Ken Sim sworn in as Vancouver's first Chinese Canadian mayor, promises co-operation

VANCOUVER — Ken Sim has made history after being sworn in as Vancouver's first Chinese Canadian mayor.

At an inauguration ceremony, more than 135 years after Canada imposed a head tax on Chinese people entering the country, Sim said the history of the moment was not lost on him and recognized those in the community "whose shoulders that I stand on."

"The honour also belongs to everyone in this room who shares the vision that we can build a more inclusive Vancouver — a Vancouver where our diverse lived experiences make us stronger," he said, after a ceremony that included traditional lion dancers.

"You can't lose if you never give up."

Sim's landslide win over incumbent Kennedy Stewart in the October municipal election came after losing out on the top job to Stewart by fewer than 1,000 votes in 2018.

His newly created centre-right ABC Vancouver party saw all seven of its candidates win a seat on the 10-member council, setting the stage for a more united municipal government than under Stewart.

"We heard loud and clear the people wanted change and people, change in Vancouver is here," Sim said.

"More than ever before, Vancouver continues to be challenged but not because improving affordability, housing, safety or the climate are impossible. The promise of Vancouver is challenged because (of) our lack of commitment to overcome our differences with one another."

Sim promised to set a tone of co-operation as mayor, despite his party holding a strong majority on council. He called on other branches of government to help deal with the city's opioid crisis.

"I'm standing here in front of this whole crowd, humbly asking for your help. Vancouver needs your help more than ever before. We are experiencing one of our nation's greatest challenges and tragedies," he said.

Vancouver has one of the highest rates of opioid deaths in the province. B.C.'s chief coroner says 171 people died of toxic drugs in B.C. in September, bringing the total for the year to 1,644, the largest number ever recorded for the first nine months of a calendar year.

The ABC Vancouver slate was elected on promises to tackle housing affordability by speeding up the permitting process and hire 100 more police officers and 100 more mental health nurses to address public safety concerns.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 7, 2022.

The Canadian Press