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Vancouver elects Stewart new mayor as housing fury rages

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Vancouver, Canada's third-largest city, voted in its first new mayor in a decade whose most pressing job will to tackle North America's most unaffordable housing market.

[MONTREAL] Vancouver, Canada's third-largest city, voted in its first new mayor in a decade whose most pressing job will to tackle North America's most unaffordable housing market.

Kennedy Stewart won 28.7 per cent of the vote on Saturday, beating closest rival Ken Sim by fewer than 1,000 ballots, according to the city's website. He faced 20 other candidates in one of Vancouver's most confusing and unusual elections in recent years marked by a proliferation of independent and, until recently, mostly unknown candidates.

Stewart, 51, who moved to Vancouver from Nova Scotia in his early 20s with only C$100 (S$105) in his pocket, went on to become a professor of public policy at Simon Fraser University and a member of parliament for the New Democratic Party. He's pledged to build 85,000 units of housing in 10 years, particularly focused on affordable rentals for lower-income families.

Stewart is set to take over from Gregor Robertson, who decided not to run for re-election earlier this year. One of the city's longest-serving mayors, Robertson had presided over a period in which Vancouver transitioned from a sleepy backwater into an increasingly global city topping the world's liveability rankings and a major driver of Canada's economic growth.

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That transformation was accompanied by a booming real estate market with home prices more than doubling in the past decade. In Vancouver, the typical single family house today costs more than C$1.5 million, nearly 20 times median household income, making the city the most unaffordable market in North America.

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