November 5, 2019

No Days Off for Sarah Blyth or the Downtown Eastside

Sarah Blyth first started to see the spike in drug overdoses in the Downtown Eastside community in 2016.

From her vantage point as manager of the DTES Market, she couldn’t help but see it. People were literally dying in the street.

So she decided to do something about it. Rob sums it up: “You saw the need, set up a tent, and tried to save lives”. Yup.

Blyth’s role as founder and Executive Director of the Overdose Prevention Society is the latest in a series of contributions to the city by a person who, as much as anyone here, can speak to having lived a life of privilege, marginalization, social entrepreneurship, leadership, selflessness, and grace under extreme pressure. (And she’s not even halfway through.)

Blyth, the former skateboard advocate, Park Board Commissioner, and City Council candidate, fields the tough questions from Gord — specifically on the question of safe supply and induced demand. They circle around housing insecurity and authority in Oppenheimer Park, tangle on addiction, and there’s a quick tease about Tyndall’s machine.

And of course, the big question — will she run again? Maybe she should.

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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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