Everything you need to know about the 2014 Vancouver election: Vote, Vote, Vote!
Find out when, where, and why to vote on November 15.
See what Vancouverites care about most.
Know your Councilor from your Trustee.
Learn what the hell a 'Capital Plan' is.
Is it nothing to you?
“I have four uncles that are buried in France, and I find it shocking that so many Canadians went abroad to ensure a democratic system, and so many people in Afghanistan will vote under threat of death, and here people won’t bother to vote, and I find it utterly shocking."
Joanne Melville of My Vote Matters gets pretty passionate when discussing her group’s mission: “We’re not associated with any party. We think it’s not just a right but a responsibility to vote. On election day, phone a half-dozen friends and neighbours and remind them to vote.”
Voter turnout in 2011 was 34%. Yes, that sucks, but Janice MacKenzie, Vancouver Chief Election Officer for Vancouver, is quick to point out that it’s not as sucky as the 2008 turnout: in fact, it was 4% better.
Still, MacKenzie notes, “Voter turnout has historically been low at the municipal level, there’s no doubt about that.” A fact of life in North America, where nobody’s risking their lives to vote, is that civic elections cause outbreaks of apathy. She says, "There can be a bit of a disconnect between the office and the services that are provided, and voting at the municipal level.” In other words, it’s important to keep tabs on the antics of Stephen Harper, but what happens at 12th and Cambie will be affecting your daily life more immediately.
So, while we must manage expectations around anything resembling an 80% turnout, MacKenzie is finding quite a bit of excitement when she and her team engage Vancouverites, and expects a higher turnout than last year: “It’s amazing the excitement people have over voting, in casting a ballot.”
Insights West polled 478 Vancouverites. with 40% of respondents listing housing as the biggest problem facing the city. Transportation came in a distant second at 17%, followed by poverty at 14%. Arguably, though, all three inextricably linked.
Around half thought City Hall was properly managing development and growth, and just over a third felt that the city’s transportation issues were under control.
Neither, to be fair, are entirely City-owned problems –– though the candidates are jostling to implement homegrown solutions. Insights West also found that nearly three quarters of Vancouverites polled favour a tax on empty homes.
Gregor Robertson, Kirk LaPointe, and Meena Wong did AMAs on Reddit ––
Or, if you’ve not yet done so, read our municipal election debate recaps.
- Opponents come out swinging against incumbent mayor
- Why I want to be Mayor: Vision's Gregor Robertson
- Why I want to be Mayor: NPA's Kirk LaPointe
Who and what you're voting for
You'll be voting for one Mayor, ten members of City Council, seven Park Board Commissioners, nine School Trustees. This is what they do:
Mayor and the City Council pass by-laws that regulate business, rezoning, construction, land use, and noise. Also, they control the buying and selling of property on behalf of the city; as well as collecting property taxes, approving large spending items, taking on new debt, and creating new departments and services. In other words, decisions with huge impacts on your life.
Park Board Commissioners are a Vancouver exclusive: in every other Canadian city, their power is folded into Council. Here, though, they make decisions governing the city's parks and community centres. Think the OneCard, off-leash areas, and the permanent placement of the Dude Chilling Park sign.
School Trustees make up the Board of Education for School District 39. Vancouver is home to 110 schools and seven adult learning centres.