Like a bull strolling out of a china shop, West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith will exit West Vancouver’s municipal chambers this fall.
Brief and blunt, Smith governed as though he was transplanted into municipal politics directly from a business meeting.
Sometimes – like when Smith savaged the Metro Vancouver board for voting themselves a sucrose-sweet raise and retirement allowance – we were grateful to have Smith on our side. But his lack of social graces also led to a challenging relationship with those West Vancouverites who felt insulted by his characterization of: “moaners, whiners and retirees that are happy just with no life.”
Smith pushed too hard – but he was usually pushing in the right direction. He sounded the alarm on the commodification of housing. He rightfully chastised TransLink for neglecting West Vancouver and repeatedly called for council to support more affordable living options.
Ironically, Smith’s refusal to adopt a diplomatic tone impacted his ability to get business done, by alienating potential allies. Instead of caging monster houses, the district passed rules on fence size. Likewise, the Ambleside Waterfront Vision remains a vision and nothing more.
Even during his departure, Smith’s call for a “restart” on council sounded more like a company owner requesting his board of directors be fired.
Smith’s legacy will be decided when his successor finishes the work he started. We hope that successor can combine Smith’s desire to push West Van into the future with an appreciation for the slow work of government.
We realize that’s a lot to ask for. But in West Van, it’s the cost of doing business.
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