2018 will mark the end of an era in Vancouver civic politics: Mayor Gregor Robertson has revealed he does not plan to run for the office again this fall.
In a statement shared Wednesday afternoon, Robertson says this was “one of the hardest decisions” of his life, and one that he came to over the holidays after speaking with family and friends.
Robertson will have been Vancouver’s mayor for a decade when he leaves office in October–“the longest consecutive run as Mayor in Vancouver’s history,” he points out.
“Ten years is a long time in politics. An important part of leadership is recognizing when to step aside to make space for new leaders.”
Robertson came to office in 2008, as the 2010 Winter Games neared, and the city’s profile was once again rising on the global scene.
Vancouver’s 39th mayor had previously served as an MLA for Vancouver-Fairview, as a member of the New Democratic Party of British Columbia, from 2005 until the 2008 election.
During the course of his time in the Mayor’s office, Robertson was often pressed for further transparency, and was known for his support of bike lanes. Other hot spots of his mayorship have been the city’s logo re-vamp, the 2011 Stanley Cup riots, the Arbutus rail corridor, and bylaw changes.
On the personal front, during his time as mayor, Robertson faced a high-profile divorce, and a controversial relationship with singer Wanting Qu.
As Robertson now becomes the “lame duck” mayor, in a sense, he claims he is not done with fighting the good fight from where he stands.
“I’m fired up for the rest of the term,” Robertson says. “Over the next ten months, I’ll be focused on securing funding for the Broadway Subway and transit projects across the region, taking aggressive action to approve record levels of affordable housing, and creating even more vibrant public spaces on par with the new Arbutus Greenway and Jim Deva Plaza.”
Below is the full text of Robertson’s announcement:
Today I announce one of the hardest decisions of my life. This will be my last term as Mayor of Vancouver – I won’t be seeking re-election on October 20.
I took time with family and friends over the holidays to reflect on my future and made this bittersweet choice.
I love Vancouver and our amazing people. I love serving our city as Mayor. When I finish my third term later this year, the decade in office will be the longest consecutive run as Mayor in Vancouver’s history. Ten years is a long time in politics. An important part of leadership is recognizing when to step aside to make space for new leaders.
I dove into politics as an entrepreneur committed to making positive proactive change. It’s been an incredible honour to serve our city through such historic and challenging times. Thanks to our bold, collective efforts over the past 10 years, Vancouver is now widely recognized as one of the most liveable, green, innovative and prosperous cities in the world.
Vancouver was struggling when I first ran for mayor in 2008 and we’ve faced extraordinary challenges since then – from the global recession and a regional gang war to the affordability and homeless crisis that is impacting many leading cities around the world. Time and again, the people of Vancouver raised our game to meet these challenges head-on.
We were first in North America to become a City of Reconciliation, working in deep partnership with Indigenous peoples. We helped lead the global fight against climate change. We successfully hosted the 2010 Games. We built the strongest city economy in Canada.
We never shied away from tackling the toughest issues. We didn’t back down from opening homeless shelters, warming centers, modular or supportive housing to help our most vulnerable residents. We made Vancouver a city that speaks out forcefully against racism, homophobia and transphobia. We’ve led the national effort to fight for health-focused drug policy and saving lives in the opioid overdose crisis.
We’ve made great progress towards being the world’s greenest city, we’ve built a creative, resilient economy with leading edge tech and innovation, and become a much safer city. We’ve done more to protect and build affordable housing than any city in the country but we must continue to work tirelessly to end homelessness, and keep pressure on other levels of government to work with us and do their part.
We endured many years with those governments ignoring their responsibilities on critical urban issues. As Chair of Canada’s Big City Mayors and TransLink’s Mayors Council, I pushed hard with Mayors locally and across Canada to see our provincial and federal governments re-engage with cities.
Together, we’ve made big progress. With recently elected BC and Federal governments now committed to urban agendas, we’re finally seeing long-awaited funding for affordable housing, transit, child care and green infrastructure. And we’re seeing long-overdue changes to drug policy, campaign finance reform, and renters’ rights.
I am incredibly proud of our accomplishments and I will work hard to see that bold action continue. It’s only been possible due to everyone’s contributions – my heartfelt thanks to my Council and Vision colleagues, City staff, volunteers, supporters, and citizens in our diverse neighbourhoods. My personal appeal to you all: please continue to step up and do your part to make Vancouver the greatest city in the world.
Because the challenges keep coming at us. We face daunting issues like climate change, homelessness, and mental health and addictions. The much-needed breakthroughs on these fronts will require a passionate, engaged community and bold, progressive leadership at City Hall for the years to come.
I’m fired up for the rest of the term. Over the next ten months, I’ll be focused on securing funding for the Broadway Subway and transit projects across the region, taking aggressive action to approve record levels of affordable housing, and creating even more vibrant public spaces on par with the new Arbutus Greenway and Jim Deva Plaza.
I’m very excited about the 2018 election and electing diverse new leaders. A decade of collective passion and hard work has prepared Vancouver as a launchpad for the next generation of dynamic leadership. I will work hard to elect a renewed Vision team that is open to cooperate with anyone on an ambitious, progressive agenda.
It’s been the greatest honour of my life to serve this extraordinary city, and help make Vancouver an inspiration to people and cities around the world. Thank you for this opportunity, for your constant feedback and your support.
Every day, Vancouverites continue to demonstrate their love for each other, our city, and our planet. We are blessed to live here. With a relentlessly positive approach to politics and government, Vancouver can be an even greater city for us all, and for future generations.
Take care, Gregor