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Civic election profile: Vancouver

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Will it be four more years of Gregor Robertson, or has he finally met his match in Kirk LaPointe?

We close out our series of News1130 Your Vote 2014 profiles with a look at the race in Vancouver.

From transportation to the environment, there is no shortage of ballot box questions facing voters in the city. However, those issues have taken a backseat to personal attacks between the two frontrunners, with much of the sniping happening over the airwaves.

“Vision Vancouver has sold out taxpayers for a $102,000 payday, in return for cutting a secret deal with CUPE to stop outsourcing,” according to one NPA attack ad.

Those claims have sparked a defamation suit from Robertson, but Kirk LaPointe is holding firm.

“Let me be very, very clear. I did not defame the mayor,” he insists. “The mayor’s deal defamed Vancouver.”

“We have a very stark choice in this election, between the NPA and Vision,” Robertson warned last week.

He has also pointed out how only a “few men” are bankrolling the NPA campaign.

“It speaks to what former NPA President Michael Davis stated about this party being very narrow, and angry, and not representing the broad diversity of Vancouver,” explains Robertson.

But the NPA hasn’t been alone in the attack ad department; Vision started something of a “birther” movement against LaPointe after the NPA tried to make hay out of the mayor’s marital troubles.

In one radio spot, two women can be heard talking about the former journalist being “too great a risk” to be mayor.

“LaPointe’s not committed to Vancouver. He doesn’t even live or pay taxes in the city,” it says, highlighting the fact he actually lives on the UBC endowment lands.

The nasty tone of the campaign reflects the increasing tightness of the race, with Robertson and LaPointe neck-and-neck in some polls.

Further complicating things for Robertson is the fact COPE is fielding a candidate for mayor for the first time in 12 years, which could lead to a split in the left wing vote. If Meena Wong gets enough support, she could play spoiler tomorrow.

Despite the sniping, the campaign hasn’t totally been bereft of ideas.

The NPA has promised free parking outside the downtown core on Sundays and holidays and to explore the idea of counterflow lanes at some traffic chokepoints.

COPE has promised a ban on corporate donations at City Hall and a rethink of the Burrard Bridge bike lane. On other hand, Vision argues it deserves a third mandate not by promising new things but to protect what it has already achieved.

The incumbents warn Kirk LaPointe’s promises would mean cuts to services like daycare and libraries.

Ultimately, what was set to be a pretty run-of-the-mill race just a few weeks ago has suddenly become very interesting in its final days.