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Meet New Westminster council candidate: Jaimie McEvoy

Councillor hopefuls responded to our city council-focused questionnaire. Here's what they had to say.
Jaimie McEvoy 2022
Jaimie McEvoy 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:

First elected to council in 2008, I have worked on issues of affordable housing, environment and climate change, health care, and rejuvenation of our city. I ran the Hospitality Project at the New Westminster Food Bank, and have been a volunteer with several local non-profits. Well known as an animal lover, I was a leader in the creation of the city’s new animal shelter, was at one time vice-president of the city’s human society, and regularly advertise in the Pet Page to support animals needing adoption.

Why are you running for city council?

I want to continue the city’s work on creating affordable housing, the Seven Bold Steps on Climate Action, and the rejuvenation of New Westminster with new and improved parks, business environment, recreation facilities, and public events.

I believe that government can be both compassionate and practical.

New Westminster is a great city that needs to continue looking forward. As we grow, we also need the schools, childcare spaces, parks, amenities, recreation and things to do and enjoy that will ensure the future is a positive one.

As your councillor Jaimie McEvoy, I will continue to work for this bright city.

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

Affordable housing. The city needs to continue to play a strong role in supporting housing, beginning with reducing homelessness, supporting affordable and market rental, and a spectrum of types of housing so that it is possible to address the missing middle.

I want New Westminster to be a place not only where our kids can grow up, but also where they can make a home here as adults.

Environment and climate. I’m proud of the city’s Seven Bold Steps on Climate, and I chaired the creation of the city’s environment strategy, and support the city’s new urban forest policy, to have more trees in New West.

Rejuvenation of our city. A lot has been done to rejuvenate New West, with improved parks, more housing, more events. New Westminster is looking up and looking forward, but the city is not without its challenges. Those challenges need to be met in a positive way with real planning and real action.

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

One of the biggest successes is ending renovictions in the city, and preventing demovictions, protecting our existing affordable housing stock and the homes of renters. The city council defended renters in court, and we won. This led the province itself to reduce renovictions across the province.

Add to that the approval of more rental housing, more social and affordable housing, showing that this city council has a strong commitment to affordability and to our fellow New Westies.

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?

Corporate branding is different from the nicknames and slogans people might have for the city. The city’s branding speaks to investment, jobs, and supporting the economy. Council should ensure a healthy discussion in which citizens get to really have their say. Issues like housing, climate change, rejuvenation of the city, and good government will be my priority.

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

I first came to New Westminster as a teenager, and have lived in our home city for about 25 years. After being a renter in the Brow of the Hill, my wife and I bought a townhouse on Ginger Drive, where we live with our cats, Buddy and Odin.

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?

Where: close to major transit hubs and SkyTrain stations. Development near the Braid Street station will accommodate much of that growth, and I would like to see the 22nd Street station area see some mixed growth with housing and retail, like the city did at New West station.

How: prioritize affordable housing first. To have more housing while continuing to prevent renovictions. I want to see future New Westminster have a spectrum of housing, from rental to townhouses to the missing middle of housing, where the city can have things like laneway housing, intergenerational housing, coop housing, townhomes. I support the continuation of the city’s family friendly housing policy, ensuring that a portion of new housing is adequate for entire families to make a home.

Amenities: growth needs to include the amenities that a growing community will need. More parks, including along our waterfront and in our neighborhoods, with improvements to existing parks. Schools and childcare for the kids. New facilities, like the new aquatic centre soon to be completed. And well-planned and active city spaces, with music, festivals, and family spaces.

As your councillor Jaimie McEvoy, I’ve worked hard in each of these areas, and I hope to continue that work on your behalf.

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?

I believe that a community-wide discussion on how best to provide all types of housing is the best way to start, giving citizens their say on what housing policies should be, and not just in a piecemeal way. A cooperative approach rather than a divisive one.

I’m proud to have been a part of the good work of building social housing projects on city land, the creation of the affordable housing fund, the creation of the rent bank, and more new rental housing than in decades previous.

How best to do that is a community wide discussion specifically on housing, that may take up these ideas, or may come up with other ones. People need housing, and how best to do that, I’m confident will go best with a discussion with the whole community.

People need housing, our kids deserve a chance to make their own home in the city they grew up in, and a community dialogue together is a good way to best establish how to decide how to proceed with the goal of providing more housing and affordability, in a proactive way.

This discussion should also talk about how the growing city will have adequate health care, sports facilities, child care, schools, and other amenities.

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? 

Currently, the NWPD budget has increased since 2019 by 18 per cent, or since the last election. City councils are required by provincial law to approve the police budget as submitted by the police board, which is appointed not by the city but by the province, except for the mayor.

What cities across the province have been doing is asking for a greater say in local policing, and for change in how some calls to police are handled, such as mental health calls.

In my time on council, I’ve supported several changes in policing, like the mental health officers, the commercial vehicle enforcement unit, community policing, and crime prevention initiatives. These changes have been for the positive.

New Westminster has been a pioneer in this work, being one of the first to hire mental health officers.

New Westminster city council is currently working together with the police and the province to create a new Peer Assisted Crisis Team, to consist of a mental health worker and a peer support worker, to respond to mental health calls in the city. This is being funded with no impact on the police budget, but is in fact an addition to our public safety response.

Recently, I attended a study session where provincial leaders of the RCMP supported the idea of initiatives that reduced the number of mental health calls to 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?

The Seven Bold Steps on Climate Action has been award-winning policy, and once again New Westminster is a leader, with other cities looking at our initiative.

New projects are designed to be better for climate and the environment, like the new aquatic centre initiated by council and nearing completion, which will be the first in Canada to have zero emissions.

There is more to do, as events like heat waves and forest fire smoke show that the impact of climate change has arrived and can affect public health. Climate resiliency, building retrofits, continuing to implement the urban forest policy, creating shady and cooling spaces, are just some of the work that I support going forward.

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

That day would be spent with my wife Stacy, who I absolutely love and adore.

I love New Westminster’s many coffee shops, which would be a good place to start.

I love New Westminster’s natural spaces, so a walk in a place like Glenbrook Ravine or Pier Park (which I voted for, and where we got married!) would be great and relaxing. A lunch Uptown has more good places to eat than I can count.

I’m interested in our city’s heritage and architecture, and if I truly had 24 hours free, a nice walk Downtown sharing stories with friends along the way would be fun.

Dinner with Stacy and family members Downtown, where there is great pasta, Wagyu beef, and lemon pepper wings to be had. Then back home, where our cats will be all over us, wondering where we’ve been all day, and enjoying our townhouse for the evening.

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

I truly believe that a city councillor is there to listen to all voters. Public engagement is key.

As an individual, I have been a hard-working and dedicated city councillor, often taking time to meet people who have concerns in a coffee shop or out for a walk. I’m honoured to have been elected for the past four terms as your councillor Jaimie McEvoy.

Of course, it takes team to run a city. I urge you to support all of the Community First candidates this election, and keep our city moving forward.

How can folks contact you?

I am reachable through my campaign email at mcevoyforcouncil@yahoo.ca, and on Facebook at Jaimie McEvoy.