Former federal candidate Payam Azad running for City of North Van mayoralty

With his plan to build up public housing and cut down profits for developers, Payam Azad is campaigning to be the City of North Vancouver’s next mayor.

If elected, Azad said he would allow development only on the condition 35 per cent of new homes and buildings become municipal property used for public housing or additions to rec centres, libraries or city hall.

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While the measure would cut deep into developers’ profits, Azad argued that developers are currently enjoying a windfall from “over-charging people.”

Azad’s platform also calls for vacant homes to be seized by the city if necessary.

“First of all, they are going to be identified,” he said. “I don’t think this is a big task for the government to identify the empty homes.”

Following identification, the absentee homeowners would be issued a warning, he said. If the house remains unoccupied, Azad said he would push for the homes to be confiscated.

“The city is for the people who live and work in the city,” he said, discussing the need to reduce real estate speculation.

In order to ease gridlock, Azad said he would advocate for “one more new link” across the inlet.

While many argue that a new bridge would increase car traffic, Azad said a third crossing wouldn’t necessarily be strictly for cars.

“If you build a bridge, public transportation uses that as well,” he said.

The city needs a drastic increase in bus service as well as a SkyTrain connection, according to Azad.

In terms of cycling, Azad said he would take a closer look at the Green Necklace cycling network to reduce the risk of a cyclist colliding with a pedestrian.

“Some part of that (Green Necklace) route is unacceptable to me because they have mixed the pedestrians with the cyclists,” he said.

Azad said he would oppose amalgamation with the District of North Vancouver, suggesting the two municipalities are economically distinct with many district residents considering themselves rich and many city residents considering themselves middle class.

Azad’s platform also addresses the sights and smells of the city. As mayor, he said he would push for garbage trucks to be washed and disinfected more frequently and for “ugly concrete structures” to be painted.

“It makes a difference to have a beautiful city,” he said.

As a federal candidate, Azad advocated for the nationalization of banks. As mayor, Azad said he would charge a “substantial” municipal tax on banks.

While he said he liked the plan for a new Harry Jerome rec centre, Azad suggested council might be moving too quickly on the project.

“In my view, there’s not a big rush for improvement. Nevertheless, Harry Jerome can be turned into a big, four-storey recreation facility.”

Other declared mayoral candidates include Couns. Linda Buchanan and Rod Clark, former councillor Guy Heywood, Kerry Morris, and Michael Willcock.

The election is slated for Oct. 20.

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