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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

State of the City: McEnerny-Ogle says Vancouver is a city ‘built on change’

Mayor says Vancouver is ready ready for the next phase

By William Seekamp, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 19, 2024, 2:33pm
5 Photos
Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle addresses more than 100 community members gathered for the 2024 State of the City at the Firstenburg Community Center on Monday, only the second in-person address since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle addresses more than 100 community members gathered for the 2024 State of the City at the Firstenburg Community Center on Monday, only the second in-person address since the COVID-19 pandemic. (Elayna Yussen for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Vancouver is evolving from a sleepy suburb to an urban destination, Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle said in her State of the City address Monday night.

“Change can be exhilarating and very exciting, but it can also be daunting and scary,” she told the 115 or so people gathered at Firstenburg Community Center in east Vancouver.

In the mayor’s 23-minute address, she said “change” at least 15 times.

“From our earliest days, Vancouver was built on change, and not just change for change’s sake, but to advance in a way that allows us to keep what is special and to focus on what is important,” McEnerny-Ogle said.

The speech comes as Washington’s fourth most populous city — with 195,000 residents in 2022, according to the Census Bureau — is growing faster than Washington’s second and third most populous cities: Tacoma with 219,000 people and Spokane with 229,000.

But Vancouver is growing upward more than outward with projects including the Waterfront Gateway, Columbia Palisades and the Heights District redevelopment adding hundreds of housing units.

“Vancouver is growing rapidly and we’ve evolved from that suburban bedroom community to an urban destination,” McEnerny-Ogle said. “That means we have to adapt, we have to grow, we have to learn from our mistakes and we need to try new things, otherwise the future you have told us that you want — that we all want — just won’t happen.”

McEnerny-Ogle listed the city’s most recent achievements: the 2022 Climate Action Framework to reduce greenhouse gases; the Vancouver Police Department deployment of body-worn cameras; the opening of new Safe Stay homeless shelters; and the affordable housing levy, which is set to raise $10 million annually for the next 10 years for low-income housing assistance.

A timeline of Vancouver’s history was prominently displayed at the Firstenburg Community Center for the address. The display showcased periods of Vancouver’s history, from the area’s Indigenous people to early 20th century industrialization to Vancouver’s suburban sprawl eastward.

The timeline listed Vancouver’s current metamorphosis as the “Suburban to Urban Transition.”

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