B.C. Votes 2017: Vancouver-Fraserview riding profile
In a battle of former city councillors, George Chow hopes to unseat Attorney General Suzanne Anton
In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we'll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is Vancouver-Fraserview, one of 11 ridings in Vancouver — and one likely to be the closest in the city.
1. There are 11 electoral districts in Vancouver, but if you were to rank them by how focused the main parties are on each one, Vancouver-Fraserview would come on top.
It's been decided by 1,200 votes or fewer in four of the last five elections, including just 470 votes in 2013. Both Christy Clark and John Horgan have visited the riding multiple times. Plus, the riding's proximity to the party's headquarters and the suburban, door-knocking friendly nature of the area means plenty of campaigners for both the Liberals and NDP have descended on southeast Vancouver.
Put simply, Vancouver-Fraserview is the type of riding TV viewers will likely see appear on their screens several times over the course of election night.
2. Befitting of such a high-profile riding, both the Liberal and NDP candidates are well known to voters.
Suzanne Anton seeks re-election after first being elected in 2013. A former NPA city councillor and mayoral candidate, Anton has been attorney general for her entire term.
"We won it [in 2013] by working very hard, knocking on all the doors and giving people the B.C. Liberal message which is that we want to balance the budget and grow the economy, " said Anton, no stranger to retail politics after five elections: one for park board, two for city council, a failed mayoral run in 2011, and her 2013 win.
She walks past a construction site on the side of Killarney Community Centre and in through the front doors, greeting seniors who are waiting for the next exercise class.
"A politician's job is to get things done, to figure out how to get things done, and I love that part of my job."
She's talking about a provincial funding top-up which will see the extension of the centre completed. She says next, she wants to improve the track east of the building.
"That's what gives you the ability to invest in facilities like seniors centres or bridges or roads or hospitals or schools."
3. Her main competition is also a former city councillor.
In 2013 George Chow was running a riding over, in Vancouver-Langara, where he lost to Moira Stilwell.
But, Chow prefers to look back at 2008, when he says that while winning a second term on Vancouver city council, he got the most votes of any councillor in this neighbourhood.
High on Chow's priority list is public education and working in harmony with B.C. teachers.
"I really want to... protect public education, under which I benefited greatly as a poor immigrant," he said. "[I] had the opportunity to finish public high school, and went on to university to study engineering."
Chow was born in China and has served on a number of boards within the city's Chinese community: no small thing in a riding where — as of 2011 — one-third of voters had a Chinese mother tongue.
4. The Green Party has never done well in this riding, but they hope that changes this time around.
The party has never gotten more than eight per cent in an election here, but Eric Kolotyluk is optimistic.
"Both NDP and Liberals pick high profile candidates. They really do duke it out," said Kolotyluk, who's running for politics for the first time this election as the Green Party's candidate.
Kolotyluk was born in this riding and returned decades later, now working as an IT professional.
"Traditionally I thought the Greens were mostly a single issue party, but I thought I'd check them out. The words that really caught my eye were 'evidence-based governance.' The best decisions are made with actual tangible evidence."
Still, Kolotyluk recognizes he started campaigning late in the process, and that in 2013, the Greens took only 5 per cent of the vote here.
"My goal is to raise awareness of the green party. Especially to say 'no, we're not a single issue party.'"
5. Where does the NDP do well?
The battle lines in this riding are fairly strict, with the NDP doing well in the far west of the riding (between Knight and Fraser Street) and east (in the cul de sacs between Champlain Crescent and Boundary Road).
6. What about the Liberals?
By contrast, it does best in the middle of the riding, particularly in the streets surrounding the Fraserview Golf Course.
7. If the NDP are able to buck recent history and win this riding after three close losses in a row, expect education to be an issue they cite as a reason why.
More than 6,000 attend two secondary and eight elementary schools — and there were three schools in the area that were threatened with closure last year.
"A party that would work with the teachers that bring harmony to the classroom, I think that's the major difference. We don't regard the teachers as enemies," said Chow.
For her part, Anton says the BC's education system is already in good health.
"Our grade ten students in Canada are the smartest in the English speaking world," she said. "With all this noise around education, the fact of the matter is that kids are doing really well," she said.
The Liberals are adding $300 million to the education budget, which will satisfy the Supreme Court's decision for increasing the number of teachers.