Community activist Aaron Jasper among many COPE, Vision candidates
Sandra Thomas, Vancouver CourierPublished: Friday, July 18, 2008
Vision Vancouver and COPE have not yet decided if they will run a joint slate for parks board in the November municipal election, says COPE spokesperson Ellen Woodsworth.
"We've been informally discussing a joint slate, but I can't give you an answer just yet," said Woodsworth, external chair of the COPE negotiating committee. "But I'm expecting it to be decided long before the [Sept. 28] nomination meeting."
As the two parties talk, more Vision and COPE hopefuls are publicly declaring their plans to seek a nomination for parks board. COPE recently announced three new candidates will seek nominations, including SFU geography professor John Irwin, former parks board commissioner Anita Romaniuk and teacher Omar Kassis. Incumbent Loretta Woodcock will attempt to win a third term on the board.
At Vision Vancouver, Sarah Blyth of the Vancouver Skateboard Coalition, web developer Steve Tannock and Aaron Jasper, director with the West End Residents' Association, have declared. According to Vision Vancouver, Constance Barnes is also considering a run for a parks board nomination, but as of the Courier's press deadline had not made a decision. Barnes is the daughter of Emery Barnes, who was elected to the B.C. Legislative Assembly in 1972 and was re-elected four times.
Vision members will select candidates for council, parks and school board Sept. 20. Vision co-chair Mike Magee did not return phone calls before the Courier's press deadline.
Jasper says he was driven to seek a spot on the board because despite his best efforts as a community activist to influence city policy the real decisions are made by elected politicians.
"A lot of people have asked me, 'Why do you want to be a politician and be under that constraint?'" said Jasper. "But I feel such frustration. How many hours can you spend at a city council or park board meeting fighting to be acknowledged?"
Jasper said he was considering a run for the board when Gregor Robertson won the mayoral nomination for Vision Vancouver, and Robertson's win convinced him to do it. Robertson stepped down as the NDP MLA for Vancouver-Fairview earlier this week to concentrate on his run for mayor. Jasper said he likes Robertson's commitment to the environment and sustainable living.
"I really wanted to rally behind Gregor and his progressive platform," said Jasper. "I honestly believe in what Gregor stands for and I think it's a good fit with his values."
Jasper said the parks board should play a strong role on behalf of sustainability. He added the board should also consider public opinion more when it comes to making decisions.
Jasper has a long history of community activism in the West End and, besides volunteering with WERA, is a founding member of the West End Integrated Neighbourhood Network. Jasper also works with groups such as Renters at Risk and Save St. Paul's Hospital. He was instrumental in having community gardens included in the redevelopment of Nelson Park, helped organize the West End's first Car Free Festival and is working on the West End greenways project.
Jasper will officially announce his candidacy this Sunday.