This is not a normal election in Vancouver. But neither are these normal times.
Campaign finance laws have blasted open the competition. The traditional parties are fragmenting. New parties are forming. And independents are rising. There are five major candidates for mayor. Whoever wins has to immediately take action on the worst housing crisis in Vancouver’s history, confront a deadly opioid epidemic, and prepare for a dangerously warming climate.
With so much at stake, we reached out to the frontrunners and asked them the same five questions about their plans in office. We’ll be running these Q&As unfiltered as they appear. First up is Wai Young, the former Conservative MP for Vancouver-South, who has vowed to crack down on bike lanes and lawless pedestrians if she’s elected. Here’s how else she would transform the city.
What do you bring to city hall that is completely different from your opponents?
I have absolutely zero ties to unions, developers, big business or special interest groups of any kind. We are 100 per cent for the people. With 30 years as a policy leader and as a former Member of Parliament, I have the experience to deliver the change that is required at City Hall.
Unlike all my opponents, we will lower taxes and fees on day one, end the ideological war on transportation, keep the viaducts, and finally clean up this city.
Do you think that part of the solution to Vancouver’s housing crisis is to build non-market affordable housing? If so, what percentage should the city be aiming for? If not, what do you advocate instead?
No. Our housing solutions are market based, comprehensive, and do not involve a commitment to a larger government and higher taxes — as most of our opponents are advocating for. We will be able to offer Vancouverites market based housing with a mortgage of less than $1,500 per month as outlined in our “millennial plus” plan.
We will not sell one square inch of City land and we will focus on the construction of purpose-built rental units, co-ops, and purpose-built “millennial plus” housing which offers a path to ownership for young Vancouverites. On the short term, we will ease the pressure by allowing one additional rental suite in communities which accept it.
All without creating a larger and more expensive government.
Assuming that the money needed to fix Vancouver’s housing crisis exceeds what the B.C. and federal government is willing to provide, what municipal revenue source would you tap?
Virtually all of our opponents want to use the housing affordability crisis to create a larger government with greater financial commitments and higher taxes.
Our solution will ease the pressure in the short term while providing common sense, market-based solutions. We will not be increasing the size of government as our opponents all wish to do.
Many Vancouverites support decriminalization of drug possession and outgoing mayor Gregor Robertson has endorsed it as a way to address the opioid crisis. Do you agree with this, and if so, what would you do as mayor to support it? If not, how come?
The opioid crisis is heartbreaking. As a trained sociologist who spent many years working in the Downtown Eastside, and as mother of a foster child who recently died due to this crisis, I have a very good understanding of the issues.
Mayors do not write the Criminal Code, but what I can say that a new approach is needed. For 50 years federal, provincial, and city money has poured into the Downtown Eastside and the problem has only grown. We have created a poverty industry, fuelled by millions of dollars and with various agencies competing for those dollars.
We need to focus those resources on solutions, not perpetuating the problem. I will be announcing our initiatives in this area very shortly.
Vision promised to make Vancouver the “greenest city in the world.” Would you continue towards this goal? And if not, what would you do instead?
You cannot have a green city without having a clean city! The past number of years, as this City Hall has spent our tax dollars on vanity projects like bike lanes designed to intentionally create traffic congestion, our city has become increasingly dirty. From overflowing public garbage cans, to needles in our parks and graffiti, the pride we once all felt in Vancouver is slipping away.
Our comprehensive “clean city plan” will clean up our city, protect our tourism industry and restore our pride. We will be doubling the sanitation crews for both the City and Park Board and sweep through sections of our city cleaning it up. We will have a zero graffiti policy. Additionally, we will double the number of public garbage and recycling receptacles.
Stay tuned to The Tyee in coming days for more Q&A responses from other mayoral candidates.
Read more: Municipal Politics