When British Columbians go to vote in municipal elections across the province, we know one thing is coming for sure: change.
In Metro Vancouver alone, there are 10 mayors who have announced that they are not seeking re-election. That includes Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, who run B.C.’s two largest municipalities.
WATCH: Gregor Robertson won’t seek another term as Vancouver mayor
“It means there will be a lot of new blood in the system, that is positive because local politics is often the entry level for people who are interested in a life in politics,” said UBC political scientist Max Cameron. “Local governments are always very important. It is the level of government that is closest to the citizen.
“The flip side of that is you lose some of the knowledge and experience of the people who have served many terms who will be looking for other opportunities. What is surprising is how much turnover there is in this particular election.”
The massive change is what makes the 2018 B.C. municipal election as important as ever. Global News is releasing municipal profiles to better prepare voters for their decisions on October 20.
The profiles are only part of the Global BC/CKNW coverage over the next four months. Each profile will include an introduction about the riding and the main things voters need to know about the main candidates and the issues.
There will also be background information on population, the municipality’s history, median after-tax income of households, crime rates and political representation at the federal and provincial level.
Incomes, where data is available, are expressed as “median total income of couple economic families with children.”
We used this metric because it’s more specific than “median household income,” and it’s easier to compare between municipalities. We then compared it to “median total income of couple economic families” across B.C.
Crime rates were expressed as “Crime Severity Index” for communities with populations of 5,000 or more.
The Crime Severity Index is a way to measure crime that takes note of, not just the number of police-reported crimes, but the type and and seriousness of the incidents. This allows for stronger comparisons between geographic areas than other crime rates, such as “crimes per 100,000.”
We also included the Violent Crime Severity Index for each community — that covers violent crimes specifically, such as murder and assault.
In both cases, we also included the Crime Severity Index for B.C. as a whole, so that they can be compared.
The issues that will come to surface across the province are as varied as the municipalities themselves.
But it is hard to find a community that hasn’t been affected by housing affordability, the fentanyl crisis or the looming legalization of recreational marijuana.
How mayoral candidates plan on addressing these issues will no doubt be a major part of what differentiates those who win and those who don’t.
“The reality is local governments are limited in what they can do,” said Cameron. “They don’t have a lot of power to influence things like health policy, education policy. And yet increasingly responsibilities are being downloaded on municipalities and citizens have increases expectations of what they want their municipalities to do.”
The 2018 municipal elections could also have a profound impact on the way our provincial government works.
NDP MLA Leonard Krog has already announced his plan to run for the Nanaimo mayor’s job. If Krog wins, he will resign his seat in the legislature and trigger a by-election that if the Liberals win could create a tie in the legislature between the party and the Green-NDP alliance.
“I am almost amused by all the press coverage that would have you believe the sky is falling. I didn’t think there were so many Chicken Littles in British Columbia,” said Krog just before he formally announced his bid for the mayor’s job.
“This isn’t a tired old government like the BC Liberals were going into a provincial election. This is a fresh young government. Our leader is popular.”
Then there is Rich Coleman. The Langley East MLA is still considering whether to leave provincial politics after 21 years in office and run to become the next mayor of Surrey.
If Coleman does jump into the race, he could decide to only step down if he wins the job and if he doesn’t, could continue his work in Victoria.
The former Liberal interim leader and deputy premier would have massive name recognition but would also be a huge target for the governing Surrey First team.
“He has a lot of affinity for the community of Surrey. He has done a lot of work there through BC Housing and during his time as Solicitor General,” said Jordan Bateman, director of marketing and communications at the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of British Columbia (ICBA).
“It is coming down to a decision he has to make. Certainly, he is talking to a lot of people there and there is a lot of buzz he should do the job.”
The profiles will be updated right up until election day with the latest information on who is running in all 162 municipalities in the province for mayor and council, as well as the issues that matter most to voters.
If you are running for mayor or council across B.C., please send your platforms and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.