Columnist Will Miss Metro Vancouver Mayors

Three years ago, 24 hours provided me with a wonderful opportunity to write a weekly urban affairs column in this newspaper. Due to my other personal commitments, however, this will be my last.

By far the most enjoyable part of sitting in front of my laptop each week to comment on the latest municipal shenanigans was the feedback I received from readers. Whether it was letters to the editor or comments online, it was great to see so many of you get engaged.

There is one thing you can safely say about covering city politics — it is never dull. How can it be when you are handed so much material to work with each week?

Yet despite my focus on everything from bike lanes and coal exports to property taxes and tolls, it was a column about a trip to Bellingham that garnered the most reaction.

In it I apologized on behalf of all Canadians for the fact so many of us were clogging up their local Costco looking for cheap milk and cheese.

“You are truly unpatriotic and not worthy of being Canadian,” wrote one anonymous commenter. While another said, “thanks for having the guts to say what a lot of us couldn’t.”

Bellingham’s media even got into the spirit of things. They interviewed me wanting to know why a Canadian would dare apologize on behalf of his fellow citizens.

Regardless of which side of the fence you stood on, it was personally rewarding to see a column spark a debate or challenge conventional wisdom.

Equally satisfying were the times spent exposing the fiscal frivolities of our local politicians. One of the most memorable was revealing that Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and his entourage went on a junket to sunny Arizona that costs taxpayers thousands of dollars.

The trip itinerary included time for a round of golf and catching some major league baseball spring training.

In response, Corrigan provided a memorable rebuttal. “The people of Burnaby would think I was crazy if I went down to Mesa and didn’t take the opportunity to get out and have a golf game or see the Chicago Cubs,” he said.

Uncovering the foibles and good work performed by our city politicians is rarely done these days. Most of the media coverage tends to focus on either provincial or federal politics. Yet the order of government that impacts us the most is the one closest to home.

Off-leash parks, the Pattullo Bridge, Surrey’s astronomical murder rate, Vision Vancouver and backyard chickens. Yes, I will miss being a civic columnist.