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Two NPA Park Board candidates quit, join Team for a Livable Vancouver campaign

Tricia Barker and Kimi Kimura’s quitting came just two days after Fred Harding announced his candidacy for mayor, replacing the resigned John Coupar.
Park Board commissioner Tricia Barker announced she was quitting the NPA on Thursday

The Non-Partisan Association (NPA) has one incumbent candidate left, after Park Board commissioner Tricia Barker announced she was quitting the party on Thursday. 

But she is not leaving civic politics. 

“Today I gave the NPA board my resignation as a Park Board candidate with the Non-Partisan Association. I am grateful to the board for the opportunity to run and the support they gave me during the 2018 campaign and my subsequent election as a Park Board Commissioner,” Barker Tweeted. “It has always been and will continue to be my goal to bè the voice for seniors and people with disabilities in our parks and recreational facilities here in Vancouver. I intend to find a way to continue this important work.”

That way is with TEAM for a Livable Vancouver, headed by mayoral candidate Colleen Hardwick, who was elected to city council with the NPA in 2018. Kimi Kimura, manager of the Musqueam Golf and Learning Academy, also left the NPA’s Park Board campaign to join TEAM’s campaign for the Oct. 15 civic election.

Hardwick called Barker a “voice of reason” and Kimura an expert in recreational facilities management. 

“Another nail in the coffin of the NPA,” Hardwick said. 

Barker and Kimura’s defection came just two days after Beijing resident Fred Harding announced his candidacy for mayor, replacing the resigned John Coupar. During the 2018-2022 term, Coupar and Barker were the opposition caucus on a Park Board dominated by COPE and Green politicians. 

Coun. Melissa De Genova remains the only veteran running with the city’s oldest political party. She was among five NPA candidates elected to city council last time, but three joined 2018 mayoral runner-up Ken Sim’s ABC Vancouver and Hardwick formed her own party.

Barker was not at Harding’s Tuesday photo op, but one of the people standing behind him was NPA Park Board candidate Ray Goldenchild. Goldenchild ran on Harding’s Vancouver 1st slate in 2018 and recently filed a complaint to the NPA board against Barker over a July 25 verbal altercation after a meeting at the NPA office. 

Goldenchild alleged Barker interrupted his conversation with another candidate, swore at him and badgered him. His email claimed the incident prompted him to quit on the spot, but two other candidates and Coupar convinced him to remain a candidate.

“John said that he just needed for me to stay with the team and he would deal with Tricia Barker and ensure she apologized to me.  He said he would get back to me, but he never did,” said Goldenchild’s email. 

Coupar resigned Aug. 4 in a dispute with the board over support from real estate developer Peter Wall. 

Goldenchild wrote that he complained after hearing rumours from an unnamed candidate with a rival party that he was a loud bully. His Aug. 17 email demanded a formal, written apology from Barker by Aug. 22. 

Reached after Barker’s resignation announcement, Goldenchild initially feigned ignorance about his Aug. 17 email and then refused to answer any questions. 

Barker said she was unaware of the substance of Goldenchild’s complaint and it was not investigated. 

“That is a board issue. I think Ray was discussing things with the board,” Barker said. “So you know what, I don't like to get into all these personal things. And as I said, if you got something that was leaked, then I can't comment on it. Because I never saw it.”

Barker said her defection to TEAM was unrelated to Goldenchild’s allegations or Harding becoming leader of the party. She simply wanted the chance to be part of a majority on Park Board, as TEAM now has six candidates running. 

“The last four years has been really, really tough to sit there,” she said. 

Goldenchild and Dave Pasin are the only Park Board candidates remaining on the NPA website. The window to nominate candidates for the Oct. 15 ballot closes Sept. 9.

Barker admitted she would likely still be with the NPA had Coupar not resigned.

None of the members of the NPA board responded prior to Barker’s resignation, except president Dave Mawhinney, who said “no comment.” Mawhinney did not immediately respond on Thursday morning.