16 November 2008

Election Results

No, not that election.

British Columbia held Province-wide municipal elections yesterday.

In Nanaimo, Vancouver Island's second largest city with 80,000 residents, voters overwhelmingly rejected incumbent mayor Gary Korpan despite his 25 years on the city’s council, the last 15 as mayor. Korpan finished third with less than 16 percent of the vote. Mayor-elect John Ruttan (photo) is a long-time Nanaimo businessman. Ruttan proposed the economy as Nanaimo’s “number one issue.” Ruttan’s website says he embraces “the ideals of family values” which for Ruttan, based on his stated platform, evidently includes:

  • fostering the growth of local green initiatives and technology
  • cultivating progressive programs aimed at enhancing overall health and wellness
  • public support of local initiatives that will help stem the tide of poverty and give people who are truly struggling a chance for a better life
  • managing growth sustainably within the city's limits
At a mayoral Q&A forum I attended, Ruttan said he opposed any additional waterfront highrises--a contentious issue in Nanaimo--and would have “no problem” signing a proclamation as part of an annual gay/lesbian pride day. 

Down the road about 100 kilometers, voters in the Province's capital Victoria elected Dean Fortin mayor. In a brief post-victory television interview I saw last evening, when asked about the community’s top issues Fortin said 1) homelessness and 2) global warming. On the latter, Fortin’s website outlines his plan:

  • achieve carbon neutral government operations by 2012
  • measure and report the community's greenhouse gas emissions profile
  • work to create compact, more energy efficient communities
The mayor-elect says he will “strive for ongoing improvement on sustainability issues.” He’s a self-described “avid cyclist” and “a big supporter of getting alternative transportation.” Fortin’s website claims he has “done more than almost anyone in Victoria to help homeless people and deal with the problem of homelessness.” Fortin says his “number one goal is to mobilize the city to address this [affordable housing and homelessness] crisis.”

Voters in the Province’s largest city (and center of Canada's third largest metro area), Vancouver, just 50 kilometers east of Nanaimo on the B.C. mainland across the Georgia Strait, elected Gregor Robertson mayor. Robertson ran as part of a slate of candidates collectively named Vision Vancouver, with a platform in these four categories:

  • homelessness and affordable housing
  • building strong, safe, inclusive communities
  • the environment and sustainability
  • creative capital and a thriving economy

Platform details include: a goal of ending street homelessness by 2015; creating a trial summer program of car-free Sundays on selected streets; starting a $100,000 Green Neighborhood Grants Fund to “support individuals and small groups that start local initiatives to fight climate change;” make cycling and walking “a priority;” allocate space for community gardens; and implement a rentable bike program with hubs across the city.

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