Skip to content

Meet New Westminster council candidate: Nadine Nakagawa

Council hopefuls responded to our city council-focused questionnaire. Here's what they had to say.
Nadine Nakagawa 2022
Nadine Nakagawa is running for Community First New West in New Westminster's 2022 council race.

Affiliation: Community First New West

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I am a champion for affordable housing, addressing the climate crisis, and building a more livable community. I was elected in 2018, served one term on council, and have been recognized for my powerful community advocacy. Prior to my election, I was an active community member who volunteered for community organizations, city committees, and initiated a number of grassroots projects. My priorities are developing deeply inclusive public engagement processes and enhancing livability for all residents. You can find me walking and biking around the community, petting dogs and shopping at local businesses.

Why are you running for city council?

I am running for re-election for city council to continue crucial work on housing, the climate crisis, parks and public spaces, and public engagement. I’m proud of the work we’ve been able to do over the past four years during what was the most difficult term in generations. We need to keep moving forward and continue building the compassionate, connected city that New West residents love. My strong track record of collaborative leadership goes back long before I was elected and I want to continue that work as a city councillor for four more years.

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

1. Undoubtedly, the climate crisis is the biggest issue of our time and impacts all other decision-making. We need to meet the IPCC targets for carbon emissions while also making sure our city is ready for the inevitable climate-related impacts we are already beginning to experience.

2. We are in a deepening housing crisis with more and more members of our community being pushed out of the city because of unaffordability. We need to continue to do our part to ensure that all residents of New West have appropriate housing where they feel comfortable and are able to build a future in this community. This is important for seniors, for families, for renters, for the disabled, and everyone in between.

3. Even before the pandemic, we knew that we needed to increase community connections between neighbours. Knowing our neighbours and having a sense of connectedness will help us with the mental wellness issues so many people are facing, it will provide more resilience during climate-related emergencies, and will support the compassionate community that I know New Westminster to be.

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

Our strong housing policies—including the strongest renter protections in the province, inclusionary zoning, family-friendly housing minimums, newly refreshed homeless action strategy, increases to the rental housing stock—and our work on the climate crisis are the biggest successes of this council. Our Seven Bold Steps on Climate Action recently won a gold medal in planning. Other municipalities look to New West for leadership on these issues and more.

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?

I believe that the city’s branding should align with our values of inclusion and represent the entire community. I’m a strong supporter of public engagement and look forward to the robust discussion on this topic that will take place in the near future as was outlined in the motion.

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

I rent an apartment in the Brow of the Hill neighbourhood.

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?

We need to accommodate growth in all neighbourhoods throughout the city, however we need to ensure that the city remains livable which means making sure our amenities are in place to support that growth. This includes building parks and green space, working with the school district and province to build and enlarge schools, and making sure we have fantastic transit and active transportation networks. Housing affordability and choice are essential to keeping our friends and family members in this community. We can’t have a one-size fits all approach; Rather, we need to keep the small-town feel people love about New West while making sure that we are addressing the housing crisis. We also need to get creative with solutions like co-housing, a Community Land Trust, and co-ops.

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 need to be creative and assertive in order to address the housing crisis. I believe we need robust public engagement that is moved earlier in the process, rather than relying on public hearings which are often very divisive and demoralizing for everyone involved. Housing is a human right and I believe that more neighbours makes our community stronger.

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? 

The police budget is approximately 30% of the city’s operating budget, and we know that police are responding to more and more calls relating to mental illness and poverty. And it’s not just police—the fire service, bylaws department, and library are also seeing more and more of their time and resources go to addressing these issues that are not within their scope of work. Mental illness and poverty are not crimes and the police themselves agree that we need more appropriate services to respond to these calls. I’ve worked to create an alternative: the Peer Assisted Care Team (PACT) model, which will be launching this fall. This will be a more appropriate, compassionate, AND fiscally responsible response to mental illness and poverty. Because of our strong advocacy, we are one of only two cities in the province to receive funding for this pilot model that has already been proven in jurisdictions throughout North America.

We need to be able to respond to people in crisis with the right services at the right time.

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?

I am proud to have brought the motion to declare a climate emergency, which led to our award-winning Seven Bold Steps for Climate Action. These plans are crucial for building a city that will contribute to making the planet livable for the next generations. These plans need to be put into action and we don’t have time to wait. We’re already feeling the impacts of climate-related events, whether it’s the heat dome or smoky summers or regional flooding. Our focus needs to include activating the community to take care of each other during these types of events. This means knowing our neighbours, having plans in place—especially in the densest neighbourhoods of the city—and communicating broadly in ways that everyone can access and understand.

The climate crisis is the most important issue the city and community are dealing with and we need to continue to focus on it while bringing a lens of equity and urgency.

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

Go for a long walk early in the morning, grab coffee and a snack at a local coffee shop downtown, sit by the riverfront and say hello to the people, and pets, I will inevitably bump into. I’d then grab some groceries to have a picnic in Tipperary Park before watering my veggies at the community garden on the front lawn of city hall. I’d then head over to Moody Park to read a book, people watch, and say hello to the dogs leaving the dog park.

Since it’s New West, there’s probably a fun event happening that I’d check out before riding my bike to get dinner at one of our amazing restaurants like Thai New West or Wild Thyme, pop into a friends’ house to say hello, then watch the sun set from Grimston Park.

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

I want to continue to move the city forward in a way that takes care of all members of our community. This means everything from changing the way we have public dialogue in this city, to planting more trees, to building opportunities to meet and support our neighbours. I have so much hope for a future that is climate resilient, joyful, and where we all thrive. That’s why I’m running with Community First New West, a team that believes in our community.

Let’s continue to build that vision and plan together.

How can folks contact you?

Social media: @NadineNakagawa