British Columbia

B.C. Votes 2017: Coquitlam-Maillardville riding profile

A look at Coquitlam-Maillardville, one of the 87 electoral districts in British Columbia.

It's a rematch from the 2013 election, when the NDP won by the closest margin in the province

The riding broadly encapsulates the southern and eastern ends of Coquitlam. (Elections BC)

In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we'll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is Coquitlam-Maillardville, one of four ridings in the Tri-Cities — and where the result won't likely be known until late on election night.

1. In 2013, no riding in British Columbia was tighter than Coquitlam-Maillardville.

On election night, Coquitlam Councillor Selina Robinson was down by 105 votes to small business owner Steve Kim. 

But two weeks later, after absentee ballots came in, the count showed Robinson up by 35 votes — and after a further recount requested by Kim, she eventually finished 41 votes up.

"I had three election nights in about two weeks. Best weight lost program ever," Robinson quips, as she prepares for the 2017 campaign.

2. The 2017 race will be a rematch from 2013. 

Kim, the owner of marketing company Boilingpoint group, is running again against Robinson.

He is one of five Liberal candidates in the province, along with Doug Clovechok in Columbia River-Revelstoke, Joan Isaacs in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, Steve Housser in Cowichan Valley, Stephen Roberts in Saanich North and the Islands, running again after losing in 2013.

For the Liberals, the upside is simple: senior staffers believe people who are well established in the community, and who have gone through the vetting process, are in good position to take advantage of being nominated months in advance. 

For the NDP? They won in 2013, and believe they can build on that. 

"I'm confident that people have seen how Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals have made life harder for them, not easier," said Robinson. "And how a John Horgan government will provide opportunities for them, and their families, so they don't have to worry as much."

The Green Party candidate is Nicola Spurling, chair of the Vancouver Pride Society's outreach committee.

3. Robinson believes transportation will be a wedge issue in the riding.

"You know where the IKEA is on the highway? I sit just above there. It's framed by Riverview on the far east side, North Road on the west, and the northern edge is Como Lake Road," she said.

There are major transportation routes on all sides of the riding, but no rapid transit options inside of it — and Robinson believes voters in her riding expect more in 2017.

"We don't have a great transit plan ... not one piece of the Evergreen Line touches Coquitlam-Maillardville," she said.

"Time is not a renewable resource. You can't get more time. And when you live in suburbia and work in Vancouver, and you're sitting for an hour in traffic each way, you can't get that time back, and that's time with your family, to volunteer in your community. It's all that time that makes us feel good and adds to our health and well-being."

4. There have been changes to the boundaries.

The riding used to stretch to the Port Moody-Coquitlam border to the east of Gatensbury Street, but has shrunk so the northern boundary between Gatensbury and Mariner Way is now Como Lake.

That, combined with the addition of land around Vancouver Golf Club, means the riding is slightly more hospitable to the B.C. Liberals —  their candidates picked up 45.9 per cent of the vote in polling stations within the current boundaries last election, compared to 44.8 per cent for the NDP. 

5. Where does the NDP do well? 

The neighbourhoods right at the Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam border, around Westwood Street and the CP rail line, tend to support the NDP, along with polling stations to the immediate north of Lougheed Highway.

6. What about the Liberals? 

They've done best in the suburban neighbourhoods to the east of Mundy Park — but in general, this is a region of Metro Vancouver without large political differences from one end of the riding to the other.

MAP: Every polling station in the riding last election

7. Add it all up, and it may be the most prototypical NDP-leaning swing seat in Metro Vancouver.

The large, working-class riding in the heart of Coquitlam has always been a suburban commuter riding, but with just enough working-class, city centre elements to favour the NDP. They've won it in seven of the last 10 elections, but in those seven wins, they've never won it by more than 1,500 votes. 

It means Robinson is ready for a hard campaign — and thankful she has such a strong support system at home. 

"We have a routine where I will text [my husband] saying I'll be home in 20 minutes, which he knows is code for 45 minutes, and he has a fabulous dinner waiting for me. It's a wonderful salad, a piece of fish or steak or prawns, with something like risotto, that he has made himself," she said of her election campaigns. 

"I don't shop, I don't do laundry, I don't do anything for those four to five weeks, except think about knocking on doors."