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Vancouver Greens seek to build on their 2011 gains

Adriane Carr, right, is hopeful that support for her party will increase in the coming election.

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

Vancouver's Green Party, in an attempt to build on the one seat it eked out of council elections in 2011, will run three more candidates this fall who are all alarmed about the pace and style of development in the city.

That comes as several other parties are circling what they believe is a vulnerable Vision Vancouver party.

Current Green Party Councillor Adriane Carr said a poll done by the party showed that 50 per cent of people who voted for Vision in the last election intend to decrease that support when they choose their 10 council candidates and mayor. "And we are the party of choice for those voters."

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The new Green candidates include two community activists – Pete Fry, son of Liberal MP Hedy Fry, and Tracey Moir – who have been raising concerns about changes planned for their own communities of Strathcona and Oakridge. As well, lawyer Cleta Brown, the daughter of former NDP MLA Rosemary Brown, will be joining Ms. Carr in the campaign for the Nov. 15 election.

Vision took control of city council in 2008, a relatively new centre-left party under the leadership of Mayor Gregor Robertson, with a big agenda that included ending street homelessness and turning Vancouver into the world's greenest city.

But Mr. Robertson and the party are aiming for their third term amid noticeable public dissatisfaction over rapidly increasing density, high-profile bike lanes, and battles for control of community centres.

"I do commend a lot of what Vision Vancouver has done but I think they put too much faith in the development and growth model," said Mr. Fry, who, as the president of the Strathcona Residents' Association, has been fighting the city over its recent community plan for the Downtown Eastside. His neighbourhood is a part of that.

Two recent independent polls pegged voter support for Mr. Robertson at between 40 and 52 per cent, with the rest of those surveyed ready to vote for someone else if there were a credible alternative.

Residents give the current council high marks for protecting the environment (71 per cent agreed it does, in one Insights West poll) but were less enthusiastic about its record in managing growth or dealing with homelessness. (Close to 60 per cent didn't think it was doing a good job there.)

However, the number of choices for voters who don't like Vision has multiplied, leaving Vision as the party that still has the most support in a crowded field.

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The city's long-dominant Non-Partisan Association, now reduced to two councillors, is working energetically to bring its centre-right party back to power.

A new party created by a core of people who split off from the NPA, called TEAM, has also been hard at work.

And COPE, the left-wing party that was the traditional opposition voice for six decades in the city, is also mounting a big effort to present itself as the best alternative.

COPE held a policy conference last weekend where the 130 members present decided they would support a raft of policies aimed at making housing, transit and daycare more affordable.

They endorsed the idea of having the city create a housing-development arm that would build market condos and take the profits from them to build social housing.

They also supported a plan to make transit for Vancouver residents free by 2030.

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The independent polls indicated support for COPE has dropped in recent months, as it went through several internal battles that caused a lot of long-time members to leave.

But party spokesman Tim Louis said he believes the party's democratically developed policies will appeal to a lot of voters who feel the city has become unlivable.

Mr. Louis also said that he would like to see COPE work together with the Green Party, as it has sometimes in the past, to ensure that the two don't compete against each other by running overlapping candidates.

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About the Author
Urban affairs contributor

Frances Bula has written about urban issues and city politics in B.C.’s Vancouver region, covering everything from Downtown Eastside drug addiction to billion-dollar development projects, since 1994. More

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