British Columbia

Homeless advocate seeks nomination in Vancouver city council byelection

Longtime homeless advocate Judy Graves has announced she hopes to run for Vancouver city council in this fall's byelection.

Judy Graves has been widely recognized for working with the city's marginalized citizens

Judy Graves, the City of Vancouver's former advocate for the homeless is hoping to fill the city council seat left vacant by Geoff Meggs. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Longtime homeless advocate Judy Graves has announced she'll be seeking the nomination of the fledgling municipal party, OneCity. Graves hopes to run in the upcoming byelection which is to be held in the fall of 2017. 

"I think it's the only thing to do," Graves told On the Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko. 

"At this point, I can't go anywhere in Vancouver where people are not talking about their fears of being pushed out of the city."

The fall byelection will be held to fill the seat former Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs left vacant, when he resigned to work as premier-designate John Horgan's chief of staff.

Graves had links with the current governing Vision party from 2010 to 2013 when she served as the city's official advocate for the homeless.

However, she says her suggestions concerning Vancouver's homeless fell on deaf ears while she was in the role.

"We would all have to give them a fail," said Graves. "They came in saying they would end homelessness ... The numbers of homeless people is skyrocketing."

"If they had actually listened to me, things might have gone a little differently."

Listen to the interview with Judy Graves:

Graves says her major concern is that condominium developers' needs are being met before the needs of middle-class families in Vancouver. She says developers have a "hold" of the city and she feels taxpayers deserve an active voice on city council to advocate for them.

If Graves does get the nomination and wins a seat on the council, she will be the only OneCity councillor at city hall. Graves, however, is not deterred by that fact.

"This is a byelection," she said. "It's only for a little over a year. When we get to 2018, we've got a new election of council and I don't anticipate that I'll be the lone voice from OneCity at that point."

The OneCity party was formed before the 2014 municipal election. Its candidate, R.J. Aquino, ran unsuccessfully for city council. 

Graves has received numerous awards over her career including an honourary Doctorate in Law from the University of British Columbia and the Freedom of the City award in 2014.

With files from On the Coast