Vancouver - Government

Government

Main article: Government and politics of Vancouver

Vancouver, unlike other British Columbia municipalities, is incorporated under the Vancouver Charter. The legislation, passed in 1953, supersedes the Vancouver Incorporation Act, 1921 and grants the city more and different powers than other communities possess under BC's Municipalities Act.

The civic government has been dominated by the centre-right Non-Partisan Association (NPA) since World War ll, albeit with some significant centre-left interludes until 2008. The NPA fractured over the issue of drug policy in 2002, facilitating a landslide victory for the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) on a harm reduction platform. Subsequently, North America's only legal safe injection site was opened for the significant number of intravenous heroin users in the city.

Vancouver is governed by the eleven-member Vancouver City Council, a nine-member School Board, and a seven-member Park Board, all of whom serve three-year terms. Unusually for a city of Vancouver's size, all municipal elections are on an at-large basis. Historically, in all levels of government, the more affluent west side of Vancouver has voted along conservative or liberal lines while the eastern side of the city has voted along left-wing lines. This was reaffirmed with the results of the 2005 provincial election and the 2006 federal election.

Though polarized, a political consensus has emerged in Vancouver around a number of issues. Protection of urban parks, a focus on the development of rapid transit as opposed to a freeway system, a harm reduction approach to illegal drug use, and a general concern about community-based development are examples of policies that have come to have broad support across the political spectrum in Vancouver.

In the 2008 Municipal Election campaign, NPA incumbent mayor Sam Sullivan was ousted as mayoral candidate by the party in a close vote, which instated Peter Ladner as the new mayoral candidate for the NPA. Gregor Robertson, a former MLA for Vancouver-Fairview and head of Happy Planet, was the mayoral candidate for Vision Vancouver, the other main contender. Vision Vancouver candidate Gregor Robertson defeated Ladner by a considerable margin, nearing 20,000 votes. The balance of power was significantly shifted to Vision Vancouver, which held seven of the 10 spots for councillor. Of the remaining three, COPE received two and the NPA one. For park commissioner, four spots went to Vision Vancouver, one to the Green Party, one to COPE, and one to NPA. For school trustee, there were four Vision Vancouver seats, three COPE seats, and two NPA seats.

Vancouver is a member municipality of Metro Vancouver, a regional government. In total there are 22 municipalities, one electoral area and one treaty First Nation comprising Metro Vancouver, the regional government whose seat is in Burnaby. While each member of Metro Vancouver has its own separate local governing body, Metro Vancouver oversees common services and planning functions within the area such as providing drinking water; operating sewage and solid waste handling; maintaining regional parks; overseeing air quality, greenhouse gases and ecological health; and providing a strategy for regional growth and land use.

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