New documents obtained by Cambie Report raise questions about how seriously the provincial government and the Mayor’s Office considered the abolition of the Vancouver Park Board before Ken Sim’s surprise announcement in early December.

Mayor Sim announced his plan to bring a motion to Council to call on the province to amend the Vancouver Charter to remove the elected Park Board on December 6, 2023. At that time, he told The Vancouver Sun’s Dan Fumano, “The province is not going to be surprised.” While he didn’t say whether the province supported his move, he claimed to have been discussing the issue with the province.

Under BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Cambie Report requested all briefing notes relating to the Vancouver Park Board prepared by the province’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs dating back to Ken Sim’s inauguration in November 2022. We also asked the City for all briefing documents relating to the Vancouver Park Board prepared for the Mayor or the Mayor’s Chief of Staff.

In response, we received just one record from the two bodies: On December 8, 2023 (two days after Sim’s first public announcement) the Municipal Affairs Ministry prepared a note for Premier David Eby. There were no records in the Mayor’s Office.

The note for the Premier mentions Sim’s intention to abolish the elected Park Board. While large portions of the discussion are redacted, the note states that ministry staff “will have to undertake significant research” into the impacts and implications of the request.

While Sim may have had conversations with the provincial government, the lack of formal briefing notes in the Ministry’s office suggests the issue never raised to the level of a serious proposal that warranted internal consideration until it was announced publicly.

Despite the lack of records from the mayor’s office, Sim announced his proposed motion via a press release on the City of Vancouver’s letterhead.

Cambie Report will be requesting further records, including correspondence, to shed more light on the nature of the discussions that went into the plans to abolish the elected board.

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