OneCity is looking for a Vancouver mayoral candidate with a specific quality.
It’s courage, says Christine Boyle, a OneCity candidate for council in the October 20 civic election.
As Boyle explained, that person must have the audacity to deal with the city’s most pressing issue: housing.
“We haven’t decided if we’ll endorse someone, but we’re meeting with all of the candidates, and we will see if their values and their courage match what we think is needed,” Boyle told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.
These candidates are Ian Campbell of the ruling Vision Vancouver, and independents Kennedy Stewart and Shauna Sylvester.
However, Campbell may have to temper his expectations, if he has any about OneCity’s support.
“I think that it’s unlikely that we will endorse Ian [Campbell] as a mayoralty candidate,” Boyle said.
That said, Boyle added that she and her party will “work with whoever gets elected”, and so they’re “keeping all of these lines of communication open”.
Except for councillor Heather Deal, all members of the current Vision council caucus and Mayor Gregor Robertson are not running for new terms in the fall election.
This has left Campbell, a newcomer, with the difficult task of defending Vision’s record.
“I think there is a lot of distrust in how Vision has handled the housing crisis so far and so that makes us wary of, you know, how they will handle it into the future,” Boyle said.
Since OneCity hasn’t decided yet if it will back a mayoral candidate, neither Sylvester, an SFU academic, nor Stewart, a Burnaby South MP whose last day in office is on September 14, is guaranteed of an endorsement.
“I had coffee with her before she announced her candidacy, so those lines of communications are open, and we will continue them,” Boyle said about Sylvester.
Kennedy, for his part, has won the endorsement of the influential Vancouver and District Labour Council (VDLC).
The VDLC has also announced support for a number of candidates with OneCity, Vision, the Green Party of the Vancouver, and the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE).
The VDLC’s backing of Kennedy doesn’t assure him of free lunch with OneCity.
“It does matter to us that our friends in the labour movement endorsed Kennedy [Stewart], but we’re still undecided on whether we will endorse someone ourselves,” Boyle said.
What really matters to OneCity is whether a mayoral candidate can articulate a platform that will address the housing issue in Vancouver.
“We’re putting forward bold housing and affordability policies, and we’re waiting to see what each of the mayoralty candidates put forward in terms of policy, and to test the lines with our values and who’s willing to be bold like we think we need them to be particularly on housing and affordability,” Boyle said.
One specific policy that OneCity wants to see is land value capture.
That’s a method of recovering some of the increase in property values that are influenced by public investments in infrastructure, especially transit.
Transit investments increase the value of adjacent properties. This is because buyers of residential and commercial properties are willing to pay more for assets in areas that have easy access to transit.
By capturing a part of these land value increases, governments can have additional funds for public investments.
“We think our land value capture policy is the kind of bold housing idea that we need to hear,” Boyle said.
Last month, OneCity issued a media release about a “windfall power” policy, which is a two-pronged approach to land value capture.
One is for the City of Vancouver to work with TransLink to create a land value capture plan for areas around the Broadway subway line.
The second is for the city to work with the provincial government to capture some value in rezonings.