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- Vancouver (B.C.). Office of the City Manager
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From the incorporation of the City of Vancouver in 1886 until the appointment of the Board of Administration in June 1956, the civic government of the City of Vancouver was administered through a Council-Committee format. Under this arrangement, City Council retained the right of final approval on all matters within their jurisdiction, but concentrated their efforts on policy making; the handling of the daily business of the City was delegated to a number of Special and Standing Committees of Council. As early as 1907, there were attempts to establish a Board of Control to administer the City’s business – but it was not until 1955 that an investigation of the civic administration (conducted by the Public Administration Service of Chicago, Inc. (PAS)) that the impetus for reorganization was found. In 1956, PAS strongly recommended that a City Manager be appointed to handle the daily business of the City. City Council was divided over the merits of the proposed system, and there was no shortage of debate: the first four months of 1956 saw a number of proposals placed before Council for re-organizing Vancouver’s civic administration. In the end, on May 2nd, 1956, the General Purposes Committee endorsed a proposal calling for a Board of Administration which would eventually consist of the Mayor, one alderman appointed by the Mayor (who was to vote only in the Mayor’s absence), and two permanent civic officials known as Commissioners. The newly-minted Board of Administration would replace all eight standing committees and a number of special committees.
When setting up the Board, City Council reserved the right to define, through bylaws, the duties, responsibilities, and the composition of the Board; in the terms of the 1957 Provincial Government amendment to the City Charter, all the powers, duties, and responsibilities of the Board were to be delegated to that body solely at the discretion of City Council. The new body was to be primarily responsible for (as identified in Bylaw #3584):
a) the effective execution of Council policies and legislative enactments,
b) co-ordinating municipal services and directing the business affairs of the City, and
c) advising and assisting City Council.
The Board of Administration was to last in practice until 1973, and in name until 1974. In its 18 years of existence, the Board of Administration steadily evolved into the position of the City Manager. The first reorganization of the Board of Administration came on October 2nd, 1962, when Bylaw #4017 was passed, which reduced the membership of the Board to the two permanent Commissioners and removing the elected representatives. On April 10th, 1973, Bylaw #4691 reduced the Board to a single Commissioner. Finally, the culmination of the progress toward a City Manager run civic administration occurred on September 10th 1974, when Bylaw #4794 was passed, removing the title of Board of Administration and replacing it with the title of City Manager, thus establishing de jure what already existed de facto. The City Manager assumed the same duties and responsibilities as the Board of Administration, acting primarily as the City’s chief administrative officer and advisor, and the City Manager is reported to by all of the City’s units except for the Boards (the Vancouver Library Board, the Vancouver Police Board, and the Board of Parks and Recreation). The City Manager had staff positions of Executive Assistant (which became Deputy City Clerk in 1977) and an Administrative Analyst; the collective name of this unit is the “Office of the City Manager.”
The following individuals have served as members of the Board of Administration. Mayor and Chair: Mayor Frederick Hume, 1956-1959; Mayor A. Thomas Alsbury, 1959-1962 (though the Municipal Year Book no longer lists the Mayor as of 1961). Aldermen (who acted as chair and voted in the absence of the Mayor): George C. Miller, 1956-1958; Jonathan W. Cornett, 1958-1959; H. D. Wilson, 1959-1960. Commissioners (two at a time): Frank Jones, 1956-1959; John C. Oliver, 1956-1965; Gerald Sutton Brown, 1960-1973; Lorne E. Ryan, 1965-1974.
The following individuals have served as City Manager: Lorne E. Ryan, 1974-1976; Fritz Bowers, 1977-1990; Kenneth Dobell, 1990-1998; Judy Rogers, 1999-2008; Penny Ballem, 2008- .