Vancouver Votes: The candidates of the 2017 City Council Byelection

Oct 14 2017, 1:17 am

This Saturday, Vancouverites will head to the polls to elect one new City Councillor and all nine trustee seats on the Vancouver School Board.

A total of 50 voting places will be open during the official byelection period from 8 am to 8 pm on October 14, 2017.

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According to the municipal government, more than 4,000 ballots have already been cast during the two days of advance voting earlier this month.

The results of both the City Councillor and School Board byelections will be released shortly after voting ends on Saturday night.

The candidates to fill the vacated City Councillor seat are:

This marks the City of Vancouver’s first byelection in 25 years. The elected individuals will hold their seats for one year, until the next general election scheduled for October 2018.

In advance of the byelection, Daily Hive sent a questionnaire to the candidates seeking more information about who they are and what their platform entails.

Unsurprisingly, all of the responses focused on housing affordability and supply.

The candidate profiles are presented in alphabetical order:

Hector Bremner (Non-Partisan Association)

Non-Partisan Association candidate Hector Bremner. (NPA Vancouver)

1. Who are you?

As a father and a husband, I strive to lead by example and never shy away from doing what is right.

My wife and I are in this race because we care that our boys, who were born here, won’t be able to make a life here unless something is done now about the housing crisis.

My sincere hope is that you will give me the opportunity to work for our great city when you vote.  I know we can all win, when we work together.

2. Why should people care about this election?

Our ability to live in this city, to have our kids live in this city is in real jeopardy and we need to come together to solve this housing crisis.  We have been avoiding making the tough decisions on housing since this government took office and you can see the results of this lack of leadership on the downtown eastside and in the house and rental prices at every level across our city.  Every month that goes by without addressing this problem together is a month in which we dig deeper in to this hole.

I think we can put away the division, politics and side issues and work together to rebuild our city.

3. Why should people vote for you?

While I don’t question their intention, all the candidates in this race are talking about backward looking solutions on the housing crisis while they ignore our supply crisis.  They talk about rent controls, taxes or basement suites and shipping containers to house people.  They are also pitting rich against poor, renter against owner ect… They are actually making the supply crisis worse.

The reality is 30,000 plus people are moving to this region every year.  In Vancouver alone we would have to build housing equivalent to the size of the Killarney neighbourhood every 5 years just to keep up with that incoming demand, let alone improve the price and rental crisis.

That is the scale of housing supply we need to be adding to our city; I want to talk about how we do that in a way that brings us together to build all the types of housing we need. I want to put away the blaming, division and pointing fingers and instead figure our how we do this.  You can read my housing plan here.

Diego Cardona (Vision Vancouver)

Vision Vancouver candidate Diego Cardona. (Vision Vancouver)

1. Who are you?

I’m Diego Cardona. I moved to Canada as a refugee after my father was killed by guerilla forces in Colombia. Shortly after we arrived in Vancouver, we lost my mother to leukemia, and my sister and I were placed into foster care.

These experiences have shaped my career, and fuelled my passion for social justice. I now work with marginalized communities — helping to build a more inclusive, welcoming Vancouver for all.

2. Why should people care about this election?

This election is going to come down to the wire between me and the NPA’s conservative candidate. We have clear choices in front of us. Do we want to move forward together, making progress on the issues that matter — housing affordability, a clean environment, and better transit? Or do we want to go backwards with an old-school party who is running an oil and gas lobbyist as their candidate?

Voter turnout is going to be key to winning this election. This is your democracy. Let’s not take it for granted — I’m asking for your vote on Saturday!

3. Why should people vote for you?

It’s time for a fresh new voice at City Hall. It’s time for young people to have a seat at the decision-making table. I represent a Vancouver that is inclusive and diverse —and I have the energy, passion, and fresh ideas to get the job done.

The NPA talk about housing a lot, but their record tells a much different story. When it came to a new social housing project across the street from his condo, their candidate went to a city council meeting and spoke against the project. He wants more housing — just not near him.

I believe housing is a human right. On my campaign website, I outline a five-point plan to take immediate action on affordable housing; building 1,000 new co-op homes, introducing a new ‘Vancouver Special’ style home, increasing co-housing and incentives for more rental housing, and adding more resources to speed up permits.

Pete Fry (Green Party of Vancouver)

Green Party of Vancouver candidate Pete Fry. (Green Party of Vancouver)

1. Who are you?

I’m an immigrant, husband, dog-guy, and decent cook. I’m tough but kind. I’m smart but grounded.

Most of my life I’ve been self-employed. As a creative I’m blessed to work doing what I love.

As an advocate I’m blessed to be able to make a difference.

I grew up in Vancouver, I love our city, but I am ashamed of it too.

We can do better.  I’ll fight to make sure Vancouver is a city where we can all live and thrive.

2. Why should people care about this election?

This by-election is like a status update for how we are doing as a city. How are we doing?

Homelessness is up, housing is unaffordable, local small businesses are having trouble staying afloat, the DTES is the worst it’s ever been. Everyday I’m talking to people who feel like they are being squeezed out of our city, that developers are calling the shots. This by-election sets the course for the big general election in 2018. We face some pretty significant challenges and opportunities, we’ve had ten years of empty promises, it’s time to turn the ship around.

3. Why should people vote for you?

I’m a straight-shooter, I won’t waste your time with empty promises. Instead, I promise to work hard, serve our city with integrity, and put public interest and Vancouverites first.

Housing affordability is our biggest challenge. As a city we have limited abilites: we can’t freeze rents, or apply new property tax classes and assessments, that’s provincial government jurisdiction. There’s no magic solution where the market will build our way out of this mess either. As a city we have the power to determine what gets built where and for whom. Check my five point plan for what we can immediately do as a city.

Greens are the only elected party that don’t take money from the development industry: an important distinction given a councillor’s job is to make land use decisions. Electing me to join Adriane Carr means we can second motions, broaden the conversation and force public debate.

Judy Graves (OneCity Vancouver)

OneCity Vancouver candidate Judy Graves. (OneCity Vancouver)

1. Who are you?

My name is Judy Graves, and I worked for the City of Vancouver for 39 years helping tenants and the homeless find housing. After retirement, I couldn’t sit by anymore as my friends, family and neighbours were being priced out of Vancouver.

My experiences shape how I understand the housing crisis. If elected, I’ll use every tool at the disposal of the City to house the homeless, end the overdose crisis, and build city-owned co-ops and rentals across Vancouver.

2. Why should people care about this election?

Vancouver is at a crossroads. Seniors are being evicted with nowhere affordable to go; young parents can’t find clean and safe homes for their children; new Canadians are ‘welcomed’ with extraordinary commutes and precarious housing. Neighbours and family members with addictions take their life in their hands each time they use.

Our city doesn’t have to be like this.

What Vancouver really needs right now is some courage and common sense in City Hall. We need to take action, and we need to focus on the changes that the city can take immediately.

3. Why should people vote for you? 

Everyone running in this election knows that there are serious problems facing our city. The main difference between candidates is how we choose to approach those problems.

Some have suggested tinkering with bylaws to build laneway homes or reduce construction times. That’s nice, but tinkering is not enough – we need real action. Other candidates have promised to freeze rents and hope the Province changes the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA). Freezing the status quo of unaffordable rents won’t solve the crisis, and the RTA isn’t a law the City can change by itself.

My plan is to house the homeless, allow purpose-built rentals across the entire city, and start building thousands and thousands of rent-controlled apartments city-owned apartments. We can start on this immediately, and we can pay for it with a modest surtax on the 5% of people who have benefitted most from rising property values.

Gary Lee (independent)

Independent candidate Gary Lee. (Gary Lee)

1. Who are you?

I’m 27 years old and I work as a Chemical Engineer. I grew up in North Delta and moved to Vancouver at 18 when I started at UBC.

After completing my chemical engineering degree, I chose to stay in Vancouver and (attempt to) set roots in Kitsilano with my partner Miranda and our dog Monster. In my downtime, I enjoy making artisan sausage, sampling Vancouver’s craft breweries and hanging out at Vancouver’s dog-friendly beaches.

2. Why should people care about this election?

If you feel that your quality of life has eroded in Vancouver over the past few years, or you’re worried about how future generations will prosper in this beautiful city, you share my concerns and I want to represent us at the municipal table.

While municipal politics may not be as exciting as provincial or federal it has a huge impact on your everyday life from how you get to work or school to what kind of properties are developed around you. So please vote for who you think will best represent you in this city.

3. Why should people vote for you? 

I’m running in this election because I have a lot of good friends who grew up in Vancouver, went to school here, chased good employable degrees and are now stuck slowly paying off student debts because their money goes to expensive rent.

The collective feeling from my cohort is we’re not making  headway in accomplishing our life goals and feel like we’re just spinning our wheels and not building a life, putting down roots or having families.

Talented and creative people are moving or looking to move elsewhere for better prosperity and to build a life with an affordable home, children and the ability to save for retirement.

I don’t want to see Vancouver experience a brain drain. If this resonates with you then please consider voting Gary Lee on October 14th. I want to ensure my generation has a voice in the future of this city.

Jean Swanson (independent)

Independent candidate Jean Swanson. (Jean Swanson)

1. Who are you?

I have worked for social justice for about 40 years with End Legislated Poverty, The National Anti-Poverty Organization, Carnegie Community Action Project, Coalition against Free Trade, End the Arms Race among others.

I wrote a book called Poor-bashing.  I’ve been on the city Planning Commission and  2 Local Area Planning Committees. I fought to protect Chinatown from condo highrises. I’ve been endorsed by COPE, the Vancouver Tenants’ Union and Libby Davies.

2. Why should people care about this election?

Vancouver needs a political revolution, someone who who doesn’t take developer money, someone who will fight to get control of the desperate housing situation faced by all but the rich.

Over 2000 homeless people need housing, not hand wringing. Tenants paying an average rent of over $2000 for a 1 bedroom apartment need strong action at the city and someone to stick up for them at the provincial level.

60,000 permanent residents need someone to help them get the vote. Someone needs to stop letting slumlords get away with disgusting conditions.

3. Why should people vote for you?

I have the best policies for people who aren’t rich. I’ll work for a rent freeze, a 0% rent increase for at least 4 years. I’ll work to use the city’s tenant relocation policy to stop renovictions.

I’ll work to  tax mansions worth over $5 million and get enough money to end homelessness with modular housing in one year.

Then in the next year I’d start building beautiful co-op and social housing to get more and more housing out of the speculative market. I’d use some mansion tax revenue to buy land for the three indigenous host nations.

I’ll work towards free transit and internet and for a real Sanctuary city where the VPD doesn’t report immigrants to border security.

I would also work fiercely for free, clean, safe and regulated drugs and treatment on demand to stop the expected loss of 400 precious lives this year.

Note: Mary Jean “Watermelon” Dunsdon of Sensible Vancouver and independent candidates Damian Murphy and Joshua Wasilenkoff are not included here as they did not submit their profiles in time for publication.

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DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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