Kevin Washbrook believes Port Metro Vancouver needs to be more accountable to the community and he hopes to change it from the inside.
The founder and director of Vancouver Based Voters Taking Action on Climate Change applied Monday to join the port’s board of directors.
The federal minister of transport and port users appoint seven of the 11 director positions. Washbrook noted the minister can appoint directors other than those recommended by the nomination committee “to ensure an appropriate mix of directors at all times.”
The 49-year-old resident of Kitsilano laughed when asked how much hope he truly has that he’d be approved for the board.
“I’m taking this seriously,” he said. “This isn’t a stunt. Obviously I’m not the one who’s going to decide and it’s a challenge to the way they do business but I see it also as an opportunity for them. There’s been a lot of public concern about how the port operates lately and this is a chance for them to start making a change.”
An outspoken critic of the port’s plan to double coal exports from North Vancouver’s Neptune Terminals, Washbrook was searching for the port’s latest documents on coal exports when he found the vacant position.
“I didn’t launch this campaign until Friday [Feb. 15] at three in the afternoon. I sent out some emails and things on Facebook saying if 50 people will endorse me to do this, then I’ll do it,” he said. “So by noon on Monday I had 400 people who said go for it, good idea.”
His supporters include Gordon Price, former Vancouver city councillor and director of the city program at Simon Fraser University’s continuing studies, Richmond city councillor Harold Steves and a former mayor of Bowen Island.
“This isn’t just a fringe concern,” Washbrook said.
Washbrook, who has a master’s in resource management from SFU, said he wants to become a director to improve the port’s “flawed” public consultation process.
“The port is a huge player in our region,” he said. “The lands it controls are as big as a municipality. It’s making decisions that are going to define out future and people need to have a say in that. They need to be involved in deciding what kind of region we want to become.”
Washbrook says he’d make himself available one a day a month to meet with local governments and civic groups to discuss port issues.
Washbrook lauded the port’s aspiration to be a global leader in port sustainability in his letter to the nominating committee. He acknowledged the committee is seeking candidates who have experience with major capital projects, financial risk management and/or maritime business and he lacks this experience.
But he suggests the board is “already strongly represented in these areas” and could be better represented to meet its values of sustainability, engagement with the surrounding community and consensus on future developments.
The nomination process can take up to three to four months. Washbrook is encouraging his supporters to send messages of endorsement to the port’s nominating committee and the federal minister of transport.
Port Metro Vancouver did not return a call from the Courier by press deadline.