Kennedy Stewart and Shauna Sylvester are the two most viable progressive candidates for mayor of Vancouver.
However, neither of them is getting an endorsement from the city’s oldest left-wing party, the Coalition of Progressive Electors.
According to COPE council candidate Jean Swanson, the party is leaving it up to its members and supporters to choose who to support for mayor.
Swanson explained that the party is backing neither Stewart nor Sylvester because they have failed to lay out a bold housing platform.
The acclaimed anti-poverty activist noted in particular that Stewart and Sylvester have not supported COPE’s call for a rent freeze and a mansion tax.
“I haven’t seen a commitment for a rent freeze or a mansion tax,” Swanson told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview Tuesday (October 9).
Although Stewart and Sylvester have talked about developing new rental homes, they have not adopted COPE’s call for a zero rent increase for four years.
COPE has stated that even if the provincial government will not freeze rents, the city has the authority to control rents.
One measure cited by COPE is making a rent freeze a requirement when landlords apply for a yearly business licence.
Neither Stewart nor Sylvester have backed COPE’s suggestion that homes over $5 million should be taxed an extra one percent, and those valued over $10 million an additional two percent.
In addition to Swanson, COPE is fielding former councillor Anne Roberts and tenants advocate Derrick O’Keefe for council.
“What we want to do is get as many COPE people on council as possible so that we can have the most possible clout for getting a rent freeze and a mansion tax,” Swanson said.
Last week, urban planner Patrick Condon called on voters to support all three COPE candidates for council as well as the four candidates of the Green Party of Vancouver.
Condon previously withdrew from his bid to seek the mayoral nomination of COPE because of health reasons.
“Both COPE and the Green party have campaigned on strong housing platforms, recognizing that the housing market is broken and will never supply secure tenure for wage earners hoping to raise a family in this city and protect the most vulnerable,” Condon said in a statement on October 4.
“The housing crisis has reached epic proportions and the time is now for a clean break with the policies that have only added to the problem,” Condon continued. “COPE and the Green Party combined will provide that break while offering broadly based approaches to the housing and other city issues that have devastated the poor and created intolerable stresses for our working families.”
The Green candidates for council are Adriane Carr, Pete Fry, Michael Wiebe, and David Wong.
Following up on his endorsement of COPE and Green council candidates, Condon is also throwing his support behind independent mayoral candidate Sean Cassidy.
“I am endorsing Sean Cassidy for Mayor of Vancouver, because I believe that our city needs someone with real housing experience and bold ideas at the helm to navigate our city’s housing affordability crisis,” Condon stated in a media release Tuesday (October 9).
Cassidy is a former debt manager and acting deputy treasurer of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the federal agency in charge of housing.
Cassidy wants the next city council to exercise its ability under the Vancouver Charter to set and regulate market rents and the rate at which developers of rental projects can increase rents.