The Straight Slate for the 2011 municipal elections across Metro Vancouver

If the citizens grant no party full control over Vancouver council and park board, it will jack up the odds of the public having more say in the future

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Vancouver Park Board

Donalda Greenwell-Baker (COPE)

She has worked in several East Vancouver community centres, and is well-acquainted with the challenges facing Vancouver’s low-income residents. Greenwell-Baker is intelligent and articulate, and you won’t have to worry about her being pushed around by senior bureaucrats. As a long-time CUPE Local 15 secretary-treasurer, she’s also extremely knowledgeable about city finances. And she has supported the greening of Hastings Park.

 

Brent Granby (COPE)

Granby has worked for many years on neighbourhood issues in the West End, including the campaign to keep St. Paul’s Hospital on Burrard Street. He walks the talk on environmental issues, and as an adviser to outgoing COPE commissioner Loretta Woodcock, he’s already up to speed on the issues. COPE opposed the imposition of recreational fees on young children.

 

Jamie Lee Hamilton (IDEA)

The veteran community activist is the only candidate who has devised a solution for the constant problem of council cutbacks to parks and recreation—giving the park board full autonomy to fund its programs and finance its capital projects. Yes, Jamie Lee Hamilton is a park-board separatist. She’s also a passionate advocate for equal rights and for low-income people. That’s why she’s so vehemently opposed to the Vision-controlled board’s decision to impose fees on kids under six years old at local pools and skating rinks.

 

Melissa De Genova (NPA)

Her father, Al De Genova, was an energetic and independent-minded park commissioner for many years, and we believe that she will follow in his footsteps. She’s worked hard to get young people involved in electoral politics. And at a recent park candidates’ debate at the Douglas Park Community Centre, she demonstrated humility by acknowledging that she didn’t fully appreciate how much Mount Pleasant residents valued their outdoor pool when she ran in 2008. De Genova knows the challenges facing the park board and nobody can question her work ethic.

 

Dave Pasin (NPA)

Pasin, a long-time director of the West End Community Centre, has spoken out against Vision Vancouver politicians’ desire to grab surpluses from community-centre associations and redistribute these funds. He’s a forceful and knowledgeable debater who has pledged to eliminate recreational fees for children under six years old. He has also called for a ban on shark-fin soup, which reflects his interest in environmental issues. If Pasin is elected, he’ll shake things up at the park board.

 

Constance Barnes (Vision Vancouver)

She was the only Vision commissioner to vote against fees for young kids. A single mother, she has also advocated for safe spaces for children in park-board facilities. Barnes is on the left side of the Vision spectrum. Some won’t vote for her because she got behind the wheel after having too many drinks, and then drove her car into a house. To them, we say that the voters didn’t disqualify Gordon Campbell from political office for impaired driving. The same standard should apply to Barnes, who has admitted her error and sought treatment.

 

Niki Sharma (Vision Vancouver)

She’s a bright young lawyer specializing in aboriginal legal issues. Sharma also has a degree in environmental biology, which would serve her well as a park commissioner. She values diversity and has a good understanding of women’s issues, having served on the board of Battered Women’s Support Services. Over time, we believe she has the potential to emerge as a fiery advocate who will battle on the side of low-income people against entrenched interests. The park board has been a launching pad for the careers of some of the city’s most influential politicians over the years. Sharma just might follow in that tradition.

 

Vancouver Board of Education

Please see this page for our candidate recommendations.

 

North Shore

There’s no race for mayor in West Vancouver, where Coun. Michael Smith is running unopposed. Council watchdog Carolanne Reynolds would be a good addition to West Van council. Trish Panz deserves to be reelected for shepherding forward a progressive climate-change plan. Former B.C. Green party candidate Damian Kettlewell is also worth supporting. In the District of North Vancouver, Richard Walton is one of the region’s most competent mayors, and deserves another term. Lisa Muri has been one of the district’s more progressive politicians over the years. Roger Bassam, who works in information technology, and former police officer Doug Mackay-Dunn have also demonstrated intelligence in the district council chamber. In the nearby City of North Vancouver, we’re recommending the reelection of Mayor Darrell Mussatto, who is one of the greenest politicians in the region, along with his most important supporter on council, Craig Keating. Newcomers Juliana Buitenhuis, Yashar Khalighi, and Michael Charrois would bring progressive voices to the chamber and are all worth supporting.

 

New Westminster

We haven’t always been thrilled with Mayor Wayne Wright, who initially resisted city involvement in saving the Massey Theatre. But under his tenure, the city has seen improvements to the Uptown area and along Columbia Street. Wright deserves credit for New Westminster being the first city in Canada to apologize for its treatment of Chinese pioneers. His opponent, James Crosty, has promised to boost the arts. Early in the campaign, Wright stupidly referred to Crosty’s “lifestyle”—Crosty is gay—making us wonder if the mayor realizes it’s the 21st century. On balance, we’ll tip our hat to Crosty, who has tried to engage young voters. We recommend reelecting councillors Jonathan Cote, Bill Harper, Jaimie McEvoy, and Lorrie Williams, who supported a living wage. Also, save a vote for council for Paul Mulangu, who has been a great advocate for African immigrants, and for former NDP MLA Chuck Puchmayr.

 

Burnaby

Mayor Derek Corrigan and his Burnaby Citizens Association team deserve to be reelected, given their prudent oversight of city finances, sensitive approach to development, and appreciation for the environment. The City of Burnaby could be doing more to address homelessness, but deserves credit for paying attention to the looming Canada–EU trade deal. BCA candidates for the board of education provided teachers with material to counter homophobic bullying, despite intense opposition from the Christian right.

 

Surrey

We can’t recommend the reelection of Mayor Dianne Watts after her defence of former president George W. Bush’s recent visit to her city. Watts has also sent conflicting signals over whether she wants Metro Vancouver to build a waste incinerator in Surrey, whereas one of her opponents, Ross Buchanan, has been unequivocally opposed. Another mayoral candidate, Vikram Bajwa, has tried to find out how much Surrey taxpayers ended up forking out on the Bush visit. We say vote for him if you don’t like people who start illegal wars of aggression visiting your city. For council, we like lots of the progressive Surrey Civic Coalition candidates, notably incumbent Bob Bose, Stephanie Ryan, Rina Gill, and former councillor Gary Robinson. They all know their stuff. If you have to vote for members of the Watts gang, the best choices are incumbents Judy Villeneuve and Barinder Rasode, who’ve been associated with progressive causes in the past.

 

Northeast Sector

Coquitlam voters are lucky in that they have two good candidates for mayor: incumbent Richard Stewart and veteran councillor Barrie Lynch. The unions are backing Lynch. Stewart, a former B.C. Liberal MLA, has displayed a progressive side as mayor, even showing up to participate in an antiracist demonstration. He has worked hard to bring the Evergreen Line to his community, and persuaded other mayors to support more funding for TransLink. On balance, we’ll give him the nod. In Port Moody, Coun. Mike Clay has the experience to move into the mayor’s chair, having served six years on council. We like his support for a more transparent municipal government. In Port Coquitlam, Greg Moore deserves to be reelected, notwithstanding his ardent support for incinerating more garbage. PoCo has an impressive curbside recycling program and it remains livable and affordable. In Pitt Meadows, we’re backing Coun. Deb Walters for mayor because residents deserve someone who sees this as a full-time job. In Maple Ridge, Ernie Daykin has been an upbeat mayor who, despite his right-wing history, probably deserves to be reelected based on his knowledge of local and regional issues. His challenger, Craig Ruthven, wants to speed up the handling of applications to the planning department, even though Maple Ridge is one of the fastest-growing municipalities.

 

Delta

Metro Vancouver chair Lois Jackson has focused a great deal of attention to regional issues, sometimes to the detriment of Delta residents. It’s time for a full-time mayor, which is why we’re recommending former councillor Krista Engelland. She’s in an uphill race because her criticism of the proposed Southlands development won’t generate many campaign contributions. We’re also recommending Sylvia Bishop and Anne Peterson for council.

 

Richmond

Mayor Malcolm Brodie will probably be reelected, but we’re supporting lawyer Richard Lee, even though he opposed the supervised-injection site in Vancouver many years ago. Lee is calling for more democratic governance, and he questions the mayor’s opposition to more funding for TransLink. Brodie’s political career received a boost when the Canada Line was built, and after this, it seems mean-spirited to deny more transit to other communities. Lee will also be able to communicate better with Richmond’s growing Chinese population.

Comments (48) Add New Comment
G McGuire
Everybody loves Bill. McCreery that is. Me too. Thanks for the compliment. I encourage everyone to lodge their protest with me.
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No to any Vision
At least you didn't endorse Jaspers for Parks Board, but one Visionoid is one Visionoid too many for me, and you've picked the two ultimate Vision functionaries, Meggs and Louie. Bah! Where are the NSV candidates? I won't put an X by any Vision candidate on the 19th.
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Dave Pasin - Park Board
Thank you to Charlie & his Georgia Straight team for the very kind words, support and thoughtful analysis.

It is very much appreciated.

I also want to wish all those who have taken the time to let their names stand for public office all the best of luck.

Have your say..

Please take the time and remember to vote!



Best Wishes

Dave Pasin
NPA Candidate for Park Board
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Phil Le Good
Even though I no longer live in Vancouver I do follow the civic issues there.

I can't agree more that Tim Louis would be an excellent councilor for Vancouver residents. I am also in agreement over the Straight's recommendation of Ellen Woodsworth.

Both Tim and Ellen as councilors from the outset were opposed to Vancouver hosting the 2010 Games. However, your two other recommendations Geoff Meggs and Raymond Louie were in full support of hosting the Games and ignored the risks involved.

In fact, I made Louie aware of the risks of the city's responsibility for financing the Athlete's Village in January 2003 in which Louie showed his incapacity in understanding legal agreements. The Athlete's Village Agreement clearly stated that the City of Vancouver was responsible for financing the village and the Multi-Party Agreement clearly stated that the Province of BC was not going to underwrite any losses that may occur from financing the village. Mr. Louie, despite being showed these sections of the agreement waved it off in favour of boosterism.

Meggs, "Larry Campbell for Senator" campaign manager, was one of former Mayor Campbell's city paid sidekicks at City Hall during his reign. Fully in support of hosting the Games, Meggs, as the Straight indicated is no dummy, however, his blind faith in rhetoric of olympic proportions and active roll in the YES campaign of the Olympic Plebiscite in 2003 should not be ignored. Meggs is a prime example of a graduate of the Tony Blair School of Neo-Liberalism.

Despite the NPA choosing a developer to develop the entire site, the city was still on the hook for $184 million for a variety of costs associated with providing soil remediation and site infrastructure based on the agreement the City signed in December 2002. Meggs knew of the risks and costs and yet still supported one of the most incidious examples of corporatism we have, the IOC's Olympic Games.

I am sure readers could find two other candidates for council other than Meggs and Louie.



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Marky Mark
I'd replace Bill McCreery with George Affleck. Bill McCreery doesn't even live in Vancouver (he lives in Richmond). George Affleck is a strong supporter of the arts and a former chair of the Cooperative Auto Network.
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Barb
Wah! The City temporarily moved the newspaper boxes! I can think of 2 excellent examples of where newspaper boxes were used as convenient projectiles during large scale events and caused significant damage. I think its a good idea to clear the adjacent streets of an event zone of anything that can be picked-up and thrown. Perhaps consider advocating for more newspaper 'condos' that are fixed so this issue is avoided. Or does that take away too much from your branding?
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James G
A year ago, anyone reading the Straight would have thought it was the official organ of Vision Vancouver. You have come a long way back toward the description as 'Vancouver's free press' culminating in this endorsement list. Congrats.

From my further-left perspective, I agreed with four of your Council recommendations and voted for two more on the worth considering list. For that matter, I also had to really think about McCreery and Jang. The tag on their slates deterred me and I didn't vote for them in the end.

I am a little surprised the Parks Board list didn't give a a 'worth considering' to Kalaw and even Loke. They ran energetic campaigns but maybe I just think they were both just too physically attractive to overlook!

I had set aside two bottles of bubbly (actually inexpensive Italian organic bubbly) for election night in the event the voters rid themselves of Councilors Meggs and Reimer. I though that was being too negative ... so I drank them already ... well, that reason was sufficient. They went down well.
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OCTOPI VANCOUVER
It'd be really great if all candidates could elaborate on exactly what they mean by 'funding the arts' ... from my experience, it seems to be a funnel that goes through a select few in select circles. Are we talking about a more lax approach to the live music venue situation? Are they talking about orchestras & ballets which pretty much cater to the rich anyways?
It just seems to be a garnish they throw in to balance out their pandering to the rich & (attempts at) the poor ...
Some specifics would be nice.
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City Observer
Always difficult to put an endorsement list together. In respect of the Vancouver civic election, I'm surprised that you didn't endorse Adriane Carr, who's not only well-informed on the issues, but has run a focused, well-organized, grassroots campaign.

Surprised, as well, that John Coupar didn't make your list of endorsements for Vancouver Park Board, given his role in saving the Bloedel Conservatory.

All said, tho', thank you for the good work and thoughtful consideration respecting The Straight's endorsement list(s).
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Bill McCreery1
@ Marky,
Just to let you know I own a condo in Vancouver which contains my worldly belongings. I have lived in Richmond for the past year because my partner works there. I intend to move back to Vancouver in the near future.

Anyone who knows me, including the Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver who I've been working closely with for the past two years on neighbourhood issues across the City, knows that I'm totally committed to the wellbeing of our City. As a Park Commissioner and as a practicing architect as well as being a resident in Vancouver for 40 years I have demonstrated that commitment as well. In fact, it should be obvious the very fact that I am making the considerable effort and financial sacrifice to stand as a Council Candidate demonstrates my commitment.

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Charlie Smith
James G.,
We did have a "worth considering" for park board, but ended up scrapping it at the end because of space reasons in the print edition. Here's my take (rather than the newspaper's take) on the other park candidates:

1. Aaron Jasper is extremely knowledgeable and articulate, and he's a hard worker. But he sometimes seemed more interested in representing Vision Vancouver than users of Vancouver's parks and recreation services, notably when he accepted the last budget that imposed fees on young kids.

2. Stuart Mackinnon is worth considering. He's bright. I feel that he gave a half-hearted effort to deal with captivity issues in the aquarium. He went through the motion of presenting a motion, but never seriously tried to galvanize public support. He also opposed allowing HST campaigners (registered with Elections BC) to quietly collect signatures in community centres. That's not very democratic, in my opinion. He fought fees on toddlers, though. That's a plus.

3. Trevor Loke will probably be very good politician in the future. I didn't have confidence that at this point in his life, he would be willing to stand up to the Vision godfathers at city hall. The same is probably true of Sarah Blyth. Sharma might be tougher.

4. John Coupar has some pluses. He's from a corporate background. I wonder if the public wants fewer corporate types in government right now. Many of our readers aren't keen about P-3s, for example.

5. Gabby Kalaw is a good candidate. In this election, we leaned toward supporting the more rebellious types on park board. Commissioners have to fight city hall sometimes.

6. Freyja Pri Toor is one of the best independent candidates. She's progressive and she understands finances. I wouldn't have a problem with anyone deciding to vote for her.

7. With more experience, Tammy Truong could have potential. We weren't confident that she is ready to stand up to city hall and the senior managers.

I could go on, but I hope this provides you with more insight.

Charlie Smith
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Frank Tyers
As a small c conservative I applause the Straight for endorsing people who really care about our city. The real race is between Vision and the NPA to see who which can collect the most money and be most beholden to developers and non-resident property owners.
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Paul Thomas
Maybe the Straight should stick to the Vancouver they know so well. In New West, Wright has run a low-key but positive campaign on his successful record as Mayor; Crosty has run a campaign that varied from vindictive to passive aggressive, half accusing everyone of being against him while claiming support from groups who did not support him. His on-line presence has been grammatically hapless, he was caught plagiarizing responses to citizen surveys from Wikipedia, and the only ideas he has presented are a vague support for the Arts while promising to stop all tax increases, with no plan to do either. Oh, and he wants to build a billion-dollar freeway tunnel through New West that makes the Gateway Project look like a garden path. Your council picks are slightly more informed, except that few New West folks will vote for a guy who lives in Vancouver (Mulangu).
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JamieLee
I would like to Thank Charlie Smith and the Georgia Straight for their support of my work and positions regarding Park Board issues. I also got to know some interesting candidates during the campaign and I wish them all well as just standing for election can be a daunting task. Some candidates seek power while others really want to make a difference for people, especially children, toddlers and youth. I promise that if elected on Saturday that I will do my best to ensure children, toddlers and youth are given a fair shake regarding programs and services at the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation.
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Rating: +6
Keith Higgins
In this election, there are three more-or-less distinct ideas of what "support for the arts" means, and a previous commenter is right to point this out.

The official NPA platform emphasizes their support for a new standalone building for the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the establishment of an endowment to support the "sustainability" of Vancouver arts organizations. While they do mention individual working artists, there are no specific policies there for the benefit of artists or small organizations.

Vision's arts policy has two points that should be of interest to artists, collectives and small organizations: the first is the proposal to establish an advisory group of artists to guide city cultural policy, and the second is the commitment to support the creation of new studio space. Making arts & culture policy artist-driven to any degree is welcome, as artists are generally far away from power even where "the arts" are concerned, and this is one of the first serious proposals I have seen that potentially could address this historical imbalance. The 10,000 square feet of studio space commitment in Vision's policy announcement is, of course, barely a patch on the working space that has been lost in recent years; if this was apportioned as cubicle-sized units, you might end up with 40 cramped working spaces without much room for storage. However, it is a measurable target.

COPE's proposed approach to artists' studios goes very much to the root of the problem of the loss of creative space in Vancouver. We are harried by inconsistent and nonsensical regulations and enforcement from one side, and squeezed by gentrifiers from the other. A commitment to remove red tape and support the preservation of true creative spaces, such as the one made by COPE, is most welcome.

The underlying problem for artists and small organizations, one which is not strictly considered "arts policy", is the crisis of affordability in Vancouver. For this reason, I hope artists vote, and that they vote for municipal candidates who make credible proposals for making Vancouver more affordable for artists and other low-income workers. Much to her credit, independent city council candidate Sandy Garossino was discussing this issue when most other candidates were ignoring it.
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Rich Weldon
It's good to see the hard-working SCC candidates get a plug in your analysis of Surrey. Their school trustee candidates should, as well, since they're the only ones willing to stand up to Victoria and demand more schools funding in BC's largest school district.
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Keith Higgins
It's worth noting that NPA candidate George Affleck has made some encouraging statements regarding the creation of new artist studio spaces, although his idea seems to be for the development of entirely new "studio districts" like the ones on Granville Island, and one wonders whether this will result in affordable space or will rather be a debacle like the "artist live/work" condo rezonings of the 1990s. It is welcome, nonetheless, to see that various candidates feel that affordable creative spaces are worth talking about in this election.
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Richard Campbell
Great job Charlie and the gang at the straight.

One point regarding Robertson that probably is not really fair. He obviously made the right move by holding back and letting suburban mayors like Fastbender, Watts, Walton and Goldsmith-Jones take the lead on pushing for transit improvements. This was key in building regional and provincial support. If he had been out in front, it would have looked like Vancouver centric and would have been much less likely to gain the support it needed. The mark of a great leader is someone who knows when to stand back and let others lead.

Anyway, the results speak for themselves. In an election year, a large majority of mayors voted for the transit improvements.
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Working Together
I'm surprised about the endorsement of McCreery. He seems to be running under more of an NSV platform than an NPA platform yet he is still running under the NPA banner. Many people will likely vote for him because they think supports the NPA platform. This is really confusing for voters. He should have dropped himself from the NPA slate and ran as an independent or as NSV so at least people will know where he stands. Looks like now he is trying to play both sides.
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Ruth Herman
I was surprised and disappointed that you did not bother to consider the candidates for School Board and make recommendations about them. I believe that the school board is a key level of government that has an significant role in ensuring that education issues are dealt with locally and in calling the Liberal provincial government on its education and funding policies when they don't put the interests of students first (which is almost always!). The COPE/Vision board now ending its term has done a stellar job in keeping the focus on the important and critical matters now facing the education system, as well as representing the views of Vancouver's neighbourhoods and communities. They deserve another term! Hopefully, you agree and the absence of any mention of school board candidates had more to do with space limitations than your attitude that they are unimportant in this election.
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