Regular readers may remember that I have pushed for a return to a ward system of elections in Vancouver for many years (see, for example, here, here, and here). Now, buried deep within a new report to City Council on electoral reform, we find a recommendation to change “the Vancouver electoral system from an at-large system to a ward-system.”
The recommendation is on page 66 of an appendix to a report on “Election Ballot Order Effects in Vancouver Municipal Elections” A commissioned report prepared for the City of Vancouver by two academics from Simon Fraser University, Eline de Rooij and Corinne Henderson. The appendix is to a City Staff report entitled “Report Back on the Random Order Ballot Model Used in the 2018 Vancouver Election.”
An excellent discussion on the entire report is found at CityHallWatch which also includes a full transcript of the appendix.
It will be interesting to see whether this particular recommendation is even mentioned in the Council discussion which is scheduled for 19th January. The NPA, for example, was founded in the 1930s specifically to fight the first at-large election after wards were eliminated; and the wards were eliminated specifically to defeat the incursion of the newly-formed CCF which threatened to take the then-existing eastside wards. I’m not aware of any change in their stance.
The local Greens have not, to my memory, ever pressed for a return to wards. The views of OneCity (and Kennedy Stewart) are also unknown to me but, as they seem to be the latest avatar of Vision Vancouver, it is unlikely they would support the change.
Back in about 2004, COPE made an attempt to bring the question of wards into focus but, as Allan Garr described it, “they fumbled the opportunity.”
Could this report re-open the debate? I hope so, but I am not holding my breath.