It has been the wildest, wackiest Vancouver municipal election in recent memory.
There are 21 people running to be the next mayor and 71 people running for 10 spots on city council. The city is guaranteed a new mayor because Vision Vancouver’s Gregor Robertson is not running again after 10 years on the job.
Vision Vancouver is hoping to hang onto some influence, with five people running for council (including Heather Deal as the only Vision councillor seeking re-election) and no mayoral candidate after Ian Campbell dropped out.
There have been dozens of mayoral debates and forums, including one broadcast on the Global BC website, and hundreds of promises made by all the mayoral candidates.
Even with so much information most Vancouverites have just tuned into the campaign or might still be figuring out how they want to cast their ballots.
If you find yourself in that boat – whether you don’t have time to comb through all of the promises or are struggling to cut through the noise – don’t panic. Global News has prepared a straightforward breakdown of who the candidates are and where they stand on some big policy issues.
LISTEN: Civic election wrap up – Vancouver
Getting ready to vote
Here is what you need to know to vote. You must be 18 years old or older by Oct. 20 and a Canadian citizen, have lived in B.C. for at least six months prior to the election and in Vancouver or owned property registered in your name in Vancouver for at least 30 days immediately before registering to vote and not be disqualified by law from voting.
If you are registered to vote you will already have your voter card. Bring your card with you when you vote to speed up the voting process.
WATCH HERE: Decision 2018 issues: Affordable housing in Vancouver
If you are not registered you will need to provide two identification documents to prove who you are and where you live. Electronic copies are not accepted. Check online for a full list of documents that work.
As to where you can vote, there are more than 100 polling stations in the city. Voters can cast a ballot at any of the polling stations on Saturday.
Meet the mayoral candidates
There are 21 people running for mayor. Although polls for municipal elections have been historically unreliable there have been a handful of candidates who have emerged as the front-runners to replace Mayor Gregor Robertson.
Whoever ends up as mayor will immediately take over in the midst of a historic housing crisis and an opioid epidemic that continues to kill people in the city every day.
Bremner’s road to election day has been topsy-turvy.
The Vancouver city councillor was running to be the NPA’s nominee but in a controversial and poorly explained decision, Bremner was told he could not seek the party’s mayoral nomination. The 38-year-old then went on to form YES Vancouver and is running under the party’s banner.
Bremner lists his three priorities as fixing housing, cleaning up permitting and developing a family-friendly city. He ran for the B.C. Liberals in New Westminster in 2013 and worked for former deputy premier Rich Coleman.
YES Vancouver is advocating for diverse housing types, including triplexes, fourplexes and low-rise apartment buildings, to be legalized in all residential neighbourhoods.
Sim, a political newcomer, is running for mayor under the NPA’s banner. The Rosemary Rocksalt Bagels co-founder is hoping to become the first NPA mayor since Sam Sullivan.
Sim defeated Park Board commissioner John Coupar and Glen Chernen to win the party’s nomination. He lists his three priorities as attainable housing, supporting local businesses and supporting our seniors.
The entrepreneur would be the first Vancouver mayor of Chinese descent.
The NPA housing plan calls for immediately allowing two secondary suites in every detached home in the city.
The 51-year-old lived in Burnaby from 2011 to 2015 then moved back to Vancouver.
Stewart served in the House of Commons from 2011 to 2018. He was arrested earlier this year alongside Green Party Leader Elizabeth May for civil contempt during a demonstration against the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
The front-runner touts himself as a bridge builder who can work with councillors of all political stripes. But he has made it clear he would prefer to work with progressive candidates including those from Vision Vancouver, Green, COPE and OneVancouver. If elected, Stewart will move to implement a ward system for councillors rather than the current at-large system.
Stewart’s housing policy calls on a tripling of the empty home tax and fast-tracking 25,000 new purpose-built market rentals and laneway homes.
If elected Sylvester would be the first female mayor in Vancouver’s history. She most recently served as the director of the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University.
She raised her family near Commercial Drive and is now a resident of the West End. The independent candidate has been accused of being too close to Vision Vancouver because of her previous work on the political party’s board. She was asked to run as the party’s mayoral candidate and turned the party down.
Sylvester has committed to achieving a three per cent rental vacancy rate in the city and pushing for purpose-built housing that includes “affordable” properties.
If elected, Young would not only be the first female mayor in the city’s history but also the first mayor of Chinese descent. The former Conservative MP for Vancouver South has run on an aggressive campaign to clean up the city from needles and garbage and tear up some of the existing bike lanes.
Young has also promised to make parking free after 8 p.m. every day and free all day on Sundays.
The former MP was born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver from the age of four. Young is the mother of twins and a foster parent to seven children.
Her housing policy includes not selling any city land to developers and focusing on a boost in the supply of compact, affordable units, built near major transportation links.
WATCH: He didn’t end homelessness as promised, but what will Gregor Robertson’s legacy be?
Meet the council candidates
There are 71 people running for city council. Some of the names will be familiar to voters, others will be brand new. There is information about all the candidates on the Vancouver website.
There are some storylines worth exploring for the council race
COPE’s social justice crusaders
Jean Swanson is one of Vancouver’s most celebrated housing activists. An Order of Canada winner, Swanson has spent a career advocating for social justice. She is running as a council candidate for the left-leaning COPE party along with Derrick O’Keefe and former city councillor Anne Roberts.
The three candidates have vowed to use city powers to freeze rents for tenants and small businesses and to apply additional tax to homes worth more than $5 million. The COPE team would work toward free transit starting with children and low-income people and establishing a municipal living wage for all Vancouver residents.
You will hear many times how this election is unlike any other. A big part of that is the emergence of independents. Credible candidates who historically have had links with the establishment parties have decided to go at it alone.
There are multiple independents on the ballot, but those getting the most attention include Sarah Blythe Wade Grant, Erin Shum, Rob McDowell and Adrian Crook. Grant, Shum, McDowell and Crook all had links to the NPA. Blyth is a former Vision Vancouver Park Board commissioner and has recently been working to save lives as part of the ongoing opioid epidemic.
The Vision 5
Vision Vancouver has dominated Vancouver City Hall for the last decade. Six Vision council candidates won four years ago. But since then Geoff Meggs has left to become Premier John Horgan’s chief of staff, and Tim Stevenson, Raymond Louie, Andrea Reimer and Kerry Jang are all leaving politics.
This leaves Heather Deal as the only Vision incumbent looking to return to city hall. The group of candidates, also includes Catherine Evans, Diego Cardona and Tanya Paz. Vision dropped candidate Wei Zhang on Friday saying he had “contravened the party’s candidate agreement.” The party doesn’t have a mayoral candidate, so they have been focusing all their resources on trying to hold on to as many of their council seats as possible.
In 2011 Adriane Carr made history as Vancouver’s first-ever Green city councillor. Then three years later she made history again getting 74,077 votes to get re-elected to city hall as the highest vote-getting councillor.
Now Carr is looking for company.
The Greens are running four council candidates including Pete Fry, Park Board commissioner Michael Wiebe and David Wong.
The NPA is looking to grow their might on council. The party is running eight council candidates with Melissa De Genova as the party’s only incumbent looking to stay on council. The list is bolstered by Park Board commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung and school trustee Lisa Dominato,
The NPA won three seats in 2014, with a fourth coming when Hector Bremner won in a 2017 byelection.
With so many new parties emerging, there are lots of interesting council candidates running for non-traditional parties. OneCity candidates Christine Boyle and Brandon Yan have been endorsed by Kennedy Stewart. Boyle has been endorsed by Attorney General David Eby and her sister-in-law and international bestseller Naomi Klein.
Coalition Vancouver is running the second-most council candidates, behind NPA, with seven candidates on the ballot. Glen Chernen is running under the party banner after losing in a big to run for mayor under the NPA flag. If Wai Young is elected mayor she could hold a majority of power if five of the party’s council candidates win.
Yes Vancouver is running five council candidates and could form a majority on council if Hector Bremner is elected mayor. The party offers a diverse group of candidates, including four women and a man. None of them has been elected to public office.
The Big Issues
All conversations in Vancouver begin and end with housing. The dream of owning a detached home has died for many people, there is almost nowhere to rent and the city continues to grapple with issues of density and homelessness.
All the serious mayoral candidates have put forward comprehensive housing plans. But the big question that lingers over all housing decisions is what power the city has compared to the provincial and federal governments.
The numbers have been staggering. In Vancouver alone 235 people died of illicit drug overdoses in 2016, 367 people died in 2017 and up until the end of September, 256 have died in 2018. Similar to housing policy the city of Vancouver has limited jurisdiction over illicit drug overdoses. But the city’s first responders have been on the front lines of the crisis.
The Broadway subway line extension was a struggle for Mayor Gregor Robertson for nearly a decade. But now that the three levels of government have figured out how to pay for the project, the next mayor will need to grapple with whether the line should be extended to UBC.
The next mayor will also have to deal with increased congestion in the city. But any major change, like putting in place mobility pricing, would have to get the approval of the provincial government.
Part of Vancouver’s transportation infrastructure includes the controversial bike lanes. The next mayor will have to figure out whether they will continue building the bike lane network, take a break on building new bike lanes or rip up some of the existing bike lanes.