British Columbia

Former firefighter topples long-serving Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan

Former firefighter Mike Hurley has won the race for mayor of Burnaby.

Incumbent's 31-year political career ended in election dominated by issues of housing and transit

Mike Hurley has defeated Derek Corrigan in the race for mayor of Burnaby. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Political novice Mike Hurley notched a remarkable victory Saturday as the former firefighter beat long-serving incumbent Derek Corrigan in the race for Burnaby mayor.

The upset comes after more than 30 years on city council for Corrigan, 16 of them in the top spot.

Mike Hurley spoke to supporters after becoming the new mayor of Burnaby. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

"People wanted some change and they wanted a change in the direction at the top in Burnaby so it could start moving in a bit of a different direction," Hurley told supporters gathered to cheer his victory.

"They're going to see a mayor who will listen and a mayor who will act on their wishes each and every day."

Labour's love lost

Along with his wife, former NDP provincial politician Kathy Corrigan, Corrigan has long-dominated Burnaby's political scene.

"I ran for mayor again because I thought the people in Burnaby needed me. I am thankful they don't," Corrigan joked in an emotional concession speech.

He said he has left his mark in the municipality and is proud of what he has accomplished. Corrigan also personally congratulated his rival.

The amicable ending belied a bitter race. Hurley portrayed Corrigan as out of touch with the reality of life in a city where cash-strapped residents are struggling to find homes while watching gleaming high-rise buildings replace older, more affordable housing.

Derek Corrigan and the Burnaby Citizens Team cited their experience fighting the Trans Mountain pipeline in their bid to hold on to power. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Hurley served as the president of the B.C. Provincial Firefighters Association from 2008 to 2016. As an independent, his ties with the labour movement helped him garner the support of groups like teachers and steelworkers who have traditionally supported Corrigan.

Significantly, he also got the vote of the influential New Westminster & District Labour Council, which is based in Burnaby.

Punk frontman wins council seat

While Corrigan was pushed out of office, seven of the city's eight council seats were taken by members of his Burnaby Citizens Association.

The eighth seat was won by Joe Keithley, the colourful former frontman of legendary Vancouver punk band D.O.A. Keithley ran as a candidate for the Green Party.

Former D.O.A. frontman Joe Keithley won a seat on Burnaby's city council as a Green Party candidate. (Adam Carter/CBC)

The makeup of council may provide Hurley with little choice but to continue with some of Corrigan's priorities, but in his campaign, he promised to make the city a more welcoming place for residents.

The issue of the Trans Mountain pipeline also appears likely to loom large in the new council's agenda. Corrigan was a vocal opponent of the project, which would see an expansion of the pipeline to bring diluted bitumen across Burnaby mountain to a port on the city's shores.

Hurley said he would also like to see the project cancelled, but questioned the wisdom of spending taxpayer money on lengthy series of court challenges.

Full coverage of the 2018 B.C. Municipal Elections

With files from Jon Hernandez

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