Former City of North Vancouver council member Guy Heywood is returning to civic politics and running for mayor.
Heywood, who served two terms on council and three on the North Vancouver school board, bowed out in 2014. But now, with campaign finance laws changed to ban corporate and union donations, Heywood said there is an even playing field between candidates and a chance to restore faith in council.
“We now have a chance to see how our government will operate without big money from developers involved in the election that produces the council. That’s a big change,” he said.
“The sense in the community is it’s an opportunity for change and the change can go good or it can go bad. I’d really like to be involved to make it a positive change.”
The top issue Heywood sees in the coming election is traffic.
Over the last year, the city and district have joined in the Integrated North Shore Transportation Planning Project but if we want to solve our transportation problems, it must go beyond that, he said.
“It’s not a problem that can be fixed by a committee. It’s deep and structural,” he said. “(We need) to be implementing more co-ordinated, even merged, planning between the city and district on development and traffic.”
The result, Heywood said, would be more considerate pacing and sequencing of development and a greater understanding about the cumulative impacts on infrastructure than two separate planning departments can provide now.
“Somebody has to say ‘If the hole’s getting deeper, stop digging,’” he said. “The reason that traffic is a big issue over here is that the region-wide mantra of ‘density begets transit’ doesn’t work here. How much do we have to choke before we get that transit silver bullet?”
Merged planning may sound a lot like amalgamation, a risky political gambit in the traditionally amalgamation-averse city. But Heywood said residents in both North Vancouvers would benefit.
“They can sit in gridlock for the next 10 years if they really like the status quo,” he said. “Common sense has been defeated by these silos that have grown up over the years.”
District of North Vancouver citizens will be voting on a ballot measure this fall on whether they support a study into amalgamation.
Heywood said he would support that study at the city council table.
“It never hurt anybody, except maybe some self-interested politicians and bureaucrats, to have the truth,” he said.
When it comes to the high cost of housing, Heywood acknowledged it’s becoming a more serious problem every year.
“It’s individuals who need help, not developers. Density and development is not the solution to every problem,” he said. “We need to support the organizations that meet those individuals’ needs. And we need social housing and we need forms of ownership that don’t get overpriced in global financial markets.”
Heywood said he does not support granting extra density to developers in exchange for market rental housing.
Although not officially a slate, Heywood said he will be running with at least five like-minded but independent council candidates who came together under the North Vancouver Citizen Action Association, the non-profit he started last year.