A former mayor of Vancouver has set his sights on becoming B.C.'s next premier.
Vancouver–False Creek MLA Sam Sullivan entered the B.C. Liberal leadership race today, saying he thinks the party needs a "stronger urban and youth focus".
"A lot of the urban people and the youth defected to either the NDP or the Green party last time, so we need to do better," Sullivan told the Straight by phone from Victoria.
He said that 12 years ago as the mayor, he advocated for "ecodensity" to increase the supply of housing, which he felt would bring down prices.
Sullivan also endorsed providing substitution treatment to drug addicts to reduce overdoses.
"And both of those now become the number one topics of our consciousness in the urban areas," Sullivan said. "So I tried at one point 12 years ago to deal with them. I feel that if I can take another run at them, I can actually solve them."
Sullivan is also a fan of more privatization of health care and charter schools.
In late August, Sullivan told the Straight that he was considering running for B.C. Liberal leader.
"If I do this, it will be a campaign of ideas," he said at the time.
Sullivan was first elected to Vancouver council in 1993 and became mayor in 2005 after defeating Christy Clark for the NPA nomination.
Three years later, he lost the NPA mayoral nomination to then councillor Peter Ladner, so he never had a chance to run for reelection.
Ladner was trounced in 2008 by Gregor Robertson, who headed the Vision Vancouver slate.
As a municipal politician, Sullivan often advocated for densification except when it came to land zoned industrial, saying these areas should be preserved for jobs.
He voted against many of his NPA colleagues when they would support building housing on land close to the Port of Vancouver. In the 2005 mayoral election, he opposed building a new St. Paul's Hospital on industrial land on False Creek Flats.
The B.C. Liberal government under Christy Clark flip-flopped on this issue and ended up backing a new hospital near the Main Street–Science World Station. In March, billionaire Jim Pattison donated $75 million toward the new hospital.
Pattison said at the time that he wasn't going to give money to the St. Paul's Hospital Foundation to renew the existing St. Paul's Hospital on Burrard Street. It's just down the road from a massive real-estate project that the Jim Pattison Group is developing with Reliance Properties.
Sullivan's entry into the B.C. Liberal leadership race could be interpreted as a sign that some in the development industry are dissatisfied with the others interested in the job, including former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts, Vancouver-Langara MLA Michael Lee, Vancouver-Quilchena MLA Andrew Wilkinson, and Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier.
If major developers get behind Sullivan's ecodensity message, he'll have no shortage of money to fund his campaign.
Sullivan has never lost an election, though he was nearly defeated on May 9 by the NDP's Morgane Oger.
In the dying days of the Christy Clark government, Sullivan was appointed as the minister of community, sport and cultural development. It's the only cabinet post he held since being first elected to the legislature in 2013.