Government and politics of Vancouver

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Vancouver, unlike other British Columbia municipalities, is incorporated under a unique provincial statute, the Vancouver Charter.[1] The legislation, passed in 1953, supersedes the Vancouver Incorporation Act, 1921 and grants the city more and different powers than other communities possess under BC's Municipalities Act.

The city is governed by the 10-member Vancouver City Council, a nine-member School Board, and a seven-member Park Board, all elected for three-year terms through an at-large system. In addition, residents of Vancouver vote for representatives in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia and the Canadian House of Commons.

Historically, in all levels of government, the more affluent west side of Vancouver has voted along conservative or centre-right lines while the working-class eastern side of the city has voted along left-wing lines. This was reaffirmed with the results of the 2005 provincial election.

Unlike most other municipalities in Canada (aside from Montreal), Vancouver's civic politics operate under a system of locally based political parties, rather than unaligned independents.[2]


Larry Campbell's election as mayor in 2002 was in part due to his willingness to champion alternative interventions for drug issues, such as supervised injection sites. The city has adopted a Four Pillars Drug Strategy, which combines harm reduction (e.g. needle exchanges, supervised injection sites) with treatment, enforcement, and prevention.[3] The strategy is largely a response to the endemic HIV and hepatitis C among injection drug users in the city's Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. The area is characterized by entrenched poverty, and consequently is home to the "low track" street sex trade and a bustling "open air" street drug market, which gave rise to a significant AIDS epidemic in the 1990s. Some community and professional groups—such as From Grief to Action and Keeping the Door Open—are fostering public dialogue in the city about further alternatives to current drug policies.[4][5] The harm reduction strategies appears to have been successful with the deactivation of the St. Paul's Hospital Ward 10C, on May 27, 2014, due to the near-elimination of AIDS cases in British Columbia.[6]

Campbell chose not to run for re-election, and was subsequently appointed to the Senate of Canada. In the 2005 Municipal Election, the City Council swung back to the right after a term dominated by the leftist Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE). NPA mayoral candidate Sam Sullivan narrowly defeated Jim Green for the position of mayor in 2005 and was joined by five of his party's members on Council. The center-left Vision Vancouver (VVN) brought four members to Council, with the final seat going to COPE. The NPA also won six of nine School Board seats and five of seven Parks Board seats, while the remaining Board seats were won by COPE.[7]

In the 2008 Municipal Election campaign, NPA incumbent mayor Sam Sullivan was ousted as mayoral candidate by the party in a close vote, which instated Peter Ladner as the new mayoral candidate for the NPA. Gregor Robertson, a former MLA for Vancouver-Fairview and head of Happy Planet, was the mayoral candidate for Vision Vancouver, the other main contender. Vision Vancouver candidate Gregor Robertson defeated Ladner by a considerable margin, nearing 20,000 votes. The balance of power was significantly shifted to Vision Vancouver, which held seven of the 10 spots for councillor. Of the remaining three, COPE received two and the NPA one. For park commissioner, four spots went to Vision Vancouver, one to the Green Party, one to COPE, and one to NPA. For school trustee, there were four Vision Vancouver seats, three COPE seats, and two NPA seats.[8]

Municipal representation[edit]


Gregor Robertson is currently the mayor of Vancouver, British Columbia, as of the 2008 municipal elections.[9] He previously served as a MLA for Vancouver-Fairview until his resignation to run for the mayoral position.

City Council[edit]

Vancouver City Council
Councilors Party
  Tony Tang Vision
  Heather Deal Vision
  Kerry Jang Vision
  Raymond Louie Vision
  Geoff Meggs Vision
  Andrea Reimer Vision
  Tim Stevenson Vision
  Elizabeth Ball NPA
  George Affleck NPA
  Adriane Carr Green

Park and School boards[edit]

Vancouver Park Board
Commissioners Party
  Constance Barnes Vision
  Sarah Blyth Vision
  Niki Sharma Vision
  Aaron Jasper Vision
  Trevor Loke Vision
  Melissa De Genova NPA
  John Coupar NPA
Vancouver School Board
Trustees Party
  Patti Bacchus Vision
  Cherie Payne Vision
  Rob Wynen Vision
  Ken Clement Vision
  Mike Lombardi Vision
  Ken Denike NPA
  Sophia Woo NPA
  Fraser Ballantyne NPA
  Allan Wong COPE

2008 election[edit]

2005 election[edit]

2004 plebiscite[edit]

A proposal to change Vancouver's council elections to run on a ward basis (like most major Canadian cities) rather than its current at-large system was rejected by the populace in a referendum on October 16, 2004. Only 22% of city residents cast a ballot in this referendum.[10]

2002 election[edit]

Provincial representation[edit]

Further information: Vancouver (electoral districts)

In the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, Vancouver has eleven constituencies. In the 2013 provincial election, the BC Liberal Party won four seats, and the BC New Democratic Party won seven seats.[11]

Riding MLA Party
  Vancouver-Fairview George Heyman NDP
  Vancouver-False Creek Sam Sullivan BC Liberal
  Vancouver-Fraserview Suzanne Anton BC Liberal
  Vancouver-Hastings Shane Simpson NDP
  Vancouver-Kensington Mable Elmore NDP
  Vancouver-Kingsway Adrian Dix NDP
  Vancouver-Langara Moira Stilwell BC Liberal
  Vancouver-Mount Pleasant Jenny Kwan NDP
  Vancouver-Point Grey David Eby NDP
  Vancouver-Quilchena Andrew Wilkinson BC Liberal
  Vancouver-West End Spencer Chandra Herbert NDP

Federal representation[edit]

Further information: Vancouver (electoral districts)

In the Canadian House of Commons, Vancouver has five constituencies. In the 2004 federal elections, the Liberal Party of Canada won four seats, while the New Democratic Party won one. In the 2006 federal elections, all the same MPs were re-elected, although David Emerson of Vancouver Kingsway later defected to the Conservative Party. In the subsequent 2008 federal elections, the Liberals won three seats while the NDP picked up Vancouver Kingsway for a total of two seats.

Most recently, the NDP and Liberals both retained two seats each. The Conservatives won one seat, their first win in the city since 1988.

Riding MP Party
  Vancouver Centre Hedy Fry Liberal
  Vancouver East Libby Davies New Democrat
  Vancouver Kingsway Don Davies New Democrat
  Vancouver Quadra Joyce Murray Liberal
  Vancouver South Wai Young Conservative


  1. ^ "Vancouver Charter". Queen's Printer (British Columbia). Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  2. ^ Andrew, Caroline; Biles, John; Siemiatycki, Myer; Tolley, Erin, eds. (2008). Electing a Diverse Canada. Vancouver: UBC Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-7748-1485-0. 
  3. ^ "Four Pillars Drug Strategy". City of Vancouver. 2001. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  4. ^ "From Grief to Action". From Grief to Action. Retrieved 2006-11-15. 
  5. ^ Maxwell, Gillian. "Keeping the Door Open". AIDS Vancouver. Retrieved 2006-11-15. 
  6. ^ "Closing of Vancouver hospital's AIDS ward is symbolic of progress". 
  7. ^ "Vancouver Votes November 19, 2005". City of Vancouver. Retrieved 2006-11-11. 
  8. ^ "Vancouver Votes Municipal Election 2008". City of Vancouver. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  9. ^ "Election summary - Election 2008". City of Vancouver. Retrieved 2009-10-29. 
  10. ^ "Decision 2004: At-large or Wards?". City of Vancouver. Retrieved 2010-12-24. 
  11. ^ "2013 Voting Results by Voting Area". Elections BC. Retrieved 2014-02-27.