An eclectic group of hotel owners, wealth-management advisers, taxi-company owners, development-industry players, and a company that has a countess as a director has turned out in force to back the city’s once-dominant civic party.
Those are a few of the people and groups that helped sell out the Non-Partisan Association’s upcoming 350-seat fundraiser for what is expected to be a hard-fought struggle to take back control of city hall.
But it appears that, contrary to what was advertised, there will be no candidates announced and no $20,000 to $50,000 tables.
NPA members say the fundraiser is a good start for the party and shows that people are looking for an alternative to Mayor Gregor Robertson and his party. Vision Vancouver has been in power since 2008.
“I think there’s general dissatisfaction with the direction Vision Vancouver is taking,” veteran school-board trustee Ken Denike said.
City councillor George Affleck said the party is “very happy to see this kind of support, with a wide spectrum of individuals, corporations and developers. It’s a good, diverse group.”
Both said they believed no candidates will be announced at the gala event on Wednesday, contrary to what the party’s website had stated earlier. Mr. Denike said that is partly because the NPA’s green-light committee is taking a long time to vet everyone in its new, rigorous process, which includes a criminal-records check.
Event organizer Leah Costello said the high-end tables will be at the next fundraiser, in September. The election is Nov. 15.
Although she did not spell it out, many donors likely wanted to see who the party’s mayoral candidate is before they start writing large cheques.
The NPA’s president, Peter Armstrong, has been working hard to get the party on solid footing and recruit candidates, but so far has not landed anyone for the mayoralty spot.
Names circulating are Mr. Affleck, former park-board commissioner Ian Robertson, Mr. Armstrong himself, and the NPA’s vice-president, developer Rob MacDonald.
A polling and campaign expert who has worked with the Conservative Party of Canada, the B.C. Liberals, and the NPA said the party needs to get that candidate before it can make significant headway.
“Raising money is one thing, but the NPA needs a credible candidate who can provide a clear alternative,” said Hamish Marshall, a principal at Abingdon Research. He said he is not working on this NPA campaign. Neither is the campaign organizer from the NPA’s last foray, Norman Stowe.
For next week’s fundraiser, six donors bought tables at $7,500 apiece. They included the Vancouver Taxi Association, developer Concord Pacific, the O’Neil hotel and resort chain, the rail tour company founded by Mr. Armstrong, and Mr. Macdonald. The sixth table was bought by Mansa Holdings, whose directors include Countess Aline Dobrzensky, a Shaughnessy resident who is a noted arts patron, and three men with the surname Galvin.
Others at the $5,000 tables will include Vancouver business owner Mark James, the shipbuilding company Seaspan, a Point Grey Road resident who was a strong opponent of the new bike route there, the city’s major private parking company, the development company building the Trump hotel, and wealthy entrepreneur Lorne Segal.
Vision Vancouver will hold an annual general meeting on Sunday, along with a vote on whether to endorse its existing politicians for another run. The party will also announce soon how many candidates it plans to run for the 11-member council, nine-member school board, and seven-member park board.
In the 2011 election, Vision left spots open as part of its collaboration with the left-wing COPE party, but COPE has broken off its partnership with Vision.
Several other new parties or smaller civic parties are milling around as well, hoping to pick up dissatisfied Vision voters. They include the Green Party, TEAM, and a new party that might be formed by previous COPE members.