1 min

Overhaul of policing

Ellen Woodsworth's focus is Pride Parade and queer seniors

Credit: COPE

For as long as she can remember, lesbian Ellen Woodsworth has felt strongly about social justice issues. She comes to it naturally. Her great-uncle, JF Woodsworth, founded the NDP’s precursor, the CCF.

Woodsworth, the niece, has spent the last 10 years working in the Downtown Eastside on housing, seniors and women’s issues. She is also on the board of the Centre’s Generations project for queer seniors.

Now she’s looking for a council seat under the COPE banner. If she gets elected, Woodsworth says she’ll focus on health, housing and transportation issues, for starters. She says she knows there isn’t much the city can do about the province’s cuts to health care and Pharmacare, but she wants city council to act as an advocate and lobby the BC Liberals anyway.

As for housing, Woodsworth wants to see more affordable options for low-income people, especially older lesbians and HIV-positive people in need.

And then there’s policing. Vancouverites should be able to elect their own representatives for both the police board and the Chief’s diversity relations advisory committee, Woodsworth says. “We know our own issues,” she says. She hopes elected representatives would not only be more accountable to the gay and lesbian community but also more responsive to its concerns. “Right now, there’s no real mechanism between us and the police,” she says. “We need to elect people to these positions.”

Woodsworth also wants city hall to do more to support the Pride Parade. Subsidizing some of the parade’s costs would be a good start, she says. “We really should be demanding that this city reflects our lives.”

This election can be a real turning point for Vancouver, Woodsworth stresses. But the gay and lesbian community has to get out and vote.