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British Columbia Vancouver city councillor Elizabeth Ball to run for B.C. Liberals

Elizabeth Ball, a Vancouver city councillor who is running for a B.C. Liberal nomination in the Vancouver-Fairview riding, is photographed outside city hall in Vancouver, British Columbia, Tuesday, January 31, 2017.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

One Vancouver city councillor is making her move this week to graduate to provincial politics, but she appears to be the only one willing to leave the safety of city hall.

Elizabeth Ball, from the centre-right Non-Partisan Association civic party, has announced she is running for the BC Liberal Party nomination in Vancouver-Fairview, a riding now held by the NDP's George Heyman.

She will be competing for the nomination against a former assistant to Premier Christy Clark, Gabe Garfinkel, who has been working with the lobbying and public-relations firm FleishmanHillard.

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Ms. Ball, a former theatre director in her third term on council, said she'd like to bring her strong advocacy for the arts to the provincial level.

"I've been able to change some ideas at the city and there's support for culture from the Premier."

But even though city councils are a popular place from which political parties draw candidates, other Vancouver councillors say they are staying put.

Both Raymond Louie and Kerry Jang with the Vision Vancouver party, which has a mix of NDP and federal Liberal members, say they've been approached by the New Democrats multiple times to run in Vancouver-Fraserview, a riding in southeast Vancouver that has swung back and forth between the NDP and Liberal or Social Credit parties.

In the 2013 provincial election, former NPA Vancouver city councillor Suzanne Anton, now the attorney-general, won the riding by just less than 500 votes.

Neither would say their decision not to run provincially had anything to do with their assessment of the NDP's chances of victory in this election.

Mr. Jang said that he has considered running provincially at times. "I dream of it, I think about it."

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But, he said, he's a tenured professor at the University of B.C. and he doesn't want to give up that work or his collaborations with interesting students there.

Mr. Louie said he doesn't want to leave the city when it is in the middle of so many important projects, as it tackles issues such as housing affordability and environmental concerns.

"We're doing some really great things here."

That was echoed by councillors Andrea Reimer and Geoff Meggs, who did run for the nomination in Vancouver-Fairview for the 2013 election, but lost to Mr. Heyman.

NPA councillor, George Affleck, had also been rumoured as a possible contender for the Liberal nomination in Vancouver-Fairview.

But he says that was always just a rumour and he has no plans to run provincially.

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He lives in the riding of Liberal MLA Sam Sullivan, a former NPA mayor, and he said Mr. Sullivan is doing a great job.

"Victoria is not for me. And I think one of us is enough from our party," he said.

Adriane Carr, the Green Party councillor in her second term, said she hasn't been asked to run provincially and would never consider it.

"I love what I do here."

Ms. Carr acknowledged that many people have suggested she run instead for mayor in the 2018 civic election.

She said she's considering her options.

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"I'm committed to seeing how things progress over the next year and a half."

In the past election, almost 40 per cent of the 85 MLAs elected had previously served in local government, including former Langley mayor Peter Fassbender and former Penticton mayor Dan Ashton.

Ms. Ball has said that, if nominated and then elected in the May provincial election, she would keep her seat on council – but not the pay – long enough to help the city avoid having to call an expensive by-election.

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