October 16, 2022

A New Day, A New Mayor: Back to Basics with Surprise ABC Majority on Vancouver City Council

The Vancouver Civic Election was on Saturday October 15 and the results were late, thanks to B.C. Hydro having a shut down in some areas that had voting stations. But late or not, there was  low turn out with an estimated 171, 494 people. That is only 36.3 percent of eligible voters that cast a ballot.

Local social media hoped for a continuance of the current socially progressive parties that have made up Vancouver Councils for the last fourteen years.  It appeared that the majority of the electorate did not follow social media’s lead as the successful mayoral candidate was newcomer Ken Sim  with the ABC Party who won over the current mayor Kennedy Stewart.

It also appears that while Mr. Stewart garnered nearly as many votes as he did the last election, (49,705 in 2018 and 49, 593 in 2022) it was simply not enough for Mr. Sim’s  lead with over 85,000 votes.

 

In Vancouver the mayor is a “weak” mayor. He has one vote at Council, but does get a very nice office with a  board table and a private washroom. He also inherits a very healthy budget to hire his own staff and undertake projects  on his own discretion that does not need to be passed or scrutinized by city staff or council.

CBC’s Justin McElroy has written about the fact that those municipal candidates that are “very online” do badly while those that do the door knocking and hand shaking generally do rather well.  That result based upon his 2018 analysis was upheld in this election too.

 

 

And here is what Vancouver’s new City Council will look like, from the City of Vancouver’s media department:

 

The Councillors are seated in Vancouver  Council according to how many votes they get. Those with the most votes sit closest to the mayor.

If you ever get a chance to go into council chambers and you are given permission to look at the councillors’ desks, each desk has inscribed in the drawer the various signatures of the previous councillors that have been given that desk in past elections. It would be well worth photographing those signatures and the position of each desk for posterity.

Mr. Sim had a gracious acceptance speech on Saturday night, and also recognized that he was the first person in that office that  was Asian Canadian. His speech was thoughtful and inclusive, and with the seven members of Council from ABC (A Better City) he will have a majority of votes to pass items in Council.

Those seven ABC Councillors include returning Councillors Sarah Kirby-Yung, Lisa Dominato, and Rebecca Bligh that formerly ran with the NPA (Non Partisan Association) which has after 85 years been extinguished from Vancouver elections.

This time this experienced trio of Councillors ran with Mr. Sim’s ABC Party, after being ignored by a foundering NPA party in the decision of who to run for Mayor.

The four new to Council ABC members have extensive public service and community work, and bring a range of diverse experience to Council.

Brian Montague who formerly did public relations with the Vancouver Police Department, Peter Meiszner formerly of Global Television and Mike Klassen with the BC Care Providers are all active community volunteers. Mr. Klassen  brings a perspective on seniors that has been missing from many platforms in the campaign, an important component.  Lenny Zhou is an engineer that works at Children’s Hospital, and an active community volunteer.

The new Council is rounded out by returning members Christine Boyle, Adrienne Carr, and Pete Fry from OneCity and the Green party. Over 20,000 votes separated the ABC Councillors voted in from the three incumbents that returned.

Of course comparisons are being made to the sweep of Council in the 1990’s by Gordon Campbell and the NPA. But the reality is there has been a long cycle of supposedly monikered progressive left politics from  Gregor Robertson’s Vision party dominating from 2009 to 2018 to Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s run from 2018 to 2022.

That’s a long stretch for any ideological group at Vancouver city hall, and some of the politics appeared to not address underlying issues and concerns expressed by the community at public hearings and when speaking to Council.

Some of the most contentious items are the approval of the Broadway Plan, and the referral of the Vancouver Plan, both of which dismiss any input of previous neighbourhood planning groups and processes.

The Broadway Plan  includes a large area which contains 19,600 rental units, 25 percent of the city’s inventory, most which are affordable. As noted by former City architect Ralph Segal, it will take 140 new rental developments to replace existing affordable units without one single new affordable rental unit added if only one quarter of the current affordable rental accommodation was demolished.  That is something that ABC, who are supportive of the Broadway Plan, will need to address.

It will be interesting to look at the vote analysis broken down by polling station to see where OneCity was favoured, and whether the Broadway Plan had any impact on the voting in the corridor.

You can also look at ABC’s policy platform here, and Viewpoint Vancouver will be discussing the platform in future posts.

The inaugural meeting of the new City Council will be on November 7, 2022. There is one meeting left of the current council the week of October 25, 2022. This Council meeting is historically called “the lame duck” council meeting as the outgoing Council cannot make decisions that will fetter the incoming council.

Mayor Stewart did an admirable job as a parliamentarian with a council that did not have a clear majority of votes and tended to thresh and rewrite directions and motions. It was also a difficult time with the pandemic demanding major changes in procedure and work. A major change of Council such as is happening this year is transitioned with the help of a strong city manager and city clerk, and department heads that can outline current city policy and work to address Council directions.

It is clear that the voters in Vancouver wanted change in looking at a safe, affordable and livable city, and provided a majority to one party at Council which should shorten up what have been excruciating long meetings with many motions and points of order.

And here is a bit of policy proposed by ABC for social, supportive and non-market housing. You can read more about the party’s platform at this link.

It’s well worth the read.

 

images:cbc,dailyhive

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Well, I am gob smacked by the result. I guess that I was expecting too much of the pre vote polling accuracy which has again failed us. Individual results were all over the place and probably massively influenced by the ABC Party slate. How could someone like Michael Wiebe only get 19,885 votes.? Reminds me of the most popular councillor Heather Deal getting axed at the last election. Michael W would have fared better by hiring the Mr Peanut costume and saying nothing. And What about hard working and experienced John Irwin? . He should have been a shoe in. It seems like the big ABC Party will very much dominate to the detriment of thoughtful democratic council questioning of policy. When the Mayor embarks on hiring 100 new police immediately he will need to ensure that the finances are in place That will require a rewrite of the currently approved budget to find approx $15M required. Oh and add another $10M plus for the health professionals. I don’t disagree with the intent. I do query what happened last night-are we better off today?

    1. On the flip side: ABC and Sim have zero excuses not to deliver all that they promised.

      It’s not the outcome I had hoped for, but at least the rebranded NPA (TEAM) got totally shut out. I take that as a victory.

      1. “Cleaning up” DETS and Chinatown? Good luck with that. We’ll count the days until they realize it’s time to declare victory and retreat. But if they can manage the optics and promote the appearanceof order, they’ll be fine.

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