A Richmond city councillor for the last two years, newly-elected Richmond-Steveston MLA Kelly Greene (pictured casting her ballot with her three children) initially found her political passion as an education advocate.
Meet your MLAs: Kelly Greene (Richmond-Steveston)
By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter
Published 12:00 PST, Wed November 25, 2020
Kelly Greene likes to start her day with at least one very large cup of tea.
“I get my tea from Nikaido in Steveston, and they’ve got so many great really distinct blends,” she says.
Her morning routine pairs a love of tea with a passion for supporting local businesses—which Greene says is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You can buy something on Amazon, but Amazon isn’t going to help you out when your child is in soccer and you need a donation for the soccer club,” she adds.
The newly-elected MLA for Richmond-Steveston was raised in the neighbourhood, having attended Diefenbaker elementary and Boyd secondary schools. As a youngster, she remembers going to the end of Trites Road to pick blackberries, which her family would then make into pie and jam.
A member of several ‘buddy’ clubs in elementary school, where she helped supervise and look after younger grades, Greene says she joined “pretty much all the clubs” in high school.
“We had a little convenience store at Hugh Boyd—we called it ‘Hugh’s.’ We were the class that opened it, and I was one of the leaders on that project,” she says. “We (also) had the greenhouse users group, we did a lot of plant activities in the little greenhouse in the back of one of the science labs, and that was fun.”
Growing up, Greene definitely didn’t envision a future in politics. In Kindergarten, she wanted to be a teacher. By the time she finished high school, her goal had shifted to being a novelist.
“I really hadn’t thought about politics as something I would do. Politics always seemed like something somebody else did,” she says.
Greene first became involved with politics in 2016 as part of a parent group that formed in response to the Richmond school closures and then became active in the community. At the time, she was a stay-at-home mom with an infant.
“If you want to talk about juggling priorities and multitasking, that was it,” she says with a laugh.
Greene’s community advocacy for education led her to seek election as an MLA in the 2017 provincial election, where she came second to incumbent BC Liberal MLA John Yap in the Richmond-Steveston riding. She was subsequently elected as a city councillor, a role she has held since 2018. Since then, she’s learned many lessons, the most important of which is to ask questions, she says.
She and her husband are parents to three young children, raising them in the same neighbourhood they remember exploring as kids.
“My husband’s grandma used to live in Steveston. They would ride their bikes in, and get fish and chips, and fly their kite at Garry Point,” Greene says. “And that’s the same thing we can do with our kids today, decades later: riding our bikes into Steveston, and going to the library, and getting some donuts, and going for a walk on the boardwalk. Those are still things that the kids love and they’re going to remember that when they’re older.”
She describes Steveston as having a strong sense of community, and lists Garry Point and Dave’s Fish and Chips as favourite spots. She’s also passionate about protecting the environment, and loves camping with her family. The responsibility of leaving a place better than you found it is something Greene learned from her parents, who she says “have always done a really good job of explaining that we’re responsible for more than just ourselves.”
Another thing she picked up from her parents was a strong sense of family and support. As a parent, she is keen to pass along some skills and interests to her kids, including her love of reading. She also enjoys cooking and baking, both “foundational” family recipes and experimenting with new ones. And she’s an avid gardener.
“I like to grow things that I can eat, and I think it’s a great learning experience for the kids,” she says. “They really learn where food comes from—it doesn’t come from a cellophane package.”
In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with her husband and watching comedy on TV, “because life is hard, and it’s nice to have a laugh.”
Recently they’ve also been building things out of Lego, which is a favourite pastime of her kids.
“They particularly love it when Mommy and Daddy build them something cool, and then they wake up in the morning and there’s something cool on the coffee table that they can play with,” she says.
In terms of a potential political future, she says she focuses on the here and now—trying to make Richmond and BC the best it can be at this time. But the motivation behind Greene’s dedication to her community is clear: she wants to see positive change.
“A lot of moms think, ‘somebody needs to do this.’ At a certain point, that somebody is you.”