Vancouver First is the latest new civic party to challenge Vision and the NPA

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      Vancouverites seem to be increasingly disenchanted with both the city’s ruling party and its established opponents. Amid organizing for new electoral organizations like TEAM (or The Electors Action Movement of the Lower Mainland) and the Vancouver Cedar Party, another entity is offering an alternative in next year’s civic election.

      It’s called Vancouver First, and its executive director, Jesse Johl, claims that the group has about 1,000 members.

      “The other parties have too much negative baggage, too much negative history, and a fresh start was required,” Johl told the Straight in a phone interview.

      Johl isn’t a greenhorn on the civic stage. He is the president of the Riley Park Hillcrest Community Association, one of six neighbourhood associations suing city hall in connection with their ongoing fight with Vision Vancouver over control of the resources of community-centre associations.

      Johl was acclaimed as a council candidate by the Non-Partisan Association but was dropped before the 2011 election.

      “Vancouver First’s philosophy is simple,” Johl said. “We’re about getting back to the core principles and reasons of civic government: schools, police, fire, parks, community centres, streets, sewers, the basic inner workings and functions of a city. We’re not here to save the world. We’re just here to save the city.”

      He brushed aside a suggestion that the field may be getting crowded for opponents of Vision.

      Is his group open to working with other parties to kick Vision out? Johl replied: “Never say never.”




      Oct 2, 2013 at 12:32pm

      Guess this explains why Johl has been grandstanding around the city for the past year..


      Oct 2, 2013 at 1:56pm

      Wow another "alternative" to Vision that sounds similar to the others: I wonder which FoV are funding this split? The next civic election is vital to Vision and their developer friends as they need to keep control of the Parks Board and Council to push through their grand design. The basics of that plan are already published if not publicized: buildings of 6 stories within 500 meters of a designated shopping area & 4 stories within 100 meters of an arterial. They are making a big deal about "re-examining" their neighbourhood plans for Grandview-Woodlands, Marpole & the DES but notice they won't be unveiling those plans until after the next civic election.

      Clues abound for the plans Vision will announce should they win the next civic election. Coastal Health has announced their plans for the Pearson Hospital land on Cambie between 57th & 59th which include a Canada Line station and a YMCA. The YMCA is important because there is already a Y on 49th next to the entrance to Langara Golf Course. I don't think there are going to be two Ys so close together and it appears the current location is on city owned land.

      Another clue is in the VPBs plans for Langara Golf Course, currently being "studied," and their alleged goal to "add to public parkland." They claim to be considering the following options:

      keeping it open in its current state
      shortening the course to 9 or 12 holes and converting the rest to a park
      closing the course and converting it all into a park

      They can rely upon their COPE lapdogs to get behind closing an "elitist" golf course and spin that against a park for everyone, and they can do that before the next election. If they keep control the VPB will announce they can't afford to make the entire closed course a park and will need to sell some land or raise taxes. The land along Cambie to a depth of approximately 500 metres east will be transferred to the city and sold to their developer friends. Part of the YMCA land will be needed for road & bike access and the rest absorbed into the development.

      The new park will be smaller than the golf course and be cut off on three sides by housing or school grounds. There will be towers topping out around 36 floors and it will be called something nauseating like "on the park."


      Oct 2, 2013 at 2:03pm

      So, I guess Bill McCreery's hope of renaming the NPA didn't work out.

      Weren't they going to be TEAM?

      And how did Vancouver First get 1000 members? I thought the NPA has 700 and they obviously have been a well established group.

      Anyway, it's interesting. Voters deserve choice!

      Paul Schmol

      Oct 2, 2013 at 3:18pm

      I wouldn't trust any of the claims this guy makes. Take that 1,000 and divide by 10.

      He's the worst thing to happen to the Riley Park Hillcrest community and a big reason they've been kicked out of their centre.

      Follow his personal tweets (@jesse_johl) and the ones he's making now behind the veil of @vancouverfirst1. He's like a 12-year-old, trolling online and making juvenile comments just to stir up sh&t.

      He'll pound his chest and point fingers, but never offers any solutions. From his past with the NPA he cuts and runs whenever there's work to be done. I'd be surprised if this group is around come election time.

      Even if they are, I doubt strongly that any other party would be insane enough to consider aligning with him.

      Hope & Change

      Oct 2, 2013 at 4:27pm

      I've watched this young man over the past few years and I for one have to say he is a breath of fresh air.

      I don't know which party (Vision/NPA) Paul Schmol works for but it is clear that he and his counterparts are scared.

      Johl has been very well spoken, effective and of great service to the community. I have seen him speak at a few events over the past few years and he is excellent and a pleasure to listen to.

      Johl was also behind the effort to save the old Riley Park Community Centre and has been vital in helping to organize the fight against the Marpole Rezoning.

      I for one will support Johl and would hope and encourage others to do so as well.


      Oct 3, 2013 at 6:59am

      Has anyone meet a member of Vancouver First? If they had a meeting there are only a few places to hold such a group. Jesse is a joke, he knows it but what scares him is everyone else knows it!

      Hey wait a minute!!!

      Oct 3, 2013 at 7:36am

      Isn't that photo from Jesse's failed run for the NPA?


      Oct 3, 2013 at 9:06am

      I welcome any party that challenges that culture of developer giveaways characterized by Vision and the NPA. However taking Vancouver back from developers is going to be no small chore considering the amount of PR developer bank accounts can afford. I recommend that parties such as Vancouver First, TEAM, NSV, COPE and Green consider a unified slate of candidates so that voters who favour taking control of the city back from developers have a clear alternative to vote for. The great majority of Vancouverites detest Vision. The key is not to split this majority's votes in such a manner that Vision is returned to power (more arrogant than ever), as happened in the previous election.

      Alan Layton

      Oct 3, 2013 at 12:30pm

      "We’re not here to save the world. We’re just here to save the city.”

      Good, we can stop this 'Greenest City in the World' nonsense and quit building bike lanes.


      Oct 17, 2013 at 1:26pm

      Vancouver First, huh? A fresh start - a party without the baggage, they say. So why is it when you visit their website an NPA favicon comes up?