HRM Votes

Profile: Small business owner, environmental advocate vying for mayor’s office

‘Think about what we have to lose … and what we have to gain in the next four years’

“This earth needs protecting,” says Lil MacPherson.
“This earth needs protecting,” says Lil MacPherson, who’s running for mayor against incumbent Mike Savage.   Jessica Hirtle

Thirteen years ago, Hurricane Juan ripped through Halifax. While sitting in the dark after the storm, mayoral candidate Lil MacPherson was thinking about more than her lack of electricity.

“I had a massive epiphany,” she says.

She thought about the need for food security within Nova Scotia, and decided to open a restaurant that focuses on sustainable, healthy food.

In 2004, MacPherson and business partner, Christine Bower, opened the Wooden Monkey in downtown Halifax, which emphasizes the use of local and organic food. Eight years later, they expanded to a second location in Dartmouth.

Now, MacPherson is running for mayor against Mike Savage, who has been in office since 2012.

“Lil is like a real down-to-earth person who really cares about people and the bigger picture,” says Kendra Armstrong, a server at the Wooden Monkey in Dartmouth. “So, it would be great to have someone like her who can think outside of the box.”

‘I’ve seen the potential’

In her spare time, MacPherson enjoys doing outdoor activites, which range from swimming to archery and rock climbing.

“I’m so in love with this world, I would take a bullet for a cricket,” she says.

After attending several climate change conferences, including the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, MacPherson says she learned the importance of a mayor’s role and municipalities in achieving environmental sustainability.

“How we are a going to change the world is, yes presidents, but actually more business people, municipalities, governments,” says MacPherson. “We’re going to do this.”

 ‘We need to get major work done’

MacPherson’s platform emphasizes environmental sustainability and growth as top priorities. If elected, she hopes to invest in greener technologies and environmental projects, such as urban agriculture and bike rentals.

“That’s our biggest challenge, but our biggest opportunity,” says MacPherson. “We have to heal the earth.”

Anders Hayden, a political science professor at Dalhousie University, agrees that dramatic action is needed to reduce impact on the environment.

“Reductions in how much energy we are consuming, resources we are consuming, big reductions in the amount of emissions and pollutants of various kinds,” he says.

In order to protect local businesses, MacPherson also hopes to improve the management of infrastructure projects, such as the Nova Centre, and establish a small business committee.

“I’m batting big-time for small businesses,” says MacPherson. “We’re actually being harmed out there.”

MacPherson says the building of the Nova Centre in downtown Halifax was “really tough” for the Wooden Monkey and surrounding businesses.   Jessica Hirtle

‘It’s not going to be easy’

While this is her first election, MacPherson believes her business and environmental background give her the skills needed to be mayor.

“I’ve never ran a city before, but I never did restaurants before, too. So, I’m used to jumping off a cliff without a net,” she says.

“That’s what I do. I seem to land on my feet pretty good.”

Municipal and school board election day is Oct. 15. For more information about voting and candidates, go to https://www.halifax.ca/election/.