New mayors in Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby sworn in
Newly elected mayors and city councillors were set to formally take over in city halls across the province on Monday. In Metro Vancouver’s three largest cities, Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby, there are new mayors in charge after local government elections on Oct. 20.
Kennedy Stewart takes the reigns in Vancouver after 10 years of Gregor Robertson’s rule. Stewart has outlined his priorities for the first 100 days in office.
The new mayor of Vancouver has promised to hire more staff and changing processes to begin clearing the permit backlog of permits, especially those aimed at delivering rental housing.
Stewart has also promised to work with council to hire a renters’ advocate and staff up the office. The mayor has also promised to get a Downtown Eastside emergency task force up and running.
“We are indeed in an unfamiliar situation here in Vancouver. An independent mayor, a set of new and renewed political parties and like the voters of this city, a council that reflects a mixture of ideas and approaches,” said Stewart.
“And this change in situation means we can and must think of this differently. And this starts with respect.”
In his opening address as mayor, Stewart said his goal was to build “trust right across this city.”
The new mayor also acknowledged former Vancouver mayor and the last independent Mike Harcourt. There hasn’t been an independent mayor since the 1980s and no consensus on council will be one of the first challenges Stewart must address.
“Mike tells me that such councils have the most chance for success because all voices matter,” said Stewart. “Well, his councils were often expected to fail to fall into bickering and discord, instead they flourished.”
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Stewart’s council includes five members from the NPA, three Green councillors, Jean Swanson and Christine Boyle.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is also being sworn in on Monday. He has promised to move forward with moving from the RCMP policing Surrey to a local police force.
McCallum is also moving to scrap the LRT and go forward with SkyTrain. It is a change that needs to be approved by the mayors’ council.
New Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley will be officially sworn in on Monday night. Hurley says he is confident that “within a year,” his new council can make a dent into the affordability crisis.
“The very first priority will be the housing issue. Displacement issues in Metrotown but affordability issues all across this city,” said Hurley. “We need to address it quickly as possible. There will be a mayor’s task force on this issue from Jan. 1, hopefully reporting back within six months about the difficulties we feel.”
Hurley says Burnaby is way behind on housing, adding that not a lot has been done over the last 16 years. The incoming Burnaby mayor says he has been texting back and forth with Housing Minister Selina Robinson about setting up a meeting.
Robinson says she is looking forward to meeting with the new mayors “as soon as possible” to look at ways the province can help address the housing issue.
“We have to remember it is the electorate that said they need housing,” said Robinson. “I’m really pleased all of these mayors are committed to doing that works with us as a province.”
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