Robertson makes homelessness his first priority as Vancouver mayor
Vancouver’s mayor-elect says homelessness will be his first priority when he takes office in December.
Gregor Robertson of the Vision Vancouver party defeated Peter Ladner of the Non-Partisan Association by 18,804 votes in the civic election on Saturday to replace Sam Sullivan as the next mayor of Vancouver.
"My first order of business is to call an emergency task force on homelessness and to focus on how we get people off the street as quickly as possible in to temporary housing or shelter," said Robertson after the final ballot count was announced.
"We can't keep going through winters with thousands of people sleeping on our streets," said the former NDP MLA, who stepped down from his legislature seat to run for mayor.
Robertson also promised a complete public airing of the terms of multimillion-dollar bailout offered to the developers of the Olympic Village by the outgoing council.
"I’m going to call that meeting within 30 days of being sworn in as mayor so that taxpayers understand what those implications and what those risks are, so we can rebuild and restore confidence in the deal," said Robertson.
"I want to see real transparency at city hall. I want to make sure people feel engaged and connected like they have a voice at city hall."
Robertson said he'd also like to build on some of Vancouver's strengths during his term in office.
"I'd like to see us re-brand Vancouver into being the greenest and most creative city in the world. I think that those are strength in Vancouver that we have got to bring out," he said.
Vision Vancouver dominates city council
The results of individual polls show the vote split along clean geographic and socio-economic lines, with Vision taking the mayoral vote in East Vancouver and Kitsilano, and the right-of-centre NPA sweeping the more affluent westside neighbourhoods and some polls in South Vancouver.
With all of the 133 polls reporting, Robertson won with a decisive lead of 18,804 votes with 67,598 votes, while second place Peter Ladner of the Non-Partisan Association trailed with more than 48,790 votes.
Robertson’s party also won seven of 10 seats for city council. Two other councillors were elected from the Coalition of Progressive Electors and a third from the NPA.
The results were a significant defeat for the NPA, which beat COPE and Vision in 2005 by taking the mayor's seat and five council positions.
Vision and COPE also dominated the results for the school and park boards. The two parties worked together to limit the number of candidates each would run, with the aim of not splitting the left-of-centre vote.
A single Green Party candidate also took part in the loose coalition and was elected to the park board.
Mayor Sam Sullivan offered his congratulations to Robertson and his party after their victory.
"I look forward to working with him in the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition at City Hall and I will offer my ongoing advice as the city prepares to host the world in 2010," Sullivan said.
Olympic village added heat to race
There were a total of 15 candidates for mayor, but the race was largely between Ladner and Robertson.
The campaign began slowly, with both frontrunners focusing on homelessness and transit issues. But it heated up when it was revealed Robertson had not paid a transit fine.
The final two weeks of the campaign really got hot when it was revealed city council had voted in a closed-door meeting to lend the developers of the billion-dollar Olympic Village project $100 million to bail out them out of a credit crisis.
Robertson entered politics in 2005 when he was elected MLA for Vancouver Fairview as a New Democrat.
He resigned to run for mayor after defeating sitting councillor Raymond Louie and Vancouver Park Board commissioner Allan de Genova in the Vision Vancouver party's leadership race in June.
Robertson is the partial owner of the Happy-Planet, an organic fruit-juice business, which he co-founded in 1994.
Ladner, who has been a Vancouver city councillor since 2002, won the Non-Partisan Association nomination for mayor in June after a bitter leadership struggle with Mayor Sam Sullivan.
He is also part owner of the Business in Vancouver newspaper, which he co-founded in 1989.
Vision Vancouver dominates council seats
Vision Vancouver scored 7 of the city's 10 council seats:
- Raymond Louie of Vision Vancouver.
- Heather Deal of Vision Vancouver.
- George Chow of Vision Vancouver.
- Kerry Jang of Vision Vancouver.
- Andrea Reimer of Vision Vancouver.
- Tim Stevenson of Vision Vancouver.
- David Cadman of COPE.
- Suzanne Anton of the NPA .
- Geoff Meggs of Vision Vancouver.
- Ellen Woodsworth of COPE.
There were 32 candidates running for the 10 council seats.