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Vancouver City Hall on Jan. 9, 2021.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

At 39, Nathan Pachal isn’t the youngest mayor ever elected in B.C.

But he is distinctive for being not just youngish, but a committed pro-urbanist, pro-more-housing, pro-transit new mayor in what is considered the suburban heartland of B.C. – the City of Langley.

Mr. Pachal is part of a wave of millennial candidates who have entered civic politics in this election and the last one, advocating for less suburban sprawl and more urban-style neighbourhoods.

And they say that’s entirely possible in the suburbs, whatever people’s stereotypes.

“We’re a very urban centre,” said Mr. Pachal, who has worked until now as a senior operations manager for the e-commerce division of a large retailer. “I believe 80 per cent of households in the city are townhouses or apartments. I’ve only lived in townhouses or apartments since I moved here.”

Mr. Pachal moved to Langley 20 years ago and was first elected to council in a by-election in 2016.

Dylan Kruger, a 27-year-old just elected for a second term as a city councillor in Delta, agrees that millennials are changing things in the suburbs.

“I’ve seen a transition over the last five years, especially. A lot of long-term councillors have retired and we’re having those seats filled by people who are several decades younger.”

Those young suburban politicians aren’t shy about talking about their hopes for more densely packed housing and lots of transit.

“We talked in a way you haven’t seen suburban politicians talk before,” said Mr. Kruger.

As a result, the team that Mr. Kruger campaigned with – a mixed-age, mixed-race team that explicitly called for the need to densify the suburb’s urban centres – won overwhelmingly.

Other members of the millennial urbanist wave include Alison Gu in Burnaby and Jordan Back in the District of North Vancouver, all re-elected as councillors. One of that cohort, Mathew Bond, didn’t win but he came within a few hundred votes of beating incumbent Mike Little in the mayoral race in the district.

“Mathew was very close and that’s telling as well,” said Mr. Pachal. “The District of North Vancouver has been thought of as very traditional suburban.”

In Saanich, 44-year-old Dean Murdock defeated the 74-year-old incumbent Fred Haynes after having built up a community movement called Better Mobility Saanich over the past few years that focused on improving the city’s pedestrian and cycling routes.

In New Westminster, two millennials were elected to that council: Nadine Nakagawa for a second time, Tasha Henderson for the first.

“I think there is a generational shift going on in electoral politics,” said Patrick Johnstone, newly elected to be New Westminster mayor and turning 53 next week, who had Ms. Nakagawa and Ms. Henderson on his team. “They are getting priced out, they’re moving to New Westminster or Langley, but they still want the excitement of an urban area.”

Not all the new urbanist suburban mayors and councillors are necessarily young.

In Port Moody, a Vancouver suburb famous over the past four years for the resistance of its mayor and councillors to new development projects, a seasoned council member, Meghan Lahti, was elected as mayor.

Her votes in the last term indicated solid support for new housing projects, including new social housing, in that city – projects that her main opponent had voted mostly against.