Two local citizens are urging their elected representatives to recuse themselves from voting on development which may be connected to their election donors.
Eric Andersen and Hazen Colbert appeared before the District of North Vancouver (DNV) council last month and asked the councillors to do the moral thing and abstain from voting on any application by a developer that could be tied to their elections.
Andersen said while councillors might have been told that it may be technically and legally okay to vote on discussions on such development, the moral response would be to abstain from any discussion and voting on these development projects. “Perception is everything, and the average resident will clearly see it as a conflict of interest if you decided to vote on matters that will be monetarily rewarding to any of your financial supporters,” he said.
In the last municipal elections, the provincial government introduced a reform of campaign donations rule, banning corporate and union donations and limiting individual donations to $1,200 to any one candidate or a party.
Andersen says while that reform was overdue, it is now common for managers, employees and family members of the union and development companies to financially support the candidates.
Andersen said two candidates who got elected in the present DNV council received substantial financial support from developers, be it owners, employees or family members. He said Councillor Jordan Back received support from Mosaic Homes, TerraPartners, Cascadia Green Development, Darwin Construction and DMS Construction Management. Councillor Matthew Bond, he said, was part of Building Bridges North Vancouver and it received donations from Macdonald Realty, Cascadia Green Development, Mosaic Homes, Alyza Homes, Baron Projects Real Estate Development, Polygon Homes, Darwin Construction and Domus Homes.
Andersen said there was absolutely nothing illegal about receiving and accepting such donations, and he realizes that political campaigns can be expensive to run. An ethical dilemma, however, would arise when development proposals by these companies come before the council, he said. The councillors at that point can do the right thing and recuse from the discussion and abstain from the vote, he said.
“This way you will show clearly that there is no perceived conflict of interest, and you will show the integrity that we expect from any member of Council,” he said.
Colbert said the Building Brides coalition, of which Councillor Bond was a member, took substantive donations from developers and family members of people connected to the development community. “Bond is a good and honest man but can he discharge his responsibilities on the Metro housing committee given his key and clear directions to private developers and market-only housing?” he said.
Councillor Back and Bond didn’t answer questions from The Global Canadian on whether they plan to abstain from voting on development that may be connected to any of their campaign donors.