Opinion: Robertson is out, here are five reasons Mayor Corrigan shouldn’t seek re-election as well

By Zachary Paradis

Recently, Mayor of Vancouver Gregor Robertson announced his intention not to seek re-election in the upcoming municipal elections. After ten years, the shine of Vancouver’s progressive mayor had begun to wane under years of accumulated baggage.

From the impression that he dithered during the beginning of the affordability crisis (often parroting the arguments Christy Clark’s Liberals initially used to deflect attention) to the common perception that he and Vision Vancouver are too close to the development community and their interests, it was clear Robertson’s brand had become a liability.

With Robertson’s impending departure sure, another ‘progressive’ mayor in Metro Vancouver should consider a similar exit before offering his constituents the luxury of voting him out of office. Below are five reasons Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan should not seek re-election in the next municipal election.

1. Corrigan’s horrendous record on homelessness

While pontificating in an interview with a Burnaby Now reporter, Corrigan claimed that he could instantly allocate the funding required to create a homeless shelter and silence his critics but went on to list stale and derogatory stigmas about the homeless as a rationale of why it would be a waste of city resources. Some of the stigmas he employed in making his point that homelessness and its underlying issues are outside the city’s domain were because of the prevalence of addictions, mental illness, and criminal activity in the population.

Unquestionably, higher levels of government need to step up to a much greater extent to solve some of the underlying fundamentals that cause homelessness. Nevertheless, that does not empower you to absolve yourself of responsibility to provide temporary shelter or allow you to denigrate an entire segment of society with gross generalizations and stigmas that do nothing to help their plight.

However, Corrigan wasn’t done there, with the kind of thoughtful consideration we expect from President Trump, he went on to say the homeless people who utilize shelters are the type of people, who, if they found you on the street dying, would try and extract your gold fillings for their cash value.

Apparently, Mayor Corrigan holds some of the same repugnant and distorted views that even the students of Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School saw through when modular housing was proposed in their area.

2. Burnaby’s complicity in destroying affordable rental stock to make way for Burnaby’s new ‘downtown’

Everyone in Metro-Vancouver knows we are in the middle of a development frenzy with high priced glass towers going up in every vacant parcel of land available. While other municipalities have tried to stymie redevelopment to protect existing affordable rentals from the wrecking ball, Mayor Corrigan and his council have thrown hundreds of vulnerable low-income renters to the development wolves as their neighborhoods have been rezoned for higher density creating the economic incentive for their buildings to be sold and torn down to make way for high priced condos.

According to Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation, from 2010-2016, Burnaby lost nearly 500 affordable rentals – the most of any Metro-Vancouver municipality. During the same period, Vancouver, whose council is itself often claimed to be too cozy with developers, gained over 2000 rentals. Vancouver, unlike Burnaby, offered greater incentives to developers and homeowners to create additional rental units.

But if you thought the displacement of Burnaby’s low-income residents would garner any empathy from Mayor Corrigan, you truly underestimate his apathy. When he was asked about the displacement of these residents to accommodate his desire to make the Metrotown area, Burnaby’s new ‘downtown,’ he replied, “those are the realities.”

3. He blamed a lack of rental supply and homelessness as why Burnaby couldn’t afford to welcome Syrian refugees

After doing nothing on homelessness and using his city resources to help exacerbate the issue of affordable housing in Burnaby, the Mayor went on to scapegoat the lack of affordable rentals and problems of homelessness as a reason not to welcome in Syrian refugees at a local planning meeting in 2015.

“I don’t know where they are going to put people. We can’t accommodate the people here who are homeless. It just seems to me putting new refugees in communities that are already stretched for social housing, especially affordable rental housing, doesn’t make much sense.”

It takes quite a lot of audacity to emancipate yourself from the issues you allowed to fester out of control under your watch, but to then use those failures as the reason not to welcome Syrian families shows a grotesque lack of compassion and epitomizes Corrigan’s hubris.

4. The ‘most transit-regressive’ Mayors Council Chair

Mayor Corrigan will take the Chair position in the Mayors Council of Transit and will likely derail any advancement of transit projects municipalities like Vancouver and Surrey had hoped to attain with the ascension of the NDP government in Victoria. As one New Westminster councillor labeled him, Mayor Corrigan is the “most transit-regressive” member of the council.

After his surprise win to chair the transit council, Corrigan took no time in reaffirming his skepticism of simultaneously beginning work on Surrey Light Rail, a Broadway Subway line, and replacement of the Pattullo bridge. Instead, he expressed the Pattullo Bridge replacement is his top priority.

Although it may be his priority, it defies the vision laid out in the mayor’s council 10-year plan in 2014 which had called for the construction of all three projects concurrently.

Corrigan’s hindrance also comes at a time when Ottawa has committed 2 billion dollars in funding for the transit projects and after the combative Christy Clark Liberals have been replaced with a more willing partner in the NDP Government. It doesn’t make sense to now withdraw from the ambitious timeline that would create lasting transit that will improve congestion and the quality of life for the residents of the region.

5. He tried to get out of a distracted driving ticket by claiming his phone was ‘dead’

Mayor Corrigan tried to get out of a distracted driving ticket by claiming the phone he was holding was in fact dead. Arguing what he was handling was of no more use than if he were to hold a ‘wallet’ or ‘brick,’ Mayor Corrigan took his claim all the way to provincial court. Unfortunately for Corrigan, his excuse was not accepted by the Judge.

“There is a difference between a cellphone – even a cellphone that has a dead battery – and a wallet or a brick and that is that there is legislation prohibiting a driver from using a cellphone while driving.” – Justice Brian Burgess.

Derek Corrigan’s arrogance – 0. British Columbia’s justice system – 1.

[Photo Credit: Mark Klotz]