Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim voted back onto municipal police board

Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim has been replaced as the chair of the Vancouver Police Board. (Nav Rahi/CBC - image credit)

In a 7-3 vote along party lines, Vancouver city council has reinstated Ken Sim as its representative on the city's police board following provincial reforms that ended the practice of mayors automatically assuming the chair.

On Tuesday, Vancouver's 10 councillors debated a staff report asking them to appoint a representative to the city's seven-member police board.

The board provides civilian oversight to the Vancouver Police Department (VPD), and Sim currently chairs it.

The vote followed changes to the provincial police act put forward by B.C.'s public safety minister in the spring, which he said would make policing more fair, equitable, and responsive to all communities.

Vancouver's council vote also came after an experienced police board member, Faye Wightman, resigned in January, alleging conflicts of interest and political interference at the board involving Sim.

Vancouver's council is composed of seven ABC party members plus Ken Sim, who was absent Tuesday from proceedings due to other city business.

His party moved and ultimately passed a motion to have him as the police board representative, but not before council's three non-ABC councillors tried to have Green Party Coun. Pete Fry elected as council's rep instead of Sim.

"I think this just further adds to the opacity behind the police board, and I think this is a big mistake mostly for the integrity of the police office and the perception of the public as how they see the police and what this role means," said Fry of Sim's appointment.

ABC Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung criticized Fry as council's potential rep, questioning whether he supported an appropriate budget for policing in the city.

"I'm not sure that that would be a good basis to start from and trying to work through modernizing our policing," she said.

Fry rejected the assertion and told council that people in policing had spoken to him about their desire to have him as a representative and even chair the board.

In a statement sent to CBC News, Sim said he's committed to continuing his involvement with the board as a "dedicated board member." His appointment will last until November 2026.

He said changes to the Police Act are "steps in the right direction" to improve governance, accountability and oversight of policing in the province.

Perhaps another chair

However, Sim said he would support someone else in the role of the chair.

"I acknowledge that my dual role as both Mayor and Chair of the Police Board can occasionally present challenges," said the statement. "I believe the position of Chair may be better served by another individual who can fully dedicate their focus to this important role."

Under changes to the provincial Police Act, Vancouver's municipal police board must elect a chair and vice chair" promptly" after council appoints a council member to the board, according to the city report.

Sim's statement also addressed, in part, the Wightman departure. It said he could not comment on matters conducted in closed meetings, but "her departure, which occurred during a duly constituted in-camera meeting, was acknowledged with respect."