Bat­tle­ground Subur­bia

With big-city prob­lems creep­ing into the land of cul-de-sacs and sin­gle-fam­ily homes, no in­cum­bent is safe.

Vancouver Magazine - - City - BY Frances Bula

’ 2017 provin­cial elec­tion will not be de­cided in Vancouver or Vic­to­ria, where the pipe­line-hat­ing ur­ban­ites of­ten vote NDP or Green. Nor will it be de­cided in Kelowna or Fort St. John, where the latte-dis­dain­ing pro-LNG res­i­dents steadily vote right.

The elec­tion will be won in places like the Pantry in Guild­ford Town Cen­tre. On a busy Satur­day, the mall buzzes like an elec­tri­cal trans­former and cars and mini­vans cir­cle the maze-like park­ing lots. Two Sur­rey par­ents, who helped lead a month­s­long cam­paign to get more money from Premier Christy Clark for their pub­lic schools, are sit­ting over pop­corn shrimp and fries, as­sess­ing which party they think is the most likely to help their cause.

The NDP MLAs lis­tened to their pre­sen­ta­tion, yes, say Lisa Gar­ner and Karen Tan. But their promise to get rid of all the por­ta­ble class­rooms in just four months wasn’t re­al­is­tic. And the ed­u­ca­tion critic guy, Rob Fleming, faded away from meet­ings for rea­sons they still don’t un­der­stand.

The Lib­eral MLAs, that was a di›ffer­ent story. Sure, there was one guy who got all de­fen­sive and tried to make it sound like there was no prob­lem with hav­ing 7,000 Sur­rey kids in porta­bles. But Peter Fass­ben­der and Stephanie Cadieux, both cab­i­net min­is­ters, they re­ally lis­tened. “Those MLAs now un­der­stand our prob­lems,” says Tan, an ac­coun­tant who helped an­a­lyze the lo­cal school bud­get and long-range cap­i­tal plan. Gar­ner, who runs a be­fore- and after­school day­care in her home and works with people with dis­abil­i­ties, adds an­other level of anal­y­sis: “I think they did un­der­stand, but we didn’t have the right group of people [lob­by­ing] be­fore. And I think they paid attention be­cause of the num­ber of vot­ers.” Then Clark came through, just ¥ve months be­fore the elec­tion, with $217 mil­lion ded­i­cated to build­ing new schools and ad­di­tions.

Of course she did. Those Sur­rey rid­ings are key. Fass­ben­der won his seat in Sur­rey–Fleet­wood by only 200 votes in 2013, against the NDP’s Ja­grup Brar. This time around he’ll be fac­ing Brar again, and the bound­aries of his rid­ing have been re­drawn, not to his ad­van­tage.

It’s not just Sur­rey that will see hard skir­mish­ing. Rum­blings of dis­con­tent have risen to high deci­bels in Maple Ridge. Co­quit­lam. Burn­aby. Rich­mond. Those grow­ing suburbs east and south of Vancouver are uniquely poised to see swings among

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.