All Metro Vancouver councils should copy West Vancouver's democratic advance

Every week, concerned citizens across Metro Vancouver write letters to their local mayors and councils.

Even though these letters sometimes deal with important areas of public policy, they're rarely seen by the citizens.

The District of West Vancouver has done something to address this.

It has added a page to its Web site called "New Council Correspondence Section".

This gives the public an opportunity to learn more about what concerns residents of their community. You can read a sample of the letters here.

Metro Vancouver, TransLink, and every other municipal government in the region should replicate what West Vancouver is doing.

Some of these jurisdictions already include letters from the public in their council packages. West Vancouver is one of them, but it has taken an extra step to highlight public views in a transparent way on its Web site.

There will be some municipal politicians and bureaucrats who will suggest that this could leave a municipality liable to being sued. If so, they can always take out a black pen and cross out anything that they feel is defamatory or in contempt of court.

It's no reason to withhold everything from public scrunity.

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Pete Quily

May 16, 2010 at 3:43pm

Hi Charlie,

That's a good idea. Here's another one that I suggested during the Q and A session at the Gov 2.0 talk during the Northern Voice conference.

What about calling for Vancouver area municipalities to create an open data type database that would help citizens and journalists find out how their politicians voted on specific bills?

Would be nice to tie it to who donated to the politicians ie by name, company, industry, so citizens and journalists can cross reference the data easily.

It would increase trust, and reduce cynicism in the political process, and possibly help more people get involved in politics. I.e., harder for someone to claim that all politicians are all the same and they're all corrupt if you can point them to their actual voting and donations records.

It's already being done at the federal level i.e.,

1. How'd They Vote? a resource for political accountability for your MP

2. See what your MP's are saying, and what laws they're proposing.

and in the US done

1. At the governmental level

2. At the NGO level

and where you can track not only votes but the money trail.

For example see all the data Open Secrets has on Congressman, here's one example US Republican Congressman John Boehner

Why can't Canadians get the same amount of data on their politicians as Americans?

Pete Quily
Adult ADD Coach

Informed citizens

May 17, 2010 at 11:37am

Make informed choices, way to go West Vancouver

Drew Snider, TransLink

May 17, 2010 at 3:25pm

In fact, TransLink does have something very similar in its online presence. The Buzzer Blog ( is an interactive resource, where anyone can ask questions and make comments and get answers. Our Be Part Of The Plan initiative allows people to take part in the discussion on the various projects and studies currently underway, including the UBC Line Rapid Transit Study, the Surrey Rapid Transit Study and the Main Street Station Upgrade ( (The last of 5 open houses on the UBC project wrapped up last Thursday; now comes time to digest the input we received.) The TransLink Online Advisory Panel ( and occasional webinars also help keep us in touch with the public and vice-versa.

Jonathon Narvey

May 20, 2010 at 11:14am

This is a no-brainer. It ought to be enacted immediately for municipalities across the country. Good idea, Charlie.