Four questions for 2017 by-election councillor candidates from Vancouver’s creative community
On October 14th, Vancouver will hold its first by-election in a quarter-century to fill an empty city council seat. In conversations with members of the local creative community, a few issues kept coming up, so I decided to put those questions to the candidates themselves—and surprisingly they all responded! These are by no means all the important issues, but a few worth considering as we consider who we’d like to represent us at City Hall. Below are all nine candidates’ responses in their own, unedited words offered without comment for your consideration.
What does ‘creative economy’ mean to you, and what’s your vision for growing Vancouver’s creative economy?
Gary Lee: I think the creative economy is essential to Vancouver’s identity and is one of the things that makes this city amazing. We have a wealth of talented individuals in this city that need to be able to show the world what we are all about. The creative economy is everything from the VSO to a street busker to a public disco. I love being able to walk down Commercial or Main St. or downtown and stumble upon some kind of performance. I would work with the other councilors to support the arts in the city. I think events like the Mural fest have been fantastic and I would absolutely support more events like it were I a councilor.
Damian J Murphy: Art and design are at the root of our civic life. This important sector of our economy encompasses a wide range of creative and artistic fields from art, theatre and music to fashion and web design. It enriches society as a whole and brings vibrancy to dull spaces. The creative economy engages and challenges people to move beyond binary paradigms. The creative economy is a source of meaningful work for many self-employed individuals and small businesses and is vital to our local economy. My vision for growing it includes ensuring that development and funding opportunities for education are stable, that grants are maintained and expanded and that the City fully supports initiatives to encourage new opportunities for everyone. We are fortunate to have in our City so many Festivals, for example, that bring international attention and provide local residents opportunities to be involved in and connect with the arts.
Joshua Wasilenkoff: Creative economy means having access and supporting the arts and culture, music, film, and the media industries within the City of Vancouver. Collaborating with the Vancouver’s Arts, Culture, and Recreation Committees and Creative BC to promote and strengthen the diversity of the awareness and importance of public arts and culture.
Hector Bremner (NPA): The “creative economy” has really become Vancouver’s 21st century economy. Once a mill town churning out lumber, today we are a tech town churning out ideas in code. Of course, there’s more to it than that, there is the fact that tech has become creative space where art, science and economics meet. I had the honour of working on the front lines of attracting companies, people and investment while working with BC’s Minister of International Trade. Companies like Sony Imageworks, Microsoft and Bandai-Namco chose Vancouver because of our talent, regional business environment and high-quality of life. However, the high cost of living is threatening to undo all our hard work. We will not be able to attract the talent if they cannot afford to live here, and if the talent isn’t here, the creative economy won’t be either. That is why I am running — we cannot afford any more inaction on the housing crisis. I’ve brought forward a plan to add massive amounts of targeted supply that’s attainable and timely. We need to be creative, we need to be forward looking and we need to work together.
Mary Jean “Watermelon” Dunsdon (Sensible Vancouver): An economy that does not favour only those with a MBA or PhD in finance. It's an economy that works for all Vancouver citizens, an economy that supports and embraces the heart of soul of any city, its artists. An economy that provides sufficient homes, and work spaces for people to live, create, and love, not just work to pay the bills.
Judy Graves (One City): The creative economy in Vancouver, is everyone in Vancouver. While we tend to think of creativity as exclusive to artists, musicians, designers, teachers, First Nations, bloggers, writers, entrepreneurs, chefs, nurses, scientists, etc, no part of Vancouver’s economy can flow without creativity from everyone.
Pete Fry (Green): As someone who — for the better part of thirty years — has made my living as a freelancer in the creative economy (graphic and web design, communications, art direction and illustration) what creative economy means to *ME* is “the arts”. I know that this sector alone is a significant contributor to a strong and diversified economy. I’m also living proof and a firm believer that creative employment can be a gateway to good paying jobs and security — often for folk who might not otherwise thrive in more traditional job structures. That said, I recognize that the contemporary definition coined by Howkins in the early 2000’s and expanded into Richard Florida’s idea of the “Creative Class” expands the idea of creative economy to a broader scope that includes digital media and is a huge economic engine, contributing over $7billion annually to our province’s GDP. I do see a disconnect between the traditional arts economy and the new digital creative economy, where the latter is falling victim to the former. The new economy, buoyed by investors and lionized as tech startups tends to drive land values, gentrification and income disparity — often setting up in underused light industrial areas that otherwise have provided affordable production space for painters, dancers, photographers, designers, makers and the like. We see this actively playing out now in light industrial parts of Strathcona, the DTES and Mount Pleasant. Of course that gentrification pressure being exerted by the new creative economy takes it’s toll across a wide swath that includes traditional manufacturing, light industry, and housing too. As the creative economy exacerbates this sort of have-and-have-not disparity, we should be cautious. Vancouver has been slow to react to this reality even as Richard Florida now debunks his own mantra that our city has adopted: In the preface to his new book The New Urban Crisis, Florida describes as: “our new age of winner-take-all-urbanism in which the talented and the advantaged cluster and colonize a small select group of superstar cities”. So while “creative economy” in that context does come with some serious caveats, I support growing the creative economy, with:
• Zoning measures to control land values and gentrification, to protect traditional arts and maker spaces, and to control the impact of where we locate large tech startups.
• Making Vancouver an attractive place for investment in the creative economy, through targeted incentives and programs that are weighted toward public interest first.
• A city-wide plan that engages Vancouverites in a collaborative and co-creative city planning process that ensures we are making space for robust, diverse and inclusive creative, commercial and residential spaces.
• Support for Vancouver Community College and other locally funded institutions to help local citizens get a foot in the creative economy door.
• Support for grass roots and community led creative placemaking.
• Increase funding for grants and cultural services.
• On the fine arts end of the scale, many practitioners operate in isolation; furthering work of groups like East Side Culture Crawl, I’d like to see more city supports to build cultural community capacity
Jean Swanson: I would like to see more support for artists who are being renovicted from their work and housing spaces — they are a big part of our creative economy. We need more support for outside art, smaller artists, art that isn’t in galleries and for people who want to explore art. We need more exhibition places, more room for creativity that isn’t attached to an institution and more support for independent artists. Vancouver could be a city of culture like Glasgow. It’s a whole project that European cities are doing. A whole year would be based on bringing culture to Vancouver and revealing the culture that we have. Artists could be supported and everything would be advertised and promoted by the government. The creative economy, for me, includes the diverse art and cultural sector, but also design, publishing, tech and much more. The crisis of housing affordability is hurting the ability of everyone in the creative economy to make a living and even harming those who have started small to medium-sized companies: even when they offer decent wages, they can’t find employees who can afford to live here.
Diego Cardona (Vision): The creative economy is a vibrant, resilient economy filled with good-paying jobs in growth industries like tech, design, digital, film and television, social enterprises, programming, virtual reality, video game development and production. Jobs in the arts. These sectors working together is my definition of the creative economy. It is an economy where entrepreneurship is valued and embraced, and increasingly where social responsibility and the public good are incorporated into the final product. To grow the creative economy, we first need to make sure that people with a variety of incomes and backgrounds can afford to live and work in Vancouver. That means not just protecting and investing in affordable housing but also ensuring that we are providing access to childcare and quality public transit. The second way that we grow the creative economy is by ensuring we foster a civic culture that is more open to risk taking. We need to be constantly seeking out new ideas and opportunities to the challenges we face in Vancouver, whether it is shifting public space away from cars towards active transportation, how we approve and enable architecture and design that reflects a broader range of options in our city’s built form, and how we talk about our economic future in terms of what is possible and what is not. We need to make sure that City Hall is a positive and enabling force. That means creating rules and regulations that are not overly restrictive and allow the public to generate ideas and projects that City Hall could not have originally imagined. A world-class city embraces risk and recognizes that it can’t and should not control every outcome and I believe this is a value that City Hall should embrace.
How will you address real estate speculation and housing affordability in Vancouver?
Gary Lee: Affordability is a complex issue that straddles every layer of government. I don’t have a silver bullet to fix affordability in Vancouver during a 1-year tenure of city council but I can represent my generation’s voice at the table during policy discussions at the municipal level and advocating for us at senior government levels. We are missing advocacy and representation for the missing middle of Vancouver. Special interest groups have successfully advocated social housing to support our most vulnerable (and this is important and needs to continue) and developer lobbyists have advocated supporting investment condos and high end housing. I’m speaking for the missing middle; not the wealthy or the poor but those of us who go to work every day and tread water trying to make a life with our families in Vancouver. We need a diversity of housing options that right sizes housing affordability for everyone on the economic ladder. Simultaneously we need to attract industry that sustains jobs in diverse sectors to ensure economic prosperity. As Vancouver evolves, I believe these four points are key to ensuring that families can not only survive in Vancouver, but they thrive in the future: 1) Rezone single family housing to allow duplex/triplex/fourplex adding more density to neighbourhoods. Currently large ‘single family homes’ can consist of laneway house + basement suite = 1 landlord + tenants. Adding a duplex/triplex in it’s place houses the same number of families and allows for ownership over tenancy. Who wants to live in a basement anyways? 2) Change zoning to require more family friendly units in high density housing. Currently only 35% of new buildings are required to be 2 or 3 bedroom with the majority being 1 bed/studio. 3) Scale back the Green Building requirements. Continuing to move forward to create green buildings is noble however when housing affordability is at crisis level, it’s time to reevaluate the depth and scope of the requirements. This includes the controversial natural gas ban put forward. I believe everyone in the city should be able to have access to a clean burning natural gas stove. 4) Advocate for policies across all levels of government to curb property speculation that results in housing being a commodity. In 2016, just the single-family property owners alone earn more with housing appreciation than the entire population of the City of Vancouver did by actually working.
Damian J Murphy: Methodically. If elected in this by-election as your Independent Voice on Vancouver City Council I will have one year to address these important issues. That’s not a lot of time. In this short term I will focus on the start of the housing continuum which begins with homelessness and ends with ownership.
• Extend winter shelters year-round. Shelters offer stability. They are a first point of contact with the kinds of support that lead to positive health outcomes.
• Provide dignity to tent cities by providing fresh water and decent latrines at a minimum and permit this form of shelter in designated empty City sites.
• Erect temporary artistic rain screens in parks for semi-shelter.
• Consider amendments to the Single Room Accommodation by-law.
• Promote enforcement of the Short-Term Rental by-law.
• Advocate for zoning changes that allow for more rental apartments.
• Advocate for mixed use development.
• Preserve existing rental stock through tax incentives and redevelopment incentives.
• Enhance tenant rights protection through advocacy to expand Residential Tenancy Branch services and fund existing organizations that provide support for tenants
Joshua Wasilenkoff: Working with the provincial government and advocating them to take the recommendations of the BC Housing Affordability Fund.
Hector Bremner (NPA): I would immediately move to make sure the whole city knows we need to make tough choices together and do what’s best for all citizens to add all types of supply. This may mean some personal sacrifices but we are stronger together. My immediate plan would be to:
• Bring an end to the piecemeal, building-by-building, lot-by-lot and project-by-project rezoning. This will be replaced with zoning changes over larger zoning areas within the city that will allow flexibility to achieve greater residential density and diversity. This new approach to zoning will be informed by looking at the current composition of the dwelling stock along with residential density targets and jobs in different areas of the City. This will give residents price and market certainty, the ability to see the long-term vision for their city.
• Move to utilize 99 year leases on City owned land and partner with homebuilders and service providers to leverage the development potential of City owned lands to add both small and large scale social and market housing.
• Move to work to streamline the building approval process, to speed construction of new homes and move housing units to market faster. This will include the ability to prioritize social and family housing. This includes a one-window approach to expedite social and affordable housing permits and building.
• Move to consult with citizens in a collaborative process on these planning and zoning changes, bringing certainty for residents and good ideas and concerns into the public discussion instead of maintaining its current combative posture.
• The city will be a leader regionally in setting and achieving drastically scaled up 10 and 25 year targets for housing supply, housing density, and housing diversity, from rental and family units to affordable and social housing. The city will also collaborate with provincial and federal governments. So long as we limit supply in type, volume and speed, Vancouver will remain the speculators dream. My plan would flip the game and put working-class people first in this city again.
Mary Jean “Watermelon” Dunsdon (Sensible Vancouver): I would prioritize all permits and zoning that address meaning housing for real Vancouver citizens. I would de prioritize all/any luxury retail homes/condos. I would throw my support into the new Vancouver’s Tenant Union. I would lobby the Provincial and Federal government to return to social housing and increased/retrofitted co-operative housing. They can use all the money they made taxing the empty homes, and foreign buyers. I believe strongly that people deserve a basic shelter. Even if we have to put together temporary modular homes, or tents for our surging homeless population until we can transfer them into more permanent locations. I am all for that. I am a renter who has gone 3 times to the RTA to fight unlawful renovations. I won every time. I have the same vested interest in solving our affordable housing problem along with 50% of my fellow citizens. I can fight for/with you. I am good at that.
Judy Graves (One City): 1. Luxury tax, proceeds to a fund to supply housing rented at 30% of gross income. This tax would not find its way into general revenue 2. Inclusionary zoning in every neighbourhood of Vancouver, 20% of new construction of any project larger than 5 units, to be rented at 30% of tenant’s income, permanently. 3. “Flipping” tax as a means of discouraging the driving up of the price of land, and to increase funds to address homelessness. As well, i will be watching that existing housing and studio space not be torn down or left empty. In a time of housing crisis, we need to make best use of existing supply.
Pete Fry (Green): We need to shift development. As a city, we need to ensure that we are building more housing that’s affordable for local people instead of for the luxury market and speculators. Within the powers we have under the Vancouver Charter to act as councillors, this will variously involve:
• how we make land use decisions (i.e. what we build and where);
• extracting more public benefits from private developers (i.e. inclusionary zoning or outright ownership of units, more Community Amenity Contributions and Developer Cost Levies);
• lobbying senior governments for change (ie. provincially: property and property transfer tax reform that specifically targets speculation, flipping and non-local capital, better protections under the Tenancy Act for rent control; and federally: crack down on money laundering, tax evasion and return capital gains tax incentives to the building of purpose built rental apartments) BUT, I propose five quick start actions that the city can do immediately, and will help get us to a new fair deal on housing and address the urgency of our housing crisis:
1. Change city by-laws to make the definition of “affordable” mean affordable: fixing housing prices to local incomes, not market rates.
2. Call for a one-year moratorium on demolition of purpose-built rental housing, and strengthen the Tenant Relocation and Protection Guidelines.
3. Protect and increase secondary and basement suites by making it easy to legalize them.
4. Launch a city-wide plan to involve citizens in deciding how to add density, affordability and “missing middle” housing into their neighbourhoods.
5. Create a Renter’s Office at the City, to better protect and resource the over half Vancouverites who rent their homes.
Jean Swanson: We have proposed a 4 year rent freeze, a mansion tax on homes worth over $5M to fund an end to homelessness and thousands of units of social and co-op housing. A speculation tax is a good idea too. Housing should be a right, not a commodity. We need to get the funds from the mansion tax and other sources to make this a reality and Jean will work fiercely for this. For every new building, attach one apartment at 30% of income for a creative person in that building.
Diego Cardona (Vision): The Empty Homes Tax is an important policy to address housing affordability and speculation in Vancouver. I support it and I support any additional investments needed to boost and strengthen the audit and enforcement process of the Empty Homes Tax. I will champion the first $500,000 of revenue from the Empty Homes Tax go towards the Vancouver Rent Bank to help prevent evictions and homelessness. The city is limited in terms of the taxes it can levy on its own. I support Mayor Robertson’s call for a progressive property tax that would charge a higher rate on more expensive properties. I also support the speculation tax proposed by UBC and SFU academics that ensures that people who live and pay taxes in Vancouver and own property pay a lower tax rate than those who do not. These policies require provincial legislation. Rental Housing: The city is suffering from a long-standing lack of new rental housing being created during the last three decades, due to federal tax incentives being removed that now make it more profitable to build condos instead of rental. The City of Vancouver has wisely stepped up and offered incentives to get new rental housing built through the Rental 100 program, but we need the federal government to step up as well and fulfill their 2015 election campaign commitment to waive the GST on new rental. I would also like to see the provincial government bring in a new property tax classification that has a lower rate for purpose-built rental than condos. Fundamentally we need to change how the current market favors short-term profits through building condos rather than investing in rental housing. I support the city’s efforts to use city-owned land to develop low and modest income rental housing, and want to see that expanded on more sites across the city. The Province could also enable more rental supply by providing the city with the legal ability to zone exclusively for rental housing, which would help reduce land speculation caused by the possibility of condo development. We also need the federal and provincial governments to introduce more demand side measures to help stop the runaway price increases in the housing market. Because the cost of ownership continues to surge, more people in higher income bands are stuck in the rental housing market rather than making first-time purchases. This is compounding our lack of rental housing supply. It is important to recognize that housing is only one part of achieving affordability. Access to public transit, affordable child care, and good paying jobs are critical to making sure people have affordable opportunities to live in the city. I strongly support the city’s efforts to get the Broadway subway built — not just to Arbutus, but all the way to UBC — and increase capital investments in childcare, as well as growing our economy to provide better paying job opportunities for people.
Have you supported public space activations in Vancouver, and will you in the future? (i.e. closures of 800 Robson and Bute/Robson for public space plazas, laneway activations, etc.)
Gary Lee: Support of public space in this city is actually a large part of my platform. Here is an excerpt from my website. I grew up pushing back against the reputation of ‘no-fun city’. I believe a socially connected community is a safe and prosperous community. I want to remove city restrictions that stifle public gatherings and events and make it easier for people to connect with their neighbours and their community. Public Discos, murals and art shows are all great examples of showcasing Vancouver creatives and giving them an outlet to put their signature on the city. Improving public space and creating a fun city will attract and retain young professionals in emerging industries like technology and boost tourism. By removing the barriers to entry to create these events, our spaces will be more efficiently used and create a more vibrant and livable city. Examples of things that are going to be very important to accomplish this in Vancouver moving forward: 1) As city parks become more and more populated and in demand, ensuring that they are safe and accessible to families living in condos as they are their only access to green space 2) Easing laws in public areas including parks and beaches to allow alcohol consumption. Friends and family should be able to use these spaces to gather instead of going to a restaurant which is not affordable for everyone. I think it’s ridiculous that you can get a ticket for drinking wine at the beach. 3) Better utilizing roadways and parks for public events, creating more community-based events similar to Khatsalano, Main Street and Commercial Drive car-free days Join me in banishing the reputation that this is a no fun city.
Damian J Murphy: Yes and yes. Most recently in a professional capacity I sat at the table of a committee on public engagement at the new Jim Deva plaza in the West End. Since 2002 I have been involved with the annual Dec. 6 Day of Remembrance Shoe Memorial on the South steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery to promote awareness of and help end violence against women. Since 2007 I have organized fifteen public homeless connect events which seek to provide opportunities for folks experiencing homelessness to get connected with vital supports. For more than 10 years I have helped organize through local neighbourhood grants annual neighbourhood block parties and gatherings in parks in East Vancouver where I live. I have been involved in our local Community Garden since 2003 and promote the expansion of Community Gardens and urban farming throughout the city. I am supporter and huge fan of public festivals like the Jazz Fest, Fringe Fest, Eastside Culture Crawl and others.
Joshua Wasilenkoff: I have not currently supported public arts and culture closures in Vancouver, but in my past of civic engagement I sat on the Recreation, Culture and Public Arts Advisory Committee in the City of Langley and supported and funded many events and art spaces within the city as I plan to do the same here if elected to council.
Hector Bremner (NPA): Yes, and I think utilizing spaces in different ways creates experiences for people that makes them feel more connected, involved and happier with their city.
Mary Jean “Watermelon” Dunsdon (Sensible Vancouver): Yes. I was instrumental in turning the Rio Theatre into a live venue ten years ago. I’ve produced countless comedy/vaudeville events (Pink Show, Grow Show, East Van All Stars) hosted a tsunami of parties featuring all live, mostly local acts, organized free hula hooping events to add to our community, and sponsored a local MMA fighter with my cannabis cooking show, our slogan suggesting “Marijuana is for athletes. Booze if for spectators.” I love love love Car Free Day with all my heart. I am an artist/entertainer myself. Humans assembling for any reason brings me the most joy.
Judy Graves (One City): I support public space plazas so long as they do not disrupt public transit, which needs to remain a priority in Vancouver. I personally enjoy the plaza at Bute and Robson with friends almost every day. I love the addition of pianos to the outdoor city spaces. I long for more reclaimed, painted alley. So pleased that the design has included the safety of the homeless and has not sought to displace them. I would like to see more of these alleys in the business areas encourage dancing and sports like basketball and street hockey 24/7.
Pete Fry (Green): I’m a big fan of creative placemaking and public space activations, and am a keen supporter of them. I think that alley activations like the cheap and cheerful Alley-oop are especially important solution for activating underused public spaces where space is otherwise at a premium in our rapidly densifying city. I am especially fond of the smaller grass roots activations often funded by organizations like Vancouver Foundation Neighbourhood Small Grants. I am wary of co-opted creative placemaking however, where public space activations might be cynically manipulated to support gentrification and real estate agendas. Thus I feel it is important to root public spaces in community wherever possible. Indeed, when rooted in community, public spaces become community spaces. Note: I have heard some complaints about Jim Deva plaza from neighbours, mostly about peaceful enjoyment of their homes vis a vis amplified noise. So while I am supportive of that particular location, and honouring Jim’s legacy, I do think it is important as mentioned to root public space activations in community and where applicable consider “good neighbour agreements”.
Jean Swanson: Yes. It would be nice to close off Gastown traffic, for example, and artists could put their art on the street to sell. As it is now they have to get an expensive permit. Carvers have to sit on the side of the road and carve. It’s ok to sell clothes but not watercolours. Why don’t we have more artists selling drawings and sketches? Because they’re told you have to buy a permit. Cities from Paris to Bogota regularly close off streets for street markets, cyclists and pedestrians. It makes for more vibrant cities and for stronger creative economies.
Diego Cardona (Vision): As a young person, and a member of an under-represented group who often feel marginalized and isolated in big cities I think public space activations are key to building vibrant cities. I support and will continue to support public space plazas and laneway activations. Our communities need space to gather, collaborate, and enjoy each other. I am an enthusiastic supporter of the closure of the block at 800 Robson to create a public plaza by the Vancouver Art Gallery. I had the opportunity to visit the trial public space at Bute and Robson and believe it has been a success and would like to see it become permanent. I am also excited about the opportunity to make Gastown more pedestrian-friendly and shift more space away from cars, and toward walking. I also want to see many more privately-led activations and ensure that the city is supporting and enabling them wherever possible. We have more than 200 downtown blocks connected by laneways and there is a huge opportunity to reclaim them for the public and make them active, energetic and engaging spaces for people of all ages. Other cities do this, and I feel we have a great opportunity to learn from these cities and activate our laneways throughout Vancouver. The alley-oop activation in downtown Vancouver has been a real eye-opener in terms of the simple yet extremely effective ways we can activate parts of our city that we historically have not paid any attention to. I’m also a strong supporter of the Viva Vancouver program launched under Mayor Robertson, and want to see additional parklets created throughout the city. The parklets created everywhere from commercial drive to Main Street and 14th Ave are a very big success and are driving more foot traffic to local businesses while creating a more cosmopolitan feel in our local neighborhoods. I will support additional resources as needed for Vancouver to increase Parklet opportunities across Vancouver.
What message/promise would you like to communicate to Vancouver’s creative community?
Gary Lee: I have some really great friends in Vancouver’s creative community and every time they throw an event or contribute creatively to anything in this city it gives me an immense amount of joy. I want all the creatives in this community who work as hard at is as they do to have a chance to showcase their talents, so I promise to support more public events in this city that would allow them to do so.
Damian J Murphy: Vancouver is a place where creativity should be rewarded and arts and culture flourish. Art and design is incorporated into our civic life from the streetscape to the boardroom and its importance can not be underestimated. I promise to keep these sentiments in mind whenever decisions that affect the creative community are made and to always be in favour of the inclusion and promotion of arts and creativity throughout every aspect of life in Vancouver. I also promise to ensure that those who contribute to this civic life through the creative economy can afford to continue to call Vancouver home. Vote Murphy! Your Independent Voice on Vancouver City Council.
Joshua Wasilenkoff: If elected to council I will work hard to advocate the promotion and importance of having access and enjoying arts and culture in the City of Vancouver.
Hector Bremner (NPA): My message is that our current leadership has failed us, and we need to act now before it’s too late. Homelessness has increased 30% in just 3 years, when in the last campaign they said it was to be eliminated by 2015. A basement suite in the same time period has gone from $700/mo to over $1500/mo. There is zero rental available, no new multi-residential available for sale today and we were one of only two cities to see public school enrolment drop, as families are being priced out. Our job, both you reading this as well as me, is to work together and innovate the way we approach housing. My plan will work, however your voice will be what puts it into action. Please vote in this time of crisis, we literally can’t afford to wait any longer for action. You can cast your ballot at City Hall on Oct. 4 & 10, and throughout the City on the 14th! #letsfixhousing
Mary Jean “Watermelon” Dunsdon (Sensible Vancouver): You are a large part of what makes Vancouver great. Together we can make it Even Greater Vancouver.
Judy Graves (One City): Communicate with one another, celebrate one another, include diversity in everything we do. In Council my door is open to you, OneCity is a Party of people in the creative economy. We are here to support you.
Pete Fry (Green): I’m one of you. I have struggled for many years as a “starving artist”, I learned my trade through hard work in the field and part time courses at excellent public institutions like VCC. Ultimately, I found a degree of success doing what I love (with a lot of luck and a supportive community), and I am incredibly grateful for that. I want those same opportunities for the 18 year old misfit artsy kid that I had. I recognize too that #CultureSavesLives is more than just an incredibly on point hashtag (check it out) — arts and culture feeds the soul of our city, builds community and drives our economy. Keep shining you beautiful creative diamonds!
Jean Swanson: We need someone at city council to speak for experimental and exploring artists who aren’t so well established. Artists shouldn’t need a wealthy or corporate patron or sponsor to develop their work and explore new directions in their field. Renovictions are pushing out the last of Vancouver’s vibrant artistic community. If elected, I would use every tool the city has to try and stop renovictions and to find affordable or public spaces for artists. I support artists who are struggling to make a living. I will work with them to find good, secure housing and workspaces they can afford. An unaffordable city cannot be a creative city, it will grow stale and conformist and I fear how far Vancouver has already gone in this direction. It’s time for a big change and that’s what my campaign is all about.
Diego Cardona (Vision): Vancouver is a young, diverse, and progressive city and I am running for City Council to bring a fresh new voice to the table that represents the new Vancouver. As somebody who has worked with a number of organizations who focus on immigrant and refugee communities, I know how important creativity and civic engagement can be for helping to welcome newcomers and build more resilient communities. For those who currently work in the creative sector, my commitment is to do everything I can to advocate for a more affordable, inclusive city; one whose economic future is rooted in creativity and innovation. I believe Vancouver is a great city but there is much we can learn from other cities around the world in terms of embracing risk and enabling a culture that truly respects and values creativity. That’s the mark of a great city and one that as a city councillor I would aspire for us to accomplish together.