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October 03, 2005

Vancouver's Vision looks to Kwantlen - Kwantlen Chronicle

Heather Harrison made the team.

“I’m really excited and honoured,” said Harrison, a Kwantlen philosophy instructor, after being selected to represent Vision Vancouver as one of its candidates for Vancouver city council in the Nov. 19 civic elections.

Harrison’s first official action as a candidate was to attend a press conference last Monday where Jim Green, current city councillor and the mayoral candidate for Vision Vancouver, announced his team of five candidates that was selected by committee from a list of 30 nominees.

Joining Harrison and Green on the Vision Vancouver team is Hydro engineer George Chow, microbiologist Heather Deal and current city councillors Tim Stevenson and Raymond Louie.

As for what’s going to be on the forefront of Harrison’s mind this election, she would like the controversy surrounding the Woodward’s building in the Downtown Eastside, a suggested site for social housing, to become one of the hotly debated topics.

“I think once people understand what it’s really about, what it’s doing for the community, what it’s doing for Vancouver, how it’s been organized and how it’s brought a lot of people together – developers and business and academia and neighbourhood activists – I think you just can’t help but to get behind it,” Harrison said.

Another big issue for Harrison is transportation, especially to and from the University of British Columbia.

“All of our transportation to UBC is our buses sitting in gridlock twice a day,” Harrison said. “It’s terrible and they sit there and they belt out smelly fumes.”

Some of Harrison’s suggestions include rerouting, controlling traffic lights and possibly even dedicating lanes. “We need to be thinking creatively about how we can help the buses get out there more effectively,” she said.

Harrison also said that environmental problems are one of her biggest motivators.

“I think that time is running out on global warming,” Harrison warned, highlighting the devastation around the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

“Environmentalists tell us that these sorts of events are going to become increasingly common,” Harrison said, “and you look at the costs of the damage . . . and you realize that investing in the environment now is going to be so much cheaper in the long run.

“I really think that we’re not just on a short timeline with respect to the negative consequences, but on a short timeline with respect to how we can avert long term costs for a very small amount at this point . . . That’s ultimately what I am most concerned about.”

For now, however, Harrison needs to focus on the election and feels Vancouver is looking for a party that can get things done. “Jim and Tim and Raymond and [Mayor Larry Campbell] just got so much done for the city in the last two years with the RAV line, the Olympics and Woodward’s,” she said. The 2010 Winter Games “is going to make for the most sustainable Olympics we’ve ever seen anywhere.”

As busy as Harrison will be during the election, she doesn’t think it’s going to be an issue with respect to her teaching schedule.

It’s basically like having two full-time jobs for the next six weeks, Harrison said, but “I’m such an organized person.”

Harrison prepared for the term as though she is going to be elected, she explained, because if she is and she hadn’t planned for it, then it’ll be too late when the time comes to balance out her duties.

“I’ve gotten my courses completely organized,” Harrison said. All of her lectures are prepared, all of her assignments are done and all of her exams are written.

Other than marking – which is a big task, though one that has a great deal of flexibility with respect to when it’s done – Harrison said she has to come in to lecture, which for her is more like a welcome hobby. It’s something that “completely reenergizes me.”

Next term may be a bit of a different story, though. Harrison has been assigned a full-time schedule of courses, but if all goes as she hopes it does, there are quality instructors that can be called to fill in.