Vancouver city council has approved assigning councillors to specific neighbourhoods in the city as "liaisons."
Vision Vancouver Coun. Andrea Reimer, who first brought forward the motion, denies NPA claims the plan is a veiled attempt to create a ward system.
She says having the city's 22 defined neighbourhoods assigned among its 10 councillors will make it easier for residents to know whom to contact if they have questions or concerns.
A point of contact
"If you're new to Vancouver and you come from a city — and most cities in Canada and the United State use some kind of ward or geographic system — people say, 'What area do you represent?'
"Your response is, "I represent the whole city' and they say, 'If I have a problem, who should I get in contact with?'" said Reimer, whose original motion describes the role of neighbourhood councillor liaisons as "more akin to that of a concierge".
"There's an axiom that if there's more than one person responsible, there's nobody responsible."
The appointment process that was approved at a meeting on Jan. 20 will involve having city councillors provide a ranked list of neighbourhoods that they would want to be liaisons for, and then Mayor Gregor Robertson making recommendations that city council would then vote on.
Reimer said each councillor would be liaisons for a minimum of two neighbourhoods, and there would be more than one councillor per neighbourhood.
Non-Partisan Association Coun. George Affleck criticized the liaisons as 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 on Jan. 19.
"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."
Reimer said she was "perplexed" by the criticism, and denied that the liaisons are a political move.
"It's so uncontroversial that nobody has ever questioned it. It's existed for so long at the school and park board that nobody could tell me when it even started," she said.
"A neighbourhood council liaison system provides another level of accountability while preserving the important city-wide representation that Vancouverites expect from councillors."
At a meeting on Jan. 20, NPA councillors Affleck, Elizabeth Ball, Melissa de Genova and Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr all voted for more consultation before moving forward with the neighbourhood councillor liaison appointment process.
But the motion was defeated by Vision Vancouver councillors (with the exception of Raymond Louie who was absent), who voted against delaying the appointments.
To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled: 'Neighbourhood councillor liaisons' are a point of contact for residents, says Coun. Andrea Reimer