On Monday the Orpheum Theater on Granville Street was host to the 2022 Inaugural Ceremony for the incoming City of Vancouver Council and the new Mayor, Ken Sim.
The event’s master of ceremonies was past City Councillor Raymond Louie. The event centred around the swearing in Mayor Ken Sim and the new City Council for 2022 to 2026. That included returning Councillors Rebecca Bligh, Christine Boyle, Adriane Carr, Lisa Dominato, Pete Fry and Sarah Kirby-Yung. New on Council being sworn in are Mike Klassen Peter Meisner, Brian Montague and Lenny Zhou. There are ten members of Council; six are with Mayor Sim’s ABC Party. With Mayor Sim, that makes seven votes out of ten with ABC on council.
While representatives from the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations made introductory remarks and welcome to the event, it was the religious leaders who provided a surprising context.
Noting that City Council work involved co-operation, thoughtfulness, and working for citizens, these five religious leaders shared the podium. The five took turns in reading out a universal call for calm, action, and the importance of mission as interpreted through their differing religious lens. It was a surprising and poignant moment, that brought the importance of co-operating together as a group at Council to thoughtfully steer the city for citizens, not for specific interests.
The five religious leaders were Deacon Richard Chau from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese, Rev. Beth Hayward from the United Church, Rabbi Dan Moskovitz, Head Granthi Harminder pal Singh from the Khalsa Diwan Society, and Tariq Tyab from Al-Masjid Al-Jamia Vancouver.
As one commenter noted, in a city that appears to be rather non-secular, the presence and thoughtful commentary provided by the religious leaders underscored the seriousness of the event, and the potential that could be realized by this Council and Mayor.
The main event was of course the swearing in of Ken Sim who was described as the “first mayor of colour” to be a Mayor of Vancouver.
Mr. Sim was sworn in by the Honourable Judge Derek Mah of the Provincial Court of British Columbia. In his speech Mr. Sim outlined the fact that his Council will be hitting the ground running, reviewing current practice at city hall, working on a city that is safe and accessible, and focusing on social and supportive housing. Mr. Sim also mentioned a bit of the history of Chinese Canadians in the city, as well as noting some of the Chinese Canadians who had served as elected officials at the provincial level and at city hall.
It is actually in recent history that we have had Chinese Canadian councillors. There were also three women councillors that were not discussed in the speech.
Business consultant Sandra Wilking was elected as an NPA member in 1988, and was the first Chinese Canadian woman to serve as a city councillor in British Columbia. Maggie Ip who was one of the founders of immigrant service organization S.U.C.C.E.S.S. was a Councillor for the NPA from 1993 to 1996.
And member of the Provincial Legislature Jenny Kwan was also elected to Vancouver City Council in 1993 as a member of COPE. Ms. Kwan along with Ida Chong were the first Chinese Canadians elected to the Provincial Legislature in 1996.
The first meeting of the new Council next week will be slow pitch softball as Council familiarizes itself with the Council chambers and how to read what is affectionately called “The Package”. A few decades ago the first meeting was also a time to get items through without too much debate-what would normally have been a contentious costly funding of a large astroturf playing field in Vancouver sailed through the first meeting without the usual fake turf and knee injury discussion, and budgetary sticker shock.
But these are more savvy times, and there will be no playing fields coming up, just the slogging of looking at safety, housing and accessibility policy as the seven members of the ABC and the three remaining Councillors from the Greens and OneCity get down to business.
You can take a look at the video of the event at this link, which also includes the two lion dance teams from the Vancouver Police Department and the Shao Lin Hung Gar Kung Fu Association.