2011 Richmond Council Election – “New-blood” Friends for Councillor

Note: To read about the Richmond councillor candidates who would be “new blood” on council, scroll down past this post to the next one.

In 2011, Richmond has an unusual number of knowledgeable, vibrant, promising candidates challenging for positions on council. Almost all are Friends of Garden City—citizens who are committed to a green future in the Agricultural Land Reserve for the Garden City Lands. Everyone of these “new-blood candidates” is committed to stewarding the Garden City Lands in the ALR for agricultural, ecological and open-land park uses for community wellness.

Michael Wolfe

If there could be just one council member standing up for the best Garden City Lands future for the Richmond community, I think a good person for that would be Michael Wolfe. A conservation biologist and teacher, he is the foremost expert on the ecology of the lands. His campaigning to save the lands goes back to the 2005 ALR-exclusion application; he brought slides of life on the lands to the Agricultural Land Commission hearing to show the commissioners what was really there. Michael is a founding member of the Garden City Lands Coalition Society and has remained very active. He visits the lands to catalogue and monitor the wildlife, leads eco-tours, helps at public events and society gatherings, makes lively and articulate presentations to council, and even does a bit of cleanup on the lands. He had a major role in developing the PARC concept for the lands (Parkland for Agriculture, Recreation and Conservation for community wellness), which reflects his balanced approach to food security, ecological restoration, and open-land park uses of the lands. It is the only concept put forward so far that could realistically be expected to enable restoration of a significant area of sphagnum bog ecosystem and to ensure near-certitude of a long-term ALR future for the lands. In the past six years, Michael has grown from an exuberantly dedicated student to a mature young professional with extensive experience at council as a critiquing audience member and delegation.

Chak Kwong Au

A longtime advocate for urban agriculture education on the Garden City Lands, Chak Au took action through his positions as a long-time school board trustee and a significant player in international environmental groups to successfully nominate Richmond for the International Eco-Safety Demonstrative City Award from the International Eco-Safety Cooperative Organization (IESCO). Richmond is one of only three cities in the world to receive that award, and it happened because Chak showed the awards committee how the Garden City Lands Coalition and other community groups at Terra Nova have taken citizenship initiative to help protect and enhance green space that would otherwise have been lost. A member of the Garden City Lands Coalition Society, Chak has firsthand knowledge of the ecology of the lands. He had a leading role in initiating the partnership between the City of Richmond and Kwantlen Polytechnic University, which has been a win-win in Richmond and could be a win-win on the Garden City Lands with Chak as an advocate on council. He has often been involved in the coalition society’s events and also helped spread the coalition message at the recent World Food Day event at the library. Chak has made a personal mission of being a bridge between cultures, especially building respect between the Chinese-language and English-language populations, and he could be expected to do that with environmental and food-security issues, including the Garden City Lands, on council.

Carol Day

Another longtime member of the Garden City Lands Coalition Society, Carol Day is the coalition’s energetic coordinator of special events, a former director of the society, and a volunteer who has spent innumerable hours and her own money to get results. Besides going to the lands to experience them firsthand, she has helped start the coalition website, designed the logo, produced the Save Garden City stickers that one sees on cars, and created all of the coalition’s impressive signage. Carol has often argued passionately and persuasively for the green ALR future of the lands at council meetings and in the newspapers. Action-oriented Carol is the kind of person who gets a job finished while others around her are still pondering whether to roll up their sleeves. She would likely get quickly to the bottom of the mysterious inaction on the Garden City Lands in the eighteen months that have passed since the city purchased the property, and she spoke about that at a recent all-candidates meeting.

De Whalen

De Whalen is a longtime advocate for the neediest members of the Richmond community and also for the Garden City Lands. The two go together because the coalition, the people who work together to save the lands, have always been driven to meet community need, not greed. To help save the lands, De has written letters to the newspapers, addressed council several times, and participated in public and coalition events. She has also given the green future of the Garden City Lands a significant place in her election campaign.

Alexa Loo

Alexa Loo has thought through her position on the Garden City Lands during the election and arrived at an unreserved commitment to steward the lands in the ALR for agricultural, ecological and open-land park uses for community wellness. She is particularly interested in bringing together active play with ecological experience, and that fits well with the popular idea of having several playgrounds with appropriate themes in open-space land adjoining bog-restoration and agricultural areas. My sense from interacting with Alexa on the issue is that she is a person of integrity who will follow through on her commitment, and certainly her success as an Olympic athlete proves that she stays with things in a systematic way that gets results.

Linda McPhail

I was pleased to see in the individual results of the recent survey of candidates that Linda McPhail was quick to respond with commitment to save and steward the lands in the ALR (for agricultural, ecological and open-land park uses for community wellness). Even her political opponents who know her say that Linda is hard-working and thorough, and perhaps she can bring those qualities to the very complex Garden City Lands issue. There is a huge need for that.

Jun Wuyan

Jun Wuyan is an intelligent young New Canadian who wears his sincere commitment to serve the community on his sleeve. He especially wants to bring young Asian-Canadians into civic involvement. Since he is also fully committed to the Garden City Lands, no doubt he would bring the two commitments together as a councillor.

Cliff Lifeng Wei

Cliff Lifeng Wei is another bright young Chinese-Canadian who is fully committed to stewarding the Garden City Lands in the ALR. One of his visions for the lands is for a sort of Butchart Gardens there. I’ve heard a number of other people suggest including a botanical garden on the lands, so he would certainly get some support for the idea. In any case, it is encouraging to see that he has put thought into the issue.

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