Mayoral candidate Lil MacPherson wants the people of Halifax to know she’s not a “one trick pony.”
MacPherson’s name has become tied to the environment and food security, in part because she is the co-founder of The Wooden Monkey — a restaurant that proudly champions these two causes.
“I’m definitely green-driven, but it’s not my only platform,” she explains during a recent sit down with the Chronicle Herald.
Failing small business
She had just finished unveiling her small business platform to an audience of about 20 people at the Darkside Café in Dartmouth.
“We have failed the Darkside Café,” she says, as the employees and customers provide a backdrop of friendly banter in the background.
“We don’t have the mechanisms for these guys.”
By these guys, she means small businesses who have to pay high taxes to stay afloat, all the while feeling they have no representation on council.
If elected, she would try to implement a small business committee or ombudsman and “ditch the ditch tax” that she says is not entrepreneur-friendly.
Bringing climate change to council
The question still remains, why run against a well-known mayor like Mike Savage?
Without a moment of hesitation, MacPherson says she wants to see higher green building codes.
She wants the residents of HRM to know that climate change is real, and that the city is not exempt.
“I don’t even hear the words ‘climate change’ brought up in council anymore, and that scares me.”
MacPherson told the Chronicle Herald earlier that Halifax is far behind other cities when it comes to fighting for a clean environment.
She uses David Suzuki’s Blue Dot campaign as an example.
Pushing the Blue Dot
Suzuki is encouraging Canadian cities to issue declarations to pressure the federal government to include the legal right to a clean environment in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“It took us, specifically the Environmental and Sustainability Committee, a lot of convincing to sign onto this movement when they should have been running to it, not questioning how much it would cost the city,” she said in an earlier interview.
“Why should we have to be convinced of something we desperately need?”
Nova Centre and business focus
One thing she thinks the city can do without is the Nova Centre.
Proponents of the Nova Centre convention complex say it will boost the economy. But its construction has brought headaches to surrounding businesses, including MacPherson’s Wooden Monkey. She is among seven business owners who claim they have lost money because of the project and are going to court seeking compensation.
“It might be a good development, but not for the city,” she said last Thursday.
“When you’re building something to (help) the economy . . . you can’t tear down the economy around it.”
If she has her way, the city would put an emphasis on the small business economy.
She says the streets and infrastructure would showcase a diverse range of food, shops and live music.
She even suggests closing some streets to cars and trucks on the weekends to make the core less congested.
Searching for more support
But this green and clean design she’s proposing is far from becoming a reality.
A poll by Corporate Research Associates, published at the end of August, shows 85 per cent of decided voters would support Savage.
Going after the undecided voters could be more difficult given that both mayoral candidates agreed to not use lawn signs in this election.
MacPherson knows this gives her opponent an advantage. But she says campaign signs are also a sign of pollution and waste, which would go against her values.
And when it comes to the polls, the results don’t keep her up at night.
“I’ve been an underdog my whole life, so I’m very comfortable fighting for something while running uphill,” she said.
“I’m in this race to make change, I’m not attached to the outcome.”
So yes, MacPherson’s campaign is very much about being green and sustainable.
But it’s also about food security, heritage, crime and housing — issues on the minds of many candidates and voters.
“I would like to see us hitting crime where it actually hurts and going into the communities, because when you grow up (and) you don’t know where your food is coming from or you don’t have a safe home or you don’t have a parent, that creates instability for person. And that creates crime. I think we need to get to the foundation of the problem. I think we need to go into the heart of communities and rebuild communities — give them a chance.”
On heritage properties:
“I think we need more respect for heritage, I really do. (Young Avenue) is one of my favourite streets to walk down. So we need to respect heritage homes. I don’t think they brought that policy up fast enough. We are cutting these houses and we are losing our past.”
On rural communities:
“I was at a Sackville high school doing some cleanup and I couldn’t believe the road into Sackville High School. I felt like I was going into a camp. That would never happen in Halifax. I don’t think there has been a fair treatment. I definitely think the development rules, the bylaws, need to be different. The county is totally different from the city. I think we need two different committees and have representatives from the rural communities on those committees.”
On Halifax logos on community signs:
“It’s insulting to think that Dartmouth would want to be called Halifax. It takes away their identity. It was a complete waste of money. It would cost us a lot to reverse them. But actually, what I would love to do is add something to the signs. I would like to add, in different areas all over HRM, the Mi’kmaq name.”
On food security:
“I plan on opening the urban production in the city and allowing people to have incubator plots. There are a lot of farmers that want to farm here in Nova Scotia. The youth want these spaces, so I want to set up incubator plots in all the districts. Whatever you grow, hopefully you will sell it locally. Let’s bring food to the city.”
Original publish date: Oct. 3, 2016