Vision Vancouver has a new thing to worry about: Affordability Now

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      Over the last three Vancouver civic elections, the NPA has been an abysmal failure in the eyes of many conservative-leaning residents.

      It's lost three straight mayoral elections to Gregor Robertson.

      It's never gained an absolute majority on the Vancouver board of education.

      And the one time it won control over the park board, it frittered this away through internal dissension.

      The NPA is the de facto B.C. Liberal farm team and the parent club has also lost considerable influence in Vancouver.

      Prior to Christy Clark's rise to the premier's office, the B.C. Liberals held six of the 11 provincial constituencies in Vancouver.

      On May 9, Clark's party captured only three seats. And there's a slim chance that it could lose one of them should a provincial recount reverse the results in Vancouver-False Creek.

      Christy Clark's B.C. Liberals only won three seats in Vancouver in the recent provincial election.
      Travis Lupick

      Imagine if you were a multimillionaire Vancouverite on the board of the Fraser Institute and you saw your city ruled by people who want to do the following things: 

      * sharply reduce natural gas consumption because of some international climate agreement; 

      * block a pipeline;

      * promote more cycling by taking road space away from motor vehicles, including your Bentley;

      * and prevent whales and dolphins from being brought to the Vancouver Aquarium for the benefit of the tourism industry.

      You would probably want to find a replacement for the NPA, which long ceased being able to keep people like that out of power.

      It must really sting this hypothetical multimillionaire when Vancouverites also heavily back the loathed NDP, preventing his beloved B.C. Liberals from forming another majority government.

      It's enough to give members of the Vancouver Club a serious case of indigestion.

      Does this look like the word mark for a new political party?
      Affordability Now

      Is a new political party a panacea?

      Yesterday, I was made aware of a bare-bones Facebook page called "Affordability Now".

      It has the look of a nascent political party, speaking to a very real concern of younger residents: the city has become unaffordable.

      But rather than zeroing in on housing, which is the primary worry, it focuses lots of attention on the city's efforts to curb natural-gas consumption.

      It echoes points made by Vancouver-Quilchena B.C. Liberal candidate Andrew Wilkinson before the election, couched in images of hard-done-by millennials struggling to get by in Vancouver.

      It smells like something from the political right.

      Yesterday in a commentary about the park board's vote banning the display of whales and dolphins, I suggested a new civic political party might emerge on the right before the next civic election.

      That's because supporters of the Vancouver Aquarium will refuse to back the three NPA park commissioners who voted with their Green and Vision Vancouver colleagues.

      Supporters of the aquarium have traditionally held enormous influence within the NPA. I suspect they'll now be looking for another political vehicle to overturn the motion.

      If Affordability Now becomes a municipal political party, it could perform that role.

      Along the same lines, Affordability Now might meet the objectives of that hypothetical multimillionaire director of the Fraser Institute who drives a Bentley.

      That's because this new political party could become a stalking horse to defeat Mayor Robertson and take back control of city hall from the pipeline banners, climate fanatics, and fossil-fuel-industry killers.

      Park commissioner Erin Shum (second from left) split from her NPA caucus colleagues (Casey Crawford, John Coupar, and Sarah Kirby-Yung) in December.
      Carlito Pablo

      There was one holdout on the park board, Erin Shum, who voted against the recommendation to stop whales and dolphins from being brought to the Vancouver Aquarium.

      Shum split from her NPA colleagues late last year after publicly alleging that she was being bullied in caucus.

      Her husband, former B.C. Liberal candidate Gavin Dew, has ties to Kinder Morgan. This company wants to triple bitumen shipments from Alberta to the Lower Mainland through an expanded pipeline system. That would result in about 400 oil tankers per year travelling through Burrard Inlet, passing by Stanley Park and English Bay.

      There's nothing on the Affordability Now Facebook page to suggest it has any links to Shum, Dew, or the B.C. Liberals. But the name, Affordability Now, would surely resonate with millennial voters disgusted by the high cost of living in Vancouver.

      It has the potential to provide the B.C. Liberals with a winning farm team and reverse the party's slide in Vancouver.

      And for Vision Vancouver, Affordability Now could prove to be a more potent opponent than the NPA ever was.

      Vision Vancouver owes its success, in part, to its name. Many years ago, someone with savvy marketing skills figured out that this would resonate with many voters. It helped catapult Robertson, then a lesser-known MLA, into the Vancouver mayor's chair.

      Along the same lines, it took someone with marketing smarts to come up with the name Affordability Now. It might have even been tested with focus groups of millennials before its soft launch on Facebook.

      The next civic election isn't until November 2018, but it looks like the campaign might have already begun.

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