A new Vancouver civic party and its mayoral candidate, Ken Sim, got a significant boost Monday when three current city councillors said they’d be running with him in this fall’s election.
It’s a significant coup for the ABC Vancouver party to gain incumbents Sarah Kirby-Yung, Lisa Dominato and Rebecca Bligh. All were elected under the Non-Partisan Association banner in 2018 and later left because they said the party had become right-wing and undemocratic.
This October’s civic campaign promises to be muddled because of the number of parties and candidates running.
The three women will give ABC as many representatives on council as the Green Party, and much more than the NPA, which now counts only Melissa De Genova as a councillor.
The three councillors all said they are running with Mr. Sim’s party because it is centrist, aligns with their values and is inclusive.
“A key motivator for me in running was around housing and ensuring that Vancouver is a city for the future. And I think ABC is the future,” said Ms. Dominato.
Ms. Bligh said she couldn’t see running with the party – TEAM for a Livable Vancouver – that has been created by her council colleague Colleen Hardwick because it did not seem to be planning for the future.
Ms. Hardwick, who frequently refers to the approach of her father, Walter, when he was on Vancouver’s council in the 1970s, has raised questions about the need for a Broadway subway and a big supply of new housing in the city.
Her stands have gained attention as Vancouver appears to be on the cusp of a major new era of development that will bring massive change from east to west, with plans for thousands of new homes on the Jericho Lands, at the Commercial Street SkyTrain station and all along Broadway between those two.
“There’s a misalignment there in looking too far in the past on how decisions should be made,” said Ms. Bligh.
Mr. Sim, who lost to current Mayor Kennedy Stewart, an independent, in 2018 by 900 votes when he was the NPA candidate, said the three councillors’ support should help as he and his party ask voters to give them a majority on council – something that no party has had the past three-and-a-half years.
“This means everything to us,” said Mr. Sim, who has been campaigning steadily since he lost and, with the backing of businessman Peter Armstrong, has raised more than $1-million and created and organization of 1,000 volunteers.
The election promises to be daunting for all but the most well-read and informed voters. There are currently 10 parties that have said they will be running candidates and five mayoral candidates to date. At least three parties – Greens, OneCity, COPE – have decided to run more council candidates than they did in 2018.
Currently, there are four parties, typically described as centrist to right, that have mayoral candidates looking to replace Mr. Stewart. They include the NPA, with park board commissioner John Coupar as the mayoral candidate; TEAM for a Livable Vancouver, with Ms. Hardwick leading the group; and Progress Vancouver, with Mark Marissen as the nominee for the mayor’s job.
On what’s usually described as centre-left to left are six groups: Mr. Stewart, who has said he will run some council candidates with a new party called Forward Together, along with OneCity, COPE, Vision, the Green Party, and Democratic Socialists. None at the moment are planning to run a mayoral candidate.
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