September 6, 2018

NPA’s Sim Speaks — 2018 Vancouver Civic Election

NPA Mayoral candidate Ken Sim with podcasters of the Cambie Report

Mr. Sim of the NPA will probably be among those Vancouver mayoral candidates who actually make it onto the October 20 ballot by submitting paperwork and his deposit to elections officials before September 14, 4 pm.

It’s hard to say the same about all of the current crop of 11 who are out there in various stages of hope, agitation and mischievousness.

Today, Mr. Sim has broken his long silence and discussed platformish kind of stuff with Stephen Quinn at the CBC (while on a bike *), and at length (52:31) with the fun guys at Cambie Report (Note:  access to the full podcast will cost ya a few bucks, otherwise it’s a short teaser **).

Here’s my precis of these two platformish interviews:


  1. Housing
  2. Struggling businesses (due to tax burden; help affordability by increasing well-paying jobs)
  3. Seniors; ignored, but issues abound
  4. Traffic congestion (get those cars moving)

Housing Solutions:

  1. Speed up permitting (start with process streamlining)
  2. Build rental housing on city-owned land
  3. Supply is paramount; demand-side measures are in and done; immediate approval of permits for secondary suites in every home
  4. Density is a great idea, but each neighbourhood will seemingly get a veto over such changes, and so Mr. Sim thinks we will evolve pockets of higher density (where the residents approve)

Political Perspectives:

  1. The ability to implement ideas is Ken Sim’s winning characteristic; “the challenge is in execution”
  2. The NPA is socially progressive
  3. The mayoral candidate runs the NPA show, and their ideas and priorities rule
  4. Left and right don’t matter as much today; what does matter is finding common ground in a mixed city council
  5. Negativity in campaigning is not going to happen.

Climate Change:

  1. Vancouver is an environmentally aware city; it’s in our DNA
  2. Kinder Morgan pipeline:  Vancouver city has no jurisdiction; it’s a low priority for the city; it’s not a job for the City of Vancouver (Take THAT, Kennedy Stewart)
  3. Idling cars are a major climate focus; keep them moving by fiddling with lights (echoes of Kirk LaPointe).  Getting rid of traffic congestion is a climate solution.  Commission an independent study of congestion. Oh yeah, maybe some transit too. And rideshare [Ed:  is this Uber as a climate solution?]
  4. Density in the right areas (e.g. non-vetoed) helps reduce climate risk


  1. Opiod crisis.  It’s not good; he’s personally disturbed by it.
  2. Reconciliation:  he likes it; let’s talk to FN and find out what they want. (Ed. Since I guess no one has done this yet).
  3. Congestion charge:  he’ll look at it
  4. Bike lanes:  puzzled by Cambie Bridge west lane, but no planned war on Vancouver’s bike lanes.  Hospital District (10th Ave) is needed for safety reasons (Ed.  I guess, unlike Cambie Bridge’s west lane)
  5. Metro issues:  regional congestion, funding
  6. Transportation is a component of affordability
  7. City has phenomenal and hard-to-find talent among its employees; but the system needs fixing (see process reengineering / workflow literature); this task will fall to the city manager (alert!!) who must be the right person.

My impressions are that Mr. Sim is bright and personable, and he’s in for a massive learning curve. He seemed to draw analogies between running his two businesses and running the city of Vancouver.   But while the city’s budget really isn’t all that huge, it’s influence and concerns are spread much more broadly and deeply than his businesses have been. My take is that the Jericho development’s planning process alone is vastly more complex than his businesses.  And Jericho will be around in 100 years, affecting the entire city, so these plans and decisions are more fraught with consequence.  And how about that Skytrain expansion to UBC and it’s effect on Jericho and the city.

Mr. Sim also seems to have completely missed the role of the City and its Mayor as influencer, intervenor and participant in initiatives and projects that are, oh yes, not written into the city charter.  Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline is a great example, in that it’s Vancouver’s harbour and some of it’s nearby coastline that are at risk, not to mention the climate change issues surrounding expansion of fossil fuel usage.  The opiod crisis is another. The city is where the crisis plays out, whose citizens are dying at the rate of about one a day and where the Mayor has the responsibility to raise this issue on the provincial and national stage with all the authority and persistence that they can muster.  And no, it’s not in the city’s charter either.

I wish Mr. Sim luck. The next few weeks leading up to October 20 should be filled with realizations and awakenings and noise — I hope he survives it.

  • *  The CBC episode isn’t posted at time of writing; but it does not contain a word about those evil b*ke l*nes
  • ** I ponied up; it’s worth it; perhaps you might consider supporting Cambie Report too. 

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  1. If Sim is really concerned about idling cars, then he should reinstate the anti-idling bylaw, which disappeared into the ether about a decade ago. Moving cars still create carbon. Oh, and the NPA is most decidedly NOT socially progressive, and neither are any of Mr. Sim’s ideas. I do not wish him luck.

  2. I’m impressed you managed to get so much out of the interview. I’ve only listened to the short form on Cambie Report, but I couldn’t bear to listen to the longer one. It was so anodyne. I felt like playing computer games would be a more productive use of my time. Wow, the NPA is soooo progressive and seemingly in favour of everything (though of course nothing specific) and gee, if he’s been to Google, he’ll be able to run the city better. Once he wins the election then I guess he’s just going to be able to chat with people, and since he’s so nice and progressive he’ll come up with lots of nice policies that everyone is going to make everyone feel so happy! Yay!!! Thanks NPA!

    If their other mayoral interviews are like this, I won’t be able to stand to listen.

  3. Oddly you made errors on both mentions of bike lanes: Sim is against the 10th Ave bike lane for “safety reasons” not for it. And he does manage to make an anti bike comment in his 3 minute interview with the CBC: he speaks out against a bike lane on Commercial Dr

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