British Columbia

Profiling Vancouver's political parties: Vision Vancouver

The political party that dominated Vancouver politics for a decade is hoping voters feel the current group at city hall lacks a certain, shall we say, vision. 

Its platform has been popular in the city in the past — but will voters give Vision another chance?

Vision Vancouver's team for council, school board and park board in the 2022 municipal election. (Courtesy Vision Vancouver)

The political party that dominated Vancouver politics for a decade is hoping voters feel the current group at city hall lacks a certain, shall we say, vision. 

"I think we have a track on this at Vision: working together collaboratively to get things done," said Lesli Boldt, one of three council candidates for Vision Vancouver this election.

"I know from talking to hundreds of people on the doors that people … want some leadership back at city council, at the school board, at the park board, and that's what we hope to bring to the table."

Under former mayor Gregor Robertson, Vision Vancouver had a majority at city hall from 2008 to 2018, with a focus on the environment, a massive expansion of the city's bike lanes, and a decidedly mixed record on ending street homelessness and expanding affordable housing. 

The party won three elections in a row, but was all but eliminated from the political map last election, in part due to anger over a lack of action to stem rising housing prices. 

"As you know, these aren't just local issues, they're national and international issues. But could we have done more? I think the answer is clearly yes," Boldt admitted.

"It's four years later now, and we're looking at where we are today and where we need to go."

Alongside Boldt, Vision's council candidates are Honieh Barzegari and current park board commissioner Stuart Mackinnon. Its school board candidates are incumbent Allan Wong, Steve Cardwell, Aaron Leung, Kera McArthur and Hilary Thomson, and its park board candidates are Carla Frenkel and John Irwin. 

Here's where they think Vancouver needs to go. 

Housing, transportation, reconciliation

There hasn't been a radical change in the values and proposals of Vision Vancouver from when it ran the city.

Its platform, which you can read here, on increasing housing supply (particularly rental), increasing alternative forms of transportation and getting a subway to UBC, and reconciliation with local First Nations

They're all issues championed by Kennedy Stewart and, to certain degrees, a majority of current councillors. 

But Boldt said Vision would focus on finding ways that council could move faster to meet its objectives. 

"There's a pending project at Broadway and Commercial Drive … deferred until after the election. There's non-profit housing projects, action on renewing leases for co-ops. These are things that are on the books, they're plans that can be implemented," said Boldt.

"They haven't been because of this slow moving machine that is the City of Vancouver."

Left to right: Former Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson is pictured celebrating his election victories in 2008, 2011 and 2014. (Canadian Press)

Forgive and forget? 

On crime and safety issues, Boldt said the focus needed to be on taking "a more strategic approach" to tent encampments, and not criminalizing poverty. 

"While public safety is a priority for Vision Vancouver, we also want to make sure that we're not putting the blame … on the shoulders of folks who are really vulnerable," she said. 

For the school board, Boldt said a proposal around after-school, school-based child care would be released, and Vision has also promised free swimming lessons as part of elementary school for every Vancouver student. 

Based on past elections, it's a platform that could prove popular with voters. But with so many left-of-centre parties running, it remains to be seen if Vision will be able to reconnect with voters who cast ballots for them in 2014 but went in different directions in 2018. 

"We offer that leadership, that experience," said Boldt. 

"We've heard over and over … that the city is stuck and that we need to get the city back to work. And so that's what our team is committed to do."

CBC News will be profiling all 10 political parties in Vancouver ahead of the municipal elections in October.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Justin McElroy

@j_mcelroy

Justin is the Municipal Affairs Reporter for CBC Vancouver, covering local political stories throughout British Columbia.

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