The best part of political campaigns is meeting people and reconnecting with our city’s neighbourhoods.
But it’s bittersweet.
I grew up here, I love Vancouver. But I feel sad and ashamed at what our city is becoming. Too many folk are being pushed out. People are living on the street. Increasingly our city is becoming more about speculative investment and less about people who live and work here.
This Saturday’s by-election gives Vancouver voters the choice between several different candidates, but it’s also setting the stage for the coming general election in 2018 to elect a whole new mayor and council. Electing me as a second Green councillor means we can broaden the conversation at Vancouver City Hall, introduce motions, and force public debate in this crucial run up to the 2018 election.
Greens are the only elected party that don’t take donations from the developer industry. Where the primary function of city council is to determine land use, we consider it unethical to take financial contributions from the very people who benefit the most from those decisions. The decisions we make about land use and their bearing on affordability are too important to allow the market to direct. Transparency, good governance, and public interest must be at the forefront of the response to our housing crisis.
I’ll fight for our city, using the tools available to our city council. I’ve made it a priority in this election to focus on actions our city council—not senior government—can take to more aggressively address housing affordability in our city. We’ve had 10 years of promises that always seem to rely on senior levels of government. We need to focus on what city council can achieve, while also advocating for the policies our city needs to see from senior government to solve our housing crisis.
I’ve mapped out five quick-starts our city council can take right away to address our city’s housing crisis: fixing the definition of “affordable housing” to local incomes; a moratorium on demolition of purpose built rentals; easing the red tape on legalizing and protecting affordable secondary suites; a dedicated renter’s office and strengthening of the tenant relocation and protection bylaw; and kick-starting a co-creative city plan to determine how and where we can add affordable density for the people who live and work here.
In 2014, as a community advocate and organizer, I ran for city council because I was frustrated by Vancouver’s top-down approach to city building that disempowered the people who live and work here. I was frustrated by issues around homelessness and housing affordability, good governance and transparency, and the struggles of our small business and arts communities. Although I came close but didn’t get elected to council—I’ve kept at it, working on those same issues with my community and neighbours in the East End and citywide.
Today in 2017, those same issues I championed in 2014 are even more crucial. Additionally, Adriane Carr has put the call out to have me join her on city council, because increasingly, as the lone Green and non-developer-backed city councillor, she faces challenges in having many of her motions seconded. A number of her motions, on matters like tying the definition of affordability to actual local incomes rather than the market, are watered down, changed, or ultimately scuttled by other parties before they can even see the light of day.
Electing me to join her as a second Green means I can second her motions and she can second mine. This way we can bring important policy ideas out into the open and move council to address the challenges we face in a way that puts public interest, not private interests, first.
Electing Vision is more of the same. Electing the NPA risks having them block key budget votes and increasingly polarize council in advance of our upcoming general civic election next year. Other candidates, while well-intentioned, may be getting lots of attention but are promising policies that under our legal jurisdiction can only be delivered by senior governments.
The most strategic choice and most effective vote in this by-election to to elect me to join Adriane Carr to bring real transparency and accountability to city hall. This is the best move for our city both in the immediate term and in preparation for the general civic election in October 2018.
This Saturday, please vote for me to join Green Councillor Adriane Carr for a real alternative at Vancouver City Hall.
Pete Fry is the Green candidate in the Vancouver council by-election on Saturday (October 14).