Category Archives: Election 2018

CNV elections: meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Opinion piece by Fred Dawkins, Voices spokesperson and published by The Global Canadian (Nov 2018)

CNV elections: meet the new boss, same as the old boss

So…what to make of the 2018 municipal election in the City of North Vancouver?

While voters in neighbouring municipalities opted for slow-growth advocates, CNV voters returned majority control of their city council to the pro-development slate led by former councillor Linda Buchanan. She will be supported by three new pro-development councillors, all relative unknowns.

How did this happen? And what does it mean?

First, let’s look at the big picture. In recent years CNV has seen an unprecedented building boom, far surpassing development targets that were debated and established just four years ago. Time after time, high-rise condo proposals that exceeded the city’s Official Community Plan have come before a city council dominated by a slate that was elected with the help of developer money and union “volunteers”. And time after time, those proposals were approved by a 4-3 vote.

The result? All this condo building has done nothing to improve housing affordability. In fact it’s getting worse as big new market rental buildings replace affordable older apartments, leading to a rise in “renovictions”. Meanwhile, predictably, traffic has spiked, with the approaches to both North Shore bridges gridlocked at almost every rush hour. Commuters have been grousing about the traffic tie-ups. Long-time residents have been complaining about the density explosion, urging their neighbours to get out and vote for the slower-growth side in 2018. Surely it was time for a change, no?

As it turned out…no. Only 34 per cent of eligible voters came out in 2018 – a little better than the 30 per cent who voted in 2014, but far short of a wave for change. And those who did vote opted for the same developer-backed slate that facilitated the condo explosion and traffic nightmares we see today.

It could easily have been different. In the mayor’s race, Buchanan – a two-term CNV councillor mentored by outgoing mayor Darrell Mussatto – outpolled former councillor Guy Heywood by a mere 400 votes.*

Vote splitting was a big factor here. Buchanan enjoyed the unified support of the real estate industry, while those residents who want to put the brakes on the condo boom had to choose among three experienced, high-profile independent candidates in Heywood, Rod Clark and Kerry Morris. Combined, those three garnered 64 per cent of the vote, against Buchanan’s 30 per cent.

In hindsight, it seems clear that if just one of the three had stayed out of the race, the mayoralty would have gone to an independent and the entire complexion of CNV government would have changed. Did egos and personal grudges get in the way of a unified front? Possibly. But hindsight is always 20-20, and I don’t begrudge any candidate who runs because they sincerely believe they have the right vision for the city.

On the other hand, the power of slate voting in municipal elections has never been more evident. Among the 24 candidates for CNV council were several experienced former office holders with considerable local name recognition. Yet thanks to being endorsed as part of a five-candidate slate, three relative unknowns with virtually zero experience in CNV civic affairs – Tina Hu, Angela Girard and Jessica McIlroy – received more votes than their better-known opponents.

(One thing I can say for Buchanan’s new team – according to their campaign materials, they share a common attribute: all say they are “passionate”… so I guess we can expect more stirring oratory at future council meetings.)

Many veteran council watchers were surprised by this outcome. They shouldn’t have been. Remember this is municipal politics, where low turnouts magnify the impact of bloc voting. Without an organized front by citizens who want a rational, slow-growth approach to development, the one faction that is organized and funded will win every time, no matter who the candidates are.

In any case, don’t expect much in the way of collaboration with the District. And I predict the Harry Jerome rec centre plan is due for a rethink, shrinkage, and more delay.

In the meantime, the slate holding the reins at CNV city hall plans to continue the strategy of making housing more affordable by building a whole lot more of it. It has never worked before, but hey, maybe this time. 

*comment:  Mayor Buchanan received 9.9% of the votes (3800) from eligible voters (38,163) and 29.7% of the votes cast for Mayor = 70% of the votes were for others


SULLIVAN: Don’t like density? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet

Quoting from Paul Sullivan’s article in the NS News today “Meanwhile, it looks like development as usual in the city, where they appear to be testing the boundaries of the word “density.”

Quotes from the new ‘slate’ – ranging from Mayor-elect Buchanan referring to growth ‘I’m comfortable with where we are and the density we’ve put in’ to two of the new Councillors ‘our City has the lowest population growth in the Province and no growth 2017/2018’ and ‘the City has followed the plans for growth … in the Metro Vancouver Regional Plan’ are concerning.  Who have these people been listening to?  Certainly not the average resident who is very aware that the City of North Van has already exceeded the 2041 Regional Growth Targets.  

Quoting from the article ‘And it was a near thing in the city – Heywood lost to Buchanan by a mere 400 votes, and altogether, the slow growth faction received twice as many votes as Buchanan in the race for mayor. This leaves Don Bell as the foremost advocate for slowing things down in the city: “Too much density, too fast” he told the North Shore News. I have a feeling he ain’t seen nothin’ yet.’

We wish Councillor Bell all the best as the people’s advocate.

Source: SULLIVAN: Don’t like density? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet

EDITORIAL: Change of office

from the North Shore News:

The District of North Vancouver has seen the biggest shift in the balance of power where candidates with more conservative platforms essentially ran the table.

In the City of North Vancouver, mayor-elect Linda Buchanan certainly benefited from vote splitting with three high-profile opponents all running on a similar message. But when you look at the rest of council, there is no question that urbanism has a mandate in the city.

We have been pleased to see this peaceful transfer of power oiled, for the most part, by clean and positive campaigns.

And we commend as well the roughly 35 per cent of North Shore residents who found their way to a ballot box. In reality, it is a pitifully low number but it’s a huge increase from the last election.

Surely there are a handful of West Vancouver folks who couldn’t shut off Netflix for an hour now wishing they had. The mayoral race there was decided by just 21 votes, as if we needed any more reminders that every vote counts.

With the well of democracy refreshed, we are eager to see all our new councils sworn in on Nov. 5.

Whether you campaigned on bringing about change or making things more like they used to be, there is a lot of work to be done and those bylaws aren’t going to pass themselves.

Source: EDITORIAL: Change of office

Candidate honesty vs lies and ethics

Candidate honesty vs lies and ethics
Would you vote for Mayoral candidates who have shown themselves to be less than honest, trustworthy and ethical?  Two incidents in the past day showing that two candidates – Kerry Morris and Linda Buchanan fail that test.
Kerry Morris has posted a list of campaign donors on his website with the following comment on facebook: ‘ Released all my donations publicly so you can see I’m beholden to no one but our cities community (as far as I can tell currently no one else has released there’s):’
Problem?  He has listed Pam Bookham with a ‘donation’ of $250, the truth is that this was not a donation. Earlier this year, Bob Heywood, Pam Bookham and Rod Clark asked Kerry Morris to remove their 2014 endorsements from his website. He refused, unless they paid to have them removed.  Pam Bookham paid for all three, he then refused to remove their pictures after the endorsements were removed.  This leaves people with the impression that he had received their endorsements.  She is not supporting him and for him to now refer the charge as a ‘donation’ is a lie.  Would you now trust this person to be a Mayor?  He says he is running on an ‘open and honest’ platform – not true.
Linda Buchanan during the Mayoral debate last night took a shot at candidate Rod Clark for ‘turning down a proposal for 10 suites at 10% below CMHC. The actual proposal at the public hearing April 23rd ‘ for 4 units – was defeated by Coun. Bell, Back, Bookham and Clark because it was throught to be an insignificant contribution for the massive development. Brought back for reconsideration  as a last minute agenda addition on May 14th by the Mayor because the developer continued negotiating after the public hearing was closed (not allowed).  This is the project she used to try to show Rod Clark as being ‘against affordable housing”.
This is a comment by a resident who attended ‘What this shows is that Linda Buchanan has no sense of what legal proceedings are.  This is an example of why the community that cares about how things are done at City Hall, is so angry and frustrated about how all the development projects are handled at City Hall.  Backroom deals are done that favour the developers and the community comes forward at Public Hearings and their input is totally ignored – the deals are already done.’
‘This shows that she supports developers above and beyond even standard legal procedures.’

Back to the Past – Get out and vote

Andrea Lebowitz, a valuable community member no longer with us (2011) and missed by many, wrote a series of articles for City of North Van community associations ten years ago in the days prior to the 2008 election.  Here’s a reminder still very relevant.

‘An eligible municipal voter is entitled to vote for Mayor and up to six councillors. Now the question is how to choose. Mayors and councillors will have a direct and immediate impact on your quality of life and it’s important to put care into local politics.


Some candidates have no party affiliations while others are part of a party or group. A voter must decide which is more important. Should we be looking for independent candidates who will respond to each issue without predetermined outcomes? Or do we want candidates who vote together and in a predictable pattern. Municipal politics have tended toward the independent model.  However, particularly in the City of North Vancouver, party politics have prevailed. Look at the records of incumbents to see how they have voted in the past and how often they voted with the same people. Have they always been in favour of increasing density? Do they underweigh the problems of gridlock on our streets and inadequare infrastructure? Or the reverse.

Once you’re done your homework, attended meetings and read the pamphlets, blogs and local papers, it’s up to you to decide if you want to go for the independent candidates. Is it time to try some new approaches to problems?

For candidates who are seeking a seat for the first time, look to their record of volunteer action in the community. Have they served on volunteer committees and organizations. Have they contributed to municipal events and groups? What is their work background? Have they volunteered for sports, arts groups, service providers. Councillors will decide matters for these groups and it is important to know how they will vote on issues of community funding as well as land use, infrastructure and transportation issues.

The challenge is to pick candidates who have demonstrated their position on community concerns and who will treat the citizens they serve with respect and dignity.


It’s important for voters to be confident about their choices when they mark their ballot. Do I have to vote for a full slate?  No, a voter can vote for fewer than the maximum – it’s wise to vote for only those candidates whose background, position on major issues, voting record and volunteer efforts coincide with your own point of view. Don’t just vote for a name, check into it. It is better to cast fewer votes than to vote because a name is vaguely familiar to you.

Exercise your right and duty as citizen. Look for those who have the commitment, volunteer record and independence to serve in this next challenging period of our civic life. We all live with the results on a daily basis.

City of North Van council hopefuls talk housing options, traffic and Harry Jerome

Article from the North Shore News: with a summary of the Candidate Meeting at Ridgeway School earlier this week:

Source: City of North Van council hopefuls talk housing options, traffic and Harry Jerome

‘Level playing field’ in Vancouver civic election a work in progress

Source: ‘Level playing field’ in Vancouver civic election a work in progress

From the Vancouver Courier, addressing in part the recent announcements by the Vancouver and District Labour Council promoting certain candidates in the City of North Vancouver.  CUPE has also endorsed certain candidates.  CUPE endorsements mirror the VDLC plus an additional three, ignoring other qualified candidates who have been long time union members. There is the 2018 election slate. So much for getting ‘big money’ out of local politics, quoting in part:

What the labour council didn’t tweet—and what was reported by Dan Fumano at The Vancouver Sun—is that it is also paying the salaries of four union employees seconded to work on its campaign to get Stewart and the other candidates elected.

As I learned in my interview with VDLC president Stephen von Sychowski, two of the union employees belong to the Hospital Employees’ Union, one is from the Canadian Union of Public Employees and another from the United Food and Commercial Workers.

Two of them began work Sept. 4 and two others joined Sept. 24. Some of their work is also focused on getting Linda Buchanan elected mayor in the City of North Vancouver and candidates Angela Girard and Mack McCorkindale onto North Vancouver city council.

As von Sychowski understands it, all of the VDLC’s campaign work is within the rules. And whatever has to be disclosed, will be disclosed, he said.

“We’ve been working hard to make sure that we have a solid, clear understanding of the rules and it’s been challenging at times because they are brand new, and untested,” he said, noting he doesn’t anticipate the VDLC campaign will exceed the allowable $150,000 it can spend on advertising during the campaign period.


Setting the Record Straight #3

Here we are again disputing Stache’s comic of the day – not that we want to give him any publicity but his statements today need to be refuted. There seems to be no ability on his website anymore to leave a comment.

He states, referring to Mayoral Candidates Buchanan and Clark: ‘Two anti NIMBY’s voicing similar sanctimonious robotic platforms that would enable either one IF elected to further deconstruct and devastate the social wellness and livability of our city… All you have to do discerning voters is look at their evidentiary pro density city council records over the last four years’.

We would strongly suggest that you DO look at their records – Councillor Clark, together with Councillors Bell and Bookham, has consistently voted against the majority slate, hence the references to the 4-3 vote approving most developments. The majority being Mussatto, Back, Buchanan and Keating.


Residents increasingly share a dim view of real estate developers – Commentary | Business in Vancouver

Article borrowed from Business in Vancouver and quoting in part: For the past three years, housing has consistently topped the charts as the most important issue facing most cities in Metro Vancouver.

One of the issues that have played a role in the sudden loss of esteem for real estate developers is the perception of cosiness with sitting municipal administrations. This becomes clear when Metro Vancouverites are asked a simple question: who has more influence on the look and feel of your municipality?

Comment by Voices: This perception is very evident in the City of North Vancouver, with the development community funding the election of the consistent 4-3 majority on Council.  A good question for Mayoral candidate Buchanan – why have you not supported the Regional Growth Strategy Targets for the City of North Vancouver?  currently exceeding the year 2041?

Across the Lower Mainland, only 24% of residents believe their municipal government is the deciding authority when it comes to the future of neighbourhoods. A slightly smaller proportion (22%) believe the community itself has more influence.

Who is regarded as the most powerful voice when it comes to how our neighbourhoods look and feel? Developers, as stated by two in five Metro Vancouverites (39%). Men (44%) are more likely to express this opinion than women (34%), but all generations agree that governments and communities are taking a back seat in these discussions.

The public is also particularly critical of the idea that, in an effort to build, the character of their municipality is being abandoned. Three in four Metro Vancouverites (74%) feel that developers are too quick to demolish and rebuild when existing facades and structures could be kept.

The results outline two problems for incoming city councils. One is the perceived lack of consultation from members of specific communities, who may find it difficult to attend meetings or have a voice in traditional forums. The other is the feeling of powerlessness when the relationship between developers and municipal politicians is as entrenched as it is in some cities.

Source: Residents increasingly share a dim view of real estate developers – Commentary | Business in Vancouver

Elizabeth Murphy: Vancouver city hall is slamming through destructive new zoning without giving citizens a say | Vancouver Sun

North Van City Voices has documented that the City of North Van has exceeded the 2041 Regional Growth Targets and is rushing to get through more density before the vote on October 20th: partial quote from the article:

The shift from the Livable Region Strategic Plan in 1996 to the 2011 Regional Growth Strategy has directed the emphasis to growth objectives. As land values have increased due to speculative inflation from rezoning for more density, demolitions of older, more affordable buildings have increased, with more people displaced, causing skyrocketing homelessness and unaffordability. Most of the new supply is unaffordable for both owners and renters and often left empty.

Now the enormous costs of servicing this growth agenda are emerging with the need for billions of dollars to upgrade utility services.

The city’s consultants confirmed as far back as 2014 that there is more than enough existing zoned capacity to meet population growth beyond 2041. Yet the city continues a manic rush to rezone.

The City of Vancouver is on a mad rush job to rezone Kitsilano and Cedar Cottage in a move that will only benefit developers.

read full article:

Source: Elizabeth Murphy: Vancouver city hall is slamming through destructive new zoning without giving citizens a say | Vancouver Sun