Are you feeling overwhelmed by Vancouver’s civic election?
Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. With more than half a dozen parties, 15 candidates running for mayor and 137 people running for various civic offices in the city it’s hard for anyone to keep up.
We’ve combed through the major parties’ platforms to give you a snapshot of where they stand on three key issues: housing; public safety, mental health and the drug crisis; and climate change.
Keep in mind this is not a complete list — and with just over two weeks to go, the parties are still unveiling policy positions. This article will be continuously updated.
Incumbent Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s slate is promising to “approve and enable” 222,000 new homes over the next decade, including 140,000 market rental, below-market rental, social housing units and co-operatives.
It’s also promising to extend tough new renter protections from the Broadway Plan city-wide. The protections require developers to cover tenants relocation expenses during a renovation or redevelopment, and give them a right of first refusal to return at the same or lower rent.
Forward Together promises to modernize the public hearing and permitting process for efficiency, by working with the province to change the Vancouver Charter and continuing an existing permit modernization task force at city hall.
It would also create “specialized project approval teams” for large-impact projects to speed up decisions and cut red tape.
Forward Together would maintain the empty homes tax at “at least” five per cent.
Ken Sim’s ABC is pledging to eliminate the city’s construction backlog with a “3x3x3x1 permit approval system.” Under the system home renovations would be approved in three days, single family home and townhouse permits would be approved in three weeks, multi-family and mid-rise projects would be approved in three months and large projects would be approved in one year.
ABC says it would create “predictable” formulas for community amenity contributions, the cash developers pay the city when a property is rezoned, and development fees would be focused on creating affordable rental.
ABC says it would pre-approve five standard laneway home designs to speed up construction, and review the city’s missing middle housing strategy to increase supply of the housing type.
It says it would review the empty homes tax to identify residents unintentionally captured by it.
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The party says it would shift social housing strategy to focus on quality, not quantity, and tie increases in spending to inflation, as well as work with BC Housing on a 20-year social and supportive housing plan.
An ABC majority would double the number of co-operative houses over four years, and identify properties for density bonuses for construction of non-market housing.
TEAM for a livable Vancouver
Colleen Hardwick’s TEAM is promising a mix of non-market and market housing including private homes, rentals, co-ops, co-housing, secondary suites, multiple conversion dwellings, laneway houses, townhouses and apartments. It says it will speed up permitting and stabilize land value inflation by ending spot rezonings that “ignore neighbourhood plans” and don’t contribute to amenities.
TEAM would repeal the recently approved Broadway Plan and Vancouver Plan, which it says will “prevent arbitrary city-wide application of out-of-scale cookie-cutter buildings lacking local context, and create neighbourhood-specific plans.
TEAM has promised to hold a plebiscite on spending $500 million to build 2,000 co-op units, and lobby the provincial and federal governments for matching funds.
It would also use city-owned land for more affordable housing, and secure more non-market and supportive social housing from the provincial and federal governments.
It says it would provide incentives for affordable housings based on project details and community consultation that “fit into the scale, context and zoning of each neighbourhood.”
Fred Harding’s NPA is focused on boosting private-sector development of housing supply. It says it would legally cap permit wait times and look at digital permitting to cut red tape.
The party says it would tie supply targets to immigration numbers and incentivize the private sector to build needed housing types, and pre-zone supply targets where possible to end “building-by-building battles at city hall.”
The platform calls for working with senior levels of government on more funding for housing, especially the “missing middle,” and working with financial institutions on a first-time home buyers’ program.
It would also implement flat-rate community amenity contributions, the cash fees developers pay the city when land is rezoned, with a lower rate for rental.
Mark Marissen’s Progress Vancouver would allow six-storey rental and four-storey condos in all parts of the city.
It would create a new Vancouver Civic Housing Corporation to build and manage mixed-income housing and encourage family-sized units, and use profits to fund below-market housing.
The party would target development of 15,000 new homes per year, half of them rentals.
It says it would renew co-operative housing land leases and look for opportunities to expand the number of units at renewal.
It calls for the creation of a luxury homes surtax on the top one per cent of properties, and maintaining the city’s empty homes tax.
Renters under Progress Vancouver would be offered the right of refusal to redeveloped or renovated housing at their old rent or 20 per cent below market rate, and be compensated for moving expenses.
It says it would streamline permitting approvals with pre-approved “missing middle” designs, and a review of the permitting process. It would reform community amenity contributions, the cash developers pay the city when a property is rezoned, by setting a transparent public schedule of fees.
The Greens say they would revisit Vancouver’s definition of “affordable housing” to mean housing that costs for 30 per cent of median renter household income.
The party is promising to fight demoviction and renoviction by guaranteeing renters the right of return at affordable rents, and says it would work rent increase on units, not tenants — however this power is under provincial jurisdiction.
The Greens would provide a menu of new “Vancouver specials,” easily repeatable building plans ranging from tiny homes to multi-family buildings to lower cost and speed up approval. It says it would also streamline permitting.
The platform calls for ramping up the acquisition and use of city-owned land for housing, and co-locating units with civic facilities like libraries and fire halls, and the expansion of co-cop and non-market zoning.
It also calls on planners and developers to ensure wrap-around services are adequate for supportive housing and community amenities are adequate for new developments.
OneCity has promised to end Vancouver’s “apartment ban” by allowing purpose-built rental buildings of up to six storeys and condos of up to four storeys in all residential areas of the city. Density bonuses would be offered to co-op, non-profit and social housing.
Such project approvals would not require a public hearing under the plan.
OneCity says it would turn the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency into a public developer, with the right of first refusal on new land sales.
The party is also promising to force developers to build more family-friendly housing with minimum percentages and unit sizes for two- and three-bedroom suites.
It would also create a city Tenant Advocacy Office.
COPE says it would fight to implement vacancy controls, which would limit the amount a landlord can raise rents at tenant turnover. Such a policy would require action at the provincial government, however the city is currently appealing a B.C. Supreme Court decision which could change that.
The party could create a legal framework for the recognition of tenant unions.
It says it would fight demovictions by pushing to ensure all displaced tenants are offered an appropriately sized unit in the new building at their old rent, and get top-up funding to afford rents in an interim apartment while waiting for the new building to get built.
It would also fight for a rent rollback to 2017 levels and rent freeze, and lobby the provincial government to end no-pet clauses.
COPE has also called for a “mansion tax” in Vancouver, targeting the owners of the top 5,000 high-value properties in the city, with proceeds going to fight homelessness.
Public safety, mental health and the drug crisis
Ken Sim’s ABC says it would hire 100 new police officers and 100 new mental health nurses to expand community policing and health authority-led programs like Car 87. It says it would fund the positions by identifying waste in the city budget.
It says it would also work with the province and mental health experts to create peer-assisted care teams.
ABC would support all health-authority led initiatives for safer supply of street drugs, and work to build a free, low-barrier 24-hour recovery centre.
It would also call for a mental health summit with all Lower Mainland mayors, the premier, and relevant provincial, federal and First Nations officials aimed at sustainable funding and the creation of a regional mental health centre of excellence incorporating both treatment and recovery.
The party says it would seek to equip all patrol officers with body-worn cameras by 2025, and advocate for more city representation on the Vancouver Police Board.
It would also convene a task force to focus on racially-motivated crime, and support a police-led graffiti abatement program.
Fred Harding’s NPA is pledging to link harm reduction to drug treatment, stating that “harm reduction by itself does not work and is not compassionate care.”
It says it will focus on a holistic approach including harm reduction, prevention, treatment and enforcement of civil behaviour, and ensure “accountability for those who victimize residents of Vancouver.”
The NPA platform promises to fund the Vancouver Police Department so it has “the resources to do its job to the best of its abilities,” and would reinstate the school police liaison officer program.
It would require BC Housing to commit specific resources for tenants with complex care needs before approving supportive housing projects, and force social service agencies with more than $100,000 in government funding to review their effectiveness.
Referring to homeless encampments, it says it will consult with communities and provide services rather than simply displacing campers.
The platform pledges to focus on clean and functioning streets, parks and community facilities.
It says it would seek federal funding to boost organized crime and downtown public safety responses, and advocate for the city to be designated a “no-go” zone for violent and sexual offenders.
Kennedy Stewart’s Forward Together has proposed using the city’s 311 line as a portal to deploy Health and Addictions Response Teams (HART) to respond to non-emergency mental health and drug crises, rather than 911. The program is estimated to cost $5 million in its first year.
Forward would expand access to a safe supply of illicit drugs, and work to permit peer-led compassion clubs to distribute them, and add 50 new public washrooms across the city.
The party pledges to fully fund police board budget requests, create an advisory committee aimed at hate crimes and create an Office of the Night Time Economy, or ‘night mayor.’
It would fund mental health and first-aid training for the general public to help people assist people in crisis, invest in community-based organizations trained in de-escalation and crisis response, and support Indigenous-led community safety programs like the Bear Clan Patrol.
The party says it would fund storage facilities for the homeless, and and expand the “Better Together” community connection pilot project.
The platform calls for greater city control over the VPD’s annual budget and more diversity and equity and inclusion training for officers, and would review community policing centres to see which of their roles could be transferred to civilian groups
It would support restorative justice programs for offenders.
OneCity says it would expand access to harm-reduction such as overdose-prevention sites, along with naloxone kits. It would work to develop a non-prescription safe supply model along the lines of compassion clubs.
The platform calls for the inclusion of people who use drugs on city advisory committees, and the provision of “culturally relevant” supports for youth using drugs.
It would also expand access to detox centres for those ready for treatment.
Mark Marissen’s Progress Vancouver calls for a city-wide drug checking service, with accessibility in all major neighbourhoods, and says it would lobby the province to fund safe supply in Vancouver.
It would offering grants and incentives to drug treatment clinics, with the aim to reduce wait times to one week or less, build more sober social housing separate from low-barrier facilities, and work to end the concentration of social housing in the Downtown Eastside.
It would also rework the Downtown Ambassador program into the Vancouver Outreach Corps, which would be led by addictions survivors.
It says it would work with the province to re-focus police on pursuing the suppliers of toxic drugs and lobby to keep prolific offenders off the streets and stiffer penalties for stranger assaults. Police would also be directed to focus on crimes against women.
It would fund Peer-Assisted Care Teams to reduce calls to 911 for people in mental health or drug crises.
On property crime, the platform calls for a crackdown on criminals chop shops and more secure bike parking, along with storage solutions for hte homeless.
It would launch a “family friendly” downtown initiative, and install sharps disposal bins in alleys, parks and washrooms to cut down on discarded needles.
The party would also use city land for temporary emergency outdoor shelters, build more public washrooms.
The Vancouver Greens promise to fast-track rapid shelter concepts like tiny home communities in empty lots to provide transitional housing, and to provide more emergency shelter options.
The party says it will push the province to complete a promised navigation centre in the city to act as a first point of contact for the homeless, to audit the cost of homelessness on city services lobby senior levels of government to fund services downloaded to the city.
They pledge to ensure adequate wrap-around services in supportive housing by making tenanting, staffing and operational agreements a condition of occupancy permits.
The party also pledges to expand access to 24-hour public washrooms.
TEAM for a Livable Vancouver
Colleen Hardwick’s TEAM says it will create a full-time Downtown Eastside commissioner with a mandate to ” address the out of control social issues that are impacting the health and safety of the community, and ensuring that needed resources are provided and properly distributed to those who need them.”
The party would also perform a detailed audit of the DTES to determine community needs and how current resources are being used.
And it would create a “single coordinating body” to address homelessness and people with complex needs from a holistic perspective rather than through emergency services.
The party would launch a review of police, fire and emergency service adequacy to meet future needs from population growth, and work with police and the province to prioritize crime prevention.
TEAM would build a disaster-proof emergency command centre in preparation for a major natural disaster.
COPE has called for immediate action on the Hastings Street encampment, including providing more washrooms, closing off side streets or providing parking lots where people can set up tents and funding peer workers to organize and maintain such sites.
The party says the city should be advocating harder for safe drug supply and making space available for those providing it.
It is also calling on all three levels of government to buy hotels and empty apartment buildings to provide housing to the homeless, and for the city to lobby the province to raise the welfare and disability rates.
The Vancouver Greens climate platform calls for an expansion of city-owned green energy sources, such as waste-to-energy, sewage heat capture, solar, geothermal and wind, and a move form “solar ready” to “solar required” in the city building code where sunlight permits. Full lifecycle emissions would be included in all city reports to council.
It would ban gas hookups in all new buildings, and set the default speed limit on side streets at 30 km/h.
The party would expand the city’s safe cycling network, the city’s Mobi bike-share program and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. It would phase out all gas vehicles in the city’s fleet by 2030.
The Greens’ platform calls for public “safe havens” in all neighbourhoods people can take shelter in during extreme heat events.
It would also include food systems in the city’s climate plan, establish food gardens in every neighbourhood, and work with non-profits and look at business licensing to ensure edible food is donated instead of being thrown away.
The party would also sue big oil to recover money it has spent repairing climate related damage. Council approved $660,000 for this initiative earlier this year.
Mark Marissen’s Progress Vancouver would fight climate change by encouraging density around transit and lobbying for the completion of a subway to UBC and rapid transit on 41st/49th Avenues and connecting to the North Shore.
Progress would make transit free for children and seniors, and revive the Olympic Streetcar connecting Sen̓áḵw to the Canada Line. It would expand AAA bike infrastructure, while reviewing existing bike lanes to reduce conflict.
The party would launch an air quality strategy and include indoor air quality in the city building bylaw. It says it would simplify the permitting process for building energy retrofits.
It would use bylaws to prepare for future heat waves by requiring cooling systems be capable of holding indoor temperatures at 26 C, partner with the province to distribute air conditioners to low-income seniors and the disabled, and boost annual tree plantings to 30,000.
It would prepare for storms and sea-level rise by raising the seawall, speeding up the separation of sanitary and storm water sewer conduits and look at more nature-based flood protection.
TEAM for a Livable Vancouver
Colleen Hardwick’s TEAM is pledging to use city incentives to encourage people to switch to electric vehicles and charging options, as well as building systems for heat and hot water with heat pumps and solar panels.
It would work with TransLink to accelerate the switch to electric buses and service frequency on arterial roads.
It says it would consider environmental concerns in all planning and development, including the full lifecycle of the supply chain and plan for buildings that last longer than a few decades.
And it would plan for climate resiliency and stability “including adapting to and mitigating rising sea levels, floods, water shortages, and heat domes by expanded tree planting, tree protections, and enhancement of green space.”
Kennedy Stewart’s Forward Together is pledging to reduce carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2030.
It says it would regulate and support gas replacements in existing buildings and hook-ups from all new buildings.
The platform calls for the installation of 500 new electric vehicle charging stations, and would set targets for two-thirds of all trips in the city to be by active transportation or transit, and make half of all vehicle trips zero emission.
If elected, Forward would implement city-wide plans for climate events and use more “nature-based” solutions to climate adaptation such as increasing tree cover.
The party says it would aggressively lobby senior levels of government on rapid transit, with the aim of creating the “Vancouver Loop.”
The idea would be to secure funding to complete the under-construction Broadway Subway from Arbutus Street to UBC, and to build a rapid transit line along 49th Avenue and 41st Avenue between UBC and Metrotown.
Forward Together is also promising to continue with a lawsuit against “big oil” to recover money the city has spent addressing climate change. Council approved $660,000 for this initiative earlier this year.
Ken Sim’s ABC Vancouver says it would plant 100,000 trees in the city over the next four years, with a focus on neighbourhoods that have historically been left out from tree coverage.
It says it would accelerate the city’s 2040 Zero Waste plan to 2035, and establish a flexible GHG reduction policy framework with a ‘No Net New GHGs’ (N3GHG) standard as a condition of approval of any development permits.
It would pass a bylaw requiring all new commercial and multi-family buildings come with electric vehicle parking stalls, and phase out all gas-powered vehicles in the city fleet within six years.
It would look at a tax credit system for residents who do not own a car, and work with BC Hydro to deliver a curb-side electric vehicle partnership.
The party says it would also daylight and restore at least one paved-over stream by the end of 2026.
OneCity Vancouver would mandate cooling capable of maintaining 26 C in all homes and buildings and speed up permitting for energy efficiency and electrification in large buildings.
It would ban new gas hookups and new gas appliances, require gas furnaces by phased out by 2035, and provide incentives from building owners to disconnect from gas. OneCity would also ban gas leaf blowers ,lawn mowers and wee whackers.
It would replace mandatory minimum parking for new buildings with maximum parking instead.
It would require all new city fleet purchases, including police cars, to be electric vehicles and look at which vehicles could be replaced with electric bikes, with a full fleet electrification goal of 2030.
Managers for commercial fleet vehicles would be required to buy citywide parking permits.
The party would provide space for a year-round farmers’ market, restore compost collection in parks and require city-owned food and beverage vendors to offer vegetarian and vegan options.
It would support demonstration Indigenous food forests and offer cooking and preserving classes at community kitchens.
COPE has yet to unveil a specific climate platform.
It is calling for reduced transit fares for all riders, and free transit passes to low-income Vancouverites through the existing BC Bus Pass program, an initiative it says would cost $52 million.
Fred Harding’s NPA has yet to unveil a climate platform.