Tag Archives: Green Party

Vancouver Election 2018 Primer – Part 1 – The Parties

TL;DR – If you want a list of who to vote for, wait for the next blog post. This is just about the parties. OneCity is my favourite.

vancouver-mayor-and-council-landing

Vancouver is about to enter one of the most interesting and uncertain elections in recent history. The mayor and most of the current councillors are not running for re-election, a bunch of new parties with similar sounding names have formed, and new campaign finance rules are limiting the influence of big moneyed donors like developers.

Here’s my attempt to distill the issues and help make you an informed voter. Note, this is my personal opinion and is completely subjective. I have plenty of biases – I’m a parent, renter, computer nerd, environmentalist, cyclist, and urbanist.

The Basics

Election Day is October 20, but you can vote early starting on October 10.

You will be voting for 1 Mayor, 10 city councilors, 7 parks board commissioners, and 9 school trustees.

If you’ve voted in the past, there are 2 notable changes this year.

  1. The order of names on the ballot will be randomized. The ballot is long, and a lot of voters just tick the first few names in each category. In elections past, most of the winners had last names starting with A, B, C, or D. That will change this year.
  2. You can vote at any polling station in the city, not just the one assigned to you. So if you’re at the park or library on Saturday and there’s a polling station nearby, you can vote there.

If you want more details on how voting works, check out the city’s website.

The Options
vancouver_political_axis
Vancouver’s political axis

The official list of candidates won’t be known for another week and many parties are only starting to release their platforms. We do know there will be at least 10 different party names on the ballot. Some you will recognize and some are brand new.

Most of the parties are only running a handful of candidates for each position, so you’ll probably end up voting for candidates from several parties. I’ll release my list of endorsed candidates in the next few weeks. In the meantime, here’s a look at what the parties stand for.

The Cambie Report‘s listeners did a great job classifying the political parties along three axis: the traditional left/right axis, plus a municipal axis that classified parties as urbanist or conservationist. You might know COPE as a left-wing party and the NPA as a right-wing party but the urbanist/conservationist axis is more interesting and can help to differentiate the parties from each other.

An urbanist party is one that looks to actively change the shape of the city to feature more walkable neighbourhoods, mixed-use developments, bike lanes, and density (see the New Urbanism principles). In Vancouver, they’re often supported by the YIMBY and Abundant Housing groups.

A conservationist party is more concerned about preserving the current character of neighbourhoods and limiting change. They favour heritage preservation, limiting growth, restricting immigration, and lots of consultation with neighbourhood groups. In Vancouver, they’re often supported by the NIMBY and HALT groups.

The Parties

Vision
The party that has dominated city politics in Vancouver since 2008 under the leadership of Mayor Gregor Robertson. They’re responsible for introducing food trucks, backyard chickens, bike lanes, the Arbutus Greenway, and a plastic straw ban to Vancouver.

Vision has seen their popularity drop as they’ve been blamed for the housing crisis, and almost all of their incumbents are not running for re-election, which is never a good sign. They are widely criticized for not doing enough to keep Vancouver affordable and their close connections with developers, but in the past year they’ve introduced an empty home tax, restricted Airbnb rentals, and started construction on 600 units of temporary modular housing. Is it too little too late for Vancouverites fed up with the skyrocketing cost of living? Probably.

Vote for them if… you think the city is on the right (cycle) track.

NPA
The right-wing opposition to Vision over the past 10 years. They’ve traditionally been the voice of business owners in Vancouver, but the party is in turmoil. Of their 4 potential mayoral candidates, one left the party (or was kicked out) to start his own party (Yes Vancouver) and another joined Coalition Vancouver.

In the past two elections, they’ve campaigned on opposing Vision’s bike lane expansion and have a council candidate (Colleen Hardwick) who has actively campaigned against bike lanes in the past. They’ve seemed to soften their tone so far, but I’m skeptical.

Their housing policy is best summarized as “gentle density but only if neighbourhoods want it”, which is pretty much status quo for Vancouver over the past 20 years.

Vote for them if… you’re nostalgic for the days of Mayor Sam Sullivan.

Greens
The Green Party has a lot of momentum and a great brand. They’ve had success in recent provincial and federal elections, and in Vancouver they have elected representatives on all three boards (council, school, and park).

As an environmentalist, I should be a natural Green Party supporter, but I disagree with many of their policies. As you can see on the chart above, the Green Party leans toward the conservationist ideals, closer to the NPA on many issues than Vision Vancouver. They’ve opposed the Broadway subway, densification, and even smart meters – all policies that have received vocal opposition even though they’re important environmentally. They also opposed Amazon expanding the number of developers it employs in Vancouver.

That said, they have a few strong candidates that I may vote for, especially on park board.

Vote for them if… being ‘green’ is more important to you than actual policies.

OneCity

A fairly new party to Vancouver. They formed in 2014 and elected their first representative during the 2017 by-election. They’re a young (with candidates under 40), urbanist, left-wing party and have been getting a lot of buzz from people who have supported Vision in the past.

They’re not running a lot of candidates (only 2 for council and 3 for school board) but in my opinion they’re the strongest candidates with the best ideas.

Their housing policies include policies to crack down on speculation and build more affordable housing across the city.

Vote for them if… you want a hip, urbanist party to have influence in local politics.

COPE

The traditional left wing-party in Vancouver, but they’re a spent political force these days, having been completely shutout in the past 2 elections. Both Vision Vancouver and OneCity were originally formed from members abandoning COPE.

While OneCity is running a new generation of millennial candidates, COPE is running with the old-guard of Vancouver’s left-wing. Both Jean Swanson and Anne Roberts are in their mid-70s. That said, Swanson is a fighter and she probably is the party’s best hope of electing someone. They’ve distinguished themselves from the other parties by strongly advocating for a rent freeze and mansion tax.

Vote for them if… you think class warfare is what Vancouver needs.

Yes Vancouver

Formed only a few weeks ago when the NPA refused to allow one of their councillors, Hector Bremner, to run for mayor. He left the party and formed a new one. They seem to be positioning themselves as the only right-wing party that strongly supports urbanist ideals. They want to dramatically densify the single-family neighbourhoods of Vancouver’s west side.

They have the bottom-right quadrant of the political axis above all to themselves and it will be interesting to see how they do. They’ve got some rich backers and already have billboards up before the campaign has officially started, circumventing the campaign finance rules.

Vote for them if… you want to mass rezone all of Vancouver’s west side.

Coalition Vancouver

Started by the former Conservative MP who once compared Stephen Harper to Jesus, Coalition Vancouver’s driving force is ripping out bike lanes and ending the war on cars.

Vote for them if… you hate bike lanes.

ProVancouver

Yet another new party with a similar sounding name. They hate Airbnb, developers, and foreign buyers. They have some bold ideas to fix Vancouver’s housing market by controlling demand, some which deserve attention, but their candidates and supporters are some of the most toxic trolls on Twitter. They’ve also released one of the worst transportation platforms I’ve ever seen, with a promise to get rid of distance based pricing for transit and no mention of cycling.

Vote for them if… you think a bunch of online trolls should run the city.

Independents
Many pundits are calling this the “year of the independent” (1, 2). There are a bunch of really strong candidates with good chances of winning. Some of the ones I’m keeping my eye on are: Kenedy StewartShauna SylvesterSarah BlythAdrian CrookRob McDowellGraham Cook, Erin Shum, and Wade Grant (note: this is not an exhaustive list).

Vote for them if… you think political parties are toxic.

Fringe Parties
There are a few other parties with little chance of winning, including: IDEA, Restore Vancouver, Vancouver 1st, and the Work Less Party

Vote for them if… you want to throw away your vote.

Images from the City of Vancouver and the Cambie Report (with some tweaks).

In the next two weeks I’ll release my endorsed candidates. I have no idea who to vote for mayor (Shauna Sylvester, Kenedy Stewart, and Ian Campbell all have potential). For council, the OneCity candidates are a lock for me and I’m considering candidates from the Green Party, COPE, Vision, YesVancouver, and a few independents to round out my ballot. I’ve barely started to look at school and park board candidates.

If you have any recommendations on candidates you like, please add a comment.

Vancouver Election 2014 – Initial Reaction

I’m sure none of the parties are entirely happy with yesterday’s election results. Vision retains control of City Council, with Mayor Gregor Robertson and 6 councillors re-elected, but suffered big loses on Park Board and School Board. The NPA and Greens both gained seats, but neither had the breakthrough they were looking for at City Council. COPE, and all of the smaller parties, didn’t even come close to electing anyone.

Only 11 of the 27 candidates I voted for won, but I’m reasonably satisfied with the results. Vision still has a majority at City Council and can continue to push improvements to bike infrastructure and the urban realm. I hope that Adriane Carr will find a way to join Vision on the Greenest City plan instead of opposing it and everything else.

I plan on doing a deeper analysis of the election results once the spreadsheets are published to find out what happened (my big questions are listed at the bottom), but here is a quick look at the numbers.

Turnout

  • 25% more people voted this election than last time. That is huge!
  • In 2011 there were 144,823 votes cast. In 2014 there were 181,707 – 36,884 more.
  • Turnout will likely still be less than 50%, but take it with a grain of salt.
  • People who move away or die are rarely removed from the voters list, inflating the number of registered voters and skewing turnout percentages.

Vancouver mayor votes past 4 elections
Mayor

  • Gregor Robertson did well, winning with 83,500 votes (6,500 more than 2011).
  • The narrower victory was a result of COPE not a stronger NPA.
  • COPE’s mayoral candidate, Meena Wong, received nearly 16,800 votes.
  • The NPA gained 15,300 votes, but its vote share only increased by 1%.
  • Nearly 3,000 voters chose “None of the Above” for a mayor, twice as many as in 2011.

Vancouver_2014_city_council_votes
City Council

  • 6 Vision, 3 NPA, and 1 Green
  • Only change is Melissa De Genova replacing Tony Tang.
  • Adriane Carr did amazingly well, attracting 74,077 votes from across the spectrum.
  • Carr’s popularity didn’t extend to other Green council candidates, who weren’t close.
  • Randomized ballots are needed. Top 5 vote getters have ABCD names.
  • 3 elected NPA candidates outpaced their Vision rivals, but didn’t extend to full slate.

Vancouver_2014_park_board_votes
Park Board

  • 4 NPA, 2 Green, 1 Vision
  • Vision got wiped out.
  • Lots of contentious issues: whales in the aquarium, community centre independence, bike lanes in parks.
  • Most disappointed that Brent Granby missed a spot by 1392 votes.

Vancouver_2014_school_board_votes
School Board

  • 4 Vision, 4 NPA, and 1 Green
  • Closest race last night: Ken Clement misses last school board spot by 255 votes.
  • Incumbents Woo and Denike (expelled from NPA for homophobic views) are trounced.
  • After just missing spots in 2011, NPA elects Ballantyne and Robertson.
  • Not sure why newcomer Joy Alexander did so well, other than listed first alphabetically.

Note: All charts show candidates receiving more than 10,000 votes.
Asterisks (*) indicate incumbents.

Some questions I’d like to answer.

  • How important is being one of the first candidates alphabetically?
  • Where are the regional pockets of support (harder to tell with open voting)?
  • Why did Vision do so bad on Parks Board?
  • Which candidates had the same supporters? See 2011 council correlations.
  • Was vote splitting a problem?

Opposition to Upgrading Vancouver’s Seawall

I appear to have kicked off an internet storm when I reposted Green Parks Board candidate Stuart Mackinnon’s reply to my question about bike paths in parks.
https://twitter.com/betterparks/status/529073112030380032

better_parks

It’s lead to 3 blog posts on Gordon Price’s blog and more than 175 comments.

At issue, the enhancement of the Seawall, Vancouver’s gem and my favourite running route. As much as I love the seawall, there are sections that could do with some improvements. For much of its length, the Seawall has separated pedestrian and cyclist paths that ensure everyone has enough space.
Running along the Seawall Coopers Park and the Seawall Sunflower Seawall Seawall

But it is inconsistent. In Jericho Park, the seawall is a gravel path. Through Kitsilano Beach, Hadden Park, and Charleson Park the seawall is frequently congested as pedestrians and cyclists share a narrow path.
Charleson Park Seawall Vanier Park Seawall Hadden Park Seawall Kits Seawall

I’d love to see it all upgraded to the same standard, but there is a vocal group opposing any change. They think any new pavement would destroy our parks.

It’s a bizarre view, but they’re welcome to it. However, it bothers me that politicians like Green Party candidate Stuart Mackinnon appears to agree with them. Only Vision and COPE parks board candidates answered the HUB survey asking if they would support separated bike lanes in parks. Mackinnon’s only response was to complain about the question on twitter.
https://twitter.com/betterparks/status/524630627778187264

I wish Stuart Mackinnon would realize there is more to being green than maintaining grass.

My Endorsements for Vancouver’s 2014 Election

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Vancouver’s election is only 10 days away. Advanced polls opened yesterday, so you can vote now. The only thing holding you back is choosing who to vote for. Vancouver’s ballot will likely be the most intimidating ballot you’ve ever seen. You have to pick 1 mayor, 10 city councillors, 7 parks board commissioners, and 9 school trustees from a list of 108 candidates! Don’t worry, I’m here to help.

I’ve read all the platforms, quizzed the candidates on twitter, participated in the reddit AMAs, read their survey responses, and attended a debate. Here’s my take.

Disclaimer: I’m heavily biased toward bike-friendly, environmentalist, hipster candidates who will improve Vancouver’s livability. The issues most important to me are transportation, the environment, the urban realm, and the tech sector. I recognize affordable housing as Vancouver’s biggest challenge, but I don’t think there is much the city can do to address it.

The Parties

  • Vision – The incumbents lead by Mayor Gregor Robertson. Running on their track record over the past 6 years, including separated bike lanes, Greenest City, laneway housing, and food carts. I love what they’ve done for Vancouver. Platform includes pushing the Broadway Subway plan, opposing Kinder Morgan pipeline, and creating affordable housing (all of which they have little control over). Criticized for not consulting enough with neighbourhoods and causing too much change.
  • NPA – Main challenger. Right-wing party lead by Kirk LaPointe. Promising to “consult more” which could mean anything or nothing. Platform was only released yesterday, but it includes more outdoor swimming pools, attracting oil and gas companies, and goodies for people who drive. Doesn’t like separated bike lanes.
  • COPE – Former left-wing powerhouse, now ghost of its former self. I used to volunteer and support them, but the party has been wrecked by infighting and their best candidates have left for Vision, PEP, and OneCity. Platform includes a $15 minimum wage, a bus pass for every Vancouver taxpayer, and a tax on empty homes.
  • Greens – Up-and-comers. Won first council seat last election and poised to win more this time. Riding wave of environmental concern, but with few environmental ideas of their own. Likes to oppose things, like the Broadway subway and new density, which I would argue is an important part of making Vancouver more sustainable. I voted for Adriane Carr last election, but regretted it as she ignored environmental issues.
  • Cedar Party – Bike haters who enjoy suing the city (and losing).
  • Vancouver First – Oddball party of homophobic, former-NPA school trustees, a disgraced community centre chair, and a former-Olympian.
  • Public Education Project (PEP) – The best COPE school trustees now running under a new banner.
  • OneCity – One candidate. RJ Aquino, formerly of COPE. One of my favourite candidates from the last election.

My Endorsed Slates

2014_endorsements

Mayor (1)

  1. Robertson, Gregor (Vision) – Vancouver’s hip, cycling mayor

City Council (10)

  1. Reimer, Andrea (Vision) – leads the Greenest City initiative
  2. Deal, Heather (Vision) – food cart champion
  3. Aquino, RJ (OneCity) – best ideas on affordable housing
  4. Sharma, Niki (Vision) – passionate about social justice
  5. Meggs, Geoff (Vision) – transportation guru
  6. Louie, Raymond (Vision) – finance wiz
  7. Jang, Kerry (Vision) – focused on housing homeless
  8. Tang, Tony (Vision) – seniors advocate
  9. Stevenson, Tim (Vision) – provocateur of Russians
  10. Barrett, Lisa (COPE) – former Bowen Island mayor and bike racer

Parks Board (7)

  1. Granby, Brent (Vision) – Super knowledgeable, favourite twitter follower
  2. Tull, Coree (Vision) – Double Rainbow Dodgeball founder
  3. Loke, Trevor (Vision) – Young and running for re-election
  4. Rumbaua, Sammi Jo (Vision)
  5. Girn, Naveen (Vision)
  6. Evans, Catherine (Vision)
  7. Romaniuk, Anita (COPE) – advocate for riverfront parks and restoration of streams

School Board (9)

  1. Bacchus, Patti (Vision) – current chair and outspoken advocate for public schools
  2. Bouey, Jane (PEP) – former COPE
  3. Clement, Ken (Vision)
  4. Giesbrecht, Gwen (PEP) – former COPE
  5. Lombardi, Mike (Vision)
  6. Payne, Cherie (Vision)
  7. Wong, Allan (Vision) – former COPE
  8. Wynen, Rob (Vision)
  9. Alexander, Joy (Vision)

Alternates – Some other decent candidates:
City Council

  • Fry, Pete (Green) – Strong advocate for Strathcona and cyclist, but anti-development
  • McDowell, Rob (NPA) – only NPA candidate that responded to HUBs bike survey.

Parks Board

School Board

  • Oak, Mischa (Green) – LGBTQ advocate

Mapping the Vancouver 2014 Election Candidates

Vancouver 2014 Election Candidates Map
Is there any regional bias to the Vancouver election candidates? I took the postal codes from the candidates nomination papers and mapped them.

Here are a few interesting tidbits I noticed.

  • NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe lives on the UBC Endowment Lands, so he can’t actually vote for himself (a detail the Straight already noticed).
  • For the main parties, their heaviest concentration of candidates are in the same areas their supporters live, unsurprisingly.
  • Vision and COPE’s candidates are mostly from Kitsilano and East Vancouver.
  • The majority of the NPA’s candidates are from the west-side (12), only 4 are from East Van, and 4 are from the downtown peninsula.
  • Vancouver 1st is running 12 candidates, evenly spread out throughout the city, though none are from the downtown peninsula.
  • The vast majority of the independent candidates live in East Van, including a number from the DTES.
  • For comparison, I also mapped the candidates during the 2011 election.

Mayor and City Councillors

Park Commissioners and School Trustees

Disappointed by Vancouver’s Green City Councillor Adriane Carr

An open-letter to Councillor Adriane Carr,

Adriane CarrIt’s been one year since you were elected as Vancouver’s first Green city councillor. You should probably be congratulated for your accomplishments, but I’m sorry to say I’ve been disappointed with your first year in office.

I voted for you because I thought you’d champion environmental causes at City Hall. You know, the issues you highlighted in your platform as reasons for electing you: promoting sustainable living, completing the residential bike network, creating a swifter transition to zero waste, and changing building codes to include passive solar designs and green roofs. I haven’t heard a word from you on any of these issues, but maybe I haven’t been paying enough attention.

So I took a look at all of the news articles and blogs that quoted you in the past year. You’ve been vocal on trying to create an opt-out program for BC Hydro smart meters, opposing high-rise development in the West End, opposing high-rise development in Mount Pleasant, opposing mid-rise development in Arbutus Ridge, opposing mixed-use development in the Downtown Eastside, opposing any development in Dunbar, amending dog leash bylaws, and opposing alcohol at city golf courses. If I was anti-development or a smart-meter conspiracy theorist I might be excited, but I’m not.

I guess it’s possible the media hasn’t done a good job portraying your efforts. I know there is a lot of work that goes into council meetings that the media doesn’t report on. I searched City Hall’s meeting minutes to see if you’ve been advancing environmental issues there, but the only proposal you put forward that is environmental in nature is a letter to Kinder Morgan opposing their pipeline.

Your website is also sparse on promoting environmental issues. It shows your opposition to the pipelines, but not much else.

There are a lot of important (and sometimes controversial) environmental issues being discussed at City Hall right now – composting programs and waste reduction, separated bike lanes for Cornwall and Commercial Drive, a bike-share program, car-free Robson Square, road diets, congestion charges, a better pedestrian crossing on the Granville Bridge, removal of the viaducts, water metering, urban agriculture, etc. If you won’t take a stand on these issues and be a champion for them in the public, what was the point of electing Vancouver’s first Green Party city councillor?

Photo by BlueAndWhiteArmy.

How the NDP Found its Green Mojo

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The NDP has always had strong environmental credentials, but in the past decade it has sat back and let other parties lead the charge. Although Jack Layton was a committed environmentalist, it often felt that environmental issues took a back seat to health care, education, and pensions during his leadership, and it was painful to watch the NDP oppose carbon taxes in BC and federally. As a result, people like me sometimes voted for the Green Party. But that’s changing.

The BC NDP now supports the carbon tax, and, more importantly, promises to use some of the proceeds to improve public transit. They’ve also strongly opposed the Enbridge pipeline to Kitimat, arguing not only against the environmental costs but the economic risks of the project to BC.

Federally, Thomas Mulcair has started pushing sustainable development in a big way, arguing that polluting industries need to internalize the costs of dumping pollution into the air, water, and land, including the oil sands. The ‘polluter pays’ principle. He’s also making an economic argument for protecting the environment.

I think it’s a smart strategy. Up until now, the debate has always pitted the environment against the economy. And when push comes to shove, the economy always wins. However, Mulcair is arguing that our zeal to export raw resources is harming other sectors of the economy, like manufacturing – the so called Dutch Disease. By framing sustainable development as an economic issue instead of a environmental one, Mulcair is creating a sharp contrast to the Conservative budget, which focuses on destroying the environment for economic gain.

And it looks like the Conservatives are scared. The last 3 polls have all shown the NDP in the lead, but the economy is the Conservative trump card. If Mulcair can convince Canadians that the Conservative’s approach to the environment is in fact harming the economy outside of the oil patch, the NDP lead will continue to grow. This interview with Mulcair explains his ideas in his own words. It’s worth watching, and I’d embed the video but CTV’s video player sucks.
Continue reading How the NDP Found its Green Mojo