July 27, 2017
This Op-Ed was published in the Times Colonist on July 14, 2017
Regional governance: Metro Victoria – a way forward.
Over the past few years it has become increasingly evident that our present system of regional government is fractured. We know there is growing discontent in the region despite what some of our elected leaders might suggest. Whether we are talking about police, fire and transportation services or land development it appears that we are failing fundamentally to deliver efficient well planned services that benefit the overall quality of life in the region.
Regional governance cannot continue in its present undemocratic form. The current partisan and self-interest approach to governance has defined how “business was done” for too long. After the 2008 municipal elections we began to look at how the present system of governance could be improved. We came to the conclusion that a different model was needed which was more inclusive, democratic, accountable, transparent and less bureaucratic. “Metro Victoria” or “Metro Vic” for short was born. At the core of the new governance model is a directly elected governing body – directors who do not owe allegiance to a specific municipality. This would be another fundamental shift from the current regional governance model. We believe Metro Victoria must be based on a clear vision with a mission statement that reflects that vision.
The Metro Victoria vision could look like this:
Metro Victoria is a regional government that is tasked with coordinating and managing regional responsibilities, transportation systems, overall land use planning, liquid and solid waste management, environmental standards, and other regional services.
Metro Victoria Draft Mission Statement:
Metro Victoria is a new emerging group of people who are looking at defining processes that will move us away from the narrow confines of our existing political culture.
Metro Victoria wants to engage everyone in developing community shared values. Now is the time to ask questions that make the connection between today and tomorrow.
The region faces important issues that require unified, forward-thinking, innovative and focused solutions. Metro Victoria’s underlying principles are governed by sustainability. Sustainability is not simply an environmental proposition. Until now, decision makers have not understood the social and economic dimension. Sustainable development must take into account environmental, social and economic factors.
Metro Victoria believes that sustainable communities are vital to the future of our regional development. The region is perfectly positioned to allow for what could be described as a ‘model’ for the Province and perhaps the rest of Canada.
We are confident that by reforming the present regional governance model we can develop, change and lead the way in clean energy, low carbon emissions, affordable housing, transportation and land use.
Metro Victoria is also about ‘thinking outside the box.” New ideas about how our communities can work without borders for common benefits will be the foundation for Metro Victoria. This is the potential for change and Metro Victoria is a community where change is possible.
If we continue “business as usual” we will find ourselves unable to focus on the serious regional issues that face us and deliver politically driven piecemeal solutions without accountable democratic decision making and without real leadership. Metro problems need Metro solutions.
We are dedicated to work with the community and across municipal boundaries to build out from this mission statement to create a better governance model because we believe we are now at a crossroads that will define the economic and sustainable future of the region. Look for us on Facebook at metrovic.ca and Twitter @MetroVicInfo.
Rob Wickson and Christina Mitchell