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Harvie out as Metro Vancouver chair after vote by Delta council

Council also passed motion to ‘uphold interests of Delta taxpayers and ensure proper governance’
Delta council voted on Monday, May 6, 2024, to rescind Mayor George Harvie’s appointment to the board of Metro Vancouver, effective July 1. (submitted photo)

Delta council has voted to remove Mayor George Harvie from his role as Metro Vancouver board chair, while also passing a number of resolutions aimed at enabling city staff to execute “the collective will of council.”

On Monday afternoon (May 6), council unanimously voted in favour of a motion by Coun. Daniel Boisvert to rescind Harvie’s appointment to the board, as well as a seven-part motion by Coun. Jennifer Johal seemingly intended to curtail the mayor and city staff’s ability to make certain decisions or represent Delta without prior council approval.

In a joint statement released after the conclusion of Monday’s meeting, Boisvert, Johal and councillors Rod Binder and Dylan Kruger thanked Harvie for his past service to the community, but said their decision “reflects council’s loss of confidence in the mayor’s ability to effectively represent the city’s interests at Metro Vancouver.”

The statement went on to say the actions included in Johal’s motion “reflect a concerted effort to restore the ability for the collective will of council to be appropriately executed by Delta staff.

“Over the past months, it has become increasingly apparent that these changes were needed to uphold the interests of Delta taxpayers and ensure proper governance,” the councillors said in their statement.

They did not elaborate as to why they had lost confidence in Harvie to represent Delta at Metro Vancouver or what incident(s) prompted the actions in Johal’s motion.

The Reporter has reached out to Johal for comment, but has not yet heard back.

Boisvert told the Reporter via email that he would not be making any further statements at this time.

He also would not comment as to why Coun. Jessie Dosanjh, who voted in support of both motions, was not included in the released statement.

The Reporter has reached out to Dosanjh for comment but has not yet heard back.

Counc. Alicia Guichon is currently on leave from council and did not take part in Monday’s meeting.

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The motions came at the end of Monday’s regular meeting of council under “new business” and were not on the published agenda.

Boisvert moved that, effective the day of the meeting, councillors Rod Binder and Dylan Kruger be appointed as Delta’s representatives on the Metro Vancouver board, with himself and Coun. Jennifer Johal as alternates, and that all previous appointments be rescinded.

Harvie asked “without taking any exception” that the effective date be pushed to July 1 so he could fulfil his obligations as board chair and “leave the office there in good stead.”

After some consideration, Boisvert agreed to amend his motion, but it took several more minutes for another member of council to second the amendment.

Harvie, looking a seconder, said it would “place Delta in a very poor show” if council did not allow at least 30 days for a proper transition.

“That’s all I’m asking for. I’m not taking exception; council can do what they want in so far as appointments. But I’d hope you’d have the decency to at lest give the chair the opportunity to close his office down, pass files over, work with the [chief administrative officer] to ensure there’s a good transition at Metro Vancouver to the chair’s position. Because your actions are removing the chair of Metro Vancouver.”

Harvie pointed to obligations that had “been set for quite some time,” prompting Kruger to ask, “what roles and duties and responsibilities does the chair of Metro Vancouver have outside of chairing meetings?”

The mayor said he was responsible for ensuring good governance at Metro Vancouver and had a number of appointments coming up, as well as a trip to Amsterdam with other board members as part of a review of the diking system and subsequent report back to the board and to Delta council.

“So you’re asking for the opportunity to go to Amsterdam?” Kruger asked.

“I’m asking for the opportunity to join the board members in Amsterdam that has been set for quite some time,” Harvie replied. “Same as you’ve been travelling to Phoenix, you’ve been travelling on a number of situations back east with regards to TransLink. I mean, you’ve been travelling too.”

To which Kruger retorted, “I have not been to Amsterdam.”

In the end, council voted unanimously in support of the amended motion.

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Harvie will leave his various roles at Metro Vancouver at the end of June, including that of board chair, financial plan task force chair, and North Shore wastewater treatment plant program task force chair. As mayor, he will retain his seat on the region’s mayors committee.

Meanwhile, Binder will be elevated from his current role as alternate to director. Kruger and Boisvert’s current roles will remain unchanged.

Kruger, who is already a director at Metro Vancouver, currently sits as chair of the flood resiliency committee, vice-chair of the regional planning committee and the George Massey Crossing task force, and as a member of the finance, housing, liquid waste and regional parks committees.

With its endorsement of Johal’s motion, which passed without discussion, council has decreed that events hosted by the City of Delta must now utilize consistent branding, and that no other branding will be allowed without council approval — including branding centred around the mayor or any individual member of council.

As well, council approval will be required for any special events, “including economic breakfasts, sports summits, funding announcements or ground breakings.”

Moving forward, all official correspondence sent from the mayor must be sent on City of Delta letterhead and “be reflective of the will of council.”

Also, no individual member of council is permitted to direct staff to edit or remove council reports from upcoming agendas outside of a formal resolution of council.

Further, all members of council must be provided with the same information from city staff, including information regarding upcoming community events, and should the mayor be unable to attend an upcoming event, the acting mayor must be provided with the information from staff in order that council is adequately represented.

Finally, no additional staffing support will be provided to the mayor or to council without a formal resolution of council.

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James Smith

About the Author: James Smith

James Smith is the founding editor of the North Delta Reporter.
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