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Mayor Sim touts achievements in annual State of the City address

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Speaking to several hundred members of the business community at a luncheon hosted by the Vancouver Board of Trade, Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim reflected on the past 12 months.

The annual State of the City address took place in a ballroom at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver Thursday.

It has been an eventful 12 months for Sim, who was elected with a majority on council in October 2022.

One recent controversial move has been his decision to abolish Vancouver’s elected Board of Parks and Recreation.

He says voters gave him a mandate for the move, despite the fact that it doesn’t appear anywhere in A Better City Vancouver’s 92-point election platform, which does include six other points directly related to the park board.

"They gave us an overwhelming majority to make the changes that we need to make. So, I actually think the voters already had their say on this one,” Sim said, when asked if the move to eliminate the 134-year old democratically elected institution was worthy of more robust public debate.

The mayor highlighted other moves from the last 12 months, including the hiring of more police officers and the move to decamp more than 100 people who were living in tents along East Hastings Street last April.

As he often does, the mayor again used the term "swagger" to describe what he is trying to achieve in the city.

Sim highlighted some upcoming events that Vancouver will host, including the Invictus Games, the 2026 FIFA World Cup and a Rolling Stones concert.

"The Stones are coming,” he said. “Their only concert in Canada, right? Toronto, you can suck it."

Vancouver was awarded the sporting events before Sim was elected, and although he is very excited about the Rolling Stones show, he had no hand in making it happen.

On the issue of property tax increases, which have totalled 18 percent in the two budgets overseen by the mayor, he said the city is exploring other ways to generate revenue, including selling naming rights to city assets – something he believes could generate $50 million to $100 million per year.

"I could be totally wrong. But let's say it's $50 million,” said Sim. “That equates to a five-per-cent property (tax) increase – or better yet, a five-per-cent property (tax) decrease."

Sim also told the crowd of several hundred that his party was speeding up processes at city hall.

As an example, he cited a reduction in time allotted for members of the public to address council and the elimination of questions from councillors to those speakers.

"We are whipping through,” he said. “We get through all the public hearings, all the things in council, in record time."

His opponents view those moves in a different light.

"There's been a steady erosion of democratic process, transparency and accountability with the mayor and this council,” said Green Party Coun. Pete Fry.

“And that’s been evident in basically all the moves that have happened.”

While touting what he sees as successes over the past year, Sim also urged patience going forward.

"You just saw what happened in our city in the last year,” he said. “Imagine what it's going to look like eight to 10 years from now." 

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