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Vote for me: Vancouver council candidates state their case ahead of byelection

Metro asked six Vancouver council candidates to pen reasons why you should vote for them in Saturday’s civic byelection.

Vancouverites will vote in a byelection Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 to elect a new school board and one council position.

Eric Dreger/The Canadian Press

Vancouverites will vote in a byelection Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 to elect a new school board and one council position.

Vancouver goes to the polls Saturday in a byelection to bring in a new school board and fill one councillor position created by the resignation of Geoff Meggs, who went to work as chief of staff for new B.C. Premier John Horgan. For more information on where and how to vote, please click this link. Ahead of the election, Metro asked six council hopefuls to pen why people should vote for them on Saturday. Here are their responses:

Judy Graves, One City:

Judy Graves, One City candidate for Vancouver city council.

Submitted/One City

Judy Graves, One City candidate for Vancouver city council.

The city needs class collaboration, not class war.

When I was born back in 1949, I lived with my parents in a single attic room they rented, but not for long. Because my father had fought in WWII, we qualified for one of the newly built two-bedroom houses near Boundary and 18th Avenue. It was veterans’ housing, built by the Canadian government.

At the time, elected officials scrambled to help that generation find secure, decent housing, when the post-war population boomed.

Vancouver City Council could be scrambling to solve this generation’s housing crisis, too. It hasn’t.

Average one-bedroom rentals are now $2,000 a month, homelessness has doubled, seniors are terrified of being reno-victed, young families are fleeing to the suburbs and beyond. This is not a uniquely Downtown Eastside problem. This is a problem from the West End to Marpole, and Renfrew Heights to West Point Grey.

It doesn’t have to be this way. But fixing housing will take courage and common sense.

As a long-time city staffer (I am now retired), I understand how real change happens: though building relationships, and implementing achievable solutions.

Simply put, we will build thousands of new rental apartments in Vancouver, on land the city already owns. To pay for it, I plan to put a surtax on the top five per cent of Vancouver’s most expensive homes.

Those who have benefited most from the city’s astronomical rise in property values should help pay for the solution.

I raised my daughter in rentals in this city; she and her young family have left because governments are not scrambling for her the way they did for my own parents.

It’s time to build a Vancouver for everyone.

Please see OneCity Vancouver’s full platform at www.onecityvancouver.ca

Hector Bremner, Non-Partisan Association:

Hector Bremner, NPA candidate for Vancouver city council.

Jen St. Denis/Metro File

Hector Bremner, NPA candidate for Vancouver city council.

What if we held an election, and no one voted?

That’s the reality we are facing as we head into the civic byelection on Saturday.So far, only 4,000 of the more than 411,000 voters in our city have taken the time to vote in the advance poll. That’s about one per cent turnout.

The message from this is clear: Your vote matters!

Our ability to live in this city, to have our kids live in this city, is in real jeopardy and we need to come together to solve this housing crisis. For the past nine years, this government has avoided making tough decisions on housing and you can see the results on the DTES and in house and rental prices at every level across our city. Every month that goes by without addressing this problem together is a month in which we dig deeper into this hole.

Other candidates in this race are talking about backward-looking solutions on the housing crisis while they ignore our supply crisis. They talk about rent controls, taxes or basement suites and shipping containers to house people. They are also pitting rich against poor, renter against owner. They are actually making the supply crisis worse. The reality is more than 30,000 people move here every year. We would have to build housing equivalent to the size of Killarney neighbourhood every five years just to keep up with that demand, let alone improve the price and rental crisis.

That is the scale of housing supply we need to be adding to our city; I want to do this in a way that brings us together to build all the types of housing we need. I want to put away the blaming, division and pointing fingers and instead figure out how we do this. You can read my housing plan here:  http://hectorbremner.com/housing/

And while you’re at it, make a plan to vote this Saturday, and bring a friend to the polls too. Don’t let the one per cent decide this election.

Mary Jean Dunsdon, independent:

Mary Jean Dunsdon, independent candidate for Vancouver city council.

Submitted/Mary Jean Dunsdon

Mary Jean Dunsdon, independent candidate for Vancouver city council.

I'm running for city council to be a fresh voice for the people and ideas currently being ignored at City Hall.

I am a small business owner who runs The Licorice Parlor, which has two storefronts in the city. I love Vancouver, and I want our city to be as fun, healthy and beautiful as it can be!

To make it easier to get around town, I want to end Vancouver's ban on ride-sharing apps, and even explore creating our own local ride-share system, much like Edmonton's successful Tappcar program.

I also want to give out more taxi licenses, something current city council has refused to do. Further, I believe Vancouver should look into offering some free local bus service to selected parts of the city.

I want to help solve the deadly overdose crisis, which is killing good people in our city every single day. We need free stations and maybe a mobile van where anyone can get street drugs tested for potency, purity and the presence of fentanyl. This simple intervention will save many lives, and also save money by reducing the costs of emergency services.

I am the only candidate who is standing up for dispensaries, and pledging to protect our local cannabis economy during the transition to legalization. I believe that cannabis dispensaries aren't a problem, and are actually a big part of the solution to some of our social and economic issues.

I also believe Vancouver's ban on indoor vaping needs to be modified, to allow licensed indoor lounges where people can vaporize, or use cannabis, in a social setting.

For a fresh voice at City Hall, I hope you will give me your vote on October 14.

To find out more, visit me at VoteWatermelon.ca

Jean Swanson, independent:

Jean Swanson, independent candidate for Vancouver city council.

Ngaire Leach/Submitted

Jean Swanson, independent candidate for Vancouver city council.

This campaign for city council is about winning a rent freeze - a 0 per cent increase for four years. It’s about using a mansion tax to build modular homes for every homeless person in one year, and truly affordable co-op and social housing and giving land back to Indigenous people in subsequent years.

These policies meet the actual needs of Vancouverites - of the 2,100 people sleeping on the streets and the 18,000 people paying more than 50 per cent of their income on rent.

You won’t hear this from the developer-funded parties. Our campaign is funded by smaller donations from more individuals than any other campaign that’s released their financials in this election. That’s part of why I’m completely free to call for the things that people need.

And what we need is to strengthen our democracy by registering all voters, extending the vote to permanent residents, and finally bringing in a ward system and fair voting.

We need a real Sanctuary City policy where everyone without immigration status is truly free to access essential services without fear of detention and deportation.

And we need to put an end to the judgment that’s keeping us from really fighting this opioid crisis. We need clean and safe drugs and treatment on demand to save lives now.

These policies have resonated with young and old, lower-income and middle-class. That’s why people are coming up to me all the time saying they’ll vote for a rent freeze, a mansion tax, and for a truly livable city.

I was considered a long-shot at the start of the election, but now we have the only progressive campaign with the momentum to beat the conservative NPA.

We are in an affordability emergency. This Saturday, voters have a chance to begin the political revolution Vancouver desperately needs.

Pete Fry, Green:

Pete Fry, Green Party of Vancouver candidate in the civic byelection.

Submitted/Pete Fry

Pete Fry, Green Party of Vancouver candidate in the civic byelection.

I’m a lover and a fighter.

I’m running for city council because I love this place. This has been my hometown for better and for worse since immigrating here as a child. I care deeply about this city and the people who live here.

That’s why I’m ready to fight for our home, to serve the people of Vancouver and make sure we are a city where all residents can live, work and thrive.

It’s no secret we have big problems: housing un-affordability, people living on the streets, near zero vacancy and crippling rents. Neither Vision Vancouver nor the NPA are offering any real change — both are bankrolled by the same developer donors that have been driving our growing housing disparity; building for speculator profits instead of local need. Greens are the only elected party that don’t take donations from the development industry.

Electing me to join Adriane Carr as another Green councillor means we can second each other’s motions: introducing policy for public debate and challenging the two developer-backed parties to put public interest first.

We have a good platform with achievable action items to address some of our city’s most pressing issues: better government and governance, people as a priority, protection for small business and arts, building a smart sustainable city, and a new fair deal on housing. No more empty promises that rely on senior levels of government to enact.

Our five quick starts the city can implement right away include fixing the definition of “affordable housing” to actual local incomes; a moritorium on the demolition of purpose-built rental housing; creating a renter’s office and strengthening renter protections; reducing red-tape around secondary suites; and launching a city-wide plan.

My name is Pete Fry, this Saturday, please vote for me for real achievable change at City Hall.

Diego Cardona, Vision Vancouver:

Diego Cardona, Vision Vancouver candidate in the civic byelection.

Submitted/Vision Vancouver

Diego Cardona, Vision Vancouver candidate in the civic byelection.

On Saturday October 14, Vancouver voters have a choice between the kind of Vancouver we want to build — a city that is progressive, inclusive, and welcoming — or a city where the NPA has more power on Council.

My name is Diego Cardona, and I’m asking for your vote because I’m a new voice who wants to move our city forward on the issues that matter — housing affordability, renters’ rights, and better transit.

I came to Canada as a refugee after losing my father to civil war in Colombia. My sister and I lost our mother to leukemia shortly after, and we were placed into the foster care system. It’s because of these experiences that I have dedicated my career to working with marginalized communities, and helping to give voice to those who don’t normally have a seat at the decision-making table.

Throughout this campaign, I have been inspired by the folks I talk to: from the renters in Kits starting their careers, to the mothers on Commerical Drive looking for affordable childcare, to seniors in the West End trying to make ends meet. Our city is changing, but I believe in our ability to rise to the challenges together.

This election is going to be close, and I would be honoured if you would vote for me and the Vision Vancouver Education team. I’m running a campaign that’s about the new Vancouver, and I hope to be your next representative on City Council. I invite you to read my platform, which covers the important issues we face; please visit VoteVision.ca.

Please vote for me, Diego Cardona, on Saturday.

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