Larger, more informal setting encourages increased student engagement
Annalisse Crosswell, Associate News Editor
The final on-campus event for the municipal elections was held in the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) Members Centre, just two days before voting day. The event, on Oct. 18, brought a level of engagement that was not seen at the Mayoral Debate held on campus a week prior. This was a change that Vice President External, Noah Berson, was happy to see. For Berson it was important to hold this event because of how much more accessible the format is for students wanting to raise their concerns with the candidates, and the fact that it allowed for more candidates to be present to put forth their platforms. Although the on-campus events are now over and the results of the elections have been made final, students may still find value in reviewing what their elected candidates were campaigning to do for their community.
While the previous debate was limited to only six mayoral candidates for the City and District of North Vancouver, Candidates and Canapés allowed for students to discuss their political concerns one on one with a much more diverse range of candidates. “We reached out to all the candidates in the City of North Vancouver [and] the District of North Vancouver, and invited [the candidates] for mayor, council, school board…” said Berson, who also said all parties in Vancouver were invited to send one representative. Of those invited to attend, approximately 15 made an appearance on the day.
For those following the elections, the concerns echoed from one candidate to another will come as no surprise, with platforms almost exclusively being run on promises to improve affordable housing, traffic, transit and environmental issues. Despite this common electoral theme, each candidate had an individual approach to addressing these issues.
Mack McCorkindale, who ran unsuccessfully for the City of North Vancouver council, grew up in North Vancouver and was focused on bringing forth the perspectives of younger individuals specifically in terms of affordable housing. Using Seattle as an example of what the city could come to be, McCorkindale said, “I would love to get there, to the point where landlords are fighting over tenants and not the other way around.”
This sentiment was in line with that of another unsuccessful council candidate, Alborz Jaberolansar, who also placed affordable housing at the top of his priorities. “The City of Vancouver defines affordable housing as $1700 for one bedroom. That is affordable for the Sultan of Brunei,” he said, while speaking of the unrealistic conversations being had on the topic.
Greg Robins, who ran for the District of North Vancouver without success in the end, honed in on a need to include charging stations for electric cars and bicycles in new efforts to discourage the use of traditional gas cars. He also noted the city’s use of two-stroke gardening tools, such as leaf blowers, and their impact on the environment.
Of those spoken to, one candidate was successful in her electoral endeavours. Megan Curren was elected to a council position for the District of North Vancouver after running a plastic-free campaign. Curren, who was involved in the team that eliminated plastic straws in Deep Cove businesses, followed her environmental ideals while campaigning, with 100 per cent recycled paper flyers that can be composted or recycled now that the election has concluded. Knowing that it may impact her name recognition, Curren also opted not to use plastic election signs, which she hopes to eliminate all together in the future.
“Without a healthy planet it doesn’t really matter about affordable housing or traffic,” said Curren. She hopes to create environmental policies that will take some of the responsibility off of the shoulders of individual business owners as well as moving toward more environmentally friendly options for transportation and building in the region.
Candidates and Canapés was certainly a positive turnaround from the meager turnout of the Mayoral Debate and showed that students are interested in engaging in local politics. “The event worked the way I wanted it to, in that I saw students with concerns coming forward and having conversations with candidates, and having Capilano students’ concerns heard,” said Berson.