October 12, 2022
Vancouver, BC (October 12, 2022):
Any mayor or councillor who takes political contributions from major corporate developers should not be allowed to vote on their rezoning applications at city council, says Colleen Hardwick, TEAM for a Livable Vancouver candidate for mayor.
And Hardwick says TEAM would introduce a strict conflict of interest motion at the very first meeting of Vancouver’s newly-elected city council in November.
“Despite new municipal election campaign fundraising rules that prevent big developers or other corporations from making political donations, Vancouver political parties are still not only asking for personal contributions from big developers, their executives, employees, associates, and their families and friends, but actively using these developers to go and solicit funds from others,” said Hardwick.
“That is simply wrong, even if it is legal,” Hardwick said. “Mayor Kennedy Stewart of Forward Together and ABC mayoralty candidate Ken Sim and their council candidates should not be able to vote on a vast array of projects coming to City Hall when they have taken their donations in this election.”
“Those who have multi-million dollar development projects coming to council for rezoning approval should not be asking a mayor and councillors whose political campaigns they funded to vote on those same projects - it’s an obvious perceived conflict of interest if not an actual conflict as well.”
Hardwick also says TEAM would implement a Vancouver lobbyists registry for developers and their consultants, as Surrey has done, and as Mayor Kennedy Stewart promised to do in 2018 but never delivered.
Hardwick said that TEAM For A Livable Vancouver decided for that reason to not accept major corporate developers’ personal donations even though it has restricted potential campaign funds.
“I have returned donations to people who are directly connected to major development companies, and I have turned down calls from them and their executives who want to make personal campaign contributions to TEAM. And when we are competing with parties that are taking tens of thousands of dollars from the same big developers, it’s not easy to say no - but it is the right thing to do.”
“But it’s time that the people of Vancouver take back their city and be the number one focus of city council. To me, that means anyone who gets elected to city council as mayor or as a councillor, needs to recuse themselves - to not vote - if they took a campaign contribution when their donor’s project is in front of us for a vote,” Hardwick says.
While other campaigns have solicited personal contributions from developers, Hardwick says she wanted her campaign to concentrate on the residents of Vancouver, rather than big developer donors.
“A TEAM city council would demand that anyone on council with financial ties to a developer not be allowed to vote on related applications before council,” added Hardwick. “For decades Vancouver city council has put developers ahead of residents because their campaign ties were so one-sided. I want to turn that around and start putting our citizens first once again.”
Hardwick said that personal contributions from people in the development industry still feel like a corporate contribution.
“You know who the people are, you know which company they come from, and you know that sooner or later they will be in front of council looking for an approval on a project or permit. Calling it a personal, rather than corporate, donation doesn’t change the outcome, and that’s what we need to focus on if we’re returning this city to its citizens.”