Jim Green


The Queen Charlotte Islands may be far from the clamour and chaos of Vancouver, where Jim Green ran for mayor against Sam Sullivan in 2005, but Green’s new job as CEO of the Misty Isles Economic Development Society offers a familiar mix of social and economic obstacles with which to do battle. What is your history with the Queen Charlottes? My first trip to Haida Gwaii was when I came up for an interview with Misty Isles Economic Development. That’s been about four months now. How does it compare to east Van? Well, there’s an interesting connection, most especially among the Haida people. I know many of them from all kinds of places. I’m an anthropologist, so I’ve always had a great interest in this area, and a lot of the experience you get from working in places like the Downtown Eastside, with all the difficulties there, are transportable to other places. People know I believe in social justice, and that fits very well here. Are island politics much different from city politics? There are always similar difficulties and similar rewards. One of the things that I’m probably proudest of that I ever worked on was setting up the committee for Woodward’s: about 50 different groups all at war with each other. We worked together for about four years, so that’s pretty tough slugging. But I think I have a great appreciation for the issues that are here and the preservation of certain ways of life and also recognizing that, at the same time, people want to move forward, they want the economy to work, they really want to be able to raise their children here and live in a way that’s compassionate toward the things they believe in here. How much time do you plan on spending out there? About 50 per cent of the time. I’m a development consultant as well, and I still have clients in Vancouver. It’s not that far away, in many ways; it’s a two-hour flight. I’m working on some very interesting projects there, and I find that very rewarding. I’m working with the Vancouver East Cultural Centre – I was at least partially responsible for getting them $9 million for the renovation they’re doing there. I’m also working with the BladeRunners project, an employment project for aboriginal street youth, which is how a lot of people know me up here. What I’m trying to do in my work now is reciprocal development, and that means development that’s not challenging anyone’s interests, that brings everyone’s interests together. I mean, if you look at Woodward’s, we got quite a bit of extra density in there because the people of the community came out and spoke in favour of it. So what new projects get you excited these days? I’m a registered wine agent for a place in Italy called San Patriano. They are also a substance addiction program. There are 2,000 people who are heroin and cocaine addicts on the property who run the wineries and the cheese-making. It’s also one of the top equestrian training places in Europe. And all the profits go back to maintaining the treatment centre. It’s the opposite of harm reduction; you have to commit to four years. Part of my profits will go to other types of addiction programs in the Downtown Eastside, and those will be probably more harm-reduction related. It’s hands across the sea, if you will, with a really good product and really good results. Another one is attempting to save the York Theatre on Commercial Drive, which has been the home of the Vancouver Little Theatre. A developer is working with the Van East Cultural Centre to bring it back to its glory and to have another venue which is greatly needed in the city for performance artists. Do you have anything that you miss from your city hall days? Yeah, I miss debating with Sullivan and Peter Ladner. But I kind of watch those folks, and I’m still going to be working to elect Vision Vancouver people including Gregor Robertson. But my roles change all the time in my life. I never know what I’m going to do next; I absolutely don’t plan for the future, and I never have. I just kind of go with the organic flow that always seems to be there.