British Columbia

B.C. Votes 2017: Vancouver-Fairview riding profile

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

With parts of several Vancouver neighbourhoods inside the riding, the district is always up for grabs

The riding of Vancouver-Fairview includes virtually all of Fairview, the eastern half of Shaughnessy and the western half of Mt. Pleasant. (Elections BC)

In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we'll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is Vancouver-Fairview, one of 11 ridings in Vancouver — and perennially one of the most interesting on election day.

1. Vancouver has 11 ridings, but typically only a handful are close on election night. 

For the most part, boundaries within the city tend to stick closely to the city's well-established neighbourhoods, which generally have distinct political cultures.

As a result, ridings like Vancouver-Quilchena, Vancouver-Hastings, and Vancouver-Mount Pleasant tend to be among the most predictable in the province.

Vancouver-Fairview, however, includes half of three diverse neighbourhoods: the southern half of Fairview, the eastern half of Shaughnessy and the western half of Mt. Pleasant. 

Little wonder then that it's switched back and forth between the NDP (2005, 2013) and B.C. Liberals (2001, 2009) in the last four elections — the only riding in B.C. with that distinction. 

2.  The riding its known for high-profile MLAs. 

George Heyman, the former leader of both the BCGEU and the Sierra Club B.C., was elected in 2013 and is seeking re-election.

"I've been sure I wanted to run for a second term since the 2013 election," said Heyman. 

"British Columbians are struggling with affordability in Vancouver-Fairview. The housing and transportation and education challenges are huge. They've only gotten huger in the last four years."

Former MLAs from the area include Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, former finance minister Gary Collins, and Social Credit stalwart Grace McCarthy in the old riding of Vancouver-Little Mountain.

3. The B.C. Liberals chose the lesser-known candidate in their nomination battle. 

Gabe Garfinkel, a former aide to Christy Clark and current communications consultant, defeated NPA city councillor Elizabeth Ball to win the party's candidacy.

It follows a trend in many nomination battles across B.C. — the elected official may have the higher name recognition with the public, but more often than not, it's the person with tighter ties to the provincial party that has had more success in signing up new members.  

The Green Party candidate is Louise Boutin, a real estate agent. 

4. There's a housing affordability debate in all corners of Metro Vancouver — but it's especially acute in Vancouver-Fairview.

On one hand, homes in Shaughnessy are among the highest valued in the entire region. At the same time, the riding is home to the highest number of low-rise apartments in B.C., and is home to a large number of recent university graduates who rent.  

"The actions of this government, rewarding their rich developer contributors, have allowed home prices in Metro Van to skyrocket because people are treating housing as an investment rather than a place to settle, raise their kids and work at a good job," argues Heyman.

5. But the Liberals believe their new homebuyer loan program will be a winner with that audience.

"In Fairview, where people are often in the early stage of their career and working hard to get ahead in life, our message is one that's going to resonate," said B.C. Liberal spokesperson Emile Scheffel.

"The B.C. home partnership [program] is such a key point for us, and such a key differentiation from the NDP … we think we have a strong record on that front. That's an issue we're quite happy to talk about on the doorstep."

6. Where does the NDP do well? 

The low-rise apartments immediately south of Broadway tend to favour the NDP, along with the Cambie Street corridor. But its greatest strength comes from the parts of Mount Pleasant within the riding: the areas between Broadway and West 16th Avenue west of Main regularly give the party between 60 and 75 per cent of the vote.

7. What about the Liberals? 

In a word, Shaughnessy: the uber-wealthy enclave supports the party to an extent virtually unseen in the rest of Vancouver, with polling stations in the neighbourhood regularly giving it between 65 and 85 per cent of the vote. 

8. It adds up to a riding that both sides believe they can win.

For the NDP, the path is simple: they won last time. They now have the power of incumbency and believe that the conversation around affordability and the environment will help them in heavily urban ridings. 

But the Liberals believe they underperformed in urban areas in 2013, and that a stronger economy — and a run-up to the campaign free of the scandals that plagued them four years ago — give them a real shot.

"The riding has had a tendency to change hands," said Scheffel. 

"We certainly think if we work hard enough, we've got a chance to take it back."