New political party OneCity concerned with “growing divide” in Vancouver

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      RJ Aquino has launched his bid as a candidate for city council with a newly formed municipal political party called OneCity.

      Aquino, who ran in the last civic election as a candidate with the Coalition of Progressive Electors, was backed by other former COPE members including David Chudnovsky at a press conference outside Vancouver City Hall today (May 5).

      “Vancouver is becoming two cities: a city for developers and the truly wealthy, and one where many of us are finding it increasingly difficult to keep calling Vancouver home,” Aquino said. “OneCity emerged from a growing concern for this divide.”

      Aquino is so far the sole candidate running with the party. Chudnovsky, who is part of an organizing group of about 12 people, said the electoral organization is in discussion with “a number of people” as potential candidates for the November 2014 ballot.

      He added the new group consists of former COPE members, in addition to people who have been members of other political parties, and others who have never been involved with any party.

      Aquino said he wants to keep OneCity's election campaign positive.

      “I want to make sure that when we address the issues, we address issues in a way that people respond to them positively, and that people understand that this isn’t about placing blame, although blame can be placed, but it really is about spreading a message that attracts people who haven’t been involved, who know that there’s something going wrong, but haven’t yet found the means to get involved,” he told reporters.

      Attendees at the press conference included former COPE school trustee Al Blakey and former external chair Marcus Youssef. 

      “We all know that housing affordability in this city is at a crisis point, and we all know that we have to change the way that development is done in this city,” stated Youssef, who said he is not a member of OneCity. “But like denouncing others, just saying that is easy. Bringing people together, building trust, and hammering out agreement, that is truly hard.”

      Aquino said some of the issues the party will focus on include childcare, improved public transit, and affordable housing.

      Chudnovsky noted discussions about forming the new party have been taking place for about a year and a half, and have involved about 130 people.

      The press conference took place a day after Vision Vancouver members endorsed all incumbents seeking reelection with the party this year. The electoral organization will run eight candidates for city council.

      Green Party of Vancouver members also confirmed three candidates for city council at its annual general meeting on Sunday (May 4). Current city councillor Adriane Carr is seeking reelection, and will be joined on the ballot by Cleta Brown and Pete Fry.

      Tracey Moir, who had previously announced her intention to seek a city council nomination with the Greens, has opted to continue in her role as chair of Oakridge Langara Area Residents group in the event that it decides to launch a legal challenge against the Oakridge Mall rezoning, she said in a news release.

      The 2014 civic election takes places on November 15.

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      May 5, 2014 at 2:13pm

      Is it pronounced "oh-neccity?"

      David Beattie

      May 5, 2014 at 2:17pm

      OMG - boring! Oh so affordable housing features large in One City's agenda - how original and amazing. Say something interesting and not abstracted to the point of meaninglessness. Watch for the Unity Party - bold and clear and defined. Major problem is apartheid of Asians and others! Needs dramatic intervention.


      May 5, 2014 at 2:21pm

      If Vancouver residents were smart they would take back their city. The would take back the expensive condos, they would take back the expensive cars, they would take back the expensive houses. The only reason the rich have these things is because the poor have allowed themselves to be robbed blind.


      May 5, 2014 at 2:24pm

      "Vancouver is becoming two cities: a city for developers and the truly wealthy, and one where many of us are finding it increasingly difficult to keep calling Vancouver home"

      This is contradictory. The reason that many people are finding it difficult to live here is because of high housing costs. The way to get those costs down is to provide more housing stock (i.e. increase density). So in order for 'normal people' to continue living in Vancouver, we need the developers.

      There seems to be this mindset that if we leave housing as it is that prices will not increase. This is ridiculous. Just look at markets in the US where the NIMBYs have won and the prices are insane. San Francisco is somewhat comparable to Vancouver in that they are both limited in area to grow, both are desirable places to live. They have pushed back against attempts to increase the housing density and now prices are at least double or triple what they should be (~$4000/month rent for a 600 sq/ft apartment).

      People need to accept the fact that Vancouver is a growing city and will need to have more housing available to prevent prices from spiralling upwards. They will also need to accept that areas along major transit/commercial corridors make the most sense to build up (Broadway, Commercial, Cambie, etc). And there is little sense in demolishing an existing 3-4 storey building just to build a 10 storey one. We should be building 20+ storeys.

      Si Man

      May 5, 2014 at 2:26pm

      It pisses me off as a born and raised Vancouverite in my mid-30's that I'll never be able to afford a free standing home; forget just in Vancouver, but pretty much anything west of Surrey (and even that is starting to become a pipe dream). Foreign investors can come in and drive up the condo market without having occupants in their units and overpay for houses. My friends (other born Vancouverites) who own homes either had down payments gifted to them, inherited their place, won the ghetto lotto (i.e. ICBC claim) or lived at home until they were almost 40. Maybe someday I guess I could get to like Chilliwack?

      Curious citizen

      May 5, 2014 at 2:27pm

      I have seen some comments on twitter noting those who formed OneCity left COPE when its members voted not to continue in a power sharing agreement with Vision Vancouver.

      What is the position of OneCity in regards to a power sharing agreement with Vision Vancouver now? Will they look to be cooperative again?

      Bit late

      May 5, 2014 at 3:24pm

      "Vancouver is becoming" No , Vancouver already is.


      May 5, 2014 at 3:33pm

      So, is this why VISION is running six candidates short? Have they already carved a deal with Chudnovsky to create a new developer friendly version of COPE?


      May 5, 2014 at 4:04pm


      A condo in San Fran, from what I can find, goes for about half what one does in Vancouver right now. And it appears 3/4 of their apartments rent for under $2k a month.

      It looks like their property market is driven by incomes, not speculation. They have an economy that is actually based on something other than real estate speculation, that provides middle class or better incomes. Their real estate sector is serving the needs of their employment base, rather than the other way around.

      In Vancouver, we have a speculation based real estate economy. Trying to provide affordable housing in this city by building more condos is like trying to put out a fire by adding gasoline. The promotional machine is itself the problem, and it's fed by the developers & real estate sector as a whole.

      Improve yourself, complain less!

      May 5, 2014 at 4:46pm

      The people that can't really afford to live here will always complain about real estate prices. See, despite the large amount of rainfall in Vancouver, locals & visitors desire to live here because it's a beautiful place with great recreation opportunities, great restaurants & bars, and a lot of progressive self employed people.

      Instead of whining & complaining, people need to be more proactive and think of ways to improve their own financial situation!