Richmond election results, Nov 19, 2011

By the end of Saturday, November 19, 2011, British Columbians will have elected their local governments for the next three years, 2011–14.

Update, Nov. 19, 2011: The actual results are here.

In Richmond, the previous election in November 2008 was pivotal for the Garden City Lands. I see the 2011 election as pivotal for Richmond itself, with the Garden City Lands as a symbol of success—or possibly a casualty of failure. In this post, we’ll look back and then ahead.

During the 2008 election campaign, two incumbent councillors who had been Pave Garden City expressed a change in thinking after hearing from citizen. Both of them later surprised the cynics in a good way by coming through when it counted with Save Garden City values. The Save side gained one other seat on council in the November 2008 election. When the dust settled, the 6-3 Pave council had become a 6-3 Save council.

To make a long story short, that still isn’t enough, given the bizarre workings of Richmond City Hall. We still can’t be sure that the Garden City Lands will remain green in the Agricultural Land Reserve for agricultural, ecological, and open-land park uses for community wellness. Some informed observers even suggest that at least a couple of council members are still yearning to bring back the 2005 deal that would have turned 65% of the Lands into a high-density construction zone. (That was 50% for high-density residential and 15% for a “trade and exhibition centre.”)

The remaining 35% of the Lands, “scattered throughout the property,” would have enhanced the development but wouldn’t have even come close to meeting the City’s open-space standard for the unplanned additional population. (That livability standard is 7.66 acres of open space for every thousand residents.) Even if one did not care about conserving the environment or ensuring food security or retaining our large green space and vistas in the City Centre, the 2005 deal was a disaster.

The 2008 election success was very good but could have been significantly better. For that, Save Garden City citizens considering running would have had to act strategically toward the goal of a council that is fully in charge at City Hall. Achieving that result, which would have been best for the future of the Garden City Lands, would have required both big-picture thinking and big sacrifices, especially by some would-be Save Garden City councillors choosing to support others with a better chance of winning. That would likely have resulted in at least one more Save candidate being elected.

Before and since the 2008 election, I’ve often hoped there would be a change in the mayor, rather than a change of mayors. The incumbent mayor has not handled the Garden City Lands situation well, but I do think he brings desirable qualities to the position along with shortcomings. But maybe my glasses have been rose-coloured. In any case, there’s no one in sight with the potential to play David to the incumbent’s Goliath in 2011. A new mayoral candidate would have to overcome not only the incumbent’s entrenched power but also his name recognition and his war chest for saturation-level marketing.

On a more optimistic note, there are several possible candidates who could replace the remaining couple of Pave Garden City councillors. Unlike the mayor, the Pave councillors seem to me after ongoing observation to be a drag on council and the future of Richmond. However, they are adept at self-promotion and heavily funded by the usual suspect sources. For best results, the many potential Save Garden City candidates would need to rally around a slate of exactly eight Save candidates for the eight councillor positions. If there are six Save incumbents running, that approach would require two new Save candidates who would be great for the future of Richmond as well as very electable—great at winning the confidence and ballots of the electorate. The number of non-incumbent Save candidates would only increase beyond two if a Save incumbent is retiring.

Human nature being what it is, it would be challenging for the otherwise disparate Save Garden City people to work together for election success. They probably won’t but possibly will. It would take remarkable unselfishness, common sense, and concern for the future of Richmond.

I hope that this blog post is pretty much the extent of my involvement, but I will be observing from the sidelines. If there is good-enough collaboration, I anticipate seeing the sweeping Save Garden City election success carry over to transformative results at City Hall and on the Garden City Lands.

__________________

A note about terms: The expression “Save Garden City” has generally meant “Save the Garden City Lands,” but it can equally mean “Save the City of  Richmond.” That can be expressed further as “Take Richmond forward by taking back City Hall.” Enabling an appropriate future for the Lands would exemplify that aim. Although the Garden City Lands are important in themselves, they are also important as a visibly prominent part of an iceberg, a much bigger entity that is mainly hidden from view.

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  1. […] rest is here: November 19, 2011, election results analysis « Richmond's Garden … Share and […]


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