This is the first post from our newest contributor, #SaveChinatownYVR community and cultural advocate Melody Ma. Follow her on Twitter @MelodyMa.

The Save Our Skyline YVR advocacy group aiming to protect Vancouver’s public views and view cones issued a survey to Vancouver mayoral and council candidates to understand their positions on public views.

The future of Vancouver view cones and public views were a contentious issue during the PavCo Tower rezoning council vote this past July, and the Northeast False Creek (NEFC) Plan council vote earlier in February. The next Mayor and Council will be voting on upcoming NEFC rezonings for a Concord Pacific development, which includes buildings planned to protrude through the view cones. They can also decide to review and adjust the existing view cone policies, which was a frequently discussed topic during the debate on this topic throughout the year, as the last review was almost a decade ago.

All mayoral and council candidates were asked to participate in the survey. They were provided with all the resources and policy documents needed to answer the questions proposed. If candidates did not provide an answer, their positions based on their past voting records (if incumbent), or known public statements online or at public hearings, were included when applicable.

Any late candidate answers will be added to the website as it is received up until this Saturday’s close of polls at 8pm.

To view the candidates’ full answers to the questionnaire, click here.

SUMMARY

The survey questions aimed to learn about candidates familiarity with and positions on tower development in light of the existing policies on public views.

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This is an election like no other. While “unprecedented” is an overused word, it seems true for this campaign more than any other since the late 1930s:

  • Only three incumbents from the previous council.
  • More new parties than most of us can distinguish.
  • Credible independents, with a receptive electorate.
  • Campaign finance rules that, with some breaking of their intentions, changed the way the game is played.
  • A tumbled ballot.

Throw in a low turnout, split voting on left and right, along with a shift to densifying neighbourhoods and a decline of voters in aging communities (thanks, Andy Yan, for that data), and you have an outcome that no one can credibly predict.

I thought for awhile that this may be an election which changes the direction of Vancouver in a way that happened in 1972 when the NPA lost to TEAM.  That marked the end (and beginning) of an era.  But my sense now is, maybe not.  While there will be some momentous decisions to come, particularly with respect to neighbourhoods that haven’t seen much change in generations, the City will continue on as it has, with Council adhering to the foundational assumptions which all previous councils, regardless of ideology, have held:

  • Large and continued investments in basic infrastructure and maintenance.
  • Reliable emergency services.
  • Gradual but not dramatic increases in property taxes, still heavily weighted to the advantage of residential over business.
  • Ongoing commitment to local-area planning – but in the context of a city-wide strategy.
  • Opportunistic levering of senior-government funding, especially for housing and transit.
  • Continued immigration but less concentrated ethnicity.
  • Disproportionate support for arts, culture and social services, providing regional-scale programs, supports and institutions.

Because we’re a rich city, we can do all that and not have much political division on the basics.  Our politics may seem extreme (and shifted to the left), but in fact we have the luxury of debating and dividing over social issues and relatively trivial interventions (bike lanes!) that keep Vancouver’s reputation for leadership and controversy intact.

After attending numerous candidates’ forums (at least for mayor and council), I’m impressed by the overall level of competence and concern among those running.  These are mostly good, sane people running for office, who care sometimes passionately, but seem capable of getting along with others.  While there are certainly characters and outliers, we’re going to be in good hands.

 

So who am I going to vote for?  I was avoiding a commitment, ostensibly maintaining an ‘objective’ persona for purposes of commentary.  But who am I kidding?  Already in this space I have profiled candidates I think worthy of office, and have been reported on the donation I made to a mayoral candidate (thanks, Charlie Smith).So here are some of the people I think would serve us well.

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Poll-topper Kennedy Stewart, Vancouver mayoral candidate for the 2018 civic election, has gone public with a stronger message.

I’m hoping that it’s the result of a few squadrons of analytical minds chewing away at internal polling and, well, reading the tea leaves. He certainly seems to be more confident of the potential number of voters receptive to this message.

See the poll and related material below.

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Update: things have evolved, no big surprise. The Vancouver 1st mayoral candidate has disgraced himself in my eyes, and other eyes, with a now-deleted video around the subject of SOGI education. This calls into question the judgement of candidates who ally themselves with this mayoral candidate.  I note that only one Van1 candidate has left the party over this.

I have also learned more, and revised some scores as a result. Many thanks to friends who prompted me to review some of my thinking. 

The 2018 civic election in Vancouver will ask voters to pick from a daunting list of candidates — 1 Mayor (from 21 candidates), 10 Councillors (from 71), 7 Park Board Commissioners (from 33), and 9 School Board Trustees (from 33), a grand total of 158 candidates.

Price Tags editors Ken Ohrn and Colin Stein have decided to share their personal slates and selection rationales; look for Gordon Price as he plays objective pundit on a screen near you on election night.

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Everyone’s doing it. Choosing a slate of candidates for the October 20 civic election in Vancouver.

But, but, so many choices — even choices of other people’s choices.  What’s a poor voter to do?

Never fear.  The hive mind has come to the rescue.

Below is a heroic effort by Christopher Porter to aggregate slates into a meta-slate. He’s not only gathered up lots of them (27 as of time of writing); he’s done a tabulation and added up the scores, with colour coding to signal scores’ thresholds.  Fantastic work.

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Price Tags editors Ken Ohrn and Colin Stein are sharing their personal slates and selection rationales. See Ken’s here.

All things being equal, my Vancouver election slate won’t influence too many Price Tags readers; if you’re an urbanism pleasure-reader and vote in this city, you’ve likely already taken the time to inform yourself sufficiently.

Instead, you may be curious to know what a slate says about voting considerations of one particular demographic.

In my case, a well-represented demographic — white, Gen-X cis male, single family home-owner, with one spouse and two children. I may be among the last of a generation to be able to uncritically maintain this persona and lifestyle while simultaneously having the opportunity to participate in a social change movement that is predominantly about changing the very power dynamics that enabled my unconscious empowerment in the first place.

In trying to make the right choices, let alone explain them, I first had to recognize and acknowledge that my position, and all the power, rights and privileges it gives me, has come at a cost to others in society — almost directly traceable to the decisions of people who look, and live, just like me. To think otherwise, I believe, would be self-serving and irresponsible.

This imbalance is driven by history, but still framed by present-day policies, and this political imbalance must be corrected. The only way to do this is to use some of my power to give more to others, to not only use my vote wisely, but to telegraph these choices to those around me. So perhaps my choices may still influence you, but if not, at least you’ll know a bit more about the change some of my demographic slice fully support.

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Further evidence as to the political ascendancy of a different part of our cultural mix. A younger demographic, neither left nor right.  People with media skills, energy, focus.

Oh yeah, and facing a nasty civic crisis with determination and intensity and clear political will.

Plus a message that not too long ago was the third rail, kiss of death, immediate disqualifier and prima facie proof of irrevocable electoral idiocy.

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