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Women shoot to the top in Vancouver politics, but ethnic diversity takes a hit

FILE - Vancouver City Hall. (Photo credit: Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)

Surrey and Richmond both have four women on their eight-seat city council

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A night of change across B.C., with a lot of new faces winning mayoral seats, including eight of the ten Vancouver councillors now being women. One political analyst says though this result is “unprecedented,” it also the first time in three decades that no councillors of colour have won.

Megan Dias, political analyst with the University of British Columbia, sees the gender shake-up at City Hall as a sign of an “interesting dynamic” in Vancouver politics for the next four years, but it has also come at the cost of ethnic diversity.

“It is noticeable that while this is an unprecedented number of women elected to city council, we don’t really have visible minorities being represented on city council,” Dias says. “While we can celebrate the representation of women, we need to think about [diversity].”

She says it’s worthwhile to also note that most of the parties in Vancouver ran majority female candidates and argues when women are nominated, and have the backing to run, they can win.

“NPA, COPE, OneCity, they all ran more women than men, [and] you see the result play out here. That’s a large part of the reason why we have so many women on Vancouver city council now,” she says.

Women surging to the top in local politics is not only a phenomenon in Vancouver, but also in Richmond in Surrey, Dias adds. Both cities now have four women occupying the eight-seat councils. To Dias, it is an important aspect running the Metro Vancouver area.

“I think it’s important to have local governments — and governments, in general — that are representative of the populations they are serving, [who] know the issues, know what’s going on,” she tells NEWS 1130.

“Having more women can help speak to that, having people from different backgrounds, too, would also help with that, and it is in some ways unfortunate that hasn’t happened.”

with files from Taran Parmar