Editorial: Urban decay is bad for city business

For candidates in Metro Vancouver’s 2022 municipal elections, getting elected might be the least challenging leg of their political journey.

Tackling the top business issues and removing the economic spike-belts on the road ahead will be the real test of will and leadership.

Municipal elections, after all, suffer from chronic voter apathy.

Voter turnout in 2018, for example, ranged from around 25 per cent in Coquitlam to 39 per cent in the City of Vancouver and 43 per cent in Delta.

So, what we have in most municipal elections is election by minority, and in many cases, election by acclamation as the appetite for public service in local politics diminishes, but the issues facing candidates who gain office will require far more than catering to any single minority.

Consider the input from business respondents in the Metro Elects survey conducted by Mustel Group and released September 8 by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.

Here is their priority list of issues needing city hall resolution: Permitting, licensing and red tape; affordable housing; crime and public safety.

Resolving any one of those top three will require more courage and leadership skill than has been shown by any local politician over the past four years.

Citizens willing to invest the time and resources to run for local office deserve applause.

But they will need much more than time and resources if they are elected.

The Metro Elects survey underscores a consistent theme: Most Lower Mainland respondents expect the quality of life in their neighbourhoods to deteriorate. Many residents and businesses are therefore considering moving out of the Metro Vancouver region.

Heading off that neighbourhood deterioration and preventing that enterprise exodus needs to be the priority for the next occupants of city hall.

Making any real progress on those fronts over the next four years will be the real municipal election victory for local politicians and their communities.