OneCity is receptive to an election deal with Vision Vancouver.
But the governing party of outgoing Mayor Gregor Robertson first has to eat crow.
In power since 2008, Vision may have to admit that it dropped the ball on housing, contributing to Vancouver becoming an expensive city to live in.
“We are open to discussions around cooperation with Vision, but it would take some acknowledgement on their part of the direction things have gone over the last almost decade of time,” OneCity’s Anna Chudnovsky told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.
Chudnovsky added that it would “take some acknowledgement that we need some new approaches, new non-market approaches to housing and affordability in the city”.
The OneCity co-chair said that her party is less concerned about Vision as a party at present.
“What we’re concerned in particular is speaking with Vision voters,” she said. “We’re more concerned with finding a way to engage those people around the city, who had…found themselves disillusioned with where the city is at this point, and finding a way to talk to those people about the goals achievable, work that we can do in the city to turn this turn this thing around, and move forward to make it a…kinder, a more affordable place to live.”
Chudnovsky also noted that many Vision voters are disturbed about the “direction that the city has gone, and the failures on the part of the city government to curb the affordability crisis”.
But an acknowledgment of mistakes is not enough to convince former Vancouver councillor Tim Louis that Vision should have a place in a coalition among progressive parties in the city.
“Definitely no,” Louis told the Straight in a phone interview. “Progressive parties should work with each other together. They should not include in that mix a party that is not progressive, a party that is developers’ party, a party that has always put the interest of its bank account ahead of the citizens of Vancouver in an effort to obtain donations from large developers. Vision Vancouver is not a progressive party.”
Louis was a former member of the executive of the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE).
Louis had often described Vision as another version of the developer-friendly Non-Partisan Association, but with a mania for bike lanes.
In the interview, Louis went on enumerate what he considers as progressive parties: COPE, the Green Party of Vancouver, and the team of former council candidate and anti-poverty warrior Jean Swanson.
“But it would not be Vision because Vision is not a progressive party,” he said.
Louis was asked why he did not list OneCity. He replied: “Well, that’s true. If they’re [OneCity] prepared to work in a coalition that there is only progressive parties and does not include a developers’ party, then, correct, they should be included as well.”
OneCity founders include former COPE executive members who had advocated for electoral alliances with Vision.
Louis has his opinion of what is a progressive party, and as far as the Vancouver and Labour District Council (VDLC) is concerned, Vision is one.
That’s why the VDLC is working to broker a deal among parties on the left side of the political spectrum, which includes Vision.
VDLC president Stephen Von Sychowski said that the labour council wants to see “some form of cooperation or at least some form of accommodation between different progressive parties”.
“We’re looking to support progressives… and progressives working together, and that for us includes Vision,” Von Sychowski told the Straight by phone.
The VDLC president agrees with a previous statement by NDP Vancouver Kingsway MP Don Davies that the inclusion of Vision is “mandatory” in an electoral alliance among progressives.
“I think what he says is true,” Von Sychowski said about Davies’ view.
The VDLC has historically vetted candidates in Vancouver municipal elections. Its endorsement secured campaign contributions from its member unions.
The labour council retains considerable clout even though union and corporate donations to election campaigns are no longer allowed.
According to Von Sychowski, the VDLC has a network of 50,000 households in the city, which will be receiving poll cards carrying the council’s recommendations.
In last year’s by-election for a single seat in council, VDLC endorsed OneCity candidate Judy Graves.
According to OneCity’s Chudnovsky, her party is “committed to the VDLC process”.
“The process outlined by them [VDLC} so far is to come together as a group to kind of hammer out a possibly strategy moving forward,” Chudnovsky said.
Vision Mayor Gregor Robertson is not running in the October 2018 election. Three of his five councillors will not seek new terms as well.