Former Green Party park board commissioner Stuart Mackinnon wants to get his old job back. Mackinnon, who lost his seat in 2011 after serving one term, is one of only three Green Party candidates ever elected to office in Vancouver.
He is joined on the campaign trail by political newcomers Michael Wiebe in running for park board, as well as Janet Fraser and Mischa Oak for school board.
Mackinnon said he is disappointed with how the seven-member park board has performed while under the control of a Vision Vancouver majority.
“I really think that [it’s] the lack of park maintenance, the lack of respect shown to community centre associations and the lack of attention to what the mandate of the park board is,” he told the Courier. “I’m hoping these are going to be the real issues during this campaign.”
Mackinnon, a special education teacher at Killarney secondary school and vice-president of the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association, was known for his outspoken opposition to keeping cetaceans in captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium while in office. He said the recent decision to ban them from breeding was made by commissioners who aren’t seeking re-election as a way to avoid addressing the emotional issue head on.
“I think it is a deferral of any real decision,” said Mackinnon. “What I called for when I was on park board before was a plebiscite to let the people of Vancouver decide what happens on their park land. The aquarium is in a park so it falls under the jurisdiction of the park board and I think the people of Vancouver have a right to say what happens. [Vision] have a very difficult time making those kinds of decisions and so what they’ve done is deferred the real decision-making to another board.”
He acknowledged that, even if both Green candidates are elected, holding a referendum will be a long shot but pointed out that COPE endorses the idea as well.
Mackinnon was the only incumbent park board commissioner not to be re-elected three years ago, coming in twelfth out of 21 candidates. He also ran unsuccessfully last year for the provincial Green Party in the Vancouver-Fraserview riding, coming in a distant third to Liberal candidate Suzanne Anton and NDP runner-up Gabriel Yiu.
Wiebe is the owner of Eight ½ restaurant lounge in Mount Pleasant, which specializes in sustainable food, and is a former lifeguard for the park board.
Fraser has a PhD in chemistry and is a co-founder of neighbourhood organization Marpole Matters, who has also spent the past 10 years volunteering for a parent advisory council. Oak, a substitute teacher who claims to have worked in almost every school in the city, is a former NDP electoral district association president for Vancouver Centre and a board member for the Vancouver Pride Society.
The four candidates still need to receive official party endorsements at a Sept. 7 nomination meeting. The party’s three candidates for city council are Cleta Brown, Pete Fry and incumbent party leader Adriane Carr.
The election is Nov. 15.