British Columbia

B.C. Votes 2017: Richmond-Steveston riding profile

A look at Richmond-Steveston, one of the 87 electoral districts in British Columbia.

John Yap seeks re-election in this historic — and historically Liberal — community

The riding includes everything in Richmond south of Francis and west of No. 3 road, along with the area west of No. 2 between Francis and Blundell. (Elections B.C.)

In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we'll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is Richmond-Steveston, one of four ridings in Richmond — and one where the NDP is hoping to make education an issue.

1. Talk to any candidate in this election, and you'll hear them espouse the wonders of knocking on doors and talking to voters. But John Yap, Liberal MLA for Richmond-Steveston, goes a step further in his enthusiasm.

"It's almost exhilarating door knocking," says the three-term MLA. "I've kept it up between the elections for the last 9-10 years …  it's a great way to between elections to get a read on what people are thinking."

"And some cases, even when the weather's bad, it's a good time to go out door knocking because people will actually be home."

2. Yap certainly has no problem putting himself in front of a voter. 

The parliamentary secretary for liquor policy reform, Yap has been at the front of many alcohol reform announcements in the last four years, to put it mildly. 

"They reflect community, they reflect entrepreneurship , they create jobs, and are very much part of the cultural scene for B.C.," said Yap of the province's burgeoning craft beer scene.  "I'm delighted our government in the last four years made this one of our priorities."

But a search on Twitter shows Yap may be less known for his promotion of craft beer, and more for his many selfies, earning him (and this is not a joke) the unofficial nickname of "Selfie King" among his fellow MLAs.

"Some get quite excited about having one, and I find sometimes it's a great way to remind myself, and to share with others just what a great community we have," he says. 

"I have to give credit to the technology. I used a Samsung S7 … it's quite a good wide angle, and seems to be forgiving in terms of the stability. It's made for selfies. And I've had a lot of practice.

"I'm not sure if you and I have had a Selfie," he then says to the reporter.

(Note: he hasn't) 

3. While Yap's penchant for the camera might make him divisive to some, it hasn't cost him politically. 

An urban riding in southwest Richmond, the district is built around the historic Steveston Village. Richmond has only elected B.C. Liberal candidates since 1991, and the NDP hasn't won a seat in the riding since 1972.

Yap, who replaced former Attorney-General Geoff Plant in this riding, has won all three of his elections by at least 5,500 votes. 

4. Still, there are signs the riding may be becoming less of sure thing for the Liberals.

For one, Yap's share of the vote went from 61 per cent in 2009 to 51 per cent in 2013, and the federal Liberals got more votes than the Conservatives in this area in the 2015 election.

And the NDP are running a strong candidate this election in Kelly Greene, a local parent who founded Richmond Schools Stand United, a group opposing the proposed closure of five schools in the city. 

The Green candidate is Roy Sakata, a teacher and principal who ran for city council in 2014. 

5. Where does the NDP do well? 

It struggles throughout the riding, with the exception of old Steveston Village, which has tended to split the vote between it and the Liberals. 

6. What about the Liberals? 

The neighbourhoods between Railway Avenue and Number 2 Road reliably support the party, particularly around Wowk Neighbourhood Park, where it regularly receives more than 70 per cent of the vote. 

7. Yap's love of door knocking may be part of personality — but it may also be based on the historic riding he hopes to represent for a fourth term.

"Steveston Village has a long history, thousands of years ago there was the settlement of First Nations who were fishing here, hundreds of years ago Japanese fisherman came here and created a vibrant centre of fishing and canning and boat building, which is still very much reflected in our heritage today," he said.

"Tourism is big, and it's a great place to live. It's both a bedroom community, but also a very vibrant community."