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Meet New Westminster council candidate: Jiayi Li-McCarthy

Council hopefuls responded to our city council-focused questionnaire. Here's what they had to say.
Jiayi Li-McCarthy new
Jiayi Li-McCarthy Is running for the New West Progressive in New Westminster's 2022 council race.

Affiliation: New West Progressives

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My husband and I have lived in the Glenbrook North neighbourhood for over a decade. I'm the person you may have seen at “Cash Register 1” at our local Safeway on McBride. I'm a proud member of UFCW 1518. I am a former top athlete in China and was the number 1 cyclist for 10 years in China. In my free time I like to do lots of charity work. I just finished biking for Kids for Cancer in 2022 to help raise funds for this important cause. One of my greatest passions is to help others in need.

Why are you running for city council?

I'm running for city council because I really believe in public service and giving back to my community. I have been doing that my entire life. Getting elected to city council will allow me to make my entire community a better place to live, work and play. I'm an immigrant to Canada, and as such, I can think of no greater honour than having the chance to run for public office.

What do you consider to be the top 3 issues facing New Westminster at this time?

Crime and safety. So many of our citizens — especially women and seniors — are not feeling safe on our streets after dark. Our police need to be well-funded, and we need more of them on the street. We also need to open a new community policing office in Queensborough to address the concerns of this neighbourhood that has, for far too long, been ignored by city council.

Lack of proper consultation and engagement. People tell me that they don't feel city hall is listening to them anymore. They write letters. They phone. They email, but they are always being ignored. City hall needs to better reflect the goals, objectives and aspirations of our citizens and local businesses. This has to change if people's voices are ever going to be heard once again.

Failing infrastructure. We are the oldest city in Canada west of Winnipeg, hence older infrastructure. This council is not doing enough to lobby senior governments for new infrastructure investments. We lost most of Pier Park to a fire and there are no plans to replace it. Also, the Canada Games Pool had to close early because city hall didn't plan well for the construction of a new pool.

What is the biggest success or failure of the current city council?

The biggest failure of this council is they have failed to understand they were elected to make sure that they represented the views of the voters that put them into those positions. They have simply stopped listening.

Do you support city council's decision to have the city of New Westminster stop using the Royal City moniker and crown logo as part of its official branding? Why or why not?

No. During my recent door knocking, countless residents told me they are proud to live in this city and are also proud of our Royal City moniker. We can't change history, but we can learn from it. They don't understand why we are about to spend a lot of time and money to change the name while our city is facing much greater challenges and serious issues.

What is your housing situation? Homeowner, renter, other? Landlord?

I'm a renter with my husband.

New Westminster’s population is currently 82,590 and is projected to grow to about 100, 000 by 2031. How — and where — do you want the city to accommodate that growth?

The New West Progressives have released our 5-Point Housing and Homelessness Action Plan. It can be read in its entirety by visiting our website at

Our plan calls for the development of 1,500 new below-market rental units as supported by our Official Community Plan. We are also going to introduce 15 pre-approved housing designs that will cut down on red tape and speed up the approval process.

Our team firmly believes in building more ‘missing middle housing’ and we will also support the development of homes that people desperately need in our city. This includes fee simple townhomes, duplexes and fourplexes.

The current council have had over a decade to solve our housing crisis and they have failed. Giving them another four-year mandate will simply compound the problem.

Some organizations are calling on municipal governments to support the creation of non-profit housing by allowing projects to be built without fulfilling rezoning requirements. As an example, Women Transforming Cities wants social housing initiatives of up to 12 storeys to be permitted in multi-family area and up to six storeys in other residential areas, without a rezoning requirement). Is this something you would support?

We are supportive of building new housing that conforms with our Official Community Plan. This would include much needed affordable housing units that can be built in partnership with BC Housing and other non-profit housing providers.

The provincial government is currently looking into new legislation that will fast-track and reduce the complexity and cost associated with building new social and affordable housing. A NWP council will work with Victoria to ensure that new projects are built as quickly as possible.

We will also lobby very strongly with the provincial government that New Westminster needs to start getting its fair share of infrastructure funds. We are growing very quickly, and we need our infrastructure to keep up. We need new pools, community centers, schools and libraries if we continue to grow at this pace.

Lastly, we have committed to looking at drafting a similar bylaw to one recently introduced in Victoria that streamlines the approval process for non-market housing projects. But we will ensure that this is done in consultation with the community and that we will make sure new projects are conforming with our Official Community Plan.

The New Westminster Police Department’s budget has been a contentious issue in recent years, with some council members supporting cuts (to the requested budget increase) to the NWPD’s budget. (Budgets put forward by the police board were ultimately approved by council.) If elected, would you support cuts to the New Westminster Police Department’s budget in the city’s next budget? 

No. Our residents deserve to live in a safe and comfortable community. Our police have done their best to keep our city safe. They are trained to deal with criminals, not people suffering from mental illness. The NWPD needs the proper resources to add more bicycle and foot patrols. I also think we should seek funding from the Ministry of Health to have mental health workers on staff with our police.

City council has developed and used the Seven Bold Steps for Climate Action (and its strategic plan) as the basis for making all decisions. Has the city done enough to address the climate crisis? Too much?

No they have not done enough. They talk a lot about climate change, but the actual results leave a lot to be desired. According to a recent report, we have the worst record of any city in Metro Vancouver when it comes to green space in the Lower Mainland. Our city politicians have also failed miserably when it comes to keeping our street trees alive and well. Way too many of them are dead, and there is nothing left but stumps.

We need to make every effort to approach tackling climate change from a regional perspective. There are things we can do as a small city that will have no impact. But on a regional level, we stand a better chance of moving the needle.

Our city also lacks EV charging stations, both on the streets and in places like condominiums and apartment buildings. With an increase in electric vehicles, this will soon become a critical problem as we lack the infrastructure to support the zero emission vehicles.

You have 24 hours and your calendar is open. What would be your ideal day in New West?

My ideal day in New Westminster would include a walk through lovely Queen's Park. When I’m there, I feel a real sense of peace and comfort.

I’d also have a picnic with few friends and ride our bicycles together. No doubt, we’d head down to the Fraser River and visit the market. We’d plan a nice dinner on the patio (assuming the weather cooperates) and enjoy each other’s company.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell voters?

I’m not a career politician. I’m just like most people who live in New West. I work hard each week and I love my city and community. I would love to become a city councillor so that I could do my best and give back further to our society. Elections are so crucial to our democracy. I trust that voters will want to choose progress this fall and that we all work together afterward to build a brighter future for our city.

How can folks contact you?