British Columbia

Kennedy Stewart sworn in as Vancouver's new mayor

Stewart, elected as an independent, oversees a council where no party has a majority.

Stewart, elected as an independent, oversees a council where no party has a majority

Kennedy Stewart signs the oath of office, officially becoming the 40th Mayor of Vancouver, on Nov. 5, 2018. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

Promising to lead a "globalist" city that would tackle the challenge of affordable housing, Kennedy Stewart was sworn in as the 40th mayor of the City of Vancouver on Monday.

"Our city is also beset by a multitude of hostile global forces: a volatile world economy, rising inflation and interest rates, housing speculation, a widening gap between the rich and poor, and a flood of deadly opioids into our neighbourhoods," said Stewart to a crowd of approximately 250 people at Vancouver's Creekside Community Centre.

"We have a choice to make over the next four years. We can acquiesce to these negative external challenges, or we can view them as an opportunity to show other cities how Vancouver innovated and overcame."

Stewart, who was elected in October's municipal elections, becomes Vancouver's first independent mayor since former premier Mike Harcourt, who served in that capacity from 1980 to 1986. 

The former Burnaby South NDP MP quit his job in Ottawa to run for mayor of Vancouver.

Minority council

Judge Harbans K. Dhillon administered the oaths of office to Stewart and newly-incumbent councillors Pete Fry, Jean Swanson, Colleen Hardwick, Michael Wiebe, Christine Boyle, Lisa Dominato, Rebecca Bligh, Sarah Kirby-Yung and returning councillors Adriane Carr and Melissa De Genova.

Stewart will oversee a council where, for the first time since 1986, no party has a majority of seats.The spectre of minority government loomed large at Monday's ceremony. 

"It's a very interesting mix of people ... for the first time in decades, there's no clear bet on anything," said master of ceremonies, former NDP MP Libby Davies, in her remarks before introducing Stewart.

"Seek what unites you while respecting your adversaries."

Stewart mentioned each one of the councillors in his speech, specifically highlighting a different policy they championed, and promised to work with them all in the years ahead. 

"This diversity of views on our council provides a unique opportunity to explore a multitude of ideas on how to solve our affordability crisis and show the world it is possible to successfully address this problem," he said. 

Stewart also mentioned how they would have work to do in reaching out to Vancouver's ethnic communities, mentioning the lack of Chinese or South Asian representation on council.  

"To the over 50 per cent of our population whose ancestry is not represented, I make this promise: I will do everything I can to reach out to your communities and to make sure the decisions we make at city hall take your experiences and realities into account," he said. 

Many other municipal governments are holding inauguration ceremonies Monday, including Surrey and Burnaby.

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