Open Letter to Coun. Raymond Louie (Chairman, Pacific National Exhibition):
This will be the fifth fair since Mayor Gregor Robertson and the rest of your Vision Vancouver majority mates decided to install you as the chairman of the PNE board. A controversial decision from May 2009.
On Aug. 1, city council voted 8-2 to refine the governance model for Hastings Park and the PNE. You voted in the majority. It seems like a Vancouver pastime to debate the governance of the PNE. Council opted not to make Hastings Park and the PNE a department of city hall or shift responsibility for governance to the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation — even though the Park Board said it was ready, willing and able. Citizens groups (like the Hastings Park Conservancy and Friends of Hastings Park) wanted the Park Board to take over, but it won’t. So you’ll be chairman for the foreseeable future.
I emailed you a couple of questions on Aug. 1 and called your office and left a voice mail the next day. I haven’t heard back from you about your role in that governance decision. You were in the council chamber, participated in the discussion and voted.
A. THAT Council adopt the implementation plan outlined in the Administrative Report dated June 18, 2013, entitled “Hastings Park/PNE Governance Review”, for a new governance structure for Hastings Park and the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE).
B. THAT Council approve funding for consultants, needed to support and resource the implementation plan set out in the Administrative Report dated June 18, 2013, entitled “Hastings Park/PNE Governance Review”, to a maximum of $80,000; source of funding to be the Hastings Park Reserve.
You voted with the majority against Green Coun. Adriane Carr’s amendments, including one that proposed giving Park Board the reins of power. Ultimately, you also voted with the majority to adopt the staff recommendation. It was passed by an 8-2 margin. You remain the PNE chairman.
In a nutshell, the charter says a council member must declare any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in a matter or another interest in a matter that constitutes a conflict of interest. He or she must leave the meeting while the matter is under consideration, and not participate in any discussion, vote or otherwise attempt in any way to influence the vote.
Since you are both an elected councillor and the appointed chair of the PNE, did you ask for or receive legal advice from the city solicitor that allowed you to participate and vote? If so, what was the conclusion? The minutes don’t reflect that you made a declaration of your PNE chairmanship and you certainly didn’t leave the council chamber.
Neither city clerk Janice MacKenzie nor city solicitor Francie Connell responded to my query earlier this month. I’m hoping you will. I’d gladly publish it here.
P.S. I notice the 2011 annual report is on the PNE website, but where is the 2012 annual report? We’re well past the halfway point of 2013.
News and views on Vancouver 2010 (and beyond) from Bob Mackin.