By RJ Aquino and David Chudnovsky
On July 4, Geoff Meggs announced his resignation from Vancouver city council, which triggers a by-election for his council seat. We wish Meggs all the best in enacting the NDP’s progressive agenda, and we thank him for his years of service, especially his work with organized labour.
The announcement of a by-election provides an opportunity for Vancouver voters to send a message to council regarding the state of the affordability crisis in our city. We will be running a candidate in the by-election because we believe that Vancouver needs a progressive, community-focused voice at city council who can push council on issues of affordability and equity in our city. Vancouver needs OneCity. Here’s why.
Vancouverites are not disengaged—they are ready for change. Thousands of citizens spoke, wrote, and called to voice an opinion on the recent 105 Keefer rezonings, when neighbourhood activists (the Chinatown Concern Group) amplified the voices of a community and empowered people whose voices are typically not heard: seniors, youth, low-income individuals, and people of colour. There has also been lively—and at times fractured—discussion around neighbourhood planning and heritage planning.
We cannot depend on developers to deliver affordable housing. For the nearly 10 years that Vision Vancouver has held a majority at council, housing prices—for owners and renters—have spiralled skyward, even in so-called “affordable rental” projects. Where does this leave us? Growing homelessness, suffering small business and arts organizations, out of control rents, and a sense that Vancouver is a place that pushes people away rather than draws them in. Cities around the world are using creative, nonmarket solutions to solve their affordable housing crises. It’s time that Vancouver does the same.
Vancouver needs councillors who are not bound by developer money. Both Vision and NPA have coasted to victory on the waves of millions of dollars in developer donations, which has led to the approval and construction of thousands of luxury apartments, out of reach for most of us. We hope that we get a ban on corporate and union donations and a strict limit on individual donations. Unlike Vision and the NPA, until that reform is passed, we’ll stick to our policy of never accepting money from developers and being completely transparent about the sources of the funds we do raise.
Vancouverites will have a choice in the 2017 by-election, and again in the 2018 general election. In communities around the world, citizens are rejecting the false promises of developers and corporations, and instead embracing governance that will increase equity and justice. We believe Vancouver should be a part of this shift towards kindness and hope, articulating it in our own unique civic voice.
We will be outlining our specific policy plans in the weeks ahead. Expect them to be creative, solutions-focused, and achievable.