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Battleground BC

NDP looks solid in New West, likely in Burnaby-Willingdon

Tax cuts, hospital closure help New Democrats

By Will McMartin, 27 Apr 2005, TheTyee.ca

Two ridings in Battleground BC’s Fraser North region have been re-classified in favour of the New Democratic Party, largely on the basis of historic election results and demographic data. New Westminster, previously considered ‘likely’ to elect a New Democratic Party MLA on May 17, has been moved into the ‘solid’ NDP column, while Burnaby-Willingdon has been moved from the ‘up-for-grabs’ column to ‘likely ‘ NDP.

Below are several tables for the seven electoral districts in Battleground BC’s Fraser North region. The first shows average household income in 2001, ranked from highest to lowest, for each riding. The second has the percentage of owner-occupied private dwellings, highest to lowest. And the last has the average value of owner-occupied dwellings, again highest to lowest.

NEW WESTMINSTER returned CCF-NDP representatives from 1952 until 2001, when Liberal Joyce Murray triumphed with 49.2% of the popular vote. Murray, a business woman, has served in cabinet for the past four years as minister of water, land and air protection.

As the tables below indicate, fewer than half of the private dwellings in New Westminster are owned by their occupants, which means that most residences are rented accommodation. Further, the average value of owner-occupied homes is the lowest in the Fraser North region, and the average household income is second-lowest.

In other words, many voters in this traditionally New Democratic Party riding may not be supportive of the Liberal tax cuts and service reductions. The closure of St. Mary’s Hospital may especially resonate with local voters.

The NDP candidate is Chuck Puchmayr, a New Westminster councillor, and the city’s next MLA.

BURNABY-WILLINGDON has been a ‘swing’ riding over the past 40 years, although the New Democratic Party took six of the last 10 tilts. NDP MLAs were elected in 1966, 1969, 1972, 1979, 1991 and 1996; while Social Credit and Liberal MLAs won in 1975, 1983, 1986 and 2001.

The margin of victory (or defeat) has usually been very small, but Liberal John Nuraney won in 2001 with 55.8% of the vote, nearly 6,000 votes ahead of his little-known NDP opponent. Nuraney has had a relatively-low profile in Victoria, and does not seem to have made much of an impact in Burnaby over the past four years.

Representing the New Democrats in the current election battle is Gabriel Yiu, a media commentator and flower retailer. He is touted by some as a potential ‘star’ candidate, but as yet has not been showcased by his party.

The riding ranks the lowest in average household income in the Fraser North region, and is 32nd (of 38) among electoral districts in the Greater Vancouver Regional District. Once comparable to nearby districts in terms of income, Burnaby-Willingdon appears to be falling behind its neighbours. Just 51% of private dwellings are occupied by their owners, and the average value of owner-occupied homes is near the bottom amongst Burnaby ridings. As with New Westminster, many local voters may have little reason to support tax cuts and program reductions.

Burnaby-Willingdon probably will revert to form on May 17: a close contest favouring the New Democrats.

Table — Fraser North: average household income

  • Port Moody-Westwood — $70,236
  • Port Coquitlam-Burke Mtn — $65,987
  • Coquitlam-Maillardville — $65,635
  • Maple Ridge-Mission — $62,265
  • Burquitlam — $59,211
  • Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows — $58,052
  • Burnaby North — $57,195
  • Burnaby-Edmonds — $56,654
  • New Westminster — $50,934
  • Burnaby-Willingdon — $50,675

Table — Fraser North: private dwellings owned by occupants

  • Maple Ridge-Mission — 80%
  • Port Moody-Westwood — 78%
  • Port Coquitlam-Burke Mountain — 75%
  • Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows — 74%
  • Coquitlam-Maillardville — 70%
  • Burnaby North — 58%
  • Burnaby-Edmonds — 58%
  • Burquitlam — 57%
  • Burnaby-Willingdon — 51%
  • New Westminster — 48%

Table — Fraser North: average value of owner-occupied dwellings

  • Burnaby North — $301,417
  • Burnaby-Edmonds — $270,659
  • Port Moody-Westwood — $252,461
  • Coquitlam-Maillardville — $233,435
  • Burnaby-Willingdon — $226,973
  • Burquitlam — $222,962
  • Port Coquitlam-Burke Mountain — $217,006
  • Maple Ridge-Mission — $216,561
  • Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows — $187,808
  • New Westminster — $182,996

Check here daily for Battleground BC, Will McMartin’s voting predictions and analysis, exclusive to The Tyee. You can reach him with tips, insights and info at will@thetyee.ca  [Tyee]