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The Fabula guide on how to vote in the Vancouver civic election. Advance vote Oct. 13, voting day Oct. 15

October 13th, 2022 · No Comments

This is the ninth Vancouver civic election I’ve covered and, I think we can all agree, one of the most confusing ever for voters anxious to do their civic duty and make some informed choices.

I have to say, I am finding it hard to know how to give recommendations. So I’m not going to.

Instead, what I’m going to do this time around is come up with the likely way you’ll want to vote given your political persona. (Angus Reid used to do demographics-type analysis like this where they would label people as “the discouraged poor” or “affluent techies” or some such. I’ll try not to be so reductive but there has to be a certain amount of generalizing or I’ll never get anywhere)

With luck, you’ll feel an affinity for one of the descriptions here. I’ve drawn these from various conversations I’ve had privately with friends and with people on Twitter who DM’d me asking for advice, along with the general Twitter/public conversation.

So, given that intro, here goes, kinda going from left to right in the spectrum. Yes, yes, I know, left/right, there is no such thing, terrible simplistic language, blah blah. Whatever. Doing my best, kids.

1. I’m pretty committed to social justice in this city, think there is too much money going to police and not enough to real services for those in terrible need, and do not want to give any kind of full support to a neo-liberal mayor and councillors, no matter how much they claim they are progressives.

This group is voting the COPE slate, plus Sean Orr from VOTE Socialist. Some are adding in the four OneCity candidates.

For mayor, some are leaving it blank. If anyone calls the COPE team for advice, they’re told that “Kennedy Stewart has a good position on safe supply,” i.e. hold your nose and vote for him.

2. I generally vote left-progressive and I really believe the city needs to have way more housing of all kinds — a lot of subsidized housing and co-ops, but even market-rate housing. We’ve gotta make room in the city for young people like me (or like my kids). Can’t go with the COPE slate. That’s too far left for me and, anyway, they can’t win. I want to support people I think have a chance of controlling council. Plus climate change is very important to me and I want to support anyone championing this and not wringing their hands about how it’s all too undoable. 

I see people like this voting

  • Stewart for mayor
  • All four OneCity
  • One or two from Vision Vancouver, with Lesli Boldt at the top
  • Some from the Stewart Forward Together list, with Russill Wvong and Tessica Truong generally at the top, then Dulcy Anderson and maybe Alvin Singh next.
  • Possibly a couple of Greens

This tweet from Charles Montgomery, the author of Happy City and someone who worked with others to develop a co-housing project in Vancouver, is representative of this group.

Charles Montgomery
3. The current council hasn’t been so bad, in the end. Sure, there’s some muddling around with votes, but mostly they’re moving in the right direction and it’s good having those different voices.

This is kinda the direction the firefighters union took, where they endorsed Kennedy Stewart for mayor and all the current councillors who are running, except the NPA’s Melissa De Genova. They added  Iona Bonamis with OneCity, and Devyani Singh, a candidate for the Greens to their list, for a slightly more left-leaning council than the current one.

4. I’m super-pro-housing but I can’t bring myself to vote for a bunch of NDP types. I’m also in favour of generally more progressive, compassionate solutions to the city’s social problems but would don’t dismiss the need to bring more order to the streets.
This group, a lot of professional types in their 30s and 40s, are voting Progress Vancouver, mayoral candidate Mark Marissen and his slate. They’d likely add some OneCity people and maybe a Vision or two to fill out their ballots.

5. I can’t take the chaos at council any more and I didn’t agree with some key votes where the left-progressives got their way, especially on budgets and taxes. I want a coherent team in charge at city hall, but not anything too crazy right-wing or anti-housing, anti-homeless people. I do want a group more concerned with fiscal management, basic city services. Getting more housing of all kinds in the city is important to me. The current councillors have had a few weird votes on housing (Bligh against townhouses on Granville; Bligh against Broadway/Birch tower; Kirby-Yung and social housing 8th and Arbutus; all three against 12-storey social housing with no rezoning) but generally they’ve steered a reasonable course. Also want people to take the public disorder/crime stuff seriously but without promising necessarily immediate sweeps and clear-outs. 

This group, many of them former NPA voters but also some disenchanted Stewart + progressive slate, is voting the ABC slate and then I’m not sure what else. Some might be throwing votes to some or all of the Greens, maybe to OneCity Christine Boyle or COPE Jean Swanson just to show support for a different voice. (Though I suspect largely not. This is a disciplined group that may just vote the ABC slate and leave the rest blank.) Some may add in a bit of TEAM or NPA.

6. I want Vancouver to go back to development the way it used to be: neighbourhoods get to say what they want in the way of added density, a lot more gentle infill, keep most new development confined to the areas that are already zoned for it, NOT SO MANY TOWERS IF ANY AT ALL. I’m a homeowner dismayed by what looks like massive redevelopment of the city or a renter scared by the stories I’ve heard that my building will be torn down tomorrow because of the Broadway Plan. I’m also concerned about what seems like a breakdown in public order in the city and, even though I’m a compassionate person, I think we need a crackdown on it and more scrutiny of what’s really going on in the Downtown Eastside.

This is the group of people supporting TEAM for a Livable Vancouver. It’s a wide-ranging group, including both development-skeptical homeowners on the west side who have been NPA voters in the past and development-skeptical homeowners on the east side, many of whom vote NDP and have voted left for previous city councils. And, as I said above, scared renters. They don’t believe the housing analysts who say that allowing massive new amounts of housing in the city will bring down or moderate prices. They’re particularly concerned about the Broadway Plan, the Vancouver Plan, the Jericho Lands and Senakw developments and the Commercial/Broadway Safeway site project.

I’m not sure who else this group is supporting. If they are very concerned about crime issues, they might be throwing some of their non-TEAM slate votes to the NPA. If they’re more left and more concerned about the development issue, they might be giving those extra votes to COPE, even though COPE is diametrically opposed to TEAM positions when it comes to how to deal with the drug poisoning/public disorder/crime issues that are tangled together in people’s minds.

7. The city is a total mess. There’s out-of-control crime everywhere. The grass isn’t cut. Taxes are too high. The current council is too woke for words. Everything is falling apart. People are leaving the city. We need big change.

This group is essentially the city’s Conservative or most conservative voters, and they are sticking with the NPA, even though it has transformed itself from the much broader-spectrum party it was in the 1990s to something closer to the Conservative Party of Vancouver.

I can see people from this group also voting for some TEAM candidates.

Greens: I’m not sure what to say about the Greens to help anyone make a decision there. They tend to get elected through people committed to very different other slates giving them votes. Left-progressive types have typically supported them for their climate-change positions. More development-skeptical, more-right voters have supported them for their past opposition to housing projects that resident groups have opposed.

Still always very solid on climate-change policies. Generally supportive of more left-social-justice positions on e.g. drug poisoning. Supported the overdose-prevention site in Yaletown.

Some pundits think the Greens will be wiped out this time because they’ll lose both those constituencies. (YIMBYs are mad about housing projects they opposed; development-skeptics are made about housing projects they supported.)

After four years of watching, I feel like I still can’t understand which way they will go and am routinely startled by which ones veer which way on different housing issues. There’s always a surprise.

Adriane Carr has voted against so many housing projects in the past, but has been shifting to more support lately . She also supported the Broadway Plan and Vancouver Plan. Michael Wiebe cast a controversial and deciding vote in favour of the Broadway/Birch rental tower but then against the Broadway Plan.

Pete Fry has supported many contested housing projects and has been trying to convince Strathcona residents that having new rental built on Prior is a better option than having no new rental and seeing the existing housing stock get gentrified. But then he voted against Christine Boyle’s motion to allow non-profit housing at 12 stories everywhere with no rezoning required, saying that it could entice other charitable groups to come in and build housing in order to take the profits from it and use it for their other charity work. (Every housing advocate I know was utterly baffled by this one. Take the profits from non-profit housing that can barely break even??)

Some voters may actually like those shifting positions. Others, on both sides, may not. We’ll see on Saturday night.

Indigenous candidates: Some people are specifically trying to support Indigenous  candidates. Those include Tiyaltelut Kristen Rivers (OneCity) at park board, Chris Livingstone (COPE) at park board, Cinnamon Bhayani (NPA) at council, Breen Ouellette and Tanya Webking (COPE) at council, Matthew Norris (OneCity) at council, Jonah Gonzales for Progress Vancouver in Electoral Area A, Scott Jensen (ABC) for park board, and Leona Brown, independent, for mayor. (If I am missing anyone, please let me know ASAP.)


These seem like easier choices for everyone. I’d like to give more specific, individual recommendations but I just don’t feel that I know people well enough.

People on the left are either voting 1. COPE plus some OneCity and Vision, if they are more left 2. All Vision and OneCity with some COPE and Greens if they are more centre-left. There seems to be general agreement that Steve Cardwell, the former Vancouver school board superintendent now running for Vision, is an excellent choice.

People on the right are voting a combo of ABC, NPA, TEAM on school board, more ABC if they are more centrist.

Same for park board.




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