We’re less than a week away from the B.C. provincial election, and continuing to count down some of the tightest races that could decide who holds power after May 9.
Here, we take a look at a seaside suburban riding undergoing a development boom.
BC Liberals: Linda Reimer
BC NDP: Rick Glumac
BC Greens: Don Barthel
Why we’re watching
A riding in an area that has traditionally been friendly to the BC Liberals, Port Moody-Coquitlam came down to a nail biter in 2013, with the outcome decided by 437 votes in incumbent Linda Reimer’s favour over popular former mayor Joe Trasolini.
The NDP has only held it once since 1991, when Trasolini won it in a 2012 by-election.
While Trasolini trounced his Liberal opponent in that matchup, winning by more than 3,000 votes, that’s not likely a performance the NDP will be able to repeat. By-elections are notorious for penalizing incumbents, and while his star power helped the NDP boost its vote share by 1,600 over 2009, he couldn’t repeat the feat just a year later.
Reimer has earned some stature serving the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development in Christy Clark’s government, and is well known in the community as a two-term city councillor.
The NDP are running a two-term councillor of their own in Rick Glumac, who has also worked as a software and app developer and could help the party burnish its tech credentials.
The Green vote may be less of a factor here. Early in the campaign, the Tri City News reported he’d referred to himself as a “paper candidate” on Facebook, who wouldn’t campaign actively but was there so the party had someone on the ballot. He’s since removed the post and said he plans to seriously contend.
Already an issue in the riding, healthcare became a major topic of conversation when BC Liberal Candidate Linda Reimer told an all candidates meeting she supported some degree of privatization in the healthcare system.
“I do support the privatization to a certain extent of our system, I think that choice is always good for people and I myself have had a surgery in the private healthcare system, and I would like to think by me going to the private system it opened up another space for someone in the public healthcare system,” she said in remarks that were widely circulated by the NDP.
Eagle Ridge hospital which sits in the riding made the wrong kind of headlines earlier this year when a senior — who also happened to be a hospital donor — spent 36 hours waiting in the ER.
On the eve of the election, the province announced more than $22-million for an expansion to Eagle Ridge’s ER, which will more than double the number of beds in it.
The long promised and finally delivered Evergreen SkyTrain line has encouraged a building boom in Port Moody that’s seen property prices skyrocket and high-density towers built in the once sleepy suburb.
The latest numbers from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver show the benchmark detached home price coming close to rivalling East Vancouver and North Burnaby, costing almost $1.4-million. Condo prices are actually higher than in Vancouver’s east end coming in at about $530,000.
Despite the development associated with transit, the area hasn’t seen the same conflict over so-called demovictions, however just 25 per cent of its residents are renters according to 2006 census figures.
Education and daycare
With a quarter of its population of school age according to the 2011 census, education issues are front and centre in Port Moody-Coquitlam.
The riding also falls inside Coquitlam’s School District 43, the third largest in B.C., and pulled in enough cash from the province’s settlement with teachers over class size and composition to add about 60 new teaching positions.
That hiring spree, however, has also put the squeeze on already crowded daycares, a number of whom are now in jeopardy of losing space to schools who need to free up classrooms.
The move has prompted parents from at least one to launch an online petition demanding more information.
The BC Liberals have pledged to add 13,000 new daycare spaces by 2020, while the NDP is offering up $10 a day childcare, and the Greens have pledged free daycare for kids under three or a $500 monthly credit for stay at home parents.