Vision Vancouver city council candidate Tim Stevenson’s mother once told him to stay away from sex, politics and religion. To this day, he pursues all three with a passion, he says.
Stevenson is running for his second term on Vancouver city council. Originally with the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), Stevenson left that party after it split and is now running under the Vision Vancouver banner with mayoral candidate Jim Green.
Stevenson says the Vision team asked him to drop his Supreme Court action contesting the Vancouver-Burrard MLA race, in which he was narrowly defeated by Liberal Lorne Mayencourt in May’s provincial election, and stand for re-election to council instead.
It’s essential that queer voices be heard at all levels of government, he says. “It is so vital to have our voice there. You have that intimate knowledge of your community and can speak for it and be accountable to it. The gay community has always been my political base and I’m proud of it.”
Stevenson has been pursuing queer rights since he came out 30 years ago.
The limelight first settled on him during his very public battle to become the first openly gay ordained minister in a mainstream Canadian Church. His first foray into the political arena came in the mid-90s when he became BC’s first openly gay MLA.
The main issues facing Vancouver today are homelessness, drug addiction and the effects they have had on the city, Stevenson says.
The St Paul’s Hospital issue remains a difficult one, he says, explaining that neither Providence Health Care nor Victoria have been forthright in presenting their plans for the facility.
Stevenson and Green made a motion that passed in council demanding transparency in the situation. They will not approve any land-use changes unless that transparency is there, Stevenson says.
“It may very well be necessary to have a new facility in the False Creek area because of the population shift,” he continues. “That doesn’t mean you up and abandon St Paul’s. You’re going to need state-of-the-art facilities there.”
Stevenson says the current council has also demanded a reinstatement of funding for the provincial Hate Crime Team. Council wants not only enforcement funding restored but also money for education and research, he says.
Council has also helped fund women’s centres in the wake of provincial cutbacks but it can’t pick up all those costs, he says. “All that does is spur the provincial government to do more of the same.”
Council has also moved to help The Centre on Bute St expand its offerings to the queer community, he says. “I put forward up to $100,000 that they can use to do a study in order to ascertain the viability of a new place.”
The Centre needs to submit a business plan to get that cash, but Stevenson says he hasn’t seen one yet.
“A new council can decide they don’t want to put that money in,” he warns.