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A Bibliography on Local Government in
British Columbia - Continued


Politics at the Local Level

There are a variety of themes present in the general Canadian literature about municipal politics. Many of these can roughly be divided into questions of structural reform and questions about the distribution of power in the community.

One of the main issues under the first of these categories is the merits of non-partisanship versus having parties at the local level. Arguments for non-partisanship have a long history and include: that most local issues are "administrative" in character, rather than "political"; that there is no point getting local issues entangled with acrimonious political party debates they have no inherent connection with; and that parties would result in favouritism in the awarding of contracts and the provision of services. Modern arguments stress the first two of these points. Those who favour parties at the local level usually argue for one of two variants. Some support a system featuring civic parties structured on the same lines as parties at other levels of government, which would give a certain continuity to policies, stimulate interest in local politics, and provide a good training ground for party activists. Others call for "civic parties" with no official connections to provincial or federal parties. The latter alternative tends to be favoured in the academic literature because it would make it clear where candidates stood and increase accountability without tying local elections into provincial or federal issues -- something which can be a double-edged sword for any party.

A second structural reform theme is the merit of ward systems compared to "at large" elections where the candidates run city-wide. There are many facets to the debate, but one of the keys is whether ward elections should be seen as encouraging narrow neighbourhood interests at the expense of the city as a whole, or whether they should be seen as encouraging the representation of diverse interests which get submerged in city-wide elections. The intensity of debates over the ward system versus at-large elections in Vancouver is one of the more striking aspects of municipal politics in British Columbia. It is not a major issue in the rest of the province.

Low voter turnout is another issue which is of concern to academics. Various explanations and possible solutions to the problem have been suggested, with the question arising as to whether low turnout is indicative of satisfaction or apathy. Changing the frequency of local elections and the introduction of parties can be partly seen as structural means of stimulating interest in local politics.

There is a longstanding political debate about the structure of power in communities -- is power widely distributed, with a variety of groups having some influence on political decisions, or does a small elite wield disproportionate influence? So far as local politics is concerned, in practice this is often a debate about how much influence the property industry has, as opposed to groups favouring "quality of life" concerns or social reforms.

Concern about power is reflected in various themes in the literature. For instance, who gets elected, and what type of policies do they favour? At least until the 1960s, the answer was often pro-development businessmen. Since then, more attention has been paid to neighbourhood preservation and quality of life issues. It would appear that women and members of minority ethnic groups have been more likely to get elected in recent years, but detailed academic studies on this point are still lacking in B.C.

Concerns about power are also prominent in the literature about interest groups, although they are not the only focus of attention. What issues do groups coalesce around; how permanent are various groups; under what conditions do interest groups turn into parties; who joins what types of groups; how much influence do different groups have; and, are interest groups a good thing? The answer to the last question may depend on what gets defined as an interest group.

Looking at power in a slightly different sense, it is worth noting that the formal powers of Canadian mayors are generally not extensive. As a result, their abilities at persuading people to support various policies, and their administrative approaches, become major aspects of how they accomplish their aims. That is, informal styles of leadership as well as formal powers are important.

Election issues in recent years have often taken the form of neighbourhood preservation versus development. Cost concerns have also been prominent, both in terms of property tax rates and the related matter of what amenities and levels of service should be provided. Social issues may also arise, ranging from whether Sunday shopping should be permitted to whether cities should declare themselves "nuclear weapons-free" zones. In B.C. there are also recurrent referendums on municipal incorporation or the amalgamation of semi-rural areas into larger municipalities.

In addition to the works listed here, see also the entries under "Participation and Development Issues" in section 9 (Planning).

A. General Canadian Works

Higgins, Donald J. H. Local and Urban Politics in Canada. Toronto: Gage, 1986.

Kopinak, Kathryn M. "Women in Canadian Municipal Politics: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back." Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology 22 (Aug.1985): 394-410

Leo, Christopher. Strong Government, Weak Government: Classifying Municipal Structural Change. Research and Working Paper no. 23, Winnipeg: Institute of Urban Studies, University of Winnipeg, 1986.

Magnusson, Warren and Andrew Sancton, eds. City Politics in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1983.

Masson, Jack K. and James D. Anderson, eds. Emerging Party Politics in Urban Canada. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1972.

Tindal, C. R. and S. Nobes Tindal. Local Government in Canada. 2nd ed. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1984.

B. Works about British Columbia

Barman, Jean. "Neighbourhood and Community in Interwar Vancouver: Residential Differentiation and Civic Voting Behaviour." B.C. Studies, no. 69-70 (1986): 97-141. Double issue also published as Vancouver Past: Essays in Social History, ed. Robert A. J. McDonald and Jean Barman. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1986.

Bernard, Andre, Jacques Leveille and Guy Lord. The Political and Administrative Structures of the Metropolitan Region of Vancouver. Ottawa: Ministry of State of Urban Affairs, 1975. Cover title begins Profile: Vancouver.

Cummings, Don L. "A Successful Research to Referendum Trail Revisited." Recreation Canada 44 (Oct. 1986): 6-8, 10-12. About research done on citizen preferences before a recreation referendum was held in the District of Coquitlam.

Easton, Robert and Paul Tennant. "Vancouver Civic Party Leadership: Backgrounds, Attitudes and Non-Civic Party Affiliations." B.C. Studies, no 2 (1969): 19-29.

Gutstein, Donald. "Vancouver." In City Politics in Canada, ed. Warren Magnusson and Andrew Sancton, 189-221. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1983.

Gutstein, Donald. Vancouver Ltd. Toronto: James Lorimer, 1975.

Halverson, Douglas Andrew. "Local-level Politics in a Rural British Columbia Community: Community Life Under the Metropolis Satellite System." M.A. thesis, University of British Columbia, 1973. About Bella Coola.

Leo, Christopher. The Politics of Urban Development -- Canadian Urban Expressway Disputes. Monographs on Canadian Public Administration, no. 3, Toronto: The Institute of Public Administration of Canada, 1977. Includes some Vancouver material.

Ley, David, ed. Community Participation and the Spatial Order of the City. British Columbia Geographical Series, no. 19. Vancouver: Tantalus Research Limited, 1974.

Ley, David. "Liberal Ideology and the Postindustrial City. " Annals of the Association American Geographers 70 (June 1980): 238-58. Places the ideas of TEAM (The Electors Action Movement), a Vancouver civic party, in a broad perspective.

Ley, David and John Mercer. "Locational Conflict and the Politics of Consumption." Economic Geography 56 (April 1982): 89-109. About politics and land use conflicts in Vancouver, 1973-75.

McDonald, Robert A. J. "The Business Elite and Municipal Politics in Vancouver." Urban History Review 11 (Feb 1983): 1-14.

McPhail, I. R. "Local Government in British Columbia: A Case Study." In Malaspina Papers: Studies in Human and Physical Geography, B.C. Geographical Series, no. 17. ed. Roger Leigh, 51-56. Vancouver: Tantalus Research Limited, 1973. About Kamloops.

Miller, Fern. "Vancouver Civic Political Parties: Developing a Model of Party-system Change and Stabilization." B.C. Studies, no. 25 (1975): 3-31.

Payne-O'Connor, Josephine. Sharing Power: Women in Politics: Vancouver Island Profiles. Victoria: Kachina Press, 1986.

Report No. 1 of the Select Standing Committee on Municipal Affairs and Housing. British Columbia. Legislative Assembly. Journals. Session 1983-84. Feb. 7, 1984, p. 299-303. About the concurrent triennial election system introduced by Bill 45 in 1987. (There is no separately published report.)

Sinnott, Emmett and Paul Tennant. "The Origins of Taxicab Limitation in Vancouver City (or 'Good Try Anyway, Stanley Anderson')." B.C. Studies, no. 49 (1981): 40-53.

Smith, Andrea B. "The CCF, NPA, and Civic Change: Provincial Forces Behind Vancouver Politics 1930-1940." B.C. Studies, no. 53 (1982): 45-65.

Smith, Patrick J. "Open Government: Recent Policy Options and Applications in Canada." Planning and Administration 11 (Autumn 1984): 54-62. Discusses B.C. and Nova Scotia.

Sproule-Jones, Mark. "A Description and Explanation of Citizen Participation in a Canadian Municipality." Public Choice 17 (Spring 1974): 73-83. About Saanich.

Sproule-Jones, Mark and Adrie Van Klaveren. "Local Referenda and Size of Municipality in British Columbia: A Note on Two of Their Interrelationships." B.C. Studies, no. 8 (1970-71): 47-50.

Sproule-Jones, Mark and Kenneth D. Hart. "A Public-Choice Model of Political Participation." Canadian Journal of Political Science 6 (June 1973): 175-94. Data used is from the city of Saanich.

Tennant, Paul. "Bylaws and Setbacks: The Oil Industry and Local Government in British Columbia." B.C. Studies, no. 9 (1971): 3-14.

Tennant, Paul. "Vancouver Civic Politics, 1929-1980." B.C. Studies, no. 46 (1980): 3-27.

Tennant, Paul and David Zirnhelt. "Metropolitan Government in Vancouver: The Strategy of Gentle Imposition." Canadian Public Administration 16 (Spring 1973): 124-38.

Understanding Vancouver 2. City of Vancouver: City Planning Department, 1979. Includes all sorts of information relevant to local government issues.

Vancouver (B.C.) Governmental Review Commission. Report of the City of Vancouver Governmental Review Commission. Vancouver, 1979. Chairman: L. S. Eckardt.

Wickberg, Edgar. "Chinese and Canadian Influences on Chinese Politics in Vancouver, 1900-1947." B.C. Studies, no. 45 (1980): 37-55. Some discussion of local government issues, but not the main focus.

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