New Vancouver mayor vows to end homelessness
Published Sunday, November 16, 2008 7:03PM PST
Vancouver's new Mayor Gregor Robertson will lead the city into the 2010 Winter Olympics, after defeating rival Peter Ladner in Saturday's civic elections. But first, he wants to solve an issue that has dogged his predecessors.
"We will bring out brightest minds together and end homelessness in Vancouver,'' said Robertson, a 44-year-old businessman and former MLA, who won in a landslide.
"We cannot do it alone. We know [B.C.] Premier Campbell and [B.C.] Housing Minister Coleman want to do the right thing for Vancouver," Robertson said. "That's why I will be pushing an aggressive housing agenda," he said.
It was Olympic housing that dominated the later part of the election campaign and may have propelled Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver Party into the mayor's chair. News of the city's controversial $100 million loan to the Olympic Village project hit the media nine days before voters went to the polls.
Robertson says the city wanted change.
"We hear they're ready for change, looking forward to a progressive government committed to being pragmatic with a bold vision for our city," he said.
And Vision Vancouver's momentum didn't stop there. Vision candidates also dominated the races for Park Board and School Board. And on City Council, Vision snagged seven of the ten available spots. The Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) took two. The once dominant Non-Partisan Association (NPA) just one.
So what went wrong for Ladner, and his NPA? Former mayor Philip Owen says the NPA gave the centre vote to Gregor Robertson, and the party failed to fight back when questions were raised about the Olympic Village development loan.
"He should have been hammered on that, he got away with it, he got away with all kinds of things,'' said Owen. "I guess there was naivety, weakness, lack of focus,'' he said.
To recover from Saturday's civic election setback, Owen said the NPA must now assess how it can regain the political centre ground, and get more people out to vote.
Voter turnout in this election was 30-per cent, down from levels seen in 2005.
With a report by CTV British Columbia's Carrie Stefanson