After a decade as Mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson has announced he will not seek re-election in the October 2018 municipal election.
Robertson has been Mayor for the past 10 years, and will have had the longest consecutive run as Mayor in Vancouver’s history – and there is no term limit in the city.
It’s not clear exactly what his plans are for the future, but here’s a look back at some of the highs and lows of Gregor Robertson and his time as Mayor of Vancouver.
- Gregor Robertson is elected Mayor in February with 54% of the vote, on the Vision Vancouver slate, which captured seven other Council seats, and a controlling majority.
- Homeless Emergency Action Team created – several shelters set up to help Vancouver’s homeless citizens during winter.
- Burrard Bridge bike lane trial launches – one southbound lane and the northbound sidewalk are re-allocated to bikes.
- The Central Valley Greenway bike corridor from Vancouver to Burnaby and New Westminster opens.
- Construction of Olympic Village is completed, but only after a funding crisis in which the City had to borrow an extra $467 million.
- Vancouver holds the Winter Olympics and the Winter Paralympics. Huge crowds of Canadian fans celebrating the Games in the streets make global headlines.
- Funding issues with Olympic Village continue; the City agrees to place the property into voluntary receivership.
- Separate bike lane installed on Dunsmuir Street, and another approved for Hornby Street.
- Robertson caught mocking people who had spoken at a Council session. “Who are all these fucking…who are these hacks?” The video went viral, and he apologized.
- The world is shocked as the Stanley Cup Riot devastates the streets of Vancouver. At least 140 people are injured, 101 people arrested, and 887 charges eventually laid.
- Robertson and the City were criticized for not doing enough to prepare for the large crowds flocking to Vancouver to watch the game on big public screens.
- VIVA Vancouver program launched, converting the 800 block of Robson and parts of Granville Street to pedestrian only zones in summer.
- Greenest City 2020 Action Plan adopted, as part of his bid to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world.
- Robertson wins re-election as Mayor with 53% of the vote.
- Vancouver becomes first Canadian city to adopt Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, aimed at dealing with flood risk due to rising sea levels.
- Transportation 2040 Plan adopted, aimed at shifting the mode share of most trips made within the city from private vehicles to foot, bike and public transit.
- Building permit values for the first half of 2012 reached $1.1 billion.
- Work on the Comox-Helmcken Greenway is completed, including separate bike lanes and biking infrastructure placed at various points.
- Robertson pleads with the provincial and federal governments for more funding to treat people with severe, untreated mental illness.
- The City of Vancouver invests $5 million in more child care spaces.
- Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency created by Council to develop thousands of affordable homes on City and other land by 2021.
- Local Area Plan for the Downtown Eastside, aimed at improving the lives of low-income residents in the impoverished neighbourhood.
- West End areas rezoned to allow for low-rise infill housing behind existing buildings in the lanes.
- Construction of the Seaside Greenway bike lane, between Burrard Bridge and Jericho Beach, begins. This controversially blocks car access from areas of Point Grey.
- In an election campaign debate, Robertson famously apologizes for disappointing voters. He is re-elected, but fails to win with a majority, getting only 46% of the vote.
- The rising cost of buying a home in Vancouver hits the headlines and all politicians, including Robertson, come under pressure to do something to help local residents.
- The City adopts the Renewable City Strategy, aiming to be the first city in North America to use 100% renewable energy and eliminate gas-powered cars.
- City decides to demolish the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, to free up land for new housing and reconnect east side and downtown neighbourhoods.
- Referendum across Metro Vancouver on whether to increase sales tax to fund transit improvements fails, despite Vancouver City Council’s unanimous support.
- Robertson criticizes the federal government’s response to a major oil spill in English Bay, which leaked 2,700 litres of toxic bunker fuel into Vancouver’s waters.
- Vancouver has a rental vacancy rate of almost 0%, and concerns over the lack of affordable housing in Vancouver hit crisis point.
- Robertson calls on the province for more action; the City approves an Empty Homes Tax, and looks into regulating short-term rentals.
- City-owned sites are rezoned to help provide housing for seniors, families and low-income workers, and initiate plans for new rental housing.
- After a long-running dispute with CP Rail, the City finally buys the Arbutus Corridor for $55 million, and rebrands it the Arbutus Greenway.
- The Arbutus Greenway is turned into an urban route for pedestrians and cyclists. Light rail to be added at some point in the future.
- The City of Vancouver begins cracking down on pot shops, requiring them to apply for a business licence, at a cost of $30,000. The first pot shop licence is granted in May.
- Mobi bike share program launches.
- 800-block of Robson Street in downtown Vancouver is permanently closed to traffic.
- First ever Vancouver Mural Festival held by local artists, in partnership with the City.
- Overdose crisis becomes apparent in Vancouver, as drug users begin to die in huge numbers from overdoses involving fentanyl.
- Construction work begins on Burrard Street Bridge to make the bike lanes permanent, install suicide bars, and change the traffic patterns at either end.
- Council adopts all of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
- 2017 Homeless Count shows the rate of homelessness in Metro Vancouver continues to rise; around 1,000 people in BC die from fentanyl overdoses.
- A development application refused for the first time in Vancouver’s history, due to local opposition concerned about gentrification in Chinatown.
- Chinatown zoning changed to slow land speculation and development, and single-family neighbourhoods rezoned to allow for more density.
- Regulation of short-term rentals like Airbnb and Vrbo approved, to try to increase the long-term rental housing stock.
- New Housing Vancouver Strategy to create 72,000 new homes for renters, families, and vulnerable residents over 10 years.
- So many tickets have been issued to unlicensed pot shops that refuse to close, they now owe the City at least $1 million in fines. Only 17 licences have been issued.
- New City logo approved at a cost of $8,000, without any public consultation. When questioned about it by reporters, Robertson loses his temper. Logo scrapped.
- Seaside Greenway bike lane along Point Grey Rd completed.
- Construction begins on bike lanes along 10th Avenue, near Vancouver General Hospital, with more bike lane upgrades planned in the area for 2018.
- Nearby, 14th Avenue and Alder Street become bike routes, and across Vancouver upgrades to biking spots, including traffic calming, diversions, and signage, begin.
- Cost of City parking spots in the West End increased to market prices and Burrard Bridge construction work, making the bike lanes permanent, was completed.
- Robertson declares he will not run for re-election as Mayor.
What was the highlight or lowlight of Robertson’s run for you? Let us know in the Facebook comments.