Community Leadership | Social Democracy | Environmental Leadership
Economic Leadership | Deep Vancouver Island and Coastal BC Roots
Gord was the highest elected Councillor for the District of Tofino, and Alternate Director for the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District in 2008. He served one full term before deciding not to run again 2011, and instead, to give undivided attention to his role with the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce and other Community Development Initiatives. During his time as councillor, Gord worked to expand the construction of hiking and biking trail networks, to promote parks and recreation, community infrastructure, small business, regional relationships, child and family supports, and the nonprofit-sector.
Gord helped to found and develop the highly successful Tofino Ambassador Program in 2011. This program helped Tofino build a strong and vibrant community where locals explore issues of local history, cross-cultural understanding, natural ecology, business activities, festivals, good host etiquette, and civic matters. Gord strongly supports knowledge mobilization as an invaluable tool to connect people to place and invest in building local capacity. Since 2011 over 750 participants have gained valuable knowledge and skills in the program.
Over a period of years, Gord was justly proud to assist in the development of the first class of the West Coast Chapter of Leadership Vancouver Island by serving as the inaugural board chair. This program builds community leadership throughout the West Coast of Vancouver Island and embodies the best principles of “Leading self, leading others, leading community”. It offers mentorship and network building to west coast leaders from diverse backgrounds, and graduated its first class of new leaders in 2014.
Gord’s values have earned him the trust of local first nations. He was active in beginning a local community healing process that continues to encourage a productive, cooperative reconciliation. Gord envisions new paths to further reconciliation with First Nations in Canada that do not depend solely on litigation or negotiated settlement, but on mutual respect and First Nations’ cultural inclusion.
Gord is committed to active, healthy, community recreation as a key to keeping families in place and engaged. To that end, he coached various children’s sports and served as the director and co-chair of the West Coast Multiplex Society from 2006-2008. Gord brought vigor to a long-imagined recreation facility in partnership with eight west coast communities through the West Coast Multiplex Phase 1 Operating Costs Referendum, for which he was the 2012/2013 Project Manager. Twenty-five public presentations inspired the Hesquiaht, Ahoushat, Tla-o-qui-aht, Toquaht, Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ, Ucluelet and Tofino communities to support the very successful “Yes” vote.
Gord was part of the inaugural Tofino Attainable Housing Committee beginning in 2003 and has been active for over ten years. The committee is dedicated to exploring attainable housing models, partnerships and policies to give families affordable housing options. Advancing development of a local area plan to include the rezoning of forty acres in the District of Tofino to make home ownership possible is one example.
Beginning in 2013, Gord is an International Fundraiser for a school in one of the poorest areas in Guyana, South America. His efforts helped raise one-half year’s operating costs to educate more than one hundred at-risk students and help grow their community.
Gord sat on the Resort Community Labour Market Steering Committee in 2013. The committee conducted research to identify labour market trends and community impasses, while providing innovative solutions to BC’s Resort Municipalities. Gord served with a variety of local non-profit boards and Regional Boards, including the alternate for Tofino on the UNESCO Clayoquot Biosphere Trust. He endeavours to facilitate or moderate regional and local community meetings, forums and roundtables.
From 2010 to June of 2014 Gord offered his entrepreneurial spirit and balanced approaches to the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce as its Executive Director. He helped to grow the organization to 330 Chamber members in a town of only 1900 people, double its budget and develop a strategic plan for wider community recognition in the province. Gord is particularly proud of developing, hosting and organizing a series of sponsored monthly luncheons, green breakfasts, business workshops and the quarterly mayor’s breakfasts.
The BC Chamber of Commerce was impressed enough to give the Chamber of the Year 2013 – Honourable Mention Award to the Tofino – Long Beach Chamber. (www.tofinochamber.org) for its innovation and business leadership. The BC Chamber admired the manner in which the local Chamber grew its relevance to its business community by bringing in top-tier speakers at reasonable cost. Last year the Chamber raised $70,000 in in-kind donations to host high profile speakers including politicians Elizabeth May, Carole James and Naomi Yamamoto.
This Chamber also won council support and funding to: look at creating a local economic development commission; to breath new life into the dream of a “Higher Learning Centre” in the Pacific Rim region in collaboration with First Nations, local government, non-profits and businesses; and to secure matching funds to continue the popular Ambassador program to enhance tourists’ experiences through knowledgeable local residents.
“The Tofino – Long Beach Chamber of Commerce is an inspiring example of a small Chamber punching above its weight and helping to tangibly lead its community forward. We congratulate this Chamber for its innovation, strategic thinking and sheer hard work.”(John Winter, President and CEO, BC Chamber of Commerce)
2003 saw Gord as a founding committee member to create and develop today’s flourishing Tofino Public Market.
As a successful entrepeneur over fourteen years, Gord founded a variety of enterprises from natural clothing and retail stores to a vacation rental business. All were founded on strong, balanced, economic, social and environmental values. Gord’s strong voice for business, his solid network of business contacts on Vancouver Island, the province and the country, as well as his unwavering defense of the environment on which the economy of the local community depends, have earned him the respect of his colleagues.
Most recently, Gord’s completion of a Certificate in Community Economic Development from Simon Fraser University in 2013-2014 added more tools in aid of development of sustainable local economies.
From 2003-2013 Gord was the founder and organizer of Tofino Earth Day and Tofino Earth Week events. His voice in opposition to increased tanker traffic on the coast is heard across Canada since 2010. Gord stands with local First Nations in protecting sensitive ecological areas from the threats of old growth logging, open pit mining, expanded fish farm licenses and a weakened environmental review process. His aim is ensuring a safe, viable ecosystem for our children’s benefit and futures.
Deep Vancouver Island and Coastal BC Roots
Gord is the son of Judy and Frank Johns of Victoria BC, and the brother of Rob. He was born and raised in Victoria BC, and is married with three children and two stepchildren. In his youth, Gord enjoyed the richness of the outdoor, west coast environment, played multiple competitive sports and was the valedictorian of his 1988, Mount Douglas High School graduating class. Gord’s adoptive father, Frank, is Metis Cree. Through his parents and grandparents, Gord has connections with such west coast communities as Rock Bay, Ocean Falls, Qualicum, Parksville, Port Alberni and Victoria. His great-grandparents John and Winnifred’s extended families arrived on Vancouver Island over one hundred years ago and have spread north and south to communities on the island and mainland BC coasts.
Gord’s late uncle, Donald Pearsell, was the shop steward in Gibson, BC and a staunch NDP party member. Later, as a teenager and young adult, Gord was a BCGEU Union member and an NDP supporter. He attended the celebration of Lynn Hunter’s first NDP election victory as an MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands. Gord has been an avid supporter and longtime friend of NDP MLA Scott Fraser.