The City of Vancouver unveiled a plan last week to make citizens more connected to their local government, with efforts including advanced online voting registration and money set aside for neighbourhood committees to spend as they see fit.
But perhaps a big reason for civic disconnectedness is simply a lack of political drama at Vancouver City Hall.
There is no doubt the public has an insatiable appetite for scandals and theatrics. Toronto has become consumed by the ongoing Rob Ford story – especially the most recent reports of an alleged video purportedly showing the mayor smoking crack cocaine. The news made headlines from the BBC to Al Jazeera. Whether the Ford saga translates into increased political engagement remains to be seen; the best indicator might be voter turnout in the next city election in 2014.
And in Vancouver? The next election is also in 2014, but do people even know the current mayor?
During the noon hour on Tuesday, The Globe and Mail surveyed 100 people in downtown Vancouver and asked them two simple questions: "Can you name the mayor of Vancouver?" and "Can you name the mayor of Toronto?" The results:
58%: percentage of people surveyed Tuesday in downtown Vancouver who could name Vancouver's mayor, Gregor Robertson
65%: percentage of people surveyed Tuesday in downtown Vancouver who could name Toronto's mayor, Rob Ford