Pride Society board member Ray Lam is seeking a Vision Vancouver nod to run for Vancouver city council on that party’s slate this November.
He says he wants to see greater representation from not only the queer community but every community at City Hall where he says the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) has been paying lip service to Vancouverites’ needs.
The NPA won a majority of seats on council in the last municipal election in 2005.
Lam says he wants all community advisory councils to have some teeth when it comes to council decisions. “The advisory councils aren’t really there to advise council on anything,” Lam says. “They’re there to make it look like they’re there to advise council.”
In his role as Egale’s BC/Yukon regional director, Lam was involved with such Supreme Court of Canada cases as Little Sisters vs Canada Customs and Kimberly Nixon vs Vancouver Rape Relief.
He is also a founding member of Vancouver InterPride.
For Lam, though, his desire to be on council stems from his expertise as a youth advocate, environmentalist and community organizer.
He says he won’t be there just to represent the queer community.
“I have a lot of ideas around sustainability and youth,” he says. “I don’t want to be branded as the gay councillor.”
But, he says, the queer community is currently disenfranchised by the NPA.
“The only time we see [NPA mayoral candidate Peter] Ladner and company is at Pride and in the bars at election time,” he charges.
“Council needs to revisit how they interact and engage the LGBT community to ensure that the rights and freedoms they have recently championed are translated into the streets and services of Vancouver.”
Asked to comment specifically on current policy issues involving the queer community, Lam declined, suggesting Xtra West talk to sitting gay Vision councillor Tim Stevenson instead.
He is, however, willing to discuss youth policies and the environment, two areas Lam believes are important to Vancouver voters right now.
“We need a new civic youth strategy,” he says, explaining that the current high rents are creating a city where youth cannot afford to live.
“We are progressing into a city that only houses the wealthy under the NPA,” he says.
Lam says his work developing Richmond’s Where Youth Thrive 10-year-youth-service plan makes him an ideal candidate to reinvigorate Vancouver youth initiatives.
Vancouver’s last such plan is 13 years old, he says.
And, says Lam, more can be done to lighten Vancouver’s carbon footprint.
The average carbon footprint per person in the City of Vancouver is 7-8 tons which is acceptable by national standards, but not by Lam’s.
“As a city that runs off hydro electricity, our carbon footprint should be much lighter.” Lam notes the major discrepancy in carbon consumption in Vancouver. He says downtown peninsula residents have an annual footprint three or four tons less than the average Vancouverite.
Vision Vancouver’s nomination vote takes place Sep 20 at Sir Charles Tupper High School.