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Vancouver civic election: Changing demographics could see west-east power shift

WATCH: The once-powerful west side of Vancouver is seeing its voting influence shrink, and head east. Nadia Stewart reports.

Vancouver neighbourhoods once regarded as party strongholds are seeing a decline in voter population, according to new numbers pointing to a shift in the city’s political balance of power.

Simon Fraser University City Program Director Andy Yan studied data from Statistics Canada, the 2006 and 2016 census and files from the City of Vancouver’s open data database.

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The findings: the tipping of the balance of power began around 2006, when the NPA’s hold on Vancouver’s west side started to wane as demographics began changing.

Meanwhile, there has been dramatic growth in downtown Vancouver, an area that eventually become a stronghold for Vision Vancouver.

“You see downtown go up by 57 per cent in terms of the number of voters living in downtown but then also at the same time…If we look at the neighbourhood of Shaughnessy, we actually find that 15 per cent of that population of voters actually moved out,” Yan said.

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He attributes the shift to demography, affordability and development — ‘DAD,’ for short.

COPE and the NPA dominated the city’s political landscape for nearly 70 years, but this civic election has seen the rise of independent candidates and smaller parties, making for a more crowded race in Vancouver and beyond.

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Yan says the shift points to the need to protect our democratic institutions.

“Ensuring their foundations are sound, in terms of education in terms of making people aware that our democracy only runs when people participate,” Yan said, clarifying that need. “I think the concern I have is that our democratic constitutions don’t become leaky condos.”

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