Andy MacKinnon, the Green party candidate for Esquimalt-Metchosin, has an extensive history in forestry and spends most of his free time exploring the natural environment of southern Vancouver Island. Photo contributed by Andy MacKinnon

CANDIDATE PROFILE: Retired botanist Andy MacKinnon’s outdoors background aligns him with Greens

Metchosin councillor hopes to give provincial electors somethign to vote ‘for’ on May 9

Curiously, Metchosin councillor and B.C. Green Party candidate for Esquimalt-Metchosin, Andy MacKinnon doesn’t consider himself to be a political person.

“It seems strange to say, but I really think this is true … in my mind, if the NDP was to embrace a whole host of progressive environmental initiatives I would be very happy to be standing up alongside the orange crowd singing their praises,” he said. “What’s important to me is that things get done.” And given his background, it’s no surprise that MacKinnon has a particular passion for the preservation and protection of B.C.’s diverse environment, a passion that helped lead him to pursue provincial politics.

MacKinnon grew up in Vancouver, graduating with a master’s degree in botany – specifically micology – from the University of British Columbia. Work with the B.C. Forest Service led him to Prince George, where he stayed until 1998, when he was offered a job in Victoria to lead the province’s forest ecology research program.

He and his wife decided to settle in the rural environs of Metchosin. Today their two sons are 20-somethings and the couple still lives in the family home by Witty’s Lagoon. “(I enjoy) the people and the natural environment,” he said when asked about his favourite aspects of the region. “I have such a terrific bunch of friends, both people my age and a lot of younger people as well … (they’ve) decided this is a part of the world where they want to live and work and they’re very interested in maintaining the natural environment.”

Now (mostly) retired, MacKinnon remains an adjunct professor with Simon Fraser University and will actually be on the West Coast of Vancouver Island on election night teaching a field course.

“I’m not 100 per cent certain that I’m going to be able to find a radio or television, but I hope to so I can see how the election goes,” he chuckled.

When he’s not spending his time in council chambers or teaching university courses, MacKinnon, who considers himself an energetic, positive person, can often be found at Witty’s Beach, a stone’s throw from his front door.

“I think (it’s) got it all, not just from an outdoor recreation point of view … it’s a place that I take visiting botanists because there’s an incredible variety of ecosystems and plant species in the park.”

MacKinnon also enjoys hiking, biking and surfing – although he admits he’s terrible at the latter – as well as playing the mandolin. Asked why he chose to run in the May 9 election, MacKinnon pointed to the Greens’ platform on economic and social issues, in addition to their environmental policy.

“I seem to have spent my entire adult voting life voting against one party or the other … I honestly believe that the solid platform that the BC Greens have put forward might just give people something to vote for this time. I’m hopeful that we can bring about that kind of change.

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