Delta Mayor George Harvie has been elected the new chair of Metro Vancouver’s board of directors for 2023.
Members of the regional government elected Harvie Friday at an inaugural meeting, following the Oct. 15 municipal elections. John McEwen, mayor of the Village of Anmore, was elected as vice-chair.
Harvie replaces Burnaby councillor Sav Dhaliwal and McEwan replaces North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanen.
There are 41 board directors, who are appointed by respective municipal councils. Each director has a weighted vote (one to five points) assigned to them, with larger municipalities having more directors with the maximum voting strength of four or five points each.
Notable additions this year include new council members from Surrey and Vancouver, who comprise 29 and 34 of the 145 total voting points, respectively.
Notable departures include Jonathan Cote of New Westminster, Harold Steves of Richmond, Kennedy Stewart of Vancouver and Doug McCallum of Surrey.
The board oversees regional urban and rural planning for 21 municipalities, Tsawwassen First Nation and Electoral Area A (largely the UBC Endowment Lands) and deals with increasingly complex and expensive regional projects for drinking water, wastewater treatment, solid waste management and air quality regulation. Metro Vancouver also manages regional parks and affordable housing complexes.
Harvie will determine the standing committees and their membership, which will then consider priorities, policies and activities for the regional government. Its first meeting is scheduled for Jan. 27.
Issues presently facing Metro Vancouver include ideological differences on how broad its mandate should be on subjecting local councils to its decisions on inter-municipal matters.
This year brought much debate on what’s called the “urban containment boundary,” as Surrey’s old council sought to shrink the boundary for the purpose of expanding its industrial tax base. The debate pitted regional environmental and flood protection strategies versus economic development.
Directors will also be tasked to raise regional taxes on homeowners, to pay for increasingly costly infrastructure projects in the coming years.
And, directors will continue to debate how transportation projects interconnect. They are likely to be frequently apprised on the progress of a replacement for the George Massey Tunnel, for instance.
Finally, continued discussion on expansion of parks and affordable housing to meet a growing population may also occur over the next four years.