Homelessness and affordability on top of mind for Mayor at inauguration ceremony

“We will show them what a great city can be,” says Mayor in third inaugural addr
Photo by Sindhu Dharmarajah

Locals and government officials filled the Creekside Community Recreation Centre gymnasium today for the Mayor and Council Inauguration ceremony. Even though their attire was serious and formal, the mood was cheerful as the Vancouver Fire Rescue Band played live Christmas music in background.

The crowd eagerly waited for the procession of Gregor Robertson, council members, and local musician Dan Mangan among others to walk into the room.

After being sworn in, a kilt-wearing Mayor Gregor Robertson delivered his inauguration address for his third consecutive term.

The next four years provide great opportunity for our city, but they also pose challenges. And to keep moving forward, we have to face our challenges head-on,” he said. “Today the world looks to Vancouver. And together, we will show them what a great city can be.

During his speech, Robertson mentioned many elements he previously addressed during his campaign platform, which included homelessness, affordable homes, child poverty, protecting the coast from oil tankers, the transit referendum and the Broadway subway.

“The Broadway corridor has become Vancouver’s economic, educational, technological and cultural aorta. Congestion has been building for years, and half measures won’t begin to cut it,” said the Mayor. “A subway is the single best thing we can do for our environment and our economy.”

Vancouver can’t have more traffic and congestion on the streets, he said at a media scrum following the speech, people need a more convenient way to travel without their cars. He also added that there is no challenge “closer to [his] heart” than ending street homelessness.

“Let me repeat something I’ve said many times before: Ending homelessness isn’t an aspiration or a rhetorical flourish,” he said in his speech, “In a city as wealthy as Vancouver, it’s a non-negotiable responsibility for every one of us.”

Although affordability is a non-stop challenge, that doesn’t mean the city of Vancouver have to allow working and middle-class families to be “priced out” of town, he added.

Photo by Peter MorelliPhoto by Peter Morelli

Reconciliation Canada executive director Karen Joseph, who was MC for the day, said the new mayor and council will have a lot of work ahead of them. But she believes that this team will continue to uphold the city’s top priorities.

“We are fortunate enough to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world,” she said. “I can’t tell you how honoured I am to be a part of this ceremony, and to be in the presence of such amazing leadership.”

Although Catherine Evans holds the lone Vision seat on the park board (down from four since the election last month, in which the NPA made significant gains), she’s optimistic that the board members will see eye-to eye on almost all park-related topics. There is still “a lot of work to be done,” she added.

Following the ceremony, the new council met briefly in evening to approve future measures like meeting dates and appointments. The first regular meeting will take place December 16.

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