The beginning of the new year is always a good time to review how our leaders are doing. So, let’s take a look at Vancouver’s mayor Ken Sim at the one-year mark.
On November 7, 2022, Sim was sworn in as Vancouver’s mayor. Very little, if anything, has been accomplished by the mayor and his ABC majority since then. Certainly nothing of substance. Lots of talk – not much action.
Vancouver’s housing crisis is no better today than it was a year ago. Even high-income owners find it very difficult, if not impossible, to afford to live in this city.
Homelessness is in fact worse today than it has ever been. Worse in part because of the July vote by Mayor Sim and his ABC Councillors against extending the leases of occupied temporary modular housing developments until replacement housing was available. Worse because of the long overdue delay of almost two years for the ‘rapid solution’ of opening a tiny shelter village to actually occur.
Mere weeks before his first anniversary in office, Mayor Sim finally outlined his plan to address Vancouver’s housing crisis. Green Councillor Adrian Carr has criticized the proposed plan for ignoring the affordability issue and for not addressing the need for infrastructure support. The mayor has acknowledged that his blueprint does not tackle affordability, other than through the questionable supply/demand strategy of simply building more units.
Despite the climate crisis continuing to worsen, Mayor Sim has also not taken steps to reduce Vancouver’s carbon footprint in any meaningful way. ABC’s most notable actions have been to remove the Stanley Park bike lane without replacing it, and to cancel the City’s funding towards a class action lawsuit against ‘big oil’ which would seek to recover the costs to the city of responding to climate change.
Public safety on the other hand did receive a significant financial boost with the ABC controlled Council raising the police budget by more than $6 million, and as promised, more than 100 new police officers being hired. However, the promised 100 mental health nurses who were to work with those officers have not been found. Perhaps it had escaped the mayor’s notice that nurses were in short supply due to dealing with the COVID pandemic.
Property taxes continue to skyrocket, increasing at a rate that far exceeds the rate of inflation. Mayor Sim’s first budget saw boost of $1.97 billion with a property tax increase of 10.7%. Although the 2024 budget is not yet finalized, it is estimated that property taxes will go up a further 7.5%. It is perhaps notable that the ABC election platform did not promise to rein in tax increases, only to publish line-item budgets.
Mayor Sim’s most notable ‘initiative’ is in fact a broken promise. While campaigning for mayor in 2020, Sim promised to retain and support the Park Board, a move which the electorate endorsed by electing six ABC candidates to the Board. Now that he is mayor, he has moved to abolish it – a move endorsed by the ABC City Councillors, although significantly not supported by three of the six ABC Park Commissioners.
Vancouver has one of North America’s only democratically elected park boards. If the province approves Mayor Sim’s request, the Vancouver Park Board will become just another City department wedged between sewers on the one hand and dog catchers on the other.
While it is far too early to make prognostications about the 2026 civic election, I think we may be witnessing a one-term mayor.
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