As the current term of the director of Electoral Area A comes to a close, two candidates are vying for the position in the upcoming general local elections.
Electoral Area A is an unincorporated region of Metro Vancouver encompassing UBC, the University Endowment Lands, the area along Howe Sound between the District of West Vancouver and Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and a few islands in the Vancouver area.
The director is Electoral Area A resident's elected representative at the regional level and is a member of the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors. The director also sits on the Mayor’s Council on Regional Transportation which supervises TransLink.
There will be two advanced voting days on October 5 and October 8. The election is on October 15. Residents can find more voting information on Metro Vancouver's website.
Jen McCutcheon is the current director of Electoral Area A. In an interview with The Ubyssey, McCutcheon said she is running for the position again because she is concerned about issues like climate change, affordability, environmental protection and sustainability and wants to be a part of the solution.
“In terms of my priorities, this role has very little direct ability to make change. So I really see my role as a strong advocate for residents and community members out on the UBC Peninsula,” said McCutcheon.
Another priority is connecting residents of the UBC peninsula. “I'd love to find more ways to bridge the two worlds [of students and non-students],” she said.
She said that something she was most proud of in the past 3 years was increasing community participation and communication.
“I hope that I've increased awareness of what an Electoral Area A Director is ... By trying to help residents understand what that role is, and the voice that they have through me, is something I've worked hard on and I think I've been somewhat successful on,” said McCutcheon.
When asked about the housing and transport problems that students face, she acknowledged the difficulties students face, and said while her role was limited she would continue to advocate on them.
“[Housing] is an area I don't have direct control over but [I am] working with UBC on making sure that affordable housing is a key part of their Campus Vision 2050,” said McCutcheon.
“I am a supporter [and] I've been part of the Mayor's Council that has committed to bringing SkyTrain out to UBC,” she added.
McCutcheon acknowledged that the SkyTrain project would take many years but said she was committed to shortening commute times for students.
[I’m] working with TransLink and with UBC Campus and Community Planning to make sure that the bus routes service UBC…. and to be able to, at least in the short term, try to shorten those commute times in whatever way we can.” she said.
Jonah Gonzales is running as Progress Vancouver’s candidate in Electoral Area A. He works as Data and Intake Coordinator in the Department of Education, Employment, and Training for Squamish Nation and is a student at Capilano University. Gonalez is also a member of the Squamish Nation. Gonzales supports the expansion of the SkyTrain to UBC and believes in partnering with First Nations to build housing.
The Ubyssey did not hear back from Gonzales after multiple requests for comment.