Affiliation: Community First New West
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I bring experience in intergovernmental relations and community organizing and currently work at Simon Fraser University as director of advancement & alumni engagement for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. I have also served in previous roles with the City of New Westminster. I have worked on partnerships that funded projects such as Westminster Pier Park, Sapperton Park playground, Century House enhancements, the Sapperton sewer water separation work, as well as numerous arts and cultural programs. I previously served on the boards of Arts Council, Massey Theatre, the New Westminster Police Board and remain on Fraserside Community Services Board.
Why are you running for city council?
I have volunteered and worked in the not-for-profit sector and public sector for decades. Growing up, our family volunteered regularly at the Gurdwara and in my teen years I volunteered at a variety of Neighbourhood Houses. I am passionate about contributing to New Westminster, where I have lived for the past 18 years. I have strong connections to the arts, business and social sectors. I also have years of experience working with youth, seniors and marginalized communities. I am excited to build on my experience and work with residents to advance priorities that work for New Westminster.
What do you consider to be the Top 3 issues facing New Westminster at this time?
We need to prioritize affordability, especially secure housing for working people, marginalized communities and individuals who have complex care needs. We need to increase affordable new multi-family developments in transit-focused areas, partner with non-profits and senior governments, as well as update and streamline permitting processes to accelerate the construction of “missing middle” housing for young working families who face barriers to the housing market.
I also support enhancing our community infrastructure, public amenities and green spaces that prioritizes equitable access to public spaces, recreational space, facilities, amenities. This includes increasing accessible green public spaces throughout the city to ensure all residents have access to shade natural spaces. We also need to work with sports communities to identify gaps in local sports and recreation facilities as well as work with the broader community to create a renewed vision for the Anvil Centre.
Lastly, I would like to strengthen and broaden public engagement opportunities, especially for underrepresented and historically marginalized groups. I would like to expand the Be Heard New West model to offline and face-to-face events, return Brown Bag Lunches with Mayor and Council and work with our residents, community partners and businesses to improve public engagement touchpoints.
What is the biggest success and/or failure of the current city council?
I am proud New Westminster was selected as one of the locations for the Peer Assisted Crisis Team (PACT) pilot project in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division (CMHA BC). PACT marks an exciting opportunity to create a new direction in crisis response from a criminal model to a health model of community-based delivery. I am especially pleased to see that community service providers, stakeholders and those with lived and living experience will form the community planning table to co-develop the New Westminster model.
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?
A city’s branding is important and, like all businesses and organizations, logos and monikers should be periodically reviewed. I support the development and implementation of a plan to engage with the community in this review and encourage a consultation approach that is inclusive and allows for our community values to be reflected.
What is your housing situation? Homeowner, renter, other? Landlord?
My husband and I own our home in Sapperton and have lived in New Westminster for 18 years, where we live with our teenage daughter, host international students and our adorable puppy, Coco.
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?
I would like to see New Westminster develop a full spectrum of homes that everyone can afford in transit-focused areas and also encourage more townhouses and rowhouses in other neighbourhoods to help increase housing options.
The area around the 22nd Street SkyTrain station is identified in the Official Community Plan as one area intended to accommodate higher density development, with good access to transit and amenities. I look forward to hearing from the community to create the bold vision for this neighbourhood and to find other opportunities.
I also think we need to continue to protect the city’s existing rental supply to ensure housing security, while incentivizing building resiliency into the existing building stock to prepare for climate change and emergency response.
Lastly, I know we need to update and streamline permitting processes to accelerate the construction of “missing middle” housing for young working families who face barriers to the housing market.
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 partnerships are incredibly important in building a full spectrum of homes, especially for our most vulnerable populations, so working with not-for-profits and the province will be pivotal as we move forward to address the housing crisis we are in. We also need to follow bylaws decided by the province and prioritize options that work for New Westminster.
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?
I was appointed by the province to the New Westminster Police Board in December 2021 and am currently on leave while I campaign. The New Westminster Police Board is responsible for providing oversight and direction to the police department and also works with the chief constable and the senior management team to develop and approve a strategic plan, an annual plan/budget and objectives, and policies. Given I have had some insight into the department planning, I know budget decisions are complex, our city has limited resources and the financial needs are great. Our police department has been asking for more resources to deal with the impacts of addiction, mental health, and poverty in our community and I think it is important for municipalities and municipal police boards to have regular conversations about how we can address these growing community impacts and also find partners to prioritize this important work.
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 was really pleased to see New Westminster recently presented with the gold award in Excellence in Policy Planning-City and Urban Areas by the Planning Institute of B.C. for its Seven Bold Steps for Climate Action. I am encouraged by the past council’s work and know we can do more. For instance, after years of advocacy, earlier this year, Metro Vancouver committed up to $18 million in funding for the Sapperton District Energy System. The system will reduce carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 8,600 tonnes per year compared to existing, conventional heating sources, and over the course of its lifespan will reduce emissions by over 125,000 tonnes. The project also supports Metro Vancouver's climate action goals and the city's environmental strategy and action plan. More recently, the City of New Westminster received $26 million from the sale of British Columbia low carbon fuel standard credits. These funds have been used to establish a new climate action reserve fund in the city’s budget to support New Westminster’s commitment to a zero carbon future. I support these bold initiatives and integrating climate action into all of our city work.
You have 24 hours and your calendar is open. What would be your ideal day in New West?
My ideal day easily begins with my husband and I walking our dog, Coco, along Sapperton Landing and up through Glenbrooke Ravine. We would then pick up our teenage daughter and head to one of our favourite downtown coffee shops, where we generally take time to catch up from the week and plan the rest of our weekend. Might even pop into River Market for more tea and chocolate! An afternoon in New West can usually include gardening, which generally turns out to be catching up with our neighbours. Evenings can be found ordering in food and then sometimes heading to Landmark or Massey Theatre for some entertainment, perhaps followed by catching up with some of the wonderful friends we have made in our amazing city with some local beer (Steel & Oak or ABC) or wine (Pacific Breeze)!
Is there anything else you’d like to tell voters?
I have had the opportunity to work with some incredible community volunteers — through my work with city committees, working at Century House and volunteering on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce, Arts Council of New Westminster, Massey Theatre, Fraserside Community Services, the Police Board and so much more. Our residents are passionate about New Westminster and I look forward to an opportunity to serve as your city councillor so I can continue to work with our residents to create a vibrant and inclusive city where all individuals can belong and thrive.
How can folks contact you?
Ruby Campbell - Community First Council Candidate (communityfirstnw.ca)
Ruby Campbell for New West City Council | Facebook