Establishment man, change agent, and disruptor wrap up speeches to NPA members and wait for the results

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      This evening, there were a fair number of empty chairs in the Hellenic Centre on Arbutus Street as three NPA candidates made a last-ditch pitch for support for their party's mayoral nomination.

      Voting has been taking place all day and the ballots will be counted after 8 p.m.

      The speeches by Glen Chernen, John Coupar, and Ken Sim were scheduled to begin a 6 p.m., but there was a lengthy delay.

      In fact, Chernen didn't even arrive at the building until about 6:15 p.m.

      Chernen, a wild card who enjoys support from some local Conservatives, delivered the first speech, telling party members that a "win is within our grasp".

      He acknowledged that he's "rough around the edges", noting that some in the media have labelled him as a "disruptor".

      But he also maintained that everything he has done in recent years (which has included launching lawsuits against the mayor and challenging a property-tax assessment) was for the good of the community.

      "Now let's say, you were hosting a party," Chernen said. "You're having a really good time. Then you don't want someone to rock the boat, ruin your party—if the city, let's say, was being run in a good manner.

      "But on the other hand, if your house was being robbed by pirates, then you sure as heck need a disruptor," he continued. "But what I can assure you of is that our house is being robbed."

      He claimed that under Mayor Gregor Robertson's leadership, money that should have been allocated to improve city services has instead been "squandered, gone missing, or worse".

      "I know exactly what the mayor has been up to and I know how to fix it," Chernen said.

      He also promised to retain the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, claiming that to rip them down would turn East Vancouver into a parking lot.

      Chernen was followed by NPA park commissioner John Coupar, who presented himself as the candidate of stability.

      "Vancouver needs an even hand at the wheel," Coupar said.

      He emphasized that he hopes to follow in the footsteps of former NPA mayor Philip Owen, who's endorsed his candidacy.

      On a couple of occasions, Coupar declared that "we are sick and tired of press release politics" as he promised to listen to the public and open permit offices in different parts of the city to expedite approvals for smaller projects and renovations.

      Coupar also pledged to fast-track electric-vehicle charging stations and restore a sense of trust when it comes to addressing housing issues.

      Among Coupar's other primses are a lobbyist registry, a complaint office, and re-engaging residents in a "predictable planning process". This will include the establishment of an office dedicated to community planning and engagement. 

      Whereas Chernen and Coupar spoke from the stage in the hall, Sim decided to speak from the floor.

      He talked about what it was like growing up in Vancouver in the 1970s and 1980s as the fifth child of immigrants, noting that he cleaned toilets and washed windows at a Wendy's on weekends to lessen the burden on his parents and save for school.

      In those days, he recalled the minimum wage was $3.05 per hour.

      He then told the crowd about how he graduated from what was then known as the UBC commerce department and launched two successful businesses, including Nurse Next Door, which has 5,000 employees.

      Sim said one of his main motivations for running is that he's "tired of talking to people who are leaving our city".

      "We got into this mess because city hall is overspending," he alleged. "We got into this mess because city hall is not being run well; it's being run very inefficiently. And we got into this mess because city hall is being run based on ideology. That's not right." 

      Whereas Chernen described himself as a disruptor, Sim chose a more benign term—change agent—to describe himself.

      "As mayor of Vancouver, I will work hard to make Vancouver more livable," Sim promised. "We're going to fight to find more housing solutions for all of our residents. We're going work really hard to help fix our transportation system so people can move around our city in a better and more efficient way. And we're going to invest in our community centres. They have been neglected for the last 10 years."

      Each of the candidates had 10 minutes to speak and none of them talked about temporary modular housing, which has been a hot civic issue this year. Nor did any of them publicly endorse densification of neighbourhoods or mention the Broadway subway in their speeches.