Q&A: Suzanne Anton
June 2, 2011
How did you first come to run for the park board? I worked as a Crown prosecutor from 1986 until 1999. During the 1999 civic election, I thought, "I should be doing something more." Some people want to be in politics when they're 10 and help their mom deliver flyers. Others are like me: I had no personal connections to politics, though I was chair of my kids' preschool, chair of the school PAC. And I'm a jock-I was president of the Kerrisdale Soccer Club, vice-president of the Vancouver Field Sport Federation-so I ran for the park board. My only regret is that that switch didn't go on earlier.
How did you find public office? In 2002 it was a COPE board, and the COPE people are very political. I don't think this partisan approach is effective. It was rewarding, though: this city is very gracious. There's a certain anger, but the people love their parks and were supportive of the work we were doing.
What moved you to run for council? You get drawn into the bigger issues. I'm fundamentally an infrastructure person. How this city gets built is, to me, one of the most interesting things that parks and the city do. That's really my key interest as a politician: build a good city, and people will live well-but that takes you to how to pay for this development, do we have enough affordable housing, how do you build enough housing so pricing is not sky-high?
And what do you think of our infrastructure? When I was elected with Sam Sullivan, I led the EcoDensity initiative to embrace density as a goal for the environment and the economy-we need enough people paying taxes so we can pay for great things like the art gallery. Speaking of which, I'm extremely disappointed by the choices this council has made to put low-rise-no, stubby-little buildings on the Cambie and Georgia site. It's a travesty, a complete waste. I would build the tallest, most interesting, most beautiful building there-80 storeys. I'm very pro good development that helps the gallery, the symphony, our soccer teams. Look at Chicago or New York, how culturally rich they are. Good development will do that for Vancouver too.
Is it frustrating to be the sole NPA member on a Vision council? My greatest disappointment with Mayor Robertson and his team is that he ran on a so-called "take the petty politics out of City Hall" platform; in fact, he's intensified petty politics. For example, there are a couple of councillors, like myself, who are assigned to no committees at all. But I'm pretty self-generating, and not being on a waste-management committee actually frees me up and keeps me more grounded in the community.
There's talk of you running for mayor in November. What are your plans? To put together a really good NPA team. It isn't settled just yet as to who that leader will be. I'm open to a third party-a marquee candidate-coming in, if they're qualified. We're going to have a lot of people running for council, and we're open to anyone being leader.