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Listen up Vancouver: these people want your vote on Oct. 14

Metro breaks down who's running for one open council seat and what it could mean for their party if they win.

Vancouver's city hall.

Metro file

Vancouver's city hall.

Diego Cardona, Vision Vancouver

Cardona, 21, came to Canada in 2005 as a refugee from Colombia and has been active in advocating for new immigrants. He works as a program coordinator for Kiwassa Neighbourhood House.

Vision Vancouver has held a majority on council since 2008 and, with some exceptions, tends to vote as a block. After the city's housing crisis spiraled out of control through 2016, the centre-left party introduced an empty homes tax (the first city in Canada to do so), is working on new short-term rental regulations and has unveiled a new plan to attempt to encourage more housing geared toward low- and middle-income earners. But the administration has faced criticism for acting too slowly as home prices, and then rents, skyrocketed. In contrast to a 2008 campaign promise to end street homelessness, the city's homeless population has never been higher.

When it comes to his byelection platform, Cardona has promised to advocate for more pet-friendly rentals, to create a tenant advocacy office, and to allow permanent residents to vote in civic elections. If Cardona wins the seat, the party would shore up their existing majority.

Diego Cardona, Vision Vancouver's candidate for one open council seat.

Submitted

Diego Cardona, Vision Vancouver's candidate for one open council seat.

To read more visit votevision.ca.

Hector Bremner, Non-Partisan Association

Bremner is currently the vice-president of a public relations firm; during the B.C. Liberals' time in office, he was a civil servant who worked with current interim B.C. Liberal leader Rich Coleman when Coleman was Minister of Natural Gas and the minister responsible for housing.

Like the B.C. Liberals, Bremner advocates “supply, supply, supply” when it comes to Vancouver's housing woes and wants to open up the city's low-density single family home neighbourhoods to denser forms like townhouses, duplexes and low-rise apartment buildings. He opposes the empty homes tax and wants to move planning away from a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood approach and adopt a city-wide plan. But that doesn't mean saying yes to every building: Bremner opposed a 57-storey building proposed across the street from his rented condo, and said he would have opposed a controversial condo building at 105 Keefer St. in Chinatown.

Hector Bremner, a public relations professional who worked in provincial government, is running for the NPA.

Jen St. Denis/Metro

Hector Bremner, a public relations professional who worked in provincial government, is running for the NPA.

The NPA currently holds three seats on council, making them Vision's unofficial opposition. Adding Bremner would strengthen the party's clout and visibility in advance of the 2018 civic election, when the party can make a run at grabbing the reins of power.

To read more visit npavancouver.ca.

Judy Graves, OneCity

OneCity was created in 2013 as an alternative to both Vision and the harder-left Coalition of Progressive Electors, but failed to make much of an impact in the last civic election. This time around OneCity is fielding Judy Graves, who advocated for the homeless for nearly 40 years as a city employee. Graves is passionate when speaking about homelessness, but has struggled at times to answer questions about her party's policies.

Judy Graves, a well-known advocate for the homeless, is OneCity's candidate.

Jennifer Gauthier/For Metro

Judy Graves, a well-known advocate for the homeless, is OneCity's candidate.

Like the NPA, OneCity wants to open up all city neighbourhoods to denser housing, but instead of free-market development, the party envisions low-rise apartment buildings owned by the city with rental rates set at 30 per cent of renters' incomes. OneCity says it would fund 10,000 units of new city-owned housing through a new luxury property tax and a flipping tax. 

Other promises include allowing alcohol to be consumed in city parks, advocating for the decriminalization of all drugs and building thousands of supportive housing units to support those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

To read more visit onecityvancouver.ca.

Jean Swanson, Independent

Jean Swanson, 74, is no stranger to being the underdog: the longtime Downtown Eastside activist ran against Gordon Campbell for mayor during the 1988 civic election. (She lost.)

Activist Jean Swanson last ran for public office in 1988 - against Gordon Campbell for mayor.

Ngaire Leach/Submitted

Activist Jean Swanson last ran for public office in 1988 - against Gordon Campbell for mayor.

Swanson has been endorsed by COPE, but is running as an independent. Bolstered by enthusiastic young volunteers, she's run the most vibrant and visible campaign of the byelection, her policy ideas communicated in simple slogans (“rent freeze” and “tax the rich to house the poor”) and distributed through well-designed flyers and posters throughout the city. Activism-inspired events, such as presenting billionaire Chip Wilson with a new property “assessment” outside his $75-million Point Grey home, have drawn media attention.

Critics have warned that Swanson's call for a four-year rent freeze would dampen interest in building new rental buildings or renting out condos and secondary suites.

But Swanson envisions using the revenues from a “mansion tax” (applicable to homes worth $5 million or more) to build more housing to house the homeless and those who currently pay more than 50 per cent of their incomes on rent.

To read more visit votejeanswanson.ca.

Pete Fry, Green Party of Vancouver

Pete Fry hopes to join Adriane Carr as the second Green city councillor, an acheivement that would allow the party to make motions without having to negotiate with other councillors.

Pete Fry is hoping to win a second council seat for the Green Party of Vancouver.

Jennifer Gauthier/For Metro

Pete Fry is hoping to win a second council seat for the Green Party of Vancouver.

Fry has been active in advocating for community issues in Strathcona and is the son of Hedy Fry, a long-time Liberal member of Parliament. He ran unsuccessfully for council in 2014. 

The Greens say they want to focus on policies the city can do on its own, without asking for help from senior levels of government (although in a recent press conference the party called on Ottawa to re-introduce tax incentives for builders of purpose-built rental buildings).

Mary Jean

votewatermelon.ca

Mary Jean "Watermelon" Dunsdon.

That includes making it easier to bring currently illegal basement suites up to code; a one-year moratorium on the demolition of purpose-built rentals; creating a renters' office at the city; and changing the currently nebulous definition of “affordable housing” to reflect local incomes.

Like the NPA, the Greens are calling for a city-wide plan, but want to create neighbourhood councils to give input before development decisions are made.

To read more visit vangreens.ca.

Mary Jean “Watermelon” Dunsdon, Sensible Vancouver

Wreck Beach vendor “Watermelon” is known for her cannabis activism, but Dunsdon also owns a candy story business and says she wants to stand up for small business owners and renters facing eviction.

To read more visit votewatermelon.ca.

Gary Lee, Independent

In his candidate statement, Lee says his “three civic focus areas are: improving job prospects by attracting new industries and providing housing options to retain Vancouver’s creative and talented younger generation; advocate for the diverse use of public space; providing representation for his generation at the municipal leve.”

Damian J. Murphy, Independent

From Murphy's candidate statement: “Party politics have ruled this city for too long, swinging endlessly left-to-right, right-to-left. Sometimes reflecting your wishes, often not. Do you want an Independent thinker who listens to you, instead of following the dictates of unelected special interests? Decisions at the local level should be local and in YOUR interest.”

Joshua Wasilenkoff, Independent

From Wasilenkoff's candidate statement: “I have advocated for the LGBTQ community as well as for youth in and from care. I’ve campaigned with MLA Melanie Mark, and sit on the Vancouver Mount Pleasant Constituency Association...Please consider me for City Councillor, it is time for a young person to represent the most vulnerable and valuable people in this City. It is important they have their voices heard.”

To read more about the candidates and how to vote, visit vancouver.ca.

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