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Consider Greens in election

Dear Editor: With the civic elections approaching in November, the current BCA council will be quick to point out that Burnaby was named the "Best Run City in Canada" in 2008.

Dear Editor:

With the civic elections approaching in November,

the current BCA council will be quick to point out that Burnaby was named the "Best Run City in Canada" in 2008.

This survey is an overall assessmment of performance based on a narrow range of economic and social indicators and is misleading. Before voters hand Mayor Corrigan and his team a second sweep, people might want to take a sober second look at the Maclean's article that is so often referenced.

For instance, the city ranked 24th out of 30 in overall efficiency and effectiveness in the finance and governance category. For efficiency, while the city did well in collecting taxes and managing its debt, it got a grade of "F" for the "change in general government costs per capita."

The city also got "Fs" for representation per capita and voter turnout. For taxation, Burnaby received top marks from the authors for shifting the tax burden substantially onto residents and not penalizing business too harshly in the presence of rising expenditures.

Burnaby got top marks for spending signficantly less on policing than the national average. The city spent $164 per capita, while the average for the survey was $251. Interestingly, Burnaby got an "F" for the 10 per cent rise in crime between 2004 and 2007.

In another Maclean's survey of Canada's most dangerous cities conducted in March 2009, Burnaby was ranked the 16th "most dangerous" of 100 cities studied.

For cities with populations between 150,000 and 400,000, it ranked fourth out of 15. Conversely, cities that spent more on policing automatically got failing grades for efficiency, yet fiscal failures like Longueuil, Que. and Kingston, Ont. ranked a distant 41 and 60 on the most dangerous city survey.

"Environmental health efficiency" was determined by how much municipalities spent on providing drinking water and collecting solid and water waste.

The less spent per capita, the higher the grade. The "effectiveness" of the expenditure was based on the number of breaks and backups in the water and sewer system, the number of complaints received and the range of solid waste collected. Burnaby did fairly well in these areas of limited scope although they got credit for collecting compostable waste without actually providing that service to multifamily dwellings. Ignored in the environmental health component are air quality, waste diversion, household garbage limits, green transportation and local greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The criteria used to judge the city's management of public money are based on a right-leaning business definition of "best run." Cut spending, reduce taxes, deregulate and hope the "invisible hand" of the marketplace provides the right mix of services.

The Maclean's survey is not concerned with environmental or social sustainability. It is likely that TEAM Burnaby would use the same criteria to judge municipal performance as the magazine. Even former TEAM mayoral candidate, Brian Bonney, has referred to the BCA as "good caretakers" for the city. If voters are looking for a fiscally responsible, socially progressive and environmentally friendlier alternative to the BCA, consider voting for Green candidates in November.

Rick McGowan, Burnaby municipal Greens