With the B.C. provincial election now nearing the halfway point, we’re shining a light on some of the ridings that could play a pivotal role come May 9.
This time, we look at the southeast Vancouver riding of Vancouver-Fraserview, a multicultural riding where voters have historically tended to pick a winner.
Decision BC – Battleground: Surrey-Fleetwood
BC Liberals: Suzanne Anton
BC NDP: George Chow
BC Green: Eric Kolotyluk
Why we’re watching
Another riding the NDP needs to flip if it hopes to win power on May 9, Vancouver-Fraserview is a bellweather, having electing an MLA with the winning party every election since 1991.
Back in 2013, it was one of the five closest contests, with the B.C. Liberals’ Suzanne Anton eking out a win of just 470 votes. In the two prior elections the margin was also under 1,000 votes.
Anton, now the incumbent, is a high-profile candidate having served as Minister of Justice and Attorney General in Christy Clark’s government, and prior to that as a two-term NPA Vancouver City Councillor and mayoral candidate in 2011.
Decision BC – Battleground: Coquitlam-Maillardville
The NDP are running George Chow, himself a two-term Vancouver City Councillor with Vision Vancouver, and a former BC Hydro senior engineer. He also sits on the boards of the Vancouver Public Library and SUCCESS, and is very active in the Chinese community including a role as chair of the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver.
The Greens are running a relatively unknown candidate in Eric Kolotyluk, an IT specialist. However the party pulled in more than 1,200 votes in 2013, more than enough to play spoiler should soft NDP or Liberal supporters decide to go Green.
The B.C. Conservatives are also not running a candidate this year. They drew about 650 votes in 2013 which could find themselves in the Liberal column.
Both NDP leader John Horgan and Liberal Leader Christy Clark have both made a point of campaigning in the riding, appearing at the Vaisakhi parade.
No candidate can hit the doorstep in Vancouver without facing questions about housing affordability, and that’s equally true in Fraserview.
According to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, the benchmark price of a detached home in the area is $1.4-million, up 72 per cent from five years ago. A condo is worth just under $500,000, up 51 per cent for the same period.
That housing issue could cut either way, with young new homeowners struggling to meet hefty mortgates pitted against more established residents fearful of losing significant equity if the market is upset.
Renters make up about a third of residents in the area, and are also being squeezed, with a vacancy rate of about 0.8 per cent. 2016 CMHC stats list the average rent of a two-bedroom unit at about $1,200, however it’s hard to find a unit at that price listed on most rental sites.
Added to the mix, the region is seeing its own development boom along the Fraser River, where higher density condos and townhouses are sprouting up in the so-called “River District.”
Decision B.C. – Battleground: Burnaby-Lougheed
2017 Stats: Vancouver-Fraserview
Population (2014): 62,885 (1st)
Area: 13 sq km (80th)
Pop Density: 4,837.3 (7th)
Average Age: 41.6 years (42nd)
English as Second Language: 67.18 per cent (5th)
Top 3 Second Languages:
Cantonese – 18.74 per cent
Chinese, n.o.s. – 11.50 per cent
Panjabi (Punjabi) – 10.67 per cent
With the city’s young families being squeezed out of the west side, education is becoming a hot topic in relatively more affordable communities like those in the city’s southeast.
One of the 11 schools potentially on the Vancouver School Board’s chopping block was in this riding, and three more sit just outside, potentially drawing kids in their catchment areas.
It’s also home to more than half a dozen schools waiting for seismic upgrades.
Those details add to the already charged political atmosphere around public education in the city, where the board of education fought a long and public battle over budget cuts prior to being sacked in October.
With more than 20 per cent of the population school-age children, according to the 2011 census, parents may be heading to the polls with the classroom top of mind.
Jobs and the economy
A traditionally blue-collar region of the city, jobs and the economy is also an issue likely to come up on the doorstep.
The 2006 census showed the riding to have a median household income of just under $53,000, with the residents most likely to work in food service, manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, and other services.
Expect the B.C. Liberals to pound home their message of job growth and a hot economy here.
The NDP is clearly sensitive to the issue, choosing the riding Monday to announce its softwood lumber stance, with Horgan posing behind a podium reading “good jobs.”