Byelection Battle: Meet Candidates Vying for Vancouver Mount-Pleasant

BY ANDREW MACLEOD, THE TYEE

— NDP's Mark dreams of minister role, while Greens' Fry keen to surprise in long-orange riding.

Active in civic politics, Fry won 47,000 votes when he ran for city council in 2014. Not quite enough to win a seat, but he noted he was the top vote-getter in the Strathcona, Mount Pleasant and Britannia neighbourhoods, all of which are within Vancouver-Mount Pleasant. "I know I have solid support in this riding," he said. 

Even the wealthier residents are progressive, but not necessarily NDP supporters, he said, adding it's time for a change from the province's bipartisan politics.

Many of the issues facing the constituency relate to the price of housing and poverty, he said. "There's a huge amount of pressure on this part of town."

The failure of senior levels of government to intervene in the housing market is a big issue, he said. The property transfer tax could be used to address speculation and more could be done to answer questions about the impact that non-local buyers may be having. "Let's get the data. Let's develop the tools."

Some 75 per cent of residents are renters, but short-term vacation rentals like those facilitated through Airbnb are taking long-term rentals out of the market. "That's a huge problem."

And social assistance rates haven't kept pace with expenses, he said. Frozen since 2007, welfare will provide $375 a month for rent, while Fry said the average price for a bachelor apartment is $900 a month. Even SROs don't rent for what welfare provides, he said. "Clearly we need to address the shelter rate."

More support is needed for the many people living in poverty on the Downtown Eastside, he said. "There's a hell of a lot of people down here who got hurt or traumatized in some way, through no fault of their own." 

The area also attracts predators, he said, whether they are drug dealers, people looking to exploit women, or grocery store owners who charge $3 for a box of Kraft Dinner that can be found for one-third of the price elsewhere. "There's a lot of predation and exploitation," he said. 

Finally, with an NDP premier in Alberta promoting pipelines and the Liberals running someone who worked for Kinder Morgan in the riding, the Greens are the only ones to be trusted to oppose the Trans Mountain proposal, he said.

 

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