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Mayor Kennedy Stewart raises $1.1 million for re-election bid

Vancouver Canucks owner and eight family members donate $11,250 within first six months of 2022
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Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s campaign raised $1.1 million between May 2018 and June 30, 2022.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s campaign raised $1.1 million over the past four-plus years and some of the biggest contributions in 2022 have come from the Vancouver Canucks owner and his family.

A disclosure list released Monday by the mayor’s Forward Together party showed Francesco Aquilini and eight family members — Luigi, Keely, Karsyn, Dax, Deana, Roberto, Pierce and Quinn — donated $1,250 each for a total of $11,250.

The donations were made between Jan.1 and June 30, according to the list.

In April, Business in Vancouver reported that Francesco Aquilini, whose family also operates a development and investment company, invited his business contacts to an April 25 fundraiser at the Captain’s Room in Rogers Arena, officially called the Mayor’s Engagement Lunch.

“I would like you to join Mayor Kennedy Stewart and I for a fundraising lunch and discussion with a focus on housing and development in the City of Vancouver,” said Aquilini’s April 12 email.

"As we look toward the next election, I encourage my community to participate in this engagement lunch. The city of Vancouver is important to me and I want to share this opportunity with other local stakeholders and friends. Please see the link below to purchase tickets to this event."

'Drawn to the values of our campaign'

Mark Hosak, executive director of Forward Together, said Monday that he didn’t want to speak on behalf of Aquilini when asked to explain why nine members of the family donated to the party’s campaign.

But Hosak did say the contributions from the Aquilinis didn’t all come at the fundraiser.

“We really welcome the support of basically everyone that's contributed to our campaign,” Hosak said. “I think they're just drawn to the values that our campaign represents, which is to build more affordable housing across the city, overdose prevention, sustainability and reconciliation.”

Vancouver Is Awesome sent an email Monday to Aquilini Development for comment but had not received a response before this story was posted. The disclosure list, which covers the period from May 2018 to June 30 of this year shows the Aquilinis also made donations prior to 2022.

Three family members behind Amacon Developments — Lilliana, Luca and Concetta De Cotiis — also gave $1,250 each this year to the mayor’s campaign, while Marcello De Cotiis contributed $1,239.18.

Others with ties to the development community were well represented in contributions made this year. Jon Stovell of Reliance Properties, Dale Bosa of Bosa Properties, real estate marketer Bob Rennie, Tim Grant of PCI Developments, Dak Molnar of the Molnar Group and Daisen Gee-Wing of Canadian Metropolitan Properties donated $1,250 each.

So did West Vancouver billionaire Frank Giustra, University of B.C. business professor Thomas Davidoff, Atira Women’s Resource Society CEO Janice Abbott and former Vancouver police chief, Jim Chu, who is a vice-president with the Aquilini Investment Group.

Former Vision Vancouver city councillor Raymond Louie gave $1,250 while former Vision executive director, Stepan Vdovine, contributed $1,239, according to the list, which can be viewed on Forward Together’s website.

Mayor can spend $231,767

Hosak pointed out the party received donations from a wide variety of people, with the average donation being $175 among 2,473 contributors between May 2018 and June 30, 2022. The mayor himself was one of the biggest donors to his fundraising efforts, with more than $6,000 contributed over the four-plus years.

Stewart was elected in October 2018 as an independent candidate but was endorsed by the Vancouver District and Labour Council, which has endorsed the former NDP MP again in his bid to retain the mayor's chair at city hall.

Municipal election finance rules allow a person to contribute up to $1,250 to the campaign of any one candidate, or elector organization and its endorsed candidates.

Prior to the 2018 election, there were no limits on what a person could donate, with developer Robert Macdonald once giving $960,000 to the NPA’s campaign in 2011. Unions have also contributed large sums in previous elections.

Though maximum contributions are set at $1,250 each, Stewart is allowed to spend $231,767 and his council candidates — Russil Wvong, Dulcy Anderson and Hilary Brown — have a limit of $120,491 each.

Elections BC says all municipal candidates, elector organizations and third-party sponsors are required to disclose contributions of $100 or more, but only have to do so within 90 days after the election.

Forward Together named all donors contributing $100 or more and pledged to make contribution information public on a regular basis before election day. The party has challenged other candidates and parties to disclose their contributors and money raised in advance of Oct. 15.

“It is it is integral to our democracy to build health and trust in our democracy at a time when folks might not be feeling that for one reason or the other, to be perfectly transparent and disclose [contributors],” Hosak said.

With files from Bob Mackin

mhowell@glaciermedia.ca

@Howellings

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