Yes, this moniker has seemingly made a strong comeback in Vancouver in recent years, with the high cost of housing and soaring property taxes pushing out non-profit cultural groups, businesses that support the arts, and establishments that add to the city’s dining and entertainment diversity and nightlife.
Large-scale public events and festivals have also financially suffered from an exponential growth in bills from the City of Vancouver – covering policing, engineering, and clean-up costs – for hosting these region-benefitting events. And given Vancouver’s relatively small corporate head office presence, sponsorship dollars are scarce compared to other cities of similar size.
Vancouver has been without its St. Patrick’s Day Parade for two consecutive years, the Santa Claus Parade in 2017 was nearly cancelled, the Canada Day Parade was cancelled from this year’s Canada Day programming in downtown Vancouver, and the Vancouver Pride Society made the difficult decision of cancelling its nighttime Davie Street Party.
A common platform goal amongst all of the major the candidates is to address the difficulty major events are facing in the city.
Finding large, open, paved spaces that fulfill specific organizer requirements to host major events is also an increasingly difficult task. For instance, Cirque du Soleil shows under the ‘Big Top’ in downtown Vancouver are likely a thing of the past with the planned redevelopment at Northeast False Creek.
Here is a rundown of the arts and culture plans of the five major mayoral candidates running in the 2018 Vancouver civic election (be sure to also vote for the candidate with the best arts and culture plan in our poll below):
Hector Bremner (YES Vancouver)
The candidate on arts and culture:
YES Vancouver’s Hector Bremner has linked his arts and culture plan with his ambitious housing plan.
He notes that cultural events are “absolutely critical” to good urban and social planning, and it provides a sense of community.
Four things you should know about YES Vancouver’s arts and culture plan:
- City will step up and absorb the costs incurred by organizers for hosting events.
- Create a simplified special event permitting process.
- Examine how Community Amenity Contributions from developers can be used to pay community events and new cultural facilities and spaces.
- Advocate for late night transit to help support nightlife.
Ken Sim (Non-Partisan Association)
The candidate on arts and culture:
Ken Sim with the Non-Partisan Association says one of his key priorities will be to transform Vancouver into a place that is more fun and vibrant.
Unless Vancouver changes in this regard, he does not believe the city will be able to retain some of its young residents; he cites the example of his 17-year-old son, who recently said he does not see a future for himself or his friends in the city because it lacks a “cool” factor.
Sim notes that the City of Vancouver’s annual budget has doubled in the past 10 years, but the population hasn’t. He believes financial resources can be reallocated to support events, arts, and culture.
He also says he will be fighting to have Vancouver gain co-hosting responsibilities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Four things you should know about the NPA’s arts and culture plan:
- Liberalize liquor laws. Allow liquor at park spaces and other public spaces, and permit corner stores to sell beer and wine.
- Wider sidewalks and more patios. Wider sidewalks with restaurant patios expanding into these spaces creates a “buzz” in the street and allows for an overflow of people.
- Fix the rising cost issue for events. He will address the City’s rising bills to organizers to cover public safety, policing, and sanitation. The City will do whatever it can to facilitate events.
- Allow more outdoor concerts and festivals and “open-air viewing events.
Kennedy Stewart (independent)
Independent candidate Kennedy Stewart says much of the city’s problems with shedding off its lacklustre fun appeal revolves around the high cost of housing, with residents lacking disposable income to support ticketed events, restaurants, and nightlife businesses.
He believes Vancouver was much more fun three decades ago when he first moved to the city.
Four things you should know about Kennedy Stewart’s arts and culture plan:
- Support local artists and new museums. Build 100,000-sq-ft of affordable studio space, and expand arts grants for small- and medium-scale community based groups; extend the City’s agreement that allows the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) to use a designated parcel at Larwill Park for a new purpose-built art museum, effectively providing the VAG with more time to fundraise for its new facility; work with senior governments to build a Chinese history museum that showcases the unique role of early Chinese Canadians; and create new culture hubs and exhibition spaces, building on the success of the Arts Factory and Sun Wah Centre.
- Liberalize liquor laws. Allow the responsible consumption of alcohol in public spaces like beaches and parks.
- Fix the rising cost issue for events. Review and reduce the City’s policing costs for major community events.
- Create a new Food Street in Chinatown that will be year-round and permanent, similar to the street markets found in Asia.
Shauna Sylvester (independent)
The candidate on arts and culture:
Shauna Sylvester, an independent candidate, believes Vancouver continues to struggle with a “no fun” reputation.
To properly address this, she says the City needs to liven up the downtown core even more, especially with festivals and public spaces. She wants the same atmosphere that flooded the streets during the 2010 Olympics to return.
When it comes to the spaces where events are held, Sylvester believes Jack Poole Plaza is overused and there is a need for more public festival space.
Four things you should know about Shauna Stewart’s arts and culture plan:
- Support local artists. Create a new housing authority that specifically develops purpose-built housing that is affordable for artists; work with musicians and artists in the community to run art and performance spaces; and review city policy to allow studio and rehearsal spaces within light industry zonings.
- Support the new Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG). Help the VAG achieve its ambitions of building a new home at Larwill Park, and add a vibrant commercial and residential space for artists component to the new museum building complex.
- Fix the rising cost issue for events. Revisit the City’s festival and grantmaking policies.
- Further advance indigenous reconciliation through the arts.
Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver)
The candidate on business development:
Wai Young with Coalition Vancouver also believes Vancouver used to be more fun when she was growing up.
She believes the City currently lacks leadership – that it does not believe it should be taking ownership in delivering events that bring people together and create civic pride.
Four things you should know about Wai Young’s business development plan:
- Clean up city streets to make Vancouver a more attractive place for people to create, play, and spend time in.
- City will not only take leadership but also ownership of creating experiences that brings people together.
- Reverse the trend of Vancouver’s diminishing city festivals and public celebrations, including the recent loss of the Canada Day Parade.
- Attract more diverse and multicultural clubs and restaurants.
- Where Vancouver's mayoral candidates stand on tech and business development
- Where Vancouver's mayoral candidates stand on housing affordability and supply
- Vancouver mayoral candidate Ken Sim wants to 'turn the ship around'
- Vancouver mayoral candidate Shauna Sylvester wants to 'embrace innovation'
- Vancouver mayoral candidate Wai Young wants to 'bring common sense back' to City hall
- Vancouver mayoral candidate Hector Bremner wants to 're-humanize' neighbourhoods
- Vancouver mayoral candidate Kennedy Stewart wants 'a city that works for everybody'
- Poll shows Kennedy Stewart currently leading Vancouver mayoral race