COLUMN: BCA opposition an endangered species

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This is a municipal election year, not that many Burnabyites will notice, considering only 23.3 per cent of registered voters showed up the last time in 2011.

At some point in 2014 it would be good for the city if a credible challenger to the Derek Dynasty, errr, the Burnaby Citizens’ Association emerged.

Mayor Derek Corrigan’s little club has swept the last two civic elections.

Along with him being elected by a wide margin to lead the city, the BCA also took all eight council and all seven school trustee positions in 2008 and 2011. That’s unprecedented in B.C. politics. The party’s outright domination makes the dynamic dynasty of Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers appear diminutive.

At least the Oilers had some semblance of competition.

The BCA has none, at least not to cause concern to the party’s reign.

Now, there’s nothing really wrong in the Kingdom of Corrigan. Burnaby continues to trot along quite nicely both financially and in terms of services delivered.

Bright new buildings like the spectacular Edmonds Community Centre are welcome additions, as is the brand spanking new recycling depot.

Development is not just occurring at a trotter’s pace but with the speed of a galloping thoroughbred, especially in Metrotown and Brentwood with some intriguing plans in the works for the Lougheed mall area.

Save a pit bull here (city hall) and an anti-homophobia policy (school board) there, nary a negative word is spoken about the city’s governance.

That’s saved for Corrigan’s missives aimed at senior levels of government. (The vast majority of his blasts are on target and well deserved.)

Corrigan’s clique has been Secretariat-esque in leaving its opponents in the dust the last few elections. They would appear to have kicked up so much dirt behind them they have buried their main competitor Team Burnaby six feet under.

Nary a word has been spoken by the likes of Lee Rankin or mayoral candidate Tom Tao since the campaign ended. They may have come to the conclusion it’s unhealthy to keep hitting their heads against the BCA wall. Going up against the juggernaut has certainly been injurious to their wallets. Who could blame them if their appetite for mounting a doomed attack for a third time isn’t there.

In 2008, three others broke from Team Burnaby—Gary Begin, Garth Evans and Barbara Spitz—to mount a joint campaign calling themselves Independent Voices.

To have a chance at getting elected it’s best for a candidate to have been part of the process at city hall in some capacity.

The problem in 2014 is no one fits that description because the BCA runs a closed shop and to do it from outside would require an incredible amount of dedication, passion and perseverance.

Begin has moved out of the city but continues to work here and follow its politics. At age 71, he won’t be back. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care.

Although during his years on council Begin often agreed with both sides of the political spectrum, he struggled to get heard because the BCA was NDP dominated and Team Burnaby was aligned with the BC Liberals and he wouldn’t join either party.

Despite the fact Begin leans to the right—he works for Burnaby North MLA Richard Lee—he feels no group should have a monopoly at city hall.

“I believe you get a healthy community when you have a variety of voices at the table, regardless of what political stripe it is. It’s not healthy [otherwise],” Begin said in a recent interview. “There’s nobody there watching.”

There should be.

Odds are, there won’t be.

• Grant Granger is a reporter with the NewsLeader.

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