Wednesday, September 28, 2022

So many traffic fatalities - Vancouver must improve Road Safety

I woke up this morning to hear the radio news that yesterday two more pedestrians had been killed on Vancouver streets. This resonated with me for several reasons. 

Last night, my wife and I were trying to cross Dunbar Street at a pedestrian crosswalk near 16th only to watch several cars speed through the crosswalk as we were attempting to cross. The drivers could see us. Sally was wearing white and very visible. Had we not been so careful, we might have been the third and fourth casualties.  

While we need to educate pedestrians, other measures are also required.

I've also been thinking about road safety since later this week I'm heading off to Belgium. When I was last there the country had decided to make a concerted effort to reduce road fatalities. As I noted in my blog offering lessons from Belgium for Vancouver

"The country is making a concerted effort to reduce the number of traffic fatalities to no more than 500 a year. Canada is currently at about twice that." I noted that throughout the country there are well marked pedestrian crosswalks, raised intersections, creative school signs: the yellow and black striped poles were hard to miss.

Online you can find numerous reports on what the country is doing to improve safety, and how well it is doing. Here's just one of them.

Growing up in Toronto, I recall a "Point your way to safety campaign". Sam Cass, a roads and traffic commissioner proposed many ideas about improving pedestrian safety While it wasn't completely successful, it did introduce several ideas that have lasted including Pedestrian Crosswalk markings.

The reason I am writing this blogpost is because I am convinced it is time for Vancouver to make a more concerted effort to raise awareness about the need for greater public safety. One way might be to have the police issue more tickets and substantial fines to those driving through pedestrian crosswalks when pedestrians are attempting to cross. 

I would also like to see more video cameras at crosswalks and greater publicity about the consequences of not stopping when someone is trying to cross. I would also like to see reduced speed limits and more speed monitors like those found throughout Toronto.

We also need to enforce traffic regulations. In some countries, like Australia, it is illegal to constantly drive in the 'passing lane' rather than the curb lane. I often watch Driving School teachers allowing their students to drive in the passing lane, rather than the curb lane. I am not a traffic engineer, but I am sure greater enforcement of this, along with ticketing people who race through red lights or make right hand turns on red lights would eventually lead to more road safety. Maybe it's time to prohibit right hand turns on red lights like many other jurisdictions. Scramble intersections where all lights turn red at the same time might be another idea I've seen in other places like Auckland NZ.

While I acknowledge that traffic safety is the responsibility of just one level of government in Belgium, rather than multiple jurisdictions as is the case in Vancouver, I hope we can start talking a lot more about this before multiple daily pedestrian deaths become commonplace. Please help me promote this concern. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

So Many Parties! Your Guide to Vancouver’s Crowded Election

A lot of people have told me they don't know who to vote for in the forthcoming Vancouver election and have asked me for advice. At the moment, the best advice I can give is to read this article by Christopher Cheung of The Tyee. It's very fair and I generally agree with what he has to say!

Why have so many political brands emerged and what do they stand for? Read on.

Christopher Cheung 12 Sep

 Don’t know which party is which anymore? Here’s your guide. Collage by Christopher Cheung.

It’s resulted in a crowded ballot of 138 party candidates and independent hopefuls running for mayor, council, school board and park board.

Why so many?

An underlying reason: Vancouver doesn’t have a ward system. For council, Vancouverites choose 10 candidates to represent the whole city. Cities with a ward system only vote for one councillor to represent their part of town, like how they choose an MLA or MP to represent their riding.

A more recent change: a crackdown on “big money” in municipal politics. In 2017, the NDP introduced new campaign financing rules. Corporate and union donations were banned and individual donations were capped at $1,200, diminishing the fundraising of large municipal parties. It’s evened out the playing field for small parties vying for seats.

Also: there’s still a power vacuum waiting to be filled. The Vision Vancouver party under former mayor Gregor Robertson — known for its environmental policies, social progressivism and friendliness with real estate developers — dominated council for three terms and controlled the school and park boards for some of that time. Come 2018, voters booted Vision out of government (with the exception of a lone school trustee — we see you, Allan!).

In Vision’s place, Vancouverites elected a council with mixed leanings. It was thought that Kennedy Stewart, a former NDP MP who won the mayoral seat as an Independent, would be enough of a progressive unity candidate to get motions passed. While some big items were approved, the government was generally inefficient, with one councillor describing it as “running on fumes.”

But there’s trouble too on the right side of the spectrum: the NPA, the main rival of Vancouver progressives for decades, was splitting. A number of fresh parties have emerged, each picking up players who’ve ditched the NPA.

So there you have it! A race with a whole lot of parties: old ones, new ones, rebranded ones.

It’s a lot to digest before heading to the polls, so here’s our notes on all 11 parties to help you make sense of the battle lines.

Forward Together

In 2018, Stewart was able to win the mayoral seat as an Independent, though he did have the backing of the Vancouver and District Labour Council (no surprise, with his NDP roots) and was considered the leading progressive candidate due to his experience in federal politics.

Once again, Stewart has stayed away from running with other left-of-centre parties. Instead, he’s the frontliner of a new one, called Forward Together (the party’s logo looks a bit like the icon for Google Drive). The name is a popular political slogan that’s been used by the likes of Richard Nixon and the federal Liberals and Greens.

Stewart badly needs a majority on council if he wants to get things done. Presiding over a council of Independents and representatives from four different parties proved challenging last term. Disparate councillors were eager to file their own motions, drawing out already long meetings.

“When you think about it in parliamentary terms, it’s a minority government where every party has a chance to form a coalition on every vote,” Stewart told The Tyee last year. “It’s almost like an Italian parliament where you have a hundred parties and 35 governments fall in a row. You are literally surviving vote-to-vote.”

It would help if his new party could elect some council candidates to have his back. Forward Together is running a handful, many of whom have ties to the NDP. One of them is Stewart’s former communications director. One of them worked as a constituency assistant for David Eby. Another is Stewart’s wife, chair of the political science department at Douglas College. None have experience in elected office.

Non-Partisan Association

It’s the closest thing Vancouver has to a conservative municipal party, despite the misleading name. The NPA, founded in 1937, has been known for being pro-business and fiscally conservative, though it has picked up socially progressive positions popular amongst Vancouverites over the decades.

Ever since Vision showed up, the NPA has not been able to elect a mayor. But the power of the party brand has allowed it to maintain a presence on council. In 2018, the NPA won an impressive five seats, more than any other party, in the most crowded Vancouver election to date.

But signs of trouble on the NPA’s board were already showing when it forbade Hector Bremner, one of the party’s sitting councillors, to put his name forward for the party’s mayoral nomination for unknown reasons. Bremner left to lead a new faction, a self-described YIMBY party (more on that later).

Then came 2019, which marked a dramatic turning point for the NPA when it elected new board directors.

 One of them was Christopher Wilson, a former bureau chief for the far-right online publication the Rebel, who had made headlines when calling former climate change minister Catherine McKenna “climate Barbie,” used by many as a sexist insult. Also elected was Angelo Isidorou, a writer for the conservative website the Post Millennial, who would eventually step down over a controversy reported by The Tyee related to a photograph of him crashing an anti-Trump rally and flashing a hand gesture that has come to be associated with “white power” extremists. Isidorou denied that he had flashed a hate symbol and said that he’s since been critical of Trump after previously being a supporter.

 There were also two new directors endorsed by the Let’s Vote Association, which is against the province’s sexual orientation and gender identity curriculum.

NPA Coun. Rebecca Bligh, who identifies as queer, resigned from the party shortly after because of this, noting it was a break from the party’s history of LGBTQ2SIA+ support.

A domino of departures followed. In 2020, four directors quit the party, saying it had become “irrelevant” and disorganized. In 2021, three other sitting NPA councillors resigned from the party after it decided to appoint, rather than elect as per usual, a mayoral candidate for the 2022 election. “[I]t was about as old-boys-club as it gets,” said one. The councillors cited the recent party turmoil, such as its far-right characterizations, and said that they “lost confidence” and “don’t have faith” in the NPA.

 The mayoral candidate appointed by the board was John Coupar, a longtime park board commissioner known for helping save the Bloedel Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park. Coupar had been ramping up his run for over a year, but abruptly resigned in August. Just two months earlier, he’d be touting a “bright future” for the city. Coupar didn’t share a detailed reason for his departure, but the Breaker reported a dispute between him and the party’s board over financial support and policy advice from developer Peter Wall.

To replace Coupar, the NPA found a new mayoral candidate in Fred Harding, a former cop with experience in London and West Vancouver. He now runs a business consultancy for corporate clients, looking to bridge North America and Asia.

This isn’t Harding’s first election. He ran under the fledgling Vancouver 1st party back in 2018, during which he said that the province was “overreaching” and “got it all wrong” with SOGI. It resulted in backlash that caused one of his party’s own school board candidates to resign. Harding later said that his comments were about the province’s lack of consultation with parents. Despite his emergence as a fringe candidate who received about one-ninth of the votes Mayor Stewart did, Harding received star treatment by Chinese-language media due to his marriage to Zhang Mi, a prominent singer.

Harding’s message with the NPA so far has been on law and order.

“I’m looking forward to restoring safety. I’m looking forward to bringing leadership back to the city,” he said at his campaign launch. “We need to bring the police back into the equation.”

Vancouver police stats show a citywide reduction of most kinds of crimes during the pandemic years, though violent crimes got worse in poorer inner-city neighbourhoods.

Despite the revolving door of NPAers, one member on council has remained with the brand. Melissa De Genova is running for her third term.

ABC Vancouver

Kennedy Stewart’s rival has returned for a rematch and he’s got a new party to back him up.

Ken Sim was the NPA’s mayoral candidate back in 2018, during which he lost to Stewart by an incredibly slim margin of 957 votes.

Sim ended up leaving his party after the board drama, saying the NPA isn’t what it used to be. Bremner, the former councillor who broke with the party first, had warned Sim that a mayoral candidacy with the NPA was a “poisoned chalice.”

Sim is now the mayoral candidate of ABC Vancouver. Polls are forecasting another close race with Stewart in the lead.

ABC has become a home for a number of ex-NPA politicians, one school trustee and three of the councillors who quit the party this past term, all running for re-election. The party is also running council candidates that include the vice-president of the BC Care Providers Association and a retired Vancouver police officer and spokesperson.

ABC says that it is “fiscally responsible,” a nod to its fiscally conservative NPA roots, which used the same language. Sim also made what he called a “pretty ambitious” promise to hire 100 police officers and 100 mental health nurses, which opponents blasted as unrealistic.

Sim is the co-founder of Rosemary Rocksalt, a local bagel chain, and Nurse Next Door, which offers home care for seniors.

We’re expecting the party to blast the Jackson 5’s “ABC” on the campaign trail.

TEAM for a Livable Vancouver

Hmmm, sound a bit familiar?

The original TEAM, The Electors’ Action Movement, was founded in response to the freeway fights of the late-1960s.

The centrist party, which enjoyed a council majority in the mid-1970s, launched a number of very Vancouver lasting legacies such as the safeguarding of city land through a property endowment fund and the building of homes on its former working waterfronts, from False Creek to the downtown peninsula. Some consider it the decade when Vancouver “grew up.” The TEAM years also saw the creation of Granville Island and the revitalization of Gastown.

Colleen Hardwick, a former NPA councillor, is the mayoral candidate for the new TEAM for a Livable Vancouver. Her father Walter Hardwick, a geography professor, was a founder of the original TEAM and was elected to council three times.

At city hall, Hardwick is known for her “harsh” treatment of staff, according to one of her fellow councillors. Publicly, she’s been characterized during her term as either a neighbourhood defender or an anti-development NIMBY trying to preserve a bygone Vancouver (Hardwick once questioned whether people under 40 were really experiencing a housing crisis). In a rare interview with Glacier Media (she doesn’t give many), she rejected the negative labels, saying they were “developed and perpetuated by my enemies.”

That being said, she’s voted no on virtually every major council decision during her term: budgets, rezonings, an update of the reconciliation policy (the only councillor to do so), attempts to speed up rental and social housing construction, the Vancouver Plan and the Broadway Plan.

Hardwick is known for being fiscally conservative — her major council accomplishment was spearheading the creation of a municipal auditor general’s office — but in 2020, she outspent her fellow councillors on assistants and communications.

So what’s her ethos, especially considering the legacy of the original TEAM? Hardwick has said that she’s against rezonings because they inflate land values, especially since Vancouver can build on “huge swathes” of its own land that don’t require them. Her party says it accepts growth, but no more than necessary, and the city must respect each neighbourhood’s “scale.”

TEAM is running a number of candidates, which include two park board commissioners who left the NPA, lobbyist and former NDP political strategist Bill Tieleman (a former Tyee columnist) and Cleta Brown, a retired lawyer who served provincially as crown counsel, and the daughter of politician Rosemary Brown, the first Black woman to be elected to a Canadian provincial legislature in 1972.

While polls are predicting a two-way race between Stewart and Sim, Hardwick is the runner-up. To the segment of Vancouverites unhappy with how quickly the city has grown, Hardwick is their champion.

Progress Vancouver

Remember the YIMBY party we mentioned earlier?

Progress Vancouver is the rebrand of Yes Vancouver, which formed last election and was likely the first municipal party in B.C. to announce its dedication to YIMBY principles, which call for a boost in all types of housing supply.

Mark Marissen, who helped found the party, is now running as its mayoral candidate. Marissen is a political strategist who’s worked on Liberal and BC Liberal campaigns. While it’s his first time running for mayor, he worked on the campaign of Christy Clark, his former wife, for the NPA’s mayoral nomination. She ended up losing in a tight race to Sam Sullivan. After Marissen announced that he was running for mayor this year, Clark — who’s since made a name as a BC Liberal premier — gave him a public endorsement.

The party is running six council candidates, one of whom is Morgane Oger, the former NDP vice-president and a well-known trans activist.

As a YIMBY party, Progress’s housing promises include loosening up zoning to allow more density and more housing types citywide. The party is also floating promises that lefties like, such as compensation for displaced renters (currently being studied by the city) and the creation of a municipal housing corporation to develop and manage homes.

Coalition of Progressive Electors

The oldest of Vancouver’s progressive parties, COPE has not won a majority on council since the 2002 election. That term saw a number of councillors with moderate positions on taxation and development leave the party to form Vision Vancouver.

The party has struggled to elect candidates since, though there was renewed excitement when anti-poverty activist Jean Swanson ran with COPE in 2018 and won a council seat with the fourth most votes.

She’s running for council again alongside a handful of others. As in 2018, the party is not running a mayoral candidate this year.

The party said its candidates will be fighting for rent control, a living wage, a mansion tax, a safe drug supply and an end to homelessness.


This COPE offshoot has been gathering steam. It was founded in 2014 but no candidates were elected. In 2018, Christine Boyle and Jennifer Reddy earned seats on council and the school board respectively. Boyle was a dependable ally of Mayor Stewart when it came to voting for council motions.

Both are running again, alongside other candidates for council, school and park board with experience in education, law, labour, Indigenous governance, urban planning and more.

The socially progressive party has advocated for more of all types of housing supply and proposed taxing lifts in land value as the result of zoning and new infrastructure for social spending.

The party often talks about “six floors and corner stores,” proposing this kind of density citywide to boost homes and local businesses within walking distance.

Vision Vancouver

Like the Liberals on the federal stage, Vision tried to position itself as the de facto Vancouver party (complete with brand colours that match the city’s). How the mighty have fallen.

After Gregor Robertson decided not to run for a fourth term in 2018, Vision chose Ian Campbell, a Squamish Hereditary Chief. But Campbell abruptly withdrew from the race. About a week later, former charges of assault and impaired driving came to light, details that he had not disclosed to the party. (Campbell has since gone on to continue his work in economic reconciliation.)

This time, Vision is not running a mayoral candidate, nor is it seeking a council majority with the three candidates it is running. The party does have eyes on a school board majority, running five candidates.

Vision did manage to lure two experienced candidates from other parties to run under its banner. John Irwin left COPE to run again for park board. Stuart Mackinnon, after three terms on park board, left the Greens to seek a council seat with Vision.

Green Party of Vancouver

The Greens have always maintained some presence in municipal government in recent years, but 2018 saw their biggest gains yet, with three seats each on council, school and park board.

The Greens did well in the crowded race, likely benefiting from voters on the left and the right giving them a few seats due to their recognizable brand and collaborative role in government.

That election, the party’s politicians also garnered the most votes on those bodies. Adriane Carr in particular, running for her fourth term this year, has become a council favourite.

Compared to other councillors, the Greens’ have been more conservative when it comes to new housing, with a fairly even mix of approvals and rejections.

 VOTE Socialist

With so many parties bearing vague or confusing names, here’s a party that stands for exactly what it says on the tin.

It’s VOTE Socialist’s first election and the party is running one candidate each for council, school board and park board. It was founded after some COPE members were displeased with the party’s direction.

They’ve released an aspirational budget with 218 promises, which include some that have been already rejected or are outside of municipal control, from vacancy control, halving the police budget and free transit for teens and seniors.

 Affordable Housing Coalition

Housing remains the hot topic this municipal election and this new party has decided to put that right in its name. The party is only running one council candidate, a civil engineer. They’re pushing for supply solutions like denser zoning, saying that Vancouver is a “city, not a suburb,” but also measures to cool the market, from taxes on luxury homes and land appreciation.

To read some of my personal observations of the mayoral candidates following an early mayoral town hall, check this out


Thursday, September 22, 2022

Finally....Travelodge redevelopment is approved!

I'm pleased to report that after many years of planning, on Monday night, the District of North Vancouver Council voted (with Lisa Muri opposed) in favour of fourth reading of the rezoning bylaw for the Travelodge property near Capilano & allow a mix of 330 market condominiums, affordable rental, market rental homes. The development also includes rent-to-own & locals first housing programs, a passive house below market development, and fossil-fuel-free homes. 

Thanks to the mayor and three councillors who supported this application over the past two years.

Travelodge property today with Dennys & Pho restaurants

Thanks also to Kevin Zhang and Jennifer Paton of the District of North Vancouver Planning Department and the Marvel Group (Rahim and Sara Fakhari and Oguz Istif) for their faith in our team, including IBI Architects, Connect Landscape, Aplin and Martin, Max Carroll of Lawson Lundell and Bennett Survey and others who helped prepare a lot of last-minute documents.

View looking south with Park West to the east and Sentinel to the west.

View along new internal street and townhouses providing 'eyes on the street'

View of new midrise building offering larger suites catering to empty-nesters and others (including DNV's first 'lock-off suites'.

Is the future of Vancouver…..Toronto?

I spent the past weekend attending a Family Reunion in Toronto. As I wandered around the city, I saw many things that I’d like to see in Vancouver and many things that I'd prefer not to see. Here are a few observations.

New buildings are very big. When I studied architecture in the late 60s and early 70s, I recall a lecture by visiting professor Jack Diamond who thought 3 FSR was the maximum for a livable residential environment.  This is about 5 times the density of a conventional single-family neighbourhood; three times the density of a typical townhouse development; twice the density of Kerrisdale highrises and much of the West End; and slightly more than most of the new 6-storey buildings along the Cambie Corridor

However, it is about half of the proposed density (6.5 FSR) for many highrise development sites along the Broadway Corridor and much less than most new highrise developments in Toronto which are often around 10 or 11 FSR.  This prompts me to wonder, when is big too big? I guess it all depends on what you are used to and whether you believe that more density equates to greater housing affordability.

Colourful buildings. Some new developments that I happened to see incorporate more colour than what we generally see in Vancouver. While I am not sure how these buildings will ‘date’ over time, I like them. Here are just a couple of examples I came across walking along Dundas Street. 

Colourful murals often appear on buildings and along lanes.

Stacked townhouses. This is a common form of housing found throughout Toronto but still very limited in Vancouver…at least so far. Stacked townhouse buildings can be identified by multiple front doors at the entry. Two doors serve the lower-level suites; two doors provide entry to the main level suites; and two lead up to upper-level suites. While these developments have a lot of stairs, for many households this is an attractive affordable alternative to a four to six storey apartment building at a similar density.  

More and better bicycle lanes. Thanks initially to Gordon Price and Peter Ladner, Vancouver has a growing network of bicycle lanes around the city. But I was surprised to see so many attractive, separated bike lanes throughout downtown Toronto. (I had a similar surprise when visiting Montreal a few years ago.)

Traffic congestion and inadequate parking. Since there were seven of us (including two young children) we rented a AirBnB in the downtown. It was a new, four level semi-detached townhouse near Broadview and Dundas. 

While we initially thought we could manage without a car, relying on taxis, uber and public transit, we soon realized we needed a car. This led to two discoveries.

Toronto's roads seemed so much more congested than Vancouver’, Moreover, while I applaud Toronto's significant reduction or elimination of minimum parking requirements, it's difficult to find parking in many downtown neighbourhoods. I often had to drive around for about 20 minutes before finding a parking space anywhere near our house. As Vancouver reduces or eliminates parking requirements, I can't help but wonder whether this is the future of many Vancouver neighbourhoods where single-family houses may be replaced by 'gentle density' and six-storey apartment buildings.

Here are a few more things that I noticed.

A truly multi-cultural city. While Vancouver is very multi-cultural when compared to most other Canadian cities, judging by Toronto's commercial areas, it is much more cosmopolitan.

Neighbourhood identity. Throughout the city, street signs often include a neighbourhood designation.

The Toronto ‘Semi’. Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time reviewing apartment plans for new developments in West Vancouver. So, it was particularly interesting to stay in a new Toronto semi-detached 'townhouse' and compare it with typical Vancouver duplex. Our unit had four storeys and was recently on the market for just under $2 million. The main difference between a Toronto semi and a Vancouver duplex is that a semi comprises two separate units on two separate lots, with a common party wall. A duplex, on the other hand, comprises two units on one lot. As a result, it is a strata development. 

Signs, signs At the corner of Dundas and Yonge is a lively public space with illuminated signs reminiscent of Times Square and many Asian cities. There's nothing like it in Vancouver. While some will say 'thank god', I would like to see more active, visually lively spaces like this.

Reduced speed limits. In many parts of the city, the maximum limit is 40 km/hr and PEOPLE KEEP TO THE SPEED LIMIT. This might be due, in part, to numerous speed notification signs throughout the city. We should do that here!

Friday, September 9, 2022

The first Vancouver mayoral debate - Wednesday September 7, 2022

Earlier this week, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and S.U.C.C.E.S.S. co-hosted what was billed as a Pre-Election Town Hall featuring five mayoral candidates at Temple Sholom on Oak Street. It was moderated by Global News Hour anchor Sophie Lui and attended by (in no particular order) Ken Sim (A Better City); Kennedy Stewart (Forward Together); Mark Marissen (Progress Vancouver); Fred Harding, Non Partisan Association (NPA); and Colleen Hardwick (TEAM For a Livable Vancouver). 

I mention "in no particular order" since when the panelists were seated it appeared to my eye that there was a certain order until one Twitter follower pointed out they were simply in alphabetical order!

(Which reminds me. September 16th will be an important date for Vancouver mayoral, council, and Park Board candidates since that is when the random order of candidates will be decided. As many will recall, in 2018, Vancouver did away with alphabetical listing of candidates, in response to a motion by then Councillor Andrea Reimer. As noted in a statement on the city's website "Research has shown many voters are more likely to vote for those listed first on a ballot, meaning that candidates at the top of an alphabetical list are perceived to have an advantage over those lower down." 

I like to think I played a small part in this change since I often wrote about the 'unfair advantage' those candidates whose names with A, B, and C had when there was a long list of candidates.

(Not surprisingly, George Afleck, Suzanne Anton, Elizabeth Ball and Kim Capri always disagreed with this.)

In another column I suggested that multiple ballots should be printed which allowed every candidate to have their name on top on some of the ballots. While I realized this might be impractical, the city did agree to randomize the order of candidates' names.

As can be seen from this photo, the topics for debate (or discussion as hoped by the moderator), reflected the interests of the organizing agencies, and were quite different than what might have been selected by the Board of Trade or many other organizations. 

The audience: The room was not full, and many in attendance appeared to be exceptionally loud hand clappers representing each of the various parties. While there may have been media coverage in the next day's Global News Hour and in Chinese community media, I could not find any print accounts of the event.

That may be because it was oftentimes a very dull and boring affair. While the topics were important, there was considerable overlap, and as a result some candidates repeated the same answers for many of the questions.  One candidate seemed offer the same response to every question!

While I hesitate to summarize what was said, I will offer the following general observations.

Mayor Stewart demonstrated a much greater understanding of the powers and authority of the different levels of government than some of the candidates. When accused of planning a mobility/congestion tax, he pointed out that it was not within the city's powers to impose this. When asked if he supported the concept, he said he did not. In fact, each candidate said they opposed it.

Ken Sim is a very nice guy. But often when he spoke, I was reminded that there are two types of fairy tales. One begins "Once upon a time". The other begins "When I am elected". Or in Ken Sim's case "When I am elected with an ABC council majority." He consistently told the audience what many wanted to hear, and a majority of the crowd was most appreciative. However, he needs to either stop telling people they will be getting permits in three days or explain how this is going to be achieved. Because it can't be.

Colleen Hardwick is also very knowledgeable about municipal politics since other than the mayor, she is the only candidate with council experience. Colleen is very articulate, and while she may not always tell people what they want to hear, she speaks with authority. I often agree with her perspective on things. I think she's right that there are far too many rezonings in the city so that the city can generate significant Community Amenity Contributions from developers. However, I do not agree with her belief that there is adequate zoned capacity in the city and therefore don't need more rezonings. Yes, there is a lot of capacity above the single-storey retail buildings along many arterials, but that's not what we need. Hopefully, the Vancouver Plan will address this by creating more opportunities for different types of housing.

Mark Marissen also speaks with authority. He has a good voice, is articulate, and as a longstanding political strategist understands government. However, (and he won't like this), as telling from the more recent polls, he is not going to win. 

Furthermore, as was the case in the 2018 mayoral election, he will be splitting the vote. No, he wasn't a candidate in that election, but he was behind Hector Bremner. As a Daily Hive article from last February titled: Opinion: Congratulations Kennedy Stewart on winning 2022 mayoral re-election correctly noted, had Marissen's candidate Hector Bremner not been running in the 2018 mayoral race, Ken Sim would have won. I am sure I am not alone believing Mark's candidacy this time will further split the vote increasing the likelihood of a victory for the mayor.

This brings me to Fred Harding. When the NPA announced he would be its last-minute 'fill-in' mayoral candidate, I questioned on Twitter why the party would do something so stupid. Fred Harding ran in the last election for another party and came in sixth with 5,640 votes. I suspect he'll get more votes this time around since running for the NPA is usually worth a fair number of votes. 

While he appears to be a very self-assured individual and speaks with authority, as a former policeman he offers a very narrow 'law and order' perspective on municipal politics. While he won't win, he too could help Kennedy Stewart win.

There are more mayoral debates scheduled between now and election day. Hopefully there will be more informed discussion on what is needed to address the current problems in the city. I'd like to hear how the candidates would engender greater civic pride, since I think this has disappeared over the last decade. Colleen Hardwick's focus on creating stronger neighbourhood planning could be a step in the right direction.

While the city can't solve the horrific problems of the Downtown Eastside on its own, there is much more that can and should be done. What kind of leadership will each offer. 

I hope there will be more discussion on what the city can realistically do to address housing affordability. As Ken Sim correctly noted, approval times need to be reduced for projects. But as the mayor correctly noted, the key is to get support from the province and federal government. And there's no doubt he has been successful doing this. (If he's re-elected, I just hope the Empty Home Tax program will be revised to be more reasonable and equitable, especially if it is going to be increased to 5%.)

So if you missed this debate, don't worry. You didn't miss a lot. But do try and attend some of the next ones. There's one on September 19th.