It appears West Vancouver-Sea to Sky will be the first region outside of Vancouver Island to vote BC Greens in a provincial election.
“It’s huge, expanding geographically onto the mainland, it’s a really promising sign,” said candidate Jeremy Valeriote, predicted to win the seat which is historically a BC Liberal stronghold.
While mail-in votes still need to be counted, it would give the BC Greens three seats, Furstenau, Valeriote, and Adam Olsen in Saanich North and the Islands, up one from when Parliament was dissolved.
But there was even more promising news for the party on election night. A BC Green candidate placed second in 14 ridings, up from just six second-place finishes in 2017.
While there’s no question part of that is because the Liberals struggled, Green leader Sonia Furstenau says it also shows the party is expanding its reach.
“So it’s more evenly distributed it’s not only concentrated here on Vancouver Island, so looking ahead it’s building on this moment, building on the success we’ve had in the last, I think I’ve been leader for, 42 days, 43 days now?” Furstenau joked.
But the election results are also bittersweet. With an NDP majority, the Greens will no longer hold the balance of power. But one expert says the party will still have a chance to make its voice heard.
“Even though ironically they have less influence in terms of number of seats against a minority, their profile may actually increase because the Liberals are now in some kind of disarray,” said UVic political scientist Michael Prince.
“Here we have a brand new leader in the Greens she has an opportunity to have more influence in terms of public profile and public issues,” he said.
While the Greens did increase support in some parts of the province, they lost it in others, particularly rural areas. Furstenau admits she has work to do.
“I will absolutely be focused on connecting all over the province, but you know in particular with agricultural and rural areas and in parts of B.C. where I think if people got to know us they’d recognize we have a lot to offer,” she said.
But securing a place like West Vancouver-Sea to Sky is a critical start and potentially a sign of things to come
“Shows there’s some potential for the Greens certainly in the Vancouver area, that’s where a lot of seats are, so they’ve got to be dreaming about great days ahead,” said Prince.
Furstenau says she’s been in contact with her two colleagues projected to win their seats, and they are already getting back to work.