Get ready to vote: District of North Vancouver
Candidates for mayor
Resides: Deep Cove
Margie Goodman thinks one issue should be at the forefront of discussion among this year’s North Vancouver municipal candidates: amalgamation.
She told The Outlook the main reason she supports the unification of district and city is the cost-savings that she feels could be incurred by reducing the number of municipal staff under one North Vancouver.
Goodman also said she wants to see more allowance for “multi-generational housing” arrangements like in-law suites and laneway homes.
She stressed too the importance of a Good Neighbour Bylaw in the district which she said could enforce civility and resolve neighbourly disputes over things like view corridors.
Goodman is retired from the textile-design and photography business and has previously served in the district as a school trustee and on the recreation commission and waterfront committee.
Resides: Canyon Heights
Incumbent mayor Richard Walton has served at the district’s helm since 2005, was a one-term councillor before that and a school trustee from 1986-1993. Yet, he still has some unfinished business in the district he said he will take care of if re-elected.
“The [Official Community Plan] update is a huge project that occupied our time,” he told The Outlook. “Anyone can come up with the plan but the challenge now is to implement it.”
Under the banner, “Offering positive leadership that unifies and strengthens our community,” Walton said that second to implementing the OCP, the district will have to get its spending under control.” We have a small part of the tax pie — eight per cent of the dollar,” he said. “But the community has a voracious appetite for more and more but everything takes dollars to do.”
Walton relies on his training and experience as an accountant in his role as mayor. He currently serves on the Fraser Basin Council and subcommittees.
Candidates for council
Resides: Lynn Valley
“Community heart, business mind” is the slogan Lynn Valley resident Holly Back has chosen to define her council run.
Chief among her concern as a mother of three grown children who all manage to call the North Shore home, is the affordability of housing for young families and the need for skilled-work training in the district.
Back also stressed the need to keep district government fiscally responsible in order to make living here more affordable for everyone.
“The future of our youth on the North Shore is jobs and housing and training,” she said. “And fiscal management will keep our homes affordable and businesses competitive and that’s going to create jobs and housing.”
Back said the creation of affordable housing for seniors would also be a priority of hers if she is elected.
Back owns and runs a salon and salon training school in North Vancouver and serves on the North Shore Family Court and Youth Justice Committee.
Resides: West Lynn
Roger Bassam was first elected to council in 2008 and has called North Vancouver home since 1983.
The independent IT consultant is making fiscal responsibility the basis of his campaign this time around, promising to find more money in the district’s budget before cuts to services are considered as a last resort. To that end, Bassam has chosen the renegotiation of $3-million worth of district service agreements as his main priority.
“We are subsidizing other governments and government agencies and whether it’s a small amount of money like the $75,000 we paid for the recycling contract or it’s a large amount of money like the service agreement we have with the Tsleil-Waututh that’s approaching $1 million.”
Bassam is a board member of the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Lynn Valley Community Association, co-executive of Millar’s North Shore Soccer League and a coach to his kids’ soccer and lacrosse teams.
Resides: Parkway Village
Howard Dahl is a small business owner and engineer specializing in eco-friendly heating system design and installation.
But he’s staking his council bid on a zero-increase in property taxes over the next year.
“That’s the starting point and then you go line by line down the budget and keep that as your goal because we’re looking at a potential eight-per-cent increase,” he told The Outlook.
Dahl said he supports the idea of a user-pay system to both defer costs to property tax payers for water and to cut down on consumption.
“Certainly if you know you’ve gotta pay every time you turn the tap on, then people will think about their use,” he said, noting that such an idea would be a long-term strategy, but an inevitable one.
Dahl added that through his work in the construction business, he has learned how to complete a job correctly. “You get things done or you don’t get paid,” he said.
Resides: Lynn Valley
Lynn Valley resident and former community association president John Gilmour is making growth a priority in his district council bid.
To that end, he recommends the next council implement the Official Community Plan as soon as possible to start building affordable housing and densifying residential areas.
“The growth of the district has been almost zero,” Gilmour told The Outlook. “And we’re closing schools and young people are leaving.”
Gilmour also recommended implementing a “waste to energy” plan to recover costs and useable energy from district sewage and solid waste.
“It’s really all one big issue intertwined,” he said. “Increasing density will put more money in infrastructure and will build up the community.”
Gilmour is a real estate developer and current president of the Friends of North Vancouver Museum and Archives Society.
Resides: Upper Lynn
Trying for a third term on district council, Upper Lynn resident Robin Hicks is running on experience.
That experience includes not only his work on council since 2005 but also his prior job as a chartered accountant.
“My emphasis will be on continued sound financial management as we can all see the social upheaval that results from economic chaos,” Hicks told The Outlook. “I have the financial background to ensure that we live within our means and that we plan for the future carefully to avoid overextending ourselves.”
More specifically, Hicks said he would make the maintenance of district infrastructure like sanitation systems and recreation buildings a priority, while saying he would “intervene at the provincial and regional levels” to maintain current tax rates.
Hicks is a retired accountant and currently serves as treasurer with both the Silver Harbour Seniors and Lynn Valley Community associations.
A lifelong resident of the district and two-time councillor, Mike Little has served on numerous boards and commissions including those for recreation, heritage, disability and emergency management.
He told The Outlook his focus if re-elected for another term would be twofold.
“The largest issues facing the council in the next three years will be the replacement of aging recreational facilities and dealing with the rapid expansion of the regional governments such as TransLink and Metro Vancouver.”
To those ends, he said it would be important to put together a council of leaders who could take seats on regional boards to make sure the district is represented among those regional governments.
Little works for the family’s lumber export business and volunteers with the rotary club, Operation Red Nose, his church and at his children’s school.
Retired district firefighter Kevin Macauley is making his bid for council on a platform of strong public service and safety.
As a 30-year veteran of the fire service, Macauley said he knows the concerns of area residents as intimately as he knows the geography and layout of public buildings like schools and libraries.
A major issue in his campaign is to look at the amalgamation of at least some services of the district and city.
“I truly believe that the fire services would be better if it was just one fire service,” he said.
Macauley added that more public transportation and a renewed appreciation of the district’s parks and recreation facilities would also feature in his mandate on council.
Macauley said that, unlike others running for council, the fact he’s retired means he will have time to dedicate himself fully to serving if elected.
Resides: Indian River
Doug MacKay-Dunn was first elected to district council in 1999 and was re-elected in 2005 and again in 2008.
The 30-year veteran of the Vancouver Police Department drew on his experiences in the city’s Downtown Eastside to build his platform for the district: more police accountability, more detox and rehab for drug addicts and better community planning.
MacKay-Dunn told The Outlook that the main concern he wants to tackle as a district councillor, however, is affordable housing, “without which, our community will eventually wither away.”
He said that tackling that issue should involve a three-pronged approach: implementing the recommendations of the Official Community Plan, designating more small-lot infill areas and providing alternatives to home ownership.
MacKay-Dunn currently sits on committees for finance, youth justice and courts, police and substance abuse management. When not working as a councillor, he’s a stay-at-home dad.
Resides: Inter River
If re-elected, five-time district councillor Lisa Muri says she will set her sights in her sixth term on challenging the costs put on the district by Metro Vancouver.
Calling those costs for infrastructure and services “out of control,” Muri said she wants a review of “funding models that no longer work.”
Muri also supports an increased sharing of services between the three North Shore municipalities and exploring the idea of amalgamation.
Aside from her work as a councillor and mother of three school-age children, Muri sits on the district’s recreation commission and parcel tax roll review panel.
Resides: Pemberton Heights
Elected to his third consecutive term on council in 2008, Alan Nixon is borrowing a line from Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential bid for his own council campaign: It’s the economy, stupid.
“How are we going to come up with an economic plan that is going to shelter our residents from the shock of external [costs]?,” Nixon asked rhetorically. Most of those costs are coming from Metro initiatives like the Lions Gate sewage plant upgrade and a new solid waste management plan. “These will have enormous cost implications to the district,” he said.
Aside from an eye to fixing the district’s finances, Nixon said that taking action on the recent community survey to better serve residents “instead of just paying lip service to it” should be another priority of council, as should be the reduction in district staff numbers.
Nixon has been a realtor for 17 years as well as the district appointee to the Metro water committee and executive of the First Nations Treaty Advisory Committee.
Council hopeful Austin Park has called the district home for 16 years and has recently started a computer consulting business here.
Drawing on his education in the computer systems field, the Simon Fraser University grad told The Outlook that the current district council needs a “big system boot,” in his opinion.
“There has to be major change. Not just patch-up jobs,” he said.
Amalgamation and greater government efficiency are the two main planks in Park’s platform, followed closely by solving what he called the affordable housing crisis.
“One more big thing is I want to get rid of the bike lanes,” Park added. “I’m not against biking per se. I’m against biking being a problem [causing] traffic bottlenecks when the car lane could be used [instead].”
Park volunteers as a neighbourhood Block Watch captain.
Resides: Lynn Valley
Wendy Qureshi says she was inspired to run for district council while out stumping for the anti-HST campaign in her Lynn Valley neighbourhood.
She is running on a platform of greater transparency in government, better service for all district residents and moderate, prudent densification.
“The push should be on the people who live in the district now, not planning for 20,000 people to be moving here in the next 20 years or whatever,” she said. “The costs are all on the people who live here now.”
Qureshi also said the district should behave more like a homeowner and take better care of its infrastructure now to avoid larger maintenance costs down the road.
“If something breaks you fix it. You don’t put some stop-gap on it,” she said, specifying the repair of recreation facilities, roads and old water pipes as priorities in this regard.
Qureshi left the BC Teachers Federation in 1998 and currently acts as a director of the North Shore Safety Council.
School board candidates
Resides: Lynn Valley
A community-minded John Harvey wants to advocate for better education on behalf of North Van students and his two grandsons.
The longtime Lynn Valley resident isn’t prepared to answer what the biggest issue facing the North Van School District is, saying that’s purely speculative unless he is on the board.
He does, however, question how to attract young teachers here, but says finding affordable housing solutions is not the problem of the North Van School District.
Harvey has volunteered with RCMP community policing in North Van, is the past vice chair of the North Van Community Arts Council and served five years on the North Shore Community Foundation.
“Being retired and unlike a work employed person it does allow me to, if necessary, to be contacted during the day for any [school board] concerns,” said Harvey.
Resides: Lower Lonsdale
Trustee hopeful Christie Sacré is on board with the North Vancouver School District’s 10-Year Strategic Plan, but says it also needs to be flexible.
“It’s a good idea to have vision over the next 10 years, however if the community changes you need to have room for adjustments,” she said. The biggest challenge facing the North Van School District is allocating funding to reach students with special needs.
“Making sure teachers are equipped with tools in the classroom they need to teach a wide variety of students,” said Sacré. Sacré sat on the School Planning Council at Ridgeway Annex and has spent the past eight years on the Ridgeway Parent Advisory Council. With Ridgeway Annex, Sacré helped implement some programs designed to make the young, kindergarten to grade two learners feel safe at school.
Resides: Lynn Valley
Incumbent trustee Susan Skinner admits she was in a tough position when she was chair of the North Vancouver school board in 2010.
“I was the Maggie Thatcher, which is not where I come from politically,” said Skinner.
That year, the board voted to close three elementary schools, as a cost-savings measure.
“You have to make these decisions if the landscape changes, the demographics change,” she said.
Today, Skinner said the school district is moving forward on several different fronts including the 10-year strategic plan and strategic land asset management.
“It’s about looking at the needs of the entire community,” said Skinner. “We’ve got surplus properties. We can’t make knee-jerk decisions.”
The biggest challenge, said Skinner, will be building upon the public consultation initiatives that have been started by the current school board.
Skinner has been the school board’s elected provincial councillor to the BC School Trustees Association for the past five years. She is also the board’s representative to the BC Public Schools Employers’ Association.
Resides: Lower Lonsdale
Attracting young families that bring customers to the North Van School District is something that incumbent trustee Mary Tasi can help with, she said.
The urban planner and design consultant with over 20 years experience said the school district must look at innovative community partnerships to create neighbourhoods of learning.
“It’s about looking at the community as a whole,” said Tasi.
She is proud of the current school board team that created the 10-year Strategic Plan, approved after a year of extensive consultation.
During her term, Tasi was instrumental in creating the District Fine Arts Committee and a classroom for autistic students. As chair of the Towards the Future of Schools committee, Tasi’s vision is to continue with innovative programming and open dialogue that welcomes diversity and independent thought.
“It’s not just my name, I’m 23,” says school trustee hopeful Ian Young. He may not have kids — but what he does have is recent experience with the BC education system.
“I think the young voices are not often represented [on the school board],” said Young. The recent University of B.C. graduate estimates the next youngest candidate is approximately 20 years older than him, saying the issues facing students today are not the same issues facing students in the ‘80s.
Substandard high school graduation rates among First Nations students is the biggest issue facing the North Van School District, said Young.
“I think it is a major failing of our school system,” he said. “What I’m hoping to do is bring that [First Nations education] issue to the table.” Young, who speaks four languages, also said French immersion programs need to be expanded. “It’s valuable to making our students global citizens,” he said.
“Kids matter!” says trustee candidate Norm Binion.
He brings a sincere interest in the development of youth and a unique blend of business experience, teaching experience and community service to the table — plus no bias; his two sons have already graduated from the North Van school system, he said.
Tight budgets is the biggest issue facing the North Van School District, said Binion.
He believes the BC Ministry of Education needs to know the priorities of the local school district. “This includes prioritization of reduced class size and composition, facility upgrades, technology advancement, personalized learning development and consideration of land use with school closures,” he said.
Binion teaches instructional workshops on entrepreneurialism at Capilano University. He is also an independent financial advisor and owner of Wavemaker Adventure Learning — which supplies organizations with mental and physical exercise in the great outdoors of North Van.
Binion is the past president and current member of the Rotary Club of North Vancouver and a former Lions Bay Search and Rescue volunteer.
Resides: Upper Delbrook
Current North Van school board vice-chair Barry Forward says creating innovative and sustainable programs is important for the school district to remain competitive in the education market.
“I believe our responsibility is to ensure our public education system evolves to ensure our graduates are prepared and equipped to fully embrace the opportunities that greet them in a rapidly changing world,” said Forward.
He explained how the North Vancouver School District will have 12 surplus properties by the end of June and offered his perspective.
“For me, it’s not being afraid to invite people in and to look outward and say we don’t have all the answers,” said Forward.
The chair of the NVSD’s Standing Committee for Finance and Facilities has pushed for expanded community engagement and increased community use of school district properties.
Foward is a youth career coach and owns a small mobile technology company. He is also a referee and registrar with the North Shore Girls Soccer Club.
Cyndi Gerlach is looking to climb the local education advocacy ladder from chair of the North Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council to trustee.
“Because I believe there needs to be a strong voice at the table that represents children and parents,” said Gerlach of her decision to run for school board.
Being on the North Van DPAC has given Gerlach an opportunity “to go behind the scenes and sit on committees that I would never have been able to be involved in before”.
She said the biggest challenge facing the North Van School District is what to do with the properties that aren’t being used for public education.
“Personally, I’d like to see community use for them,” said Gerlach. “But how do we do it so the community feels like they have a voice at the table?”
Gerlach also sits on the District of North Vancouver’s Community Services Advisory Committee.
Resides: Canyon Heights
Mike McGraw cherishes the North Vancouver School District’s most unique learning environment: Outdoor School.
“I’ve worked hard in my role on the Outdoor School Advisory Committee developing the roadmap for campus revitalization,” said McGraw. “It’s a special place of student leadership and learning for a sustainable future.”
He said the biggest challenge currently facing North Vancouver schools is having to work with broader mandates and reduced funding.
“We’ve had to make considerable cuts, including school closures,” said McGraw. “This has significantly impacted our students, staff and parents.”
As the past chair of North Vancouver Parent Advisory Council, McGraw has dedicated considerable time over the last three years to the local school district, he said. He is also a trustee for the North Vancouver District Public Library Board, chairing both the Infrastructure and Advocacy committees.
McGraw is the managing director of LM Design Werks and executive producer of Old Skool Game Studios.
Resides: Upper Delbrook
Current North Van school board chair Franci Stratton says she wants to finish what she started.
“We developed a solid 10-year Strategic Plan and — if elected — I want to bring that plan to life,” explained Stratton.
The challenge now is to implement the plan well. Creating different opportunities for all students with a focus on career and trades programs will prepare students for their post-secondary future, she said.
“My view is that the change we will see in the next few years is how students learn in and out of the classroom,” said Stratton. “Personalized learning can serve our students well.”
Stratton brings 19 years of experience – in Parent Advisory Council, District PAC and trustee roles - to her current campaign for school board trustee.
The CAO of an electrical engineering firm, Stratton is also a District of North Vancouver Library Board trustee.