After decades serving the community, Mayor Mike Smith announced his retirement last week in this newspaper.
I believe that the mayor and all members of council should take pride in what has been achieved over the past two terms. While we can always do better, we did make significant progress on a variety of fronts, including housing alternatives, financial sustainability, and environmental preservation. This term, for example, we approved over 200 dedicated rental units, addressing community demand with the first significant increase in over 40 years. In fact, I can’t think of any major issue on which we did not make some progress.
Local government can often be messy. In West Vancouver we don’t have parties or slates. All of us on council have our own voice, acting and voting independently in the best interests of this community. This is how it should be. We aren’t a choir. Even mayors Walton and Mussatto, two respected and successful leaders, had split votes on their last major issues. It happens. Yet, on most important matters, our council reached consensus. Most recently, both the official community plan and the arts and culture strategy were approved unanimously.
For someone used to calling the shots in the corporate world, I’m sure it can be frustrating to enter the very different world of local government. On council, we each have only one vote and the decision-making process requires cooperation and compromise. This is the burden, and the genius, of democracy.
While it requires patience, I think we make better decisions when all perspectives are considered. If the length of council meetings is the biggest problem, things aren’t so bad. Two evening meetings each month seems a reasonable investment to decide the community’s future.
Retirement should be a time to celebrate one’s accomplishments. Mayor Smith chaired an effective and productive council. While he and I had our disagreements, I never once doubted his knowledge of and commitment to the community. I was very pleased he concluded his years of public service by resolving the tricky Seawalk dispute with CN Rail. I am sure I speak for all of council when I thank him for his contributions and wish him all the best.
District of West Vancouver
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