Urban design professor Patrick Condon plans run for mayor to fix Vancouver’s ‘completely broken’ housing market

VANCOUVER—A University of British Columbia professor who says Vancouver’s housing market is “completely broken” plans to run for mayor in Vancouver’s upcoming civic election.

Patrick Condon, who teaches at UBC’s school of landscape architecture, had previously said he would support Green city councillor Adriane Carr if she decided to run for mayor.

Patrick Condon, a professor at UBC's School of Landscape Architecture, announced his intention to run for mayor in Vancouver's upcoming civic election.
Patrick Condon, a professor at UBC's School of Landscape Architecture, announced his intention to run for mayor in Vancouver's upcoming civic election.  (PLANNING THE VANCOUVER METROPOLITAN REGION SYMPOSIUM / YOUTUBE)

But on Friday Carr announced that after months of deliberation, she had decided she would run for council again and not for mayor — with a crowded mayoral field, running for that position and possibly losing her council seat was too risky.

Condon will seek the mayoral nomination for the left-wing Coalition of Progressive Electors, but a mayoral nomination meeting won’t be held until Aug. 19.

On Sunday, COPE members nominated Jean Swanson, Derrick O’Keefe and Anne Roberts as council candidates. Swanson, a well-known anti-poverty activist, launched her campaign on Saturday with a theatrical event that highlighted inequality in Vancouver.

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In a news release, Condon said he doesn’t believe simply adding more housing supply will be enough to combat the city’s extreme housing unaffordability, adding Vancouver’s high home prices have been “driven by the escalating price of land and fuelled by international flows of money.”

“This city is fast becoming a pretty place to park your cash and to visit on vacation once or twice, the Monaco of North America,” he said.


“This is not the city we want for our sons and daughters, a city for the one per cent while the 99 per cent have to leave town.”

Condon wants to increase the share of non-market housing to 50 per cent, saying non-market facilities like social housing and co-operatives currently represent 15 per cent of the city’s share of housing.

He said Vienna, where 60 per cent of the city’s population lives in social housing, should be a model for Vancouver.

Kennedy Stewart and Shauna Sylvester, who are both running as independent mayoral candidates, will be speaking with COPE members today to seek the endorsement of the party. It’s possible the party will endorse one of those independents, rather than running a mayoral candidate of its own.

Stewart has previously said he believes Vancouver’s new housing plan, adopted under the current Vision Vancouver-dominated council, is on the right track, but needs to be “more ambitious” when it comes to building more housing.

Sylvester recently called for the city to renew the leases of several housing co-ops that sit on city-owned land.

COPE, OneCity, Vision Vancouver and the Greens are all parties that fall on the left to centre-left spectrum, in opposition to the centre-right Non-Partisan Association. So far Vision is the only other progressive party that intends to run a mayoral candidate.

Both OneCity and Hector Bremner, an NPA councillor who was rejected as a mayoral candidate by his own party, advocate changing zoning in Vancouver’s single-family neighbourhoods to allow denser housing to be built: OneCity would like to limit that new housing to be rental apartments, while Bremner favours a mix of rental and market condos. Bremner is now mulling forming his own party.

Jen St. Denis is a Vancouver-based reporter covering affordability and city hall. Follow her on Twitter: @jenstden

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