Night Music: Carlos Santana

January 10, 2021

Early Thoughts on 2022 Civic Election

January 10, 2021

We are now less than two years away from the next Vancouver civic election, and just about two years past the last one. It is about time we started thinking about how this will play out.

The makeup of City Council after the 2018 election was completely different than in the decade before. Unfortunately, it quickly became obvious that while we had changed the packaging, the content was much the same as before.  Mayor Stewart, supported by the VDLC, is a clone of Gregor Robertson but without the charm or charisma. He and One City’s Christine Boyle seem bolted at the hip when it comes to voting and generally at least two of the three Green Councillors are willing to go along. That means that getting just two NPA Councillors on board creates a majority, especially on development issues where the NPA are traditionally supportive of development and construction.

Vision 2.0 as I call Stewart’s coalition has the same top-down approach to city building as did Vision Vancouver. They may have changed the focus from unaffordable condos (no longer marketable by their developer buddies) to unaffordable purpose built rentals, but the “we know best” attitude is exactly the same. Supported by the Visionista holdovers in major staff positions, communities are regularly trampled on with just lip service paid to consultation. Clearly I can’t support them in 2022.

Looked at in the broadest terms, the Vancouver Greens whom I have supported over the years have been a terrible disappointment, going along with much of Vision 2.0’s program. I suspect they will make efforts to distance themselves from the Mayor over the next couple of years, for electoral purposes, but their record so far has been abysmal. In both Federal and Provincial politics, the Greens have been centrists (at best) in everything but environmental policy, and the civic group seems determined to follow that path.

The NPA is a party with a split personality. Some of its Councillors — Colleen Hardwick in particular — have been at the forefront of attempts to reform the civic administration. They have supported an Auditor-General (against a much broader opposition behind the scenes than was apparent from the final votes) and attempts to get meaningful housing statistics. However, recent additions to the NPA Board suggest the party has drifted further right than anyone with sense would wish, and with moderates such as David Chen and Virginia Richards leaving the fold, their future seems dark indeed.

Former NPA members such as Ken Sim and George Affleck have intimated a desire to run again, but where would their home be? Certainly not the NPA represented by the current Board.

As Vision 2.0 and its partner OneCity drift away from a genuine social democracy (not unlike their big brother in Victoria) where does that leave the left? Councillor Jean Swanson is still the darling of many and there is much to admire in her work. However, she has also on occasion bought into the Vision 2.0 notion that a tiny increase in almost-affordable apartments is worth giving developers the moon.

And where is COPE? Has it been ham-strung by the corporatist VDLC? Does it have it in it to rise to the occasion and actually threaten the corporatist parties with a campaign worthy of the red flag? I haven’t seen any signs of that yet. Perhaps we need to persuade the BC EcoSocialists to concentrate on civic politics for a while.

I’m sure my views will evolve as this year and next drift by, but these are my thoughts today.