Transparent. Accountable. Engaged.
I'm Kevin Washbrook, Director with Voters Taking Action on Climate Change, and I put my name in for a seat on the board of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority because I think it does a poor job consulting the public about new developments (like plans to build a massive new coal port, dedicated to the export of US thermal coal, right on the Fraser River in Surrey).
The board nominating committee -- composed entirely of port users -- rejected my application. They said they "want to go in a different direction." Personally, I think they are going in the wrong direction, because they aren't listening to residents, community associations, health leaders, local governments, climate scientists and the regional district -- all of whom think that expanded coal exports are a bad idea.
The nominating committee said that it is the federal Minister of Transport's responsibility to bring a wider range of perspectives to the Port Authority board. I invited people to help me create this video to kick off a letter writing campaign to the Minister.
Instead, even before we shot the video, I got a letter myself -- from the Port Authority's lawyer. The message: don't mess with our mascot.
The speed with which the Port responded to a potential perceived slight to their mascot comes in stark contrast to their response to public concerns about closed door decision making on coal exports. It appears to me that the Port Authority is more worried about their public image than they are about the public's well being.
This all needs to change. A good place to start? The Port Authority AGM, Tuesday June 4th, 3 pm at Canada Place. The Port has invited the public to come, ask questions, and talk with directors one on one.
Our Port Authority needs to be publicly accountable, it needs to better reflect our aspirations as a region, and it needs to help shoulder the responsibilities we'll be facing in the future.
(By the way -- that letter writing campaign to the Minister? No longer an issue. Minister Lebel made it clear in a recent letter that the buck stops with the Port Authority.)
Port Authority Board Run: Platform and Endorsements
Voters Taking Action on Climate Change approved my run for the Board of Directors for the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, and I submitted my name for consideration on Monday, February 18th. |Press Release|Van Sun| Courier|
If you look at the "Notice of Board Vacancies" on the Port Authority web site, you might conclude that my skills and experience (community organizing, environmental advocacy, coalition building) are not what they are looking for in a new board member. That is one of the main reasons why I'm willing to put my name in for the board.
I think the Port Authority Board of Directors is already well represented by industrial interests. Seven of eleven seats on the board are nominated by Port users. What the Board lacks is representation from other sectors of society. Only one seat is nominated by regional communities. There are no seats representative of environmental concerns, or health concerns. I think it's time for this to change.
If I am appointed to the board, I pledge to:
- push for thorough and transparent consultation with the residents and municipal governments of all Metro Vancouver communities, prior to any decisions by the Port Authority on major developments, so that regional impacts of these developments can be properly evaluated;
- call for recognition of Regional Health Authorities as government-level stakeholders in all Port Authority decision making processes;
- initiate full disclosure of the regional and global health and environmental impacts of major exports, and seek to ensure that those impacts are duly considered in Port decisions;
- develop a closer working relationship with municipal and regional governments, as well a non-governmental organizations from all sectors of society, so that the region's concerns and aspirations are fully reflected in the Port Authority's vision, mission, values, strategic goals and day to day operations;
- call for an internal review of those powers delegated to Port Authority staff, to ensure that the Board of Directors provides good oversight of Port Authority operations and maintains a strong focus on environmental sustainability and social equity in all its decisions and practices; and
- work to ensure that the Port Authority strives to meet the entirety of it's federal mandate, including the requirement that it operate with broad public support in the best interests of Canadians.
If appointed, I would commit to using the generous remuneration provided to board members to meet with civil society groups, local and regional governments and public agencies to hear their concerns and relay them back to the board and staff. I would also commit to keeping the public informed about all matters relating to Port Authority planning, proposals, governance and decision making.
The nominating committee and the Minister of Transport may not agree that it is time for change at the Port Authority. Right now public pressure and an appeal to fairness are our best tools for making the Port more publicly accountable and representative of our concerns. I think "running" for the board on a platform of change is a timely way to highlight this demand. If you agree, let's send them a message.
Thanks for your support!
Director, Voters Taking Action on Climate Change
Dan Overmyer, President, Nature BC
Dr Trevor Hancock
Frederic Bass, MD, Dsc
Karen Shklanka MD, CCFP
Jamie K Donaldson
Colleen Ann Fee
Lorna Medd MD FRCPC
Curren Warf, MD, MSEd, FAAP, FCPS, FSAHM
Eric de Place
Erica Frank, MD, MPH
Elizabeth Alice Ross
Roger Van der Eerden
Anita Den Dikken
Barbara Lelj Garolla
Ron van der Eerden
Dr Susan Diamond
Sally J McClean
Mary Paloma Chipman