Important Dates

Tuesday, October 16

Engagement in the Local Elections

In our final post before voters head to the polls this Saturday, October 20, we recap some of the key business issues that have emerged over the course of the election campaign.

This week's analysis incorporates findings from our public policy team's recent research, including our VoteLocal survey (conducted in partnership with Mustel Group and FleishmanHillard) as well as World Trade Centre Vancouver's Regional Export Framework, and of course our Greater Vancouver Economic Scorecard 2018.

This information was first presented by Iain Black, President and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, last week during an event for Members of our Small Business Council and Company of Young Professionals.

During the event, Black emphasized why it is critical that young professionals and business owners vote in the local elections, and shed light on some of the key policy issues that impact businesses in our region.

View the presentation [PDF] 

Read, Watch, Listen:

Tuesday, October 9

The Small Business Lens

This week’s analysis will highlight the significance of the October 20 Local Elections — particularly to the small business community — and discuss how the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade is advocating on behalf of small to medium-sized businesses in this region.

A changing landscape

The upcoming Local Elections mark a time of immense change for our region. There will be a high turnover of metro region mayors on October 20, with only 8 of the region’s 21 mayors seeking re-election. In other words, two thirds of the mayors in our region will be replaced on election day. This is a marked shift compared to the 2014 local elections, in which 16 of the 21 mayors campaigned to keep their jobs (14 of them were successful).

Not only are several mayors leaving office in 2018, but key mayors that have been around for a long time are making room for new candidates, including:

  • Mayor Gregor Robertson, City of Vancouver (in office for 10 years)
  • Mayor Greg Moore, City of Port Coquitlam (10 years)
  • Mayor Darell Mussatto, City of North Vancouver (12 years)
  • Mayor Richard Walton, District of North Vancouver (13 years)
  • Mayor Lois Jackson, Delta (19 years)

Business owners and local elections

It is especially important that small business owners vote and, in doing so, critically assess candidates’ platforms in terms of their approaches to issues that impact businesses.

While numerous decisions made by the successful candidates will impact the business community, the business itself will not have the opportunity to vote. Therefore, elections are a crucial time for business owners to be informed on issues such as:

  • Permitting and licensing. If you have a business operating in more than one municipality, what are candidates proposing to make it easier for you to be permitted to operate around the Greater Vancouver region? Do they have plans to make local permitting processes more efficient?
  • Property taxes. While our VoteLocal survey indicated that most businesses are moderately satisfied with the value for services they receive for taxes paid to local government, do you know how your business fares in your municipality?
  • Transit and housing. A significant number of Member businesses report that high housing costs have impacted their workforces, and they rate transit/transportation as the second highest priority for incoming mayors and councils. Do candidates in your municipality have compelling plans for addressing housing affordability? For working with TransLink and as part of the Mayors’ Council to deliver the Phase 2 plan, which includes funding for the Millennium Line extension and Surrey Light Rapid Transit?

These are but a few of the issues that may be on the minds of small businesses owners going into the voting booth on October 20.

Generally lower voter turnout for local elections

Low voter turnout in previous municipal elections, when compared to Provincial and Federal elections, has been commonplace. Voter turnout during the 2015 Federal election was 68.3 per cent and 57.7 per cent during the 2017 Provincial election while only 44.5 per cent in the 2014 B.C. Municipal elections. Voter participation at the municipal level is critically important, where each vote is one of hundreds, as opposed to one of millions as in Provincial and Federal Elections.

Information and resources

On behalf of the business community, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade lends its voice to key policy issues at the local government level. Democratic engagement and facilitating informed decision making is a key priority area. Our 2018 Local Elections Dashboard is an online resource, updated throughout the election campaign with relevant news articles, our analyses of key issues, and regular guest blog posts by our Members.

Our Local Elections Handbook and the VoteLocal survey findings are also available on the dashboard. The VoteLocal survey, conducted in partnership by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Mustel Group, and FleishmanHillard HighRoad, identifies the key election issues facing voters, business owners, and candidates. Based on the survey's findings, the Handbook lays out four key policy issues and provides local governments with some guidance around how to address them.

This Dashboard is a great place to keep up to date on issues in the October 20 local elections, and we encourage our Member to visit it throughout the remainder of the campaign period.

Read, Watch, Listen:

Tuesday, October 2

Transit and Transportation

The transit and transportation options available to Greater Vancouver residents and businesses directly influence our quality of life. They impact how long it takes us to get to school or work, how we get there, and how much time we spend in traffic.

The Greater Vancouver region is facing increasing transportation pressures, as the population continues to grow and our regional economy continues to expand and diversify. Our comparative research and our Member surveys tell the same story: congestion is impeding our quality of life and economic growth.

On September 5, Chambers of Commerce and business groups across Greater Vancouver hosted a briefing to equip the Lower Mainland mayor and council candidates with a solid understanding of important election issues in preparation for the October 20 local elections. On transportation, leaders from TransLink, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, and the Vancouver Airport Authority highlighted critical issues to consider.

Robyn Crisanti, Director of Public Affairs for the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, presented the Port’s vision of sustainability, their enabling of communities, and shared their concerns for the dwindling supply of industrial land. Anne Murray, Vice President of Business and Development and Public Affairs for Vancouver Airport Authority, presented on the economic and social importance of the organization to the region. Kevin Desmond, Chief Executive Officer of TransLink, presented on the Mayors’ 10-Year vision, addressing increased demand and population growth and discussed forthcoming major projects including transit expansions and regional financing tools like the new transit fare structure.

In our VoteLocal survey, conducted in partnership with Mustel Group and FleishmanHillard HighRoad, business community respondents identified transit and transportation as the second highest priority facing municipalities across the Greater Vancouver region (behind “housing affordability”). 

In our Greater Vancouver Economic Scorecard 2018 analysis, the region received low rankings for non-car commuting and length of the public transit railway network. This could be attributed to geographic constraints and the ways in which the population has grown in this region. The recent affirmation and funding commitment by all levels of government to Phase 2 of TransLink’s 10-Year Transportation Plan is a positive signal for the improvement of the regional transportation network. Continued investments in other road and transit projects are imperative to alleviating congestion (detailed recommendations provided in the 2018 Local Elections Handbook).

The other transportation-related discussion highlighted in the VoteLocal survey is that of Ridesharing. Unsurprisingly, 85% of the respondents believe local governments should work with the provincial government to allow ridesharing services to operate, such as Uber or Lyft.  GVBOT’s updated 2018 report Ridesharing and Taxi Modernization: An Achievable Balance highlights the successful implementation of ridesharing across Canada and points out that there are few credible barriers to British Columbia implementing ridesharing without further delay. Specifically, ridesharing can provide synergies to the current transit system by providing “first mile-last mile” transportation options, and it can enhance Vancouver’s reputation with international visitors who have become accustomed to these ridesharing services throughout North America.

In terms of goods and people movement, World Trade Centre Vancouver (a GVBOT subsidiary) identified transportation as one of our region’s major economic traded clusters. As Canada’s Gateway to the Asia-Pacific region, Greater Vancouver’s port, airport, and major roadways are of local, provincial and national importance. The Gateway’s economic footprint on B.C. and Greater Vancouver region is highlighted in WTC’s Regional Export Framework, which indicates that in 2016 the Gateway contributed $17 billion to Greater Vancouver’s GDP and $27.5 billion to provincial GDP. Therefore, trade-enabling infrastructure that supports the efficient flow of the movement of people and goods such as replacing the Massey Tunnel, is critical to the growth and success of the region’s Gateway. Addressing the depleting levels of industrial land is also a critical concern for the vitality of the Gateway, as a lack of land could imperil capacity growth at Canada’s largest port and have adverse implications for the nation’s economy.

To help candidates evaluate the priorities and concerns of local business owners, detailed discussions and recommendations are provided in the 2018 Local Elections Handbook.

Read, Watch, Listen:


Tuesday, September 25

Housing Affordability: Top Issue Emerging in Local Election Campaigns

As voters have signalled in polls and surveys, housing affordability is proving to be top-of-mind as we enter the first full week of the official local election campaign.

On September 5th, GVBOT joined with Chambers of Commerce and business groups across Greater Vancouver to host a briefing for Lower Mainland mayor and council candidates for the upcoming local elections. During that event, Eric Bond, Principal Market Analyst at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, delivered a presentation on housing affordability in the region and highlighted the questions municipalities must ask to address this complex set of issues. These included appropriate local policies, innovative housing options, obtaining input from the public, efficient use of development fees, and engagement with the development industry.

The results of our VoteLocal survey of Lower Mainland voters, businesses, and candidates, indicate that 39% of business community respondents believe affordable housing is the most important issue facing their municipality. The lack of affordable housing represents a risk to employers' ability to attract and retain workers: 73% of business respondents state that their ability to recruit or retain employees is affected by the cost of housing, rising to 91% among larger businesses (50+ employees).

In addition, 37% of business respondents have considered relocating away from the Greater Vancouver region due to affordability concerns. This finding signals a reputational risk to the region as an attractive and viable place to relocate a business or a family.

In our Greater Vancouver Economic Scorecard 2018, the Conference Board of Canada's analysis indicates Greater Vancouver is "severely unaffordable," with a ratio of median housing cost to median income of 12.6 (any value over 5 is considered unaffordable).  While several factors have sparked local demand and non-resident interest in the region's housing market, growth is constrained by geography, NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) sentiment regarding densification, and regulatory barriers at the local level of government.

On the supply side, diversity in housing construction (laneway housing, townhouses, secondary suites in single family homes zones and apartment multiplexes) and housing tenure (ownership, rental, co-op housing, co-housing) can help alleviate pressure, as can streamlined and predictable processes and timelines for Community Amenity Contributions and Development Cost Charges. (For more, see the Housing section of our 2018 Local Elections Handbook.)  In addition, the Greater Vancouver Economic Scorecard 2016 highlighted policies to encourage higher density in conjunction with transit development; linking transit and development in a way that would increase housing supply, improve affordability and ensure ridership for transit.

As the campaign begins in earnest, housing affordability also appears top of mind for candidates. In the City of Vancouver, most mayoral candidates have issued platforms relating to housing, and lively debate has ensued, particularly on duplexes and rentals in alleviating the affordability crisis.  In a cautionary note, our VoteLocal survey revealed that voters and candidates cite "overdevelopment" when identifying the priority issues that should be addressed by city halls around the region (third behind "affordable housing" and "transportation.") Achieving balance among the affordability solutions proposed by various candidates will be critical to gaining acceptance by voters and the business community.

To help the candidates evaluate the priorities and concerns for local businesses around housing affordability, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade's 2018 Local Elections Handbook offers our discussion and recommendations.

Read, Watch, Listen:

Tuesday, September 18

Local Elections Survey Results

In this week's analysis, we will take a closer look at the business community results from our VoteLocal survey, conducted in partnership by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Mustel Group, and FleishmanHillard HighRoad to identify the key election issues facing voters, business owners, and candidates.

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade surveyed its Members between July 9 – August 23 to get a sense of what issues are top of mind for the business community in the weeks leading up to the October 20 local elections.

The survey results indicate a sense of concern and anxiety, with 75% of GVBOT respondents feeling that quality of life has declined over the last five years and a clear majority (67%) expect it to get worse over the next five years.

Unsurprisingly, unaffordable housing cropped up as the most important area of concern for the business community. However, the extent to which affordability is impacting the region's businesses is striking: Nearly three quarters (73%) of GVBOT respondents said that the high housing costs in Greater Vancouver negatively affect the ability of their business to recruit or retain employees. Furthermore, 37% of GVBOT respondents said they recently considered moving away from the Lower Mainland due to quality of life or affordability concerns.

To address the unaffordable housing issue, GVBOT respondents believe that local governments should prioritize a mix of both demand and supply-side measures. When it comes to municipal spending, GBVOT respondents identified the supply-side measure Planning and permitting to enable new development as the top priority. Local Road Maintenance and traffic management and Social Housing and poverty reduction were cited as the second and third most important priority areas of municipal spending.
It is not a surprise that GVBOT respondents identified transportation and transit as the second most important issue facing municipalities, and a priority area for municipal spending. The business community identified the Expansion of public transit services (buses, SkyTrain, etc.), the Massey Tunnel replacement, and the Broadway SkyTrain expansion (Millennium Line) as the top three priority transportation projects facing the region.

After housing and transportation, taxes rounded out the top three issues facing GVBOT Members.

The survey shed some light on how GVBOT Members feel about a range of other regionally significant topics. A significant majority (85%) believes local governments should work with provincial government to allow ridesharing, 67% support the creation of a single economic development agency for the region, 72% support the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, and more than half (54%) of GVBOT respondents believe local governments should work with the provincial government to pursue mobility pricing.  

It's clear that the October 20 local elections could be a turning point for our region. In light of these survey findings, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade has assembled a number of recommendations in its 2018 Local Elections Handbook, in the hopes of helping candidates better understand some of the top priorities for local businesses and the impact these issues have on our regional economy.

Read, Watch, Listen:

Friday, September 7

Lower Mainland Chambers and BIA host Local Elections Candidate Briefing

On Wednesday, September 5, various business groups from across Greater Vancouver hosted a briefing to equip the Lower Mainland mayor and council candidates for the October 20 local elections with a good understanding of key issues that affect our region's quality of life.

Candidates from across the Lower Mainland attended the event to hear from experts about what they can do to effectively address key issues facing our region, such as housing, labour constraints, and health care. In addition, candidates learned about the priorities and challenges facing the regional organizations that contribute to the economic and social prosperity of our economy, including TransLink, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, and the Vancouver Airport Authority. The event concluded with the unveiling of results from the VoteLocal survey, which polled the business community, general public, and politicians on their top priorities.

The partner organisations of the event included the New Westminster Chamber, Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association, Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce, South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce, Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce, and West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.

Iain Black, President and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, opened the event with an overview of the Greater Vancouver Economic Scorecard 2018, released earlier this year by the Board of Trade in partnership with the Conference Board of Canada. The report reveals how our region measures up against 19 other city-regions around the globe on 38 different social and economic indicators. The results of Scorecard 2018 will help foster a dialogue with candidates and city officials on the role local governments can play in unlocking our competitiveness to improve quality of life for voters and build prosperity for businesses.

Candidates heard from three experts on health, human capital, and housing; issues that play a critical role in supporting resilient, healthy communities, and represent priorities for chambers and business associations. Mary Ackenhusen, President and CEO of Vancouver Coastal Health, Dr. Kevin Wainwright, Associate dean of broadcast communications in the School of Business at BCIT and Director of the SITE Centre for applied research, and Eric Bond, Principal Market Analyst at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation focused on the priority issues that underpin our quality of life, where we stand, and how failing to address these challenges risks our livability and ability to attract and retain workers, businesses, and residents. They also outlined how local elected officials can play a key role in each of the three areas in a way that is constructive to the economic and social prosperity of the region.

Leaders from TransLink, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, and the Vancouver Airport Authority shared their expert knowledge and perspectives of region-wide issues and the "lay of the land." Robyn Crisanti, Director of Public Affairs for the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, Anne Murray, Vice President of Business and Development & Public Affairs of Vancouver Airport Authority, and Kevin Desmond, Chief Executive Officer of TransLink conveyed to candidates the importance of these organizations as impactful economic and social drivers of the region.

To close out the day, Mustel Group, FleishmanHillard HighRoad, and the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade unveiled and discussed the results from their new survey on election issues. Evi Mustel, Principal of Mustel Group and Anna Lilly, Senior Vice President and Partner of FleishmanHillard HighRoad presented the survey findings, which highlighted the key election issues facing voters, business owners, and candidates. A discussion with Iain Black, Evi, and Anna following the presentation, helped unpack voters' sentiments on a wide range of regional and local topics that were covered by the survey.

The convergence of candidates, chambers, and regional organizations at the event highlights the growing importance of regional collaboration and engagement across municipal borders as the mechanism for ensuring a high quality of life and the prosperity of the region. Overall, the event was a great success: Candidates left with a greater knowledge of the region's key issues, voters' local election priorities, and what they can do to effectively address them.

Below are some links to media coverage from the event and PDFs of our speakers' presentations to candidates.

Speaker Presentations:

Media Coverage:

Wednesday, September 5

The nomination period has officially begun

Welcome to the "Updates and Analysis" section of our 2018 Local Elections Dashboard!

Over the next six weeks, we will use this page to share newsworthy items and updates about issues that arise on the campaign trail.

We will also share external links and resources that we think would be valuable information for our Members and the business community.

Below are some external resources to get you started.