British Columbia·METRO MATTERS

10 mayoral campaigns to watch in Metro Vancouver as election race enters final days

Three. Days. Left.

Sign up for Metro Matters newsletter

Election day is Oct. 20! (CBC)

Want to know what really matters for the municipal elections in Metro Vancouver? This is your newsletter.

Three. Days. Left. 

Over the past three months, we've talked about the ups and downs of the election campaign. If you're a candidate, it's down to getting out the vote and having your final pitch ready for voters. 

None of that needs too much explanation. So we begin this final regular edition of the newsletter the same way we ended the first one: with our 10 favourite mayoral campaigns to watch in Metro Vancouver.

1. Surrey (original ranking: 2): Doug McCallum's resurrection as mayor of Surrey, 13 years after he was last in office, would be a stupendous feat. And yet, internal polls show that has a distinct chance of happening, with Tom Gill's Surrey First party scrambling to keep its decade-long hold on power. The big question — will people who are upset with the RCMP and proposed LRT actually turn up on election day, or will Surrey First's formidable campaign team carry the day?

2. Burnaby (original ranking: 3): Derek Corrigan has been on Burnaby council for 31 years. He leads a city with over a billion dollars in reserve. He's fought the Trans Mountain pipeline for years. His chief opponent, Mike Hurley, has no political experience. But here we are, with an upset seemingly possible. If Corrigan loses his bid for re-election, it's the biggest story on election day. And if he and the Burnaby Citizens Association election machine prevail, will there be some self-reflection?

3. Vancouver (original ranking: 1): What was an unpredictable race months ago has settled into something the city has seen plenty of times — a centre-left candidate facing off against a centre-right NPA candidate. There's still a chance the NPA will sweep into power. But if Kennedy Stewart is elected, the real intrigue will be seen with the council outcome — and how the elected councillors impact his plans for governing the city, particularly when it comes to approving market housing.   

4. City of North Vancouver (original ranking: 4): Few areas in Metro Vancouver have embraced density as much as North Vancouver in recent years … which may be why there are three high-profile candidates looking to slow things down dramatically. But there is one person pushing the status quo (Linda Buchanan), meaning the vote split on Saturday will be interesting.

5. Delta (original ranking: 4): It seems like longtime head city bureaucrat George Harvie is in the lead. He has departing Mayor Lois Jackson running on his slate as a councillor, the lawn signs supporting him are everywhere, and the two rival candidates (Sylvia Bishop and Jim Cessford) are attacking him regularly. But will the anecdotal evidence prove correct? And will a majority of Harvie's slate get elected to council with him?

6. Richmond (original ranking: N/A): We're cheating a bit here. The mayor's race isn't particularly interesting. But the city has been governed the way it has because Richmond First and Richmond Community Coalition have had a majority on council. If that changes, Brodie will have a whole different dynamic to work with.

7. Maple Ridge (original ranking: 8): Another race where vote-splitting could have a big impact. Current councillor Craig Speirs is talking about compassion towards the homeless population, while former mayor Ernie Daykin and former councillor Mike Morden are taking a sterner approach. Can Speirs split the difference and defeat the same two people who challenged for the mayor's job four years ago? And if he does, will he have better luck trying to calm tensions?

8. White Rock (original ranking: 9): It might be the top municipality in Metro Vancouver for anger about development, per capita. Grant Meyer is running for the seemingly unpopular governing slate, but there are four candidates defining themselves by their opposition to what's happened in White Rock in recent years. It's possible whoever is the winner will have less than 35 per cent of the vote. 

9. West Vancouver (original ranking: N/A): Former mayor Mark Sager's entry into the race shook up what was a traditional pro-growth/anti-condo battle between Mary Ann Booth and Christine Cassidy. Now it's an open question as to who will prevail — to say nothing of what type of politicians will fill Cassidy and Booth's seats at the council table.

10. Pitt Meadows (original ranking: N/A): Small in population but big in drama. There has been no love lost between incumbent Jon Becker and challenger Bill Dingwall throughout the campaign. History says a sitting mayor has about a 75 per cent change of winning re-election in Metro Vancouver, but this is one race that could buck that trend.

And yes, you read correctly earlier: we're nearing the finish line of this newsletter. But how are we doing? Please fill out this short survey on the Metro Matters newsletter!

The headlines

Well, enough said about the mayoral race. We have to talk about the Vancouver city councillors, because they outnumber the mayor, like 10 to one, and their votes all count equally. An NPA majority is a possibility, but so too is the city's first divided council since 1988. It's also quite possible that the Greens might hold the balance of power, with a recent survey showing 51 per cent would consider voting for Green Party candidates, the highest of any party

What you can't get outgoing Mayor Gregor Robertson to do is take any responsibility for the city's housing market explosion during his tenure. He says it's the lack of action by the provincial and federal governments to fund affordable housing and slow down the flow of foreign capital that's to blame.

For the first time, the City of Vancouver has added homeless shelters and social service drop-in centres to the list of voting locations. It hopes that the pop-up mobile centres reach populations that are often marginalized.

Aside from the usual issue of housing, Penticton's municipal race has one unique hiccup: the outgoing city council's handling of a botched waterslide development project that would have carved up 20 per cent of a picturesque city park on Skaha Lake. The city eventually scrapped the plan but at a cost of $200,000 — money paid to the developer to break the contract.

Also, if you've missed our bonus issues, this is what you need. And we promise it's a good read, even if you're not voting in those municipalities: 

Better know a mayor's race

Hey! We held a debate!

At this stage of proceedings, candidates know each other's platforms. And talking points. And rebuttals. 

So while we didn't really "learn" anything in the last of the eleventy billion Vancouver mayoral debates, we did see what the final lines of attack are going to be from the main candidates.

For Kennedy Stewart: "I have a plan with concrete numbers, unlike my main rivals. My opponents don't. I've spent seven years in Ottawa, getting things done. Mike Harcourt and Libby Davies and a host of NDPers you respect support me." 

For Ken Sim: "Kennedy Stewart is the Vision candidate. Passing a bylaw allowing secondary suites gives housing relief much quicker than building new properties. I'm the only one who will really listen to communities." 

For Shauna Sylvester: I've spent decades bringing people together. Kennedy Stewart's plan won't fix things. My housing solutions are the most creative, and therefore have the best chance to succeed. Vancouver needs a truly independent mayor, and having our first woman mayor would be cool. 

With three days left, there's no real time to pivot: this is what they believe is their most effective line of attack. Will it change what has been a relatively static race?

Mailbag!

Your reporting on the local civic elections in Victoria was pretty darn good as far as it went, but I feel that something was missing from it. Perhaps you could update with some information about some of the other mayoral races in the Greater Vic area? Meanwhile, it is true that acclamation will return mayors to Metchosin, Highlands and even my own district, but it would be appreciated if a more complete outline of the races were to be made available - Kevin Frye. 
 
We've already covered off the races in Victoria, Oak Bay, Saanich in our bonus issue.

In Esquimalt, incumbent Barb Desjardins is facing questions about her role in keeping Frank Elsner in his job as Victoria police chief, despite allegations of harassment and bullying against him, says B.C.'s police complaint commissioner. That's the same issue current Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps is facing. She's running against John Roe. More from the Times Colonist that has asked the candidates to outline their positions and has done the same for the other races in the Greater Victoria area.

In less than 26 years, Langford has gone from being an unincorporated community to one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada. Stewart Young, who was elected to that first city council in 1992, has been mayor for almost that entire time. This time around, Young is being challenged by longtime Langford resident Robert Fraser, who's a software developer and self-described neighbourhood guy who says he will help his neighbours negotiate their way through the bureaucracy at city hall. More on the race here.

In both cases, we have unelected people going against longtime mayors who typically win by big margins. That's not to say we won't have drama on election night … but if that's what you care about, you might want to temper your expectations. 

We want to help you make informed decisions come voting time, so if you have questions, send them in and we will work on getting you the answers. Drop us a line at metromatters@cbc.ca.

We will also do a Reddit, Twitter and Instagram Q&A with Justin answering all your burning questions about the races in the Lower Mainland on Friday between 12 to 1 p.m. 

Percolator (something big on social media)

For this edition, we asked Twitter Canada to share some of its insights into the Vancouver race on social media. Here's what it found: 

To absolutely no one's surprise, the most mentioned issues on the #vanpoli are…housing and affordability, education and transportation (including bike lanes).

The most mentioned candidate accounts:

1. @kennedystewart
2. @WaiYoung
3. @ShaunaSylvester
4. @hectordbremner
5. @DavidChenTweets
6. @KenSimForMayor

So we wanted to dig further, and mercifully there are data nerds out there who have done just that! Dmitry Shkolnik is a data scientist, who analyzed Twitter data for these six mayoral candidates, because he's interested in how the race will play out.

Of the candidates he looked at, Chen has been the most active tweeter since April 2018. Bremner, Sim, and Young, in comparison, are much less active tweeters, but all appear to have increased their tweeting as the election draws closer:

And here are the most frequently used words

While the words Vancouver, city, and people are regulars, other words do make guest appearances. Consider Sim's emphasis on team, Bremner's hope and prior, Chen's tax and money, and Young's bike. Both Stewart and Sylvester really emphasis housing in their tweets and so does Chen to a lesser extent.

The data suggests Shauna Sylvester and David Chen are doing "better" on Twitter than they have been polling, but as Shkolnik says, it's a good reminder that Twitter is not the real world. And the world of #vanpoli is its own special Twitter bubble. Many people who will be voting aren't on Twitter, and one could argue that people on Twitter are probably over-engaged and overrepresented.

Speaking of social media activity, this was a fun exchange between Young and Stewart on Wednesday's debate.

All of this to say, like polls, analyzing Twitter data is just that: an analysis based on a subset of people, and in this case, people with a proclivity for tweeting 140 characters at a time. So take this with a grain of salt. Until Saturday at least and then we'll know for sure!

Chart!

If you're wondering whether more people are casting ballots in advance voting, the answer is pretty obvious.

For a full story on the advanced voting being up, click here. But if your main question is: "does this matter?" the answer is "probably not!"

Campaigns have been pushing advanced voting for many elections, because it spreads out the Get Out The Vote effort, making it easier on internal resources. Fewer people have traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 jobs. And all it takes is one nightmare line on election day to be an advanced voting convert for life.

That's not to say the higher turnout won't result in changes to the status quo, particularly in Surrey, where things are super volatile. But if you're making inferences about overall turnout from advanced polls, you're doing it wrong. 

ICYMI

So while our debate focused on housing, the Vancouver Sun has summarized the leading mayoral parties and civic parties stand on eight hot topics.

Do you feel like the election is a gong show? Former Surrey mayor Bob Bose certainly doesn't know "who the hell to vote for." More from the Surrey Now-Leader.

A Richmond, B.C.-based society that has been named in an RCMP investigation into alleged vote buying is part of a Canadian alliance that has met with Chinese government authorities. That's according to official documents, the Star Vancouver reports. 

That's it for us! Please fill out this short survey on the Metro Matters newsletter. If you have any questions about the municipal election, drop Justin and Tamara a line at metromatters@cbc.ca.

now