British Columbia

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

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

Shane Simpson seeks re-election in a riding the NDP have never lost

The riding encompasses the northeast end of the City of Vancouver. (Elections BC)

In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we'll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is Vancouver-Hastings, one of 11 ridings in Vancouver — and one that will get little attention come election night.

1. Months before his campaign for re-election begins, NDP MLA Shane Simpson understands his riding is nobody's idea of a swing seat.

"I know I'll be the favourite," he says.

It's rare for a politician to handicap their chances. But Vancouver-Hastings is one of only two ridings in the province that has always elected the NDP. He won by over 6,500 votes last election. The B.C. Liberals do not have a candidate as of March 8, while the Green Party candidate is David Wong, an architect and author.

Still, he understands nothing is guaranteed in politics.

"If there's one thing I've learned in politics over the years, it's that politicians should never take their electors for granted," he said, promising a spirited campaign.

2. The region has historically been among the strongest NDP bastions in the entire country.

Encompassing everything in Vancouver east of Commercial Drive and north of East 12th Avenue/Grandview Highway, Vancouver-Hastings has gone to the NDP in the most recent six elections.

From 1933 to 1988, the area was part of the two-member Vancouver East provincial district, and with the exception of one Social Credit MLA in 1956, it has elected only candidates from the NDP and the former CCF party with MLAs including CCF leader Harold Winch and NDP leaders Dave Barrett and Glen Clark. 

Federally, the area is part of Vancouver East, which has elected NDP/CCF candidates in 23 of 25 elections.  

"It's a constituency of working people, of people who are looking for some support, and the message and vision and values of the NDP resonate with a large number of people in the constituency, and that's reflected by what has been pretty consistent support for NDP candidates over the years," said Simpson.  

3. The neighbourhood has changed in recent decades, but the issues still benefit the NDP.  

Traditionally a lower-income, working-class neighbourhood, the neighbourhood now has a large share of homeowners sitting on millions of dollars in property.

However, it's also a riding that's home to a large number of people just scraping by in the Vancouver market — either as renters or as homeowners — and Simpson says he hears often from them.  

"The number of young families who I talk to, with incomes of 50-to-60 thousand ... they're looking for a 3-bedroom place to rent, they can't find anything, and when they do find it, it costs $1000 more than they can afford. That becomes a huge issue," he said.   

"Ten years ago, their paycheck paid the bill for them and their families, now they're really squeezed to make that paycheck continue to work."

4. Where does the NDP do well? 

Given the party's dominance in this riding, it's no surprise that it does well pretty much everywhere. But the area between Commercial and Nanaimo on the western edge of the district is where they do best, receiving well over 70 per cent of the vote in many polling stations.

5. What about the Liberals? 

They typically do better than the NDP in the Renfrew neighbourhood between Renfrew, Boundary, Parker and East 5th Avenue.