Mayors and councillors at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention voted strongly against foreign sponsorship of the annual event.
The non-binding vote was held Wednesday morning at the convention in Vancouver and comes amid worsening relations between China and Canada.
Forty-five per cent “strongly disagreed” with allowing foreign sponsorship while 19 per cent simply disagreed. Just 24 per cent agreed and “strongly” agreed.
At the heart of the matter is one of the convention’s annual receptions, which has been sponsored and hosted by the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China since 2013.
The Chinese government gives the UBCM $6,000 to host the reception.
Many city officials have said they will boycott this year’s reception, which is scheduled for Wednesday evening. Among them are Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West, Delta Mayor George Harvie and White Rock’s city council, who have all said they will not attend due to China’s detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps confirmed Wednesday she would be attending.
“Yes, I will be there tonight,” she said, noting she thought it was more productive to discuss the issues rather than boycott the reception.
The vote Wednesday was a “straw poll,” said sponsorship review panel chair Frank Leonard, but will affect the panel’s decision. The panel will present its findings to the UBCM executive early next year and those could determine if the the Chinese reception continues.
More to come.