B.C. Votes 2017: North Vancouver-Lonsdale riding profile
The North Shore usually isn't friendly territory for the NDP, but this is the one that can be an exception
In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we'll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is North Vancouver-Lonsdale, one of four ridings on the North Shore — and the type of riding the NDP likely needs to win if it hopes to form government.
1. There are few ridings in British Columbia with as much diversity, packed into as small of space, as North Vancouver-Lonsdale.
"We have heavy industry, light industry, commercial and retail. We've got a good city centre core, it's really really walkable, and it's got plenty of residential housing. A complete mix," said B.C. Liberal candidate Naomi Yamamoto, attempting to win a third term. The riding primarily consists of the City of North Vancouver.
"I've seen the Lower Lonsdale area become a vibrant, populated neighbourhood where you can walk to brewpubs, you can walk to restaurants and the theatres. It's become a mini-Yaletown."
2. Of the four ridings on the North Shore, this is the one the NDP consistently puts the most resources in trying to win.
While the other three ridings are characterized by multi-million dollar homes stretching from one end of the neighbourhood to the other, Lonsdale's urban mix has long made it a target for the NDP.
An NDP cynic might point out the party has only ever actually won the area twice. An optimist might point out those two times were 1972 and 1991 (the two elections where the NDP took power after a long reign by a centre-right governing party) and they got within 1,500 votes in 2005 and 2013.
But all you have to do is look at the campaign bus schedule this election — John Horgan has been here twice, and Christy Clark once — to know this is a seat both parties understand is critical to their success.
3. Yamamoto believes her deep roots in the riding have given her a leg up in her last two victories, both over long time local politicians.
The current minister of state for emergency preparedness, Yamamoto has spent over three decades in North Vancouver, owning a printing and design company and sitting on a variety of local boards, including North Shore Credit Union and Capilano University.
"I've got these networks of people that have worked with me before," she said.
"All those things I did before I considered politics, people recognize you as really caring, because you've given back to the community. That has given me the edge, that extra thing you need, because people know I love and care about North Vancouver, that I'm not a career politician. I'm doing it because this is a fabulous place to live, work and play, and I want to keep it that way."
4. Her main opponent has less of a history in the region, but is working hard to make up the ground.
Still in her early 30s, NDP candidate Bowinn Ma is a project manager at Vancouver International Airport, and was just the fourth female president of UBC's famed Engineering Undergraduate Society.
Ma moved to the riding to live with her partner, and said she chose to run because of the stakes of this election.
"The candidate here would have to be willing to sacrifice an enormous part of their live to give it the attention it deserves," she said, describing her feelings when she and other party members were deciding on possible candidates to recruit last year.
"I had to put my money where my mouth was. I had to be willing to put my name forward."
The Green Party candidate is Richard Warrington, a former teacher and the party's candidate in West Vancouver-Sea to Sky in the 2013 provincial election.
5. There are two main local issues in the riding.
One is transportation, as the electoral district is bordered by the Lions Gate Bridge to the west and Second Narrows Bridge to the east.
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But the other, as with virtually every riding in Metro Vancouver, is affordability: while Yamamoto highlights opportunities that have taken place with the city's densification, Ma is critical of rising prices in the area of the North Shore that most of its lower-income residents live in.
"A lot of families, older couples, who might have owned their home, and are pretty well established. They're going to be fine for the rest of their lives. They're speaking out for affordability for their children and grandchildren. That's what's driving the vote for a lot of people," she said.
6. Where does the NDP do well?
It typically wins the polling stations around Mahon Avenue and West Third Street, and draws even with the Liberals in the Central Lonsdale neighbourhood.
7. What about the Liberals?
They typically sweep up the northern edge of the riding between Highway 1 and East 29th Street, and do very well in the apartment complexes right next to the quay on the west side of Lonsdale Avenue.
8. In a riding where both candidates have been going hard for months, Yamamoto knows things are a bit different for her than other Liberals on the North Shore, for any number of reasons.
"My riding is always that riding in transition. It doesn't have that permanence you see in [North Vancouver-Seymour] or [West Vancouver-Capilano], where people are there for long periods of time. Over 40 per cent of my riding changes over in population every four years," she said.
"That's always a challenge, and you look at the people who are living in condos, and wonder when was the last time they had a landline?
"It becomes a bit harder to reach people, but all parties face that same challenge."