March 29, 2019

Return of The Independents

Past Vancouver City Council candidates — and Price Talks pundits — Adrian Crook and Rob McDowell return to the podcast to give their latest letter grades to our local leaders.

And much ground is covered in the process, including Rental 100, the Broadway-UBC subway, and the back-story to the cold shoulder given to Vancouver Rape Relief’s grant request. Plus, teapot tempests such as councillor budgets, and the big mistake Kennedy made early in his mayoral tenure.

The team also ruminates on two of our North Shore governments, and their tin ears for the true needs of their communities. What to do? A few good ideas are tossed around, and one “truly awful, awful” one. (Tell us how you really feel, Gord.)

But back to Vancouver. Our esteemed duo answers the most pressing questions about our trail mix of a local government. Why should the parties caucus? Who helped the newbie councillors walk back problematic votes? Who’s filling the role of hood ornament? And how corrupt are we, really?

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From A to F, where would you grade Vancouver City Council?  This was the question posed by Gordon Price to two of “The Independents” — podcast guests and past Council candidates Adrian Crook and Rob McDowell.

In this end-of-year wrap up, and summation of standout moments in council chambers over their first two months in office, Gord, Adrian and Rob talk about all manner of hot topics, many of which will be back on the agenda (and in the Comments section and your news feed) in the new year.

Spatial justice. Consultation, the city-wide plan, and ‘clean slates’. Uncomfortable council seating arrangements, and creative alliances (ie. the “GreeNPA”). Our new mayor, and electoral reform.

Oh yes, and which outlaw was ‘most wanted’ for unspeakable crimes in the District of North Vancouver….and what’s in store for development and densification on the north shore?

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We hope our series of independent Vancouver City Council candidate Q&As has been informative.

That said, these are just four of the 26 unaffiliated candidates in the race; to learn more about the others, check out this list from CBC, and then look up their websites and Twitter accounts; the City of Vancouver website gives no indication of independent status or party affiliation.

Even better? Candidates not covered by Price Tags to date are invited to Comment on any (or all) of Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, and this post. Why? Because your name will show up in the Comments feed on our homepage, and be seen by as many as 1,000 people on any given day.

The final question:

What’s Your Vision for Vancouver? Read more »

In this penultimate post, diving deep into the positions and ideas of four independent candidates for Vancouver City Council, we get to the question that inspired this series in the first place.

Misconceptions. Coming into this final month, I wondered if independents would be especially prone to lost votes on the basis of critical misconceptions about their candidacy.

  • With Sarah Blyth, it was the idea that she would, now and forever, be identified with issues judged too  ‘uncomfortable’ for mainstream voters — such as the stigmas of drug addiction, homelessness, and life on the downtown east side.
  • For Adrian Crook, it’s the broken nomination process and infighting that drove this former NPA member out of the party, and into the housing fracas where he has somehow been saddled with a reputation for being a developer shill (quoth the Twitterverse: “Nevermoar!”).
  • Then there’s Françoise Raunet, former BC Green MLA candidate in a ‘damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t” bind — stay close to the Greens despite the lack of nomination, or disassociate herself from a party oft-accused of…not being very green?
  • Lastly, Taqdir (Taq) Kaur Bhandal, a virtual unknown at the age of 27, and pushing for ‘intersectional diversity’ — a still-obscure term, itself prone to misconception, and thus possibly too risky for some voters.

Yet, all four candidates are knowledgeable about the issues, strongly opinionated, high in energy and, to borrow the words of one, deadly serious.

So, onto the question.

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Well, party people — this is the week we slip in under the 30-day countdown to the BC-wide municipal elections.

Vancouverites will soon get their first look at the new, random order ballot, which will benefit some; for others, a high rank may not make much difference, due to the lack of a suffix after their name. Party brand.

Does it matter this election? Is it reasonable for policies and personalities alone to outshine party affiliations?

We’ve been trying to figure that out by asking four independent council candidates a series of questions — on housing (Part I), transportation (Part II), and their decisions to run for public office (Part III).

Today — in a nutshell, why should we care about them as candidates?

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Why are they running in a race they can’t possibly win?

It’s the blunter question than was originally posed to our independent council candidates (read on for that). Blunter, and perhaps rooted in the past.

Because, although they may need 60,000 votes to win a seat, this may be the election where voters spurn the party system in Vancouver. It’s a tall order, but if it happens, we can speculate on factors.

Perhaps due to a trend influenced by the strength of the independent mayoral candidates. Maybe a consequence of Millennial distaste for backroom party politics. Or possibly a false equivalency that pays off — confusing social media following and hype, for broader engagement and voter activation…which generates more media coverage, triggering broader engagement and voter activation.

Regardless — here’s Part III on our quartet of independents, and the reasons why they’re running.

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In Part I yesterday, our four featured independent candidates for Vancouver city council shared their position on housing, and how they would approach the affordability crisis.

Today, the question is transportation. Do independents think differently from the party candidates? What are they saying that nobody else is?

But first, some explanation of why the focus on independents — and why these four candidates — among the estimated 15 confirmed indie council hopefuls.

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The Questions for Candidates series started in June with Vancouver’s Kettle-Boffo controversy (ancient history?), and our appeal to the early field of candidates in the upcoming municipal elections to weigh in how the city was handling the requirement for Community Amenity Contributions from non-market housing developers.

Teasing out substantive(ish) policy platforms from candidates was crazy yet compelling; we followed with an “LRT vs Skytrain” question to Surrey and Langley candidates, and this fugly graphic. We soon realized the scope of possibilities for Q&A — with hundreds of candidates in 20+ municipalities — was dwarfed only by the time and effort to perform the outreach. Time to narrow the focus.

Today, the first of a six-part Q&A — on policy, politics and possibility — with four independent candidates for Vancouver City Council.

They’re each running a different kind of campaign; no logos, small budgets, and a glaring absence of infighting or intrigue. Just character, a c.v., and policies.

You may even know some of them…but what do you really know about them? Let’s find out.

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The question for all mayor and council candidates — “what would you do different” —was in itself not without some controversy. (See “Vancouver Candidate Survey on Kettle-Boffo Project: What Would You Have Done to Close the Gap?“)

Ultimately, the premise of the question was based on the idea that, as the project team stated, Kettle-Boffo “enjoys Council support”. Reliving the imminent failure of the project Groundhog Day style, we wanted to know how a prospective mayor or councillor might expect to work with staff and the applicants, and within the rules of established policy, to ensure project viability, and thus possibly a successful application.

We also felt it was a way for declared candidates to clarify their positions, especially given the degree of complexity in the topic, “the #1 issue” this election year.

Beyond positions, reasonable explanation of some of the core, underlying issues may serve voters. The presumption is some candidates have done their homework, and are figuring out how to bridge the knowledge gap with the electorate. Some at Price Tags are not too humble to admit we too can learn from the responses.

And this goes for not just the issue (“What moves housing forward in the city? What are the possible systemic problems?“), but also the candidates themselves (“Who thinks about housing the way I do? Who has ideas I’ve never considered?“)

Lastly, we were careful in our introduction to not position Kettle-Boffo as having claimed in their statement that there is something ‘broken’ in city hall, which they did not. Nor do we believe our representation of the City’s claim — that they extended every concession they felt they could to enable a successful re-submission of the development application, which ultimately Kettle-Boffo chose not to do — is not to be taken at face value.

With that, we present the first six responses submitted to our call-out; we will continue to publish submissions if and when they come in.

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You may remember the story, covered by Price Tags — and many other news outlets, some international — of a Vancouver dad who who was reported to provincial authorities for allowing his kids to use transit to get to school by themselves.
(The story stuck, by the way, well before that dad — business owner and affordable housing advocate Adrian Crook — decided to seek NPA nomination for Vancouver city council.)
Well, it happened again. But this time, the kerfuffle about childhood independence has led to the state of Utah bringing into effect the first “free-range” kids law in the U.S.

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