British Columbia

What Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart's housing promises really mean, post-election

The dust is settling on a hard-fought campaign and a dramatic election night that saw Vancouver elect a brand new mayor.

Stewart promised 85,000 new homes in 10 years — but 60,000 of them will be built by the private sector

Kennedy Stewart repeatedly promised 85,000 new houses during the election campaign. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

The dust is settling on a hard-fought campaign and a dramatic election night that saw Vancouver elect a brand new mayor.

Kennedy Stewart, an independent candidate and former NDP MP, beat NPA candidate Ken Sim by 984 votes.

Stewart sat down with Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC's The Early Edition, to follow up on how he plans to keep his election promises.

You are looking at a city council made up of five NPA members, three Greens, one COPE councillor and one One City councillor.

How do you anticipate getting anything done in the city in the next four years?

My experience in the House of Commons shows me that you shouldn't always look at people by political stripes.

There is not a majority on council, so we all have to think like we're governors. We all have to think that we have a chance to get things passed in council if we co-operate.

You won with just 28 per cent of the vote in a very tight race, of the 39 per cent of people who cast a ballot.

Do you think you have a strong enough mandate to stay committed to the plan that you've laid out during the campaign?

I do. I was elected on that.

The thing about single member plurality or multiple member plurality elections is that it's a one-zero: you either win or you don't. I've won here, so I'm going to move ahead.

But I do have a council that I have to negotiate with which will bring different perspectives.

Kennedy Stewart sat down with The Early Edition's Stephen Quinn to talk about his housing promises after the election. (CBC)

You want to build 85,000 homes over the next 10 years. What is that going to look like?

Running in an election, you have broad ideas of what you want your city to look like.

For me, the priority out of the 85,000 new homes, is the 25,000 that will be run by non-profits on city land — that will be affordable rentals.

That is really where the city has to do the most work and have the most votes on council.

The rest of the housing is really more market-driven, our job there is to speed up the permitting process to get that housing built.

What you're saying is that of the 85,000 homes that you've promised, 60,000 of them are going to fall to the private sector to build?

When you put it that way, it does sound like we're relying on the market but you've got to remember that 92 per cent of the housing in Vancouver already is in the private sector.

We're going to reduce that number.

You said repeatedly 85,000 during the election campaign.

You have no control over the remaining 60,000 units which is going to end up being a mix of market rental housing, condos, townhouses, that kind of thing.

We have total control because it's zoning and permitting.  

That's where negotiations on council are going to be so important.

This interview aired on The Early Edition on Oct. 22 and has been edited for clarity, length and structure. To hear the full interview, click on the audio below:

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