Two hats in the ring, so when’s the byelection in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant? Greens, NDP ready to contest riding vacated by Jenny Kwan

Longtime social activist and Strathcona resident Pete Fry is officially running for the Green Party in the upcoming provincial byelection in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant.

Premier Christy Clark has until early January to call the byelection, necessitated by the resignation of longtime NDP MLA Jenny Kwan.

Kwan ran successfully for the NDP in the recent federal election in Vancouver East, a riding held by the NDP’s Libby Davies since 1997.

In the last municipal election Fry failed to get elected as a councillor, but he said of the 47,000 people who voted for him, many were from the Strathcona area.

“All my strong spots were in this riding,” he said. “I’m well known here as a community activist.”

The son of longtime Liberal MP Hedy Fry, he had an open house Sunday at his campaign office on the corner of Main and Keefer streets.

With the storefront campaign office in the heart of Chinatown, Fry said he is ready to go once the date of the byelection is announced.

“We thought they were going to have the election before Christmas,” said Fry, 46, a graphic artist and web designer.

In the area, which compromises diverse areas such as Gastown and the Downtown Eastside, Fry said affordable housing is on everyone’s mind. The last data available is from 2011 and it shows the riding has 51,330 residents. About 75 per cent of the people that live in the area are renters, Fry said.

“Housing is a critical issue here,” he said. “It is putting a lot of pressure on families.”

Melanie Mark, 40, the NDP candidate in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, also is wondering why Clark has yet to announce a byelection.

“I don’t know what the holdup is,” said Mark, who has been a longtime advocate for the First Nations community and worked eight years in the Office of the Representative for Children and Youth.

She agrees that the major issue in the riding is housing.

“That is the top issue everyone is bringing to my attention. It is housing affordability.

“I am a huge proponent for social housing. We haven’t seen that initiative grow in two decades. There are not enough spaces.”

If Mark is elected, she would be the first First Nations woman member of the legislature.

Despite the looming byelection, the Liberals have yet to name a candidate.

A byelection also needs to be held in the Coquitlam Burke Mountain riding after Liberal MLA Doug Horne resigned, ran for the federal Conservatives and lost. The only candidate yet nominated in that riding is Joe Keithley for the Green Party.

John Colebourn, The Province — November 2015

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