BC will be seeing huge potential political shakeups this fall. On October 20, ten municipalities in Metro Vancouver will be deciding on new mayors — including Surrey and Vancouver, the two largest cities in the province.
Early this year, current Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson announced that he would not be seeking re-election in the fall, a decision he described as “intensely personal”.
A few months later, mayor of Surrey Linda Hepner also announced she would be stepping down after the election — ending a four-year stint as mayor in which she claimed Surrey blossomed from “modest suburb into the region’s second metropolitan centre and a globally recognized leading edge city.”
So what now?
Candidates for the mayoral positions and city councillors have been coming forward as the election draws nearer. Here are some of the major players so far, along with key issues on their platforms.
Vancouver: Hot topics in Vancouver during election season are homelessness, the housing crisis, development, and environmental issues.
Bremner has already made news in this election for failing to secure the NPA nomination — a letter made public from Bremner’s campaign teams claims that the NPA office rejected his application for being “inherently conflicted” due to his business ties. Now running under Yes Vancouver, a party of his own creation, Bremner’s platform focuses on zoning issues and the housing crisis. He plans to reduce taxes by increasing development.
Hereditary chief of the Squamish Nation Ian Campbell has filled Gregor Robertson’s seat as the candidate for Vision Vancouver. He has taken a leave of absence from his position on the board of directors for the MST Development Corporation, which oversees real estate holdings jointly owned by the Squamish, Musqueam and Tseil-Waututh nations. Campbell promises to work on housing, affordability, and homelessness among other issues — he is also a strong opponent of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
Stewart is a federal NDP MP for Burnaby South but right now, he’s much more well known for being arrested on Burnaby Mountain along with federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May — and pleading guilty in court to criminal contempt of court. If Stewart becomes mayor, Vancouver can expect him to continue to strongly oppose the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Surrey: The major issues on every candidates’ platform are a proposed switch to a municipal police force in Surrey, and transportation issues.
Party: Surrey First
Taking current mayor Linda Hepner’s seat as the Surrey First candidate is city councillor Tom Gill. As a city councillor he has had experience sitting on boards for finance, police, transportation and infrastructure, parks, recreation and sport tourism, and audit committees since 2005. This election season, he’s focusing on the question of transportation in Surrey among other issues. He believes the city should hold a referendum on the question of whether Surrey should switch to a municipal police force.
Bruce Hayne gave up his seat with Surrey First in June of this year, citing a lack of public consultation on important issues such as public safety, crime, transit, and housing. In a press conference in June, he said he believes the city hasn’t properly informed the public of what a light rail transit system would mean for the community. As for the question of a municipal police force — Hayne says he needs more information before he can take a stand, but in the meantime, gang violence in Surrey will go down with more police officers on the streets.
Pauline Greaves’ platform states the need for a municipal police force rather than the current RCMP in Surrey. She is also focusing on infrastructure improvements and is a strong proponent of an empty homes tax that she says will make housing more affordable and accessible.
Doug McCallum already has some experience in the mayor’s seat — he was the mayor of Surrey from 1996-2005. He also ran for election in 2014 under the Safe Surrey slate, where Linda Hepner ultimately emerged victorious. He takes the same position as many other candidates that Skytrain and increased bus service is a superior option to light-rail transit in Surrey, and also supports a transition to a municipal police force.
The BC municipal election is on October 20. Any Canadian citizen above 18 who has lived in BC for more than six months is eligible to vote; to check your voter registration, visit elections.bc.ca.