British Columbia

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

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

The riding of Dunbar, Kerrisdale and Shaughnessy has never been one to favour the NDP

The riding is bounded by Fraser River to the south, Pacific Spirit Park and Musqueam lands to the west, Angus Drive and Granville Street to the east, and 16th Avenue to the north (Elections B.C.)

In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we'll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is Vancouver-Quilchena, one of 11 ridings in Vancouver — and one where the province's real estate debate takes on a slightly different tone.

1. In the last four years, the prices of homes on the west side of Vancouver, the demolition of homes on the west side of Vancouver, and the changing face of families on the west side of Vancouver, has aroused more emotions than just about any topic in the province.

But don't look for Andrew Wilkinson to use superlatives when describing this period in his riding's history.

"When we see my community profile changing, I see that as normal shift in the population as communities change. We've seen a significant influx of people from Chinese ethnic backgrounds, and that's enriched our schools, and made life more interesting generally," said the advanced education minister. 

2. Wilkinson's riding has seen significant change, but its blue-blood character is still very much in tact. 

"It's a community where people have tended to move and stay for a long time," said Wilkinson, who served as a lawyer and deputy minister before replacing longtime cabinet minister Colin Hansen in this riding last election. 

"They read the newspaper, they're not selective in the information they take in, they form pretty complete views of things. I have considered approaches from people in the constituency, because they know their stuff. There's no telling these people what to do. You've got to persuade."

3. But if history is any indication, you don't need much persuading to get most people here to vote Liberals.

Wilkinson's 64 per cent in 2013 was actually the lowest support for the party since 1991. With neighbourhoods like Dunbar, Shaughnessy, Kerrisdale and Southlands, it's either the wealthiest or second wealthiest riding in the province, depending on the metric you use — and the only area in Vancouver that has never elected an NDP MLA.     

Or, as Wilkinson said in his understated way: "It has a very long record of voting for where we are in the political spectrum."

4. The NDP candidate here is Madeline Lalonde, a youth activist who graduated from UBC last year. 

She fits one of the two typical profiles of a long shot candidate, says former NDP strategist Bill Tieleman.

"It's generally either a party stalwart who knows the ropes, won't make a mistake, won't do something foolish, or a younger person who's learning the trade as it were," he said. 

"They're an up and comer, someone who wants to learn the ropes, and have an experience and go onto another riding somewhere else later."

Tieleman says while opposition campaigns always hope for a miracle in seats like Quilchena, there are more practical goals in mind.

"The real job of the opposition candidate in a safe seat is to cause as many problems for the incumbent, and keep them active and working in that riding, and possibly cause a forced error, instead of helping out elsewhere," he said.

"If you make Wilkinson say something bad, something damaging that TV cameras will follow up on, then you've done an enormous service to the party, even if you won't win."   

The Green candidate is Michael Barkusky, an accountant who ran for the federal party in Vancouver-Granville in 2015.

5. Where does the NDP do well?

The party performs best in the Musqueam reserve, receiving 86 per cent of the vote in the main polling station for the area last election. It also tends to win the polling stations directly south of West 16th Avenue to the west of Dunbar Street, which still has a large amount of student housing. 

6. What about the Liberals?

It does extremely well in most of the riding — but really, really well in the western areas of Shaughnessy, and the rows of mansions on either side of Southwest Marine Drive from Dunbar to Angus Drive, where they receive anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the vote, depending on the year and polling station. 

7. Add it all up, and it shapes up as a relatively agreeable campaign for Wilkinson — even when it comes to knocking on doors. 

"People don't move very much, they generally still have land line phones, so it's fairly straightforward to contact people in a traditional election mode, with signs and door knocking," he said. 

"And it's a community where it's very easy to interact with people, because they're quite open to conversations. The far end of the spectrum [for someone disagreeing] is 'you seem like a very nice man, but I'm afraid I'm not going to vote for you.'" 

"There's not much room for incivility in Quilchena. People are very positive."