Kerry Morris

Name

Kerry Morris

Jurisdiction

City of North Vancouver

Running for

Mayor

Party or Slate (if applicable)

N/A

Funding

Do you know how much your local government invests in the arts? Would you commit to advocating for an increase in that cultural investment for arts, culture, and heritage in your community, within the capacity of your elected body?

Not at this time. The community of North Vancouver already provides significant financial contributions to the arts in various forms through public art, acquisition and display, through galleries in public structures which exist rent free and many, many other forms of contribution. Our community is plagued with homelessness and affordable housing crisis, a lack of public transportation infrastructure and an assortment of health concerns, all of which compete for public dollars and all of which are much more severely challenged than the arts at this time. Prioritization compels that we hold the line on further art expenditures. I will only commit, at this time, to maintain current levels of annual funding.

Advocacy

If elected, will you take an active role on behalf of your local government in championing the growth of arts, culture and heritage in your community? Why?

Yes, I have for four years worked in the motion picture and film industry. I know how valuable that industry is to the life blood of our community. There is barely a neighbourhood or business that doesn't derive economic benefit from the growth of arts in the Lower Mainland and the province. The film industry alone has more than doubled in value in the last three years becoming one of the largest economic engines this province has ever known. We must do our utmost to preserve and foster growth of this industry and the arts, in general, not just because of its economic benefit to the region, but also because of the pleasure that the arts in all of its forms provides everyone, even the most jaded of our population. Who among us can't appreciate fine music, fine film and fine art?

Education

Students with an education rich in the arts have better grade point averages and are three times more likely to get a degree. Will you commit to making the arts a critical component of every child’s education? If so, how?

As a candidate for Mayor, I have little or no say over the educational aspects provided by the school district to the general population in the education system.

One of the most destructive aspects of municipal government intervention in the education business of the Lower Mainland has been the approval of the destruction of our public school lands for redevelopment to unaffordable housing. Public lands of the size, nature and location of our existing school inventory are irreplaceable. They are crown jewels which should never be sold. They should be kept for the task they were inventoried to do, and if for one reason or another they become excess to the immediate teaching requirements of the system, then they should remain in the public domain pending time when the demand reappears. I will pledge to deny any application for the sale and rezoning of public school lands throughout my mandate.

Cultural Growth

How will your local government maintain or grow its investment in cultural programs in your community?

Our public spaces provide opportunity for cultural and artistic endeavours that are supported most notably in the summer promoting specific ethnic events and showcasing various international countries. These events not only educate people who have never been abroad that also provide wonderful entertainment and interaction amongst our diverse ethnic population. By appreciating the differences, and yet discover the commonality of people from all over the world, we enhance our understanding that we are seek the same thing - security of person and pleasure of life. Where we grow comfortable with our diverse population, we become more tolerant of our ethnic origins, more accepting of our differences, and immune to prejudices. And in these times, increased tolerance is a very valuable thing. I will do my utmost to make all public spaces available to all those who wish to utilize them as often as their use is desired by those who seek to put them to good work.

Cultural Spaces

Will you work to ensure access to affordable, sustainable cultural spaces for artists and arts organizations? If so, how?

The City of North Vancouver currently has an extensive inventory of publicly owned facilities. These facilities are given over under annual grant to applicants whose causes are just and valued. I will seek to preserve the past practice of maintaining these facilities for the purpose of cultural and artistic use.

Cultural Tourism

How do you propose to improve cultural tourism in your community?

One of the first challenges the City of North Vancouver ever faced was a challenge which is common to our greatest challenge of the day - transportation. In attempting to resolve that challenge, the City established a network of street cars that allowed the population to move efficiently from the North Shore's point of entry, the ferry terminal at Esplanade and Lonsdale, to far flung regions like Lynn Valley. Since street car operations ended there have been many who have discussed their possible re-emergence as a way of reinvigorating localized movement and tourism interest, not unlike the street cars of San Francisco. While today's technology is vastly different than that of yester year, I firmly believe that the Portland, Oregon street car model of today would provide not only great public transit within our community but it would also attract cultural visitations from people all over the world chasing that San Francisco experience.

While the City has paid lip service to such a system, at many times in the past, a lack of staff commitment has caused all such examinations to die on the vine. I will seek out any interested party that would entertain a partnership with the city to develop and operate a street car system that would achieve both local community movement on a green transportation solution as well as enhanced cultural visitation.

How do you propose to attract or retain artists and cultural workers in your community?

The role of the municipal government is to set the environment, not to create the activities that operate in that environment. That is the job of the private sector. While the City provides a budget for certain aspects of the arts, it cannot be expected to become the employer of the arts or its sole funder. Further, tax relief for investments made in the arts are not within the control or authority of the municipal government in which I seek office. Therefore, I can make no commitment to attract or employ more artists and cultural works in our community.

That said, the motion picture film industry which is the biggest provider of employment opportunities in the arts in the Lower Mainland, find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place, in terms of available artistic venues (sets) and locations from which to rally film operations. As we develop bare land or sell off fields and empty lots, we take away from the inventory those places where film circuses may be established from which daily film operations rally. As those land masses disappear, the circus location options of the local film production shrink to a point where today productions compete for space and often have to share what little public space is available making film activities more difficult to operate. If we don't remember that film operations, like all other businesses, require space and we don't find solutions to give them that transient space when they need it, then they will simply migrate to other locales and the economic cultural and employment opportunities and benefits which the industry creates will be lost. I will seek to create a liaison department for the motion picture industry to work with productions to find solutions to these challenges using parks, public and private sector lands, and streets, to make certain that the industry has what it needs to continue to do its work and grow our local economy. In maintaining these spaces, we will ensure the opportunity for our residents to work in a viable motion picture industry which can survive and prosper in our community.

Key Issues

What do you feel is the single most important issue relating to arts, culture, and heritage in your community, and what action will you take to address it?

If you've ever travelled to Europe, you discover that history in the forms of buildings of all types are protected and preserved as they form a physical bridge between past and present. One of the saddest realities of our political environment is the City's willingness to reverse or commute heritage designations on architectural icons built in our community. We need to ensure that some of our structures remain standing and are maintained long term providing our eyes a physical and visual history lesson each time we are lucky enough to see such a structure. I will put a stop to the commuting of heritage designations and the destruction and removal of those structures from our community. We should be proud of our past and shouldn't plow it under or ship by barge to someplace else.

Participation

How do you personally engage in the cultural life of the community? (e.g. involvement on committees, attending arts and culture events, etc.)

Over and above my involvement in the film industry and my attendance at plays and theatre production, which I immensely enjoy, I have attempted on more than thirty occasions to volunteer with the City on various boards and committees due to differing political views on the part of the current Mayor and Council, each overture which I have made has been rejected. At this point, I believe I have one of the largest collection of rejection letters ever issued to a single individual by the Mayor and his slate. So unfortunately, despite my many attempts to become more involved, I cannot claim current involvement in the cultural life of the community beyond my film industry activities. I intend to remedy that when I am elected Mayor.