It's hard to overestimate the impact that Andrea Reimer's departure from municipal politics will have on her party.
Today, the veteran Vision Vancouver councillor announced that she will not be seeking reelection next year.
It comes in the wake of a devastating council by-election loss for her party, in which Vision's candidate, Diego Cardona, came fifth.
Reimer pointed out that she made her decision in the summer but is only sharing it now.
So why is the looming loss of Reimer so significant?
Cynics might say she only came seventh in the last full council race and she and Vision may have already burned up a lot of their political capital over the past decade.
But that overlooks Reimer's credibility with the environmental community, her appeal to residents living in the Commercial Drive–Trout Lake area, her stunning work ethic, and political radar that may only have been matched on council in recent years by Geoff Meggs, who's left municipal politics.
It's a double whammy for Vision Vancouver to lose both Reimer and Meggs in the one-and-a-half years leading up to the next election.
Each appealed to different constituencies, helping make Vision Vancouver a big-tent party.
Reimer was also indefatigable in reaching out to diverse communities in Vancouver. The latest reflection of this has been her efforts to learn the Squamish language, which was on display when she spoke at the opening of TaiwanFest.
This year, Vision Vancouver also lost its clever young executive director, Stepan Vdovine.
Vision has no elected millennials
The party has three members of the school board, one member on park board, and four councillors in addition to Reimer.
Two of them, Raymond Louie and Tim Stevenson, have been there since 2002. A third, Heather Deal, was first elected to the park board in 2002 before graduating to council in 2005. The fourth, Kerry Jang, was first elected in 2008.
There's not a lot of fresh blood there.
The party's school trustees and park commissioner are all baby boomers—hardly a sign of a party on the verge of renewal. And Mayor Gregor Robertson may be facing his toughest election yet, should he choose to seek another term.
In the last election, Vision Vancouver's younger candidates did not fare very well at all.
As a result, a case could be made for simply ending Vision Vancouver and finding a new vehicle—perhaps OneCity or the Greens—to counter the B.C. Liberal farm team, a.k.a. the NPA.
It would result in a clearer choice for an electorate that sees Vision Vancouver as incapable of coping with rapidly rising housing prices.
Such a move could also diminish vote-splitting among progressives, which is what led to the NPA victory in the recent by-election.
It's never easy to terminate a political party voluntarily. It can put party workers on the unemployment rolls. There are lists of members and voter databases that some will say are simply to valuable to forfeit.
But Reimer's decision makes this an option worth considering.
Does Vancouver really need Vision Vancouver in the next election?
As much as Reimer tried to make the case that it does, there's also an equally compelling argument on the other side.
Vision has left a big mark on the city
It's worth noting that Vision Vancouver has accomplished a great deal over the last decade.
It advanced reconciliation with First Nations with new Indigenous names for a library and a school.
It made major strides in increasing the percentage of cyclists commuting to work and school.
The party did a solid job promoting arts and culture and in advancing equal rights for gays, lesbians, and transgender Vancouverites.
It helped lay the groundwork for possibly thwarting the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which poses a major threat to Vancouver's economic well-being. And the mayor has been a visionary in advancing the concept of making the city 100 percent reliant on renewable energy.
There have also been economic achievements, including the growth of a clean-tech sector that's the envy of many cities.
At the park board, Vision Vancouver set the stage for the end of keeping whales in captivity, which will earn some of its former commissioners a place in civic history.
Even though Vision Vancouver has failed to keep the city affordable for middle-income people, it still has many things to be proud of.
So why not quit while it's on top?
Then it could let the next generation of politicians find their own political vehicles upon which to leave their mark. And if the Greens like Deal enough and OneCity likes Louie enough to give them spots on their slates, where's the harm in that?More