Longtime Burnaby council member Lee Rankin, who served for 22 years from 1983 to 1999 and from 2002 to 2008, is making an independent bid to get his chair back.
“I’m going to bring a lifetime of experience,” he said.
The lawyer is joining many others in the race by putting housing issues at the forefront of his campaign.
“We cannot allow any more evictions of renters in Metrotown,” Rankin said. “We need to rethink our housing strategy in the city.”
Rankin is proposing a series of policies that would ensure all demolished rental units in the city are replaced by new rentals charging the same rates. He also said any person displaced in a demoviction – where apartment buildings are destroyed to make way for new developments – should be the first given an opportunity to move into the new units.
He also wants to see a new renters’ advocate position created at city hall. This staffer would help tenants across the city facing challenging situations such as demovictions and problem landlords, he said.
Rankin ran for council with TEAM Burnaby in 2008 and 2011. They unsuccessfully tried to unseat the Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA), which has swept all seats on council and school board in the last three elections.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Rankin was a member of the BCA before splitting with the slate that has dominated local politics for decades.
Rankin said he hopes to become a voice of opposition on council to improve debate, which he says is crucial to a healthy democracy.
“Open debate and a healthy airing of different opinions are needed in Burnaby,” he said. “Any elected body needs checks and balances. I can provide that oversight as an independent councillor.”
Rankin also said he is a “strong environmentalist” who opposes the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. He said he’s supportive of the series of legal challenges the city has embarked upon to oppose the project, despite the fact it has cost $1.1 million and no judge has ruled in favour of the city’s arguments.
He also said he wants to stop “rat running” traffic in North Burnaby. He said a comprehensive traffic review could lead to new measures such as traffic circles.