Two slates of candidates running for city council in Richmond have joined forces to form a coalition.
RITE Richmond, consisting of Henry Yao, Niti Sharma, Coun. Carol Day and Michael Wolfe and Richmond Citizens' Association, with candidates Kelly Greene, Judie Schneider, Coun. Harold Steves and Jack Trovato are asking voters to elect all eight of them to Richmond city council on Oct. 20.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, the eight candidates said they were united in opposing megahomes on farmland and the desire for a new housing affordability strategy.
“We’re not running against each other, we’re running with each other,” said Day. “You can have candidates and councillors that can work together.”
They talked of implementing a renters’ advisory board and exploring the idea of a vacancy tax on empty homes, similar to Vancouver. Harold Steeves also wants to see stricter enforcement of bylaws on illegal AirBnbs.
They held up placards with images of monster ALR homes around Richmond with red crosses through them. Day also said she wants to prevent cannabis production on the ALR.
The group also wants to disallow councillors from working on development projects in Richmond, saying it could be a conflict of interest given the knowledge they have from in-camera council meetings.
“We want to give voters a really clear understanding that we are working towards the same goals,” said Greene. “We would like to protect farmland. We desperately need a sensible affordable housing plan.”
Yao also said coalition candidates would stay consistent, transparent and accountable in both English and Chinese.
“We’ve had candidates taking advantage of the language barrier … to deliver two different messages,” he said.
He also touched on the importance of making city material more accessible to the Chinese community, and said he would make it a priority to engage with Chinese media and WeChat groups.
But even though the coalition wants voters to mark all eight candidate names on their ballots, Day emphasized they were still all individuals and not a party.
“Everyone is independent,” she said. “There's no block voting, there's no party whip … we all vote our conscience.”