British Columbia

B.C. Votes 2017: North Vancouver-Seymour riding profile

A look at North Vancouver-Seymour, one of the 87 electoral districts in British Columbia.

The North Shore has traditionally been a B.C. Liberal stronghold. Will it remain so in 2017?

The riding contains the vast majority of the District of North Vancouver (Elections BC)

In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we'll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is North Vancouver-Seymour, one of four ridings on the North Shore — and one that has traditionally been difficult for the NDP to compete in.

1. Ask District of North Vancouver mayor Richard Walton what drives the conversation in this riding, and his answer is simple:

"Traffic, traffic and traffic. There really is no number two. It's really extraordinary," said Walton, the longtime mayor.

The interchanges from the Second Narrows Bridge divide the suburban District of North Vancouver from the urban City of North Vancouver, making commuting from east to west a chore, said Walton.  

"When they were built in the 60s, there was virtually nobody living in Seymour ...  it's really a lack of foresight. There's no question that it's going to be an issue."

2. Traffic isn't the only possible election issue for District voters come May 9, says Walton.

"There's not a huge amount of boat traffic that comes under the Ironworkers Bridge .... 90 to 95 per cent of them currently don't go beyond it, so the significant number of tankers going into the Kinder Morgan terminal is certainly going to be very noticeable," he said.

"There's no question that we've become extremely popular with people having an outdoor-recreation focus. They move here specifically for it, they stay there for that reason, that's why issues like Kinder Morgan resonate."

And like other well-established suburban areas in Metro Vancouver, the long-term affordability of the municipality also looms large.

"I grew up in West Vancouver, and none of us who graduated from high school could afford to live in West Vancouver, and then we moved to North Vancouver, raised our families, and now our children can't afford to live here," said Walton. 

3. The issues may favour the NDP, but the demographics of North Vancouver-Seymour make it a strong B.C. Liberal seat.  

North Vancouver-Seymour contains all but the western third of the District of North Vancouver, and the area hasn't elected an NDP MLA since Colin Gabelmann in 1972. 

An older, wealthier, suburban region, the B.C. Liberals have held this riding since 1991, always winning at least 50 per cent of the vote, and Jane Thornthwaite is seeking her third term for the party.

The NDP candidate is Michael Charrois, an actor and educator who ran for the federal party in 2008 and 2011. The Green Party candidate is Joshua Johnson, a recent high school graduate who protested during the 2014 teachers' strike.   

"It's very much an upper-middle class community," said Walton. "I think you'll find more business folk here, and they tend to vote Liberal."

4. The riding does seem to be slowly shifting to the left though. 

In the 2009 election, Thornthwaite defeated her NDP challenger by 7,212 votes, but in the 2013 election, the margin shrunk to 4,677 votes.

The 2,535 vote pickup by the NDP was its second largest in the last election, and the federal Conservatives lost this region to the Liberal party in the 2015 federal election.

5. Where does the NDP do well? 

There are two distinct areas of the riding where the NDP regularly does better than the B.C. Liberals: the lower Lynn Valley — specifically in the area just north of Kirkstone Park — and the lands in and around the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Reserve.   

6. What about the Liberals? 

While the party does broadly well everywhere else in the riding, it does particularly well in Seymour Heights and the Upper Lynn Valley, routinely getting upwards of 60 to 75 per cent of the vote at polling stations.