thinks it's "inappropriate" for council members to select preferred neighbourhoods, and questions how councillors would be assigned to those neighbourhoods.
"Politically, it provides any one of us, certainly the party that dominates the council, an ability to work in a neighbourhood and build that base for the next election," he said.
Affleck argues that there are better ways to connect with the neighbourhoods, such as rotating town halls out in the community featuring all councillors.
Above all, he doesn't believe there should be any moves away from the at-large system without a referendum.
"The goal here is to be thinking about Vancouver as a whole. That's how we're elected, that's how city council is supposed to operate and govern the City of Vancouver. We're supposed to look at it holistically," he said.
The motion will be debated at council during the Jan. 19 meeting. Coun. Andrea Reimer was unavailable for an interview on Monday.
To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: 'Neighbourhood Councillor Liaisons' proposed in Vancouver city council motion