Kennedy Stewart elected mayor of Vancouver

For the first time in more than three decades, Vancouver has elected an independent mayor, choosing Kennedy Stewart from a crowded field of contenders.

Independent candidate promised to make housing affordability his first priority

Kennedy Stewart celebrates after being elected mayor of Vancouver on Oct. 20. It's the first time the city has elected an independent candidate in more than 30 years. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

For the first time in more than three decades, Vancouver has elected an independent mayor, choosing Kennedy Stewart from a crowded field of contenders.

Stewart ran on a centre-left platform, promising that housing affordability would be his first priority. He's pledged to emphasize non-profit housing solutions for low- and medium-income residents, and to form an emergency task force to deal with the city's opioid crisis.

The former NDP MP for Burnaby South was the frontrunner heading into Saturday's vote, but he was in for a tough fight against the Ken Sim of the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) for most of the night. Vancouver, like Montreal and some other Canadian cities, has political parties at the municipal level. 

It took until the final votes from all 133 polling places were counted before Stewart could be safely declared the winner, with 49,812 votes to Sim's 48,828. Independent Shauna Sylvester wasn't far behind, with 35,537.

Sussanne Skidmore, left, and her partner Lisa Langevin, right, share a kiss in celebration after Kennedy Stewart was declared mayor-elect in Vancouver on Saturday. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

It was a long night for everyone involved in this year's election.

The polls officially closed at 8 p.m., but long lines at a handful of polling places meant the city held off counting votes until close to 9:30 p.m.

It would take more than three more hours before Stewart was declared the winner.

Women dominate council

The last time Vancouver had an independent mayor was from 1980 to 1986, when Mike Harcourt was in power.

Stewart will lead a mixed council, with no one party holding a clear majority of votes. Five NPA councillors, three Greens and one person each from COPE and OneCity were voted in Saturday night. 

Returning councillor Adriane Carr easily captured the highest vote total of the night, edging out fellow Green Pete Fry.

After winning a close race against Ken Sim, Stewart reaffirms his focus on housing affordability. 6:40

Remarkably, eight of the city's 10 councillors will be women. The total complement of councillors includes:

  • Melissa de Genova (NPA)
  • Lisa Dominato (NPA)
  • Rebecca Bligh (NPA)
  • Sarah Kirby-Yung (NPA)
  • Colleen Hardwick (NPA)
  • Adriane Carr (Green)
  • Pete Fry (Green)
  • Michael Wiebe (Green)
  • Christine Boyle (OneCity)
  • Jean Swanson (COPE)

Vision Vancouver nearly wiped out

The results mean that after 10 years of dominating city politics, Vision Vancouver, which did not field a mayoral candidate, has been locked out of the council chambers entirely. Former mayor Gregor Robertson, who decided not to run again, was on the Vision Vancouver slate.

 In fact, the once-powerful party has been reduced to just one school trustee, Allan Wong, and he barely squeaked in, winning the final of nine positions by fewer than 400 votes.

The next school board will include:

  • Janet Fraser (Green)
  • Estrellita Gonzalez (Green)
  • Lois Chan-Pedley (Green)
  • Oliver Hanson (NPA)
  • Fraser Ballantyne (NPA)
  • Carmen Cho (NPA)
  • Jennifer Reddy (OneCity)
  • Barb Parrott (COPE)
  • Allan Wong (Vision Vancouver)
Kennedy Stewart speaks to the media after being elected mayor of Vancouver on Oct. 20, 2018. It's the first time the city has elected an independent candidate in more than 30 years. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

The Green Party had a strong showing across all three of Vancouver's elected bodies, winning three seats on each of the park board, school board and council.

Vancouver's new park board will include:

  • Stuart Mackinnon (Green)
  • Dave Demers (Green)
  • Camil Dumont (Green)
  • John Coupar (NPA)
  • Tricia Barker (NPA)
  • Gwen Giesbrecht (COPE)
  • John Irwin (COPE)

Read CBC's coverage of civic elections across B.C.