Vancouver voters packed the polling stations today.
At St. Augustine's Elementary school on W 8th Avenue, some voters said they had to wait in a one-hour line up. The elementary school principal Catherine Oberndorf says this is the busiest she has ever seen the polls.
“I think it’s absolutely fabulous that so many people came out to voice their opinion,” said Oberndorf. “I work at this school, and I have never seen a turnout like this before. Only half the day is over so we’ll see.”
The city said more than 38,550 people cast ballots during the advance voting stage, a major increase over advance voting in the 2011 election, which saw 19,484 ballots cast.
Vision Vancouver’s incumbant Gregor Robertson, the Non-Partisan Association’s Kirk LaPointe and the Coalition of Progressive Electors’ Meena Wong are the three main candidates in Vancouver’s mayoral race, with six independent candidates in the running as well.
Oberndorf said she voted because it’s her “absolute privilege as a Canadian,” while other locals said they voted for change.
“I just found out about COPE, and I know ‘this’ much about them, but at least I believe that they actually do care about the fact that majorities cannot afford to live here,” said a voter who asked to remain anonymous. “We [me and my wife] make 100 plus between the two of us and we rent a one bedroom here.”
COPE’s Lisa Barrett, who is running for city council, started her canvassing early on West 4th Avenue and Arbutus. She said it was “encouraging” to be getting a lot of supporters who are interested in the COPE policies and are “interested in change.”
“It’s been really good,” she said. “I’ve also been talking to a lot of immigrants who are very interested in the platform but are unable to vote.”
Also rallying in any last minute support was mayoral candidate Meena Wong, standing on the corner of Denman and Comox street late this afternoon.
“I truly believe in the power of people and the voters,” said Wong. “Whether we win or not, it’s great if we do, but if not, we’re going to keep pushing for affordability for Vancouver. Our work will carry on.”