B.C. Votes 2017: Port Moody-Coquitlam riding profile
It's the type of Metro Vancouver suburban riding the NDP likely needs to win if it wants to form government
In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we'll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is Port Moody-Coquitlam, one of four ridings in the Tri-Cities — and like many in the region, one that is considered a swing seat.
1. Port Moody-Coquitlam is right in the middle of what could be termed Swing Riding Row.
In the 2013 election, there were 15 ridings decided by 1,000 votes or less, and five of them were in the 35 kilometre stretch north of the Lougheed Highway between Burnaby and Maple Ridge: Burnaby North, Burnaby-Lougheed, Coquitlam-Maillardville, Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge, and Port Moody-Coquitlam.
Each of the ridings have individual geographical and cultural quirks, but they're all urban-suburban ridings, with a mix of long-established working-class communities and newer middle-class developments that make it hard for any party to have too much of an advantage.
2. The area comprising Port Moody-Coquitlam used to be safe territory for the B.C. Liberals, but no longer.
Port Moody first became the focal point of a riding in 2001, when Christy Clark won Port Moody-Westwood with a whopping 74.6 per cent of the vote.
But the Liberals only took 53.8 per cent in 2005, 52.1 per cent in 2009 when the riding became Port Moody-Coquitlam, and then lost a 2012 byelection.
Former Coquitlam city councillor Linda Reimer retook the riding for the Liberals over the NDP by 437 votes in 2013, and she knows it will be a tight battle again.
"'I'm going to have work really really hard," said Reimer.
"Identifying our supporters is the prime issue for us moving forward. If you can identify a certain number of supporters for your party, then you have an idea of the number of votes you may get on election day. That will be prime factor, and really it's the best way to connect with your voters face to face."
3. However, there are two factors that could benefit the B.C. Liberals.
One, the riding boundaries have expanded to include the Harbour Chines and Chineside neighbourhoods in northern Coquitlam — and those neighbourhoods have historically been friendly to the party.
Second, the NDP candidate who won the 2012 byelection and narrowly lost in 2013 was Joe Trasolini, the longtime popular mayor of Port Moody and perhaps the best candidate the party could possibly have had in the riding.
Their candidate this time is two-term Port Moody councillor Rick Glumac, who received the most votes of the 14 candidates in the city's 2014 election. Whether voters hold him in the same esteem as Trasolini will go a long way in determining whether the NDP have a real shot here.
"He's a very bright man. He grasps the issue, he's very strong on the environment ... a strong candidate adds a lot as a possibility, but it's not everything," says Trasolini.
"You have to bridge that gap between right wing and left wing in Port Moody, and provide what is needed for working families."
4. The Green Party candidate may be less active than others during the campaign.
Don Barthel, who founded Softline Systems and UsedVancouver.com, was nominated by the party in late March. But as the Tri-City News reported, Barthel told a friend on his public Facebook page that he was "just a 'paper candidate.'" who was "not expected to actively campaign."
Barthel later deleted the post and now says he will be campaigning in the riding.
5. Where does the NDP do well?
The Port Moody neighbourhoods of College Park and Glenayre, to the west of Clarke Road, are the only places in the riding that reliably support the party, with Trasolini getting up to 70 per cent of the vote in some polling stations.
6. What about the Liberals?
In general, the party does very well in the northern half of the riding, often gaining over 70 per cent of the vote in Heritage Woods, Heritage Mountain, and Anmore.