Burnaby Greens buoyed by provincial success as campaign kicks off

Metrotown Station was dotted on Saturday around mid-day with people wearing green T-shirts and handing out flyers, launching the campaign of the Burnaby Municipal Green Party, as people came and went from the SkyTrain station.

Joe Keithley, who is seeking a council seat under the local Green Party banner, said he’s confident momentum is building for his party, especially after its success in the last provincial election.

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Keithley, of DOA musical fame, was originally planning to run against long-time mayor Derek Corrigan. But when former fire fighter Mike Hurley stepped up as a mayoral candidate this time around, Keithley decided to seek a council seat as he knew his mayoral challenge was a “long shot.”

”A council vote carries as much weight as the mayor’s vote,” Keithley said, adding he thinks he can effect some positive change as a councillor.

The Greens are running six council candidates and two candidates for school board.

Currently, the mayor and all seven sitting councillors in Burnaby belong to the Burnaby Citizens Association. (The eighth council has been empty since the BCA's Anne Kang left after being elected as an NDP MLA.)

Keithley acknowledged the BCA’s hold on local politics, but he thinks the Green Party’s success provincially can carry over locally.

”Part of the message we’re putting out is it’s time for a change, time for fresh blood, some new ideas,” he said, and his group is out letting people know there are other parties besides the “traditional” ones.

”People are tired of traditional old parties and their old ideas,” he added. “It’s them against us. The Green Party, the idea is we work with other people.”

Keithley said he has always believed in people-centred politics and grassroots politics, which is reflected in his music.

The main issue for the Green Party in this election is housing affordability, Keithley explained, and their platform includes committing $10 million per year in either cash or land to build affordable units, for which they would seek matching funds from the provincial and federal government. Revitalizing co-op housing and one-on-one replacement of rental housing in Metrotown and around Burnaby are also priorities, he added.

Rick McGowan is one of the six Burnaby Municipal Green Party candidates running for a seat on council - the last time he ran, in 2011, he came last in the council run.

”It’s a long-term process - you can’t just show up at election time,” McGowan said. “You have to be there between elections and raising issues.”

McGowan said the core principles of the Green Party, participatory democracy, environmental concerns, sustainable development, align with his principles.

”I think the Green Party tries to live by those values – they’re not aspirational goals but actual targets.”

The municipal election is on Oct. 20.


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