Former Burnaby Fire Department captain Mike Hurley upset longtime incumbent mayor Derek Corrigan Saturday night.
Hurley won by nearly 6,000 votes with 26,260 votes.
Corrigan’s running mates in his Burnaby Citizens Association party looked like they would take seven of eight council seats.
“The good new is the BCA still controls council … I am so impressed with the campaign you put on,” Corrigan told his supporters.
The Green party put a member on council. Former punk rocker Joe Keithley, who dropped his mayoral candidacy to back Hurley and run for council instead, was in eighth spot on Saturday night.
Hurley touted his long-standing roles in the community and his union leadership experience in representing firefighters.
The key issue in the election was housing affordability, and particularly the hundreds of so-called demovictions in the Metrotown area, where two- and three-storey walk-ups that rented at relatively low prices have been demolished to make way for much-more-expensive condo towers.
Hurley called for a moratorium on any not-yet approved developments that would displace renters.
In a poll a week before the election, 40 per cent of those surveyed listed affordable housing as the their No. 1 issue of concern.
Between 2010 and 2017, the city had a net loss of more than 700 rental units, a period when other Metro Vancouver municipalities gained hundreds, according to data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Critics, including Corrigan’s political foes, accused him and his party of not doing enough to tackle the issue. Corrigan continued to point the blame at the B.C. and federal governments, promising that Burnaby will be the first city in B.C. to take advantage of new rental zoning powers put in place by NDP government, who defeated the Liberals in 2017.
In New Westminster, popular incumbent Jonathan Cote easily kept his seat as mayor with more than 70 per cent of votes.
The young mayor and his ‘Team Cote’, made up of six city council and five school board candidates, were all elected. They had secured an endorsement from the New Westminster and District Labour Council, a powerful organization in the Royal City’s politics.
Cote and his council’s achievements during their first term included down-zoning proposed waterfront high-rise towers, establishing a secured-market rental housing policy, securing a new high school and working with the province to fund the redevelopment of Royal Columbian Hospital and Pattullo Bridge replacement.
City council includes incumbents Patrick Johnstone, Jaimie McEvoy, Mary Trentadue, and Chuck Puchmayr as well as newcomers Chinu Das and Nadine Nakagawa, all from Team Cote.
The seven school trustees will be Anita Ansari, Dee Beattie, Gurveen Dhaliwal, Mark Gifford and Maya Russell from Team Cote, as well as Mary Lalji and Danielle Connelly.
Nakagawa, who led in votes among council candidates, is the first person of colour elected to council in the city. She said she will stick up for renters, people with disabilities and others whom she wants to give more input on how the city is run.
“I’m excited about bringing more voices to the table,” she said. “It’s something I talked about this entire campaign. We often hear from a certain group of the population and I think that there’s opportunities to hear from more people, people who have previously not been heard.”
Cote had been challenged by three residents with deep roots in the city of 71,000, including Harm Woldring, a small-business owner who sought to remove the “development centric local government,” according to his bio; Jimmie Bell, who ran for both city council and school board in the past two elections; and Nikki Binns, a mother of seven heavily involved in local sports, arts and education.
Connelly is from the New West Progressives, formed last year, who ran on a platform focused on increasing housing affordability and choice, boosting the local economy and strengthening neighbourhoods and public engagement.
Judy Darcy, B.C.’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and the MLA for New Westminster, was celebrating Cote and his team’s win at their party headquarters on Saturday.
“Mayor Jonathan Cote and his team have just done an amazing job in New Westminster,” Darcy said.
“They’ve taken New Westminster forward, they’ve been leaders in transit and affordable housing, and put together a team that was very inclusive.”
Darcy said she was grateful to have more women and diversity on council.