Queer parks board commissioner Spencer Herbert says he wants to be the NDP candidate for the new riding of Vancouver-West End in the next provincial election.
Herbert says his priorities for the campaign will be housing and homelessness, culture and the arts, climate change and the environment, and the need for St Paul’s Hospital to remain in the West End.
Speaking in support of Herbert’s bid for the nomination were former NDP MLA and current queer city councilor Tim Stevenson; Little Sister’s co-owner Jim Deva; former MLA Emery Barnes’ daughter, Constance; and parks commissioner Loretta Woodcock.
Herbert announced his intention to seek the nomination on May 20.
While no one else is contesting the NDP nomination in Vancouver-West End yet, whoever wins the party’s nod to represent them in the next election could face former Vancouver Canucks owner Arthur Griffiths, who is looking to run in the riding as the Liberal candidate.
Griffiths also announced his candidacy Tuesday.
Herbert says running against the millionaire businessman would be a “David and Goliath” fight.
He stopped short of calling Griffiths a parachute candidate but poked fun at Griffiths’ living in West Point Grey.
“The West End is my home,” says Herbert, who moved into the area a year ago.
Stevenson agreed, suggesting Griffiths will throw a lot of money into trying to win the riding.
But he still thinks Herbert has a good chance.
“He really is a superb candidate for us to have,” Stevenson says.
Herbert lauded current Liberal Vancouver-Burrard MLA Lorne Mayencourt for his work on an addictions-treatment centre in the Prince George area.
But, he says, the situation has left the riding with an absentee MLA. “It’s time to change that and make sure our voices are heard,” Herbert says.
Mayencourt’s Vancouver-Burrard riding will be split in two in time for the next election, following a recommendation from the BC Electoral Boundaries Commission to divide the increasingly populous district into Vancouver-West End and Vancouver-False Creek.
Though the commission initially planned to run the new West End riding’s eastern boundary up Thurlow St between Sunset Beach and Davie St — thereby splitting the Davie Village in half — it amended the boundary in February to run up Burrard St instead, to encompass the entire gay village in one district.
When Herbert ran for the parks board in 2005,he was a community developer with the Roundhouse Community Centre. In that campaign, Herbert said more needed to be done to ensure the safety of queers in parks. He also campaigned to see more arts and celebrations take place in the parks, including gay celebrations such as Pride and Stonewall on Commercial Dr (now Eastside Pride).
Once elected, he also worked on the redevelopment of Nelson Park, just off the Davie Village, which had been in process for several years.
While it is not in the purview of the parks board, Herbert has steadfastly remained a supporter of keeping St Paul’s Hosptal in the West End. It’s important to have health care in close proximity to such a densely populated area, he says.