Tell us a bit about yourself
I'm a long-term city councillor, first elected in 1996, and a former Member of the B.C. Legislature. I am an avid volunteer, working with many community and regional organizations, with the sole purpose of improving people's quality of life.
Why are you running for mayor?
I'm running for mayor because I feel that my years of experience are a great asset to the community. I bring a sensible approach to leadership that includes listening and responding to my community. I like to include everyone in the decision-making process.
What do you consider to be the Top 3 issues facing New Westminster at this time?
Community safety, housing and shelter affordability, and climate change. I believe that one of the greatest roles that a city can play in economic development is to provide clean, safe streets. We need to ensure that senior levels of government assist local governments in ensuring that safe affordable housing is developed for all so that we may address homelessness. The recent heat event and atmospheric river have shown us how vulnerable we have become to climate-related disasters. New buildings need to be designed to high environmental standards and older buildings need to be retrofitted to protect the residents who call them home. Too many of our residents perished during last year's heat dome, and we need to prevent this from ever happening again.
What is the biggest success and/or failure of the current city council?
Putting a stop to renovictions by introducing strong legislation designed to protect our many tenants. The provincial government followed our lead by amending the Residential Tenancy Act to reflect some of our language.
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 voted against this motion as I did not feel that enough consideration was given to the impacts of such an action. Many multi-generational families live in New Westminster and were extremely hurt by this resolution. Many businesses proudly prefix Royal City onto their names or services. There would be costs associated with changing a business name while failing to do so might produce a negative reaction.
What is your housing situation? Homeowner, renter, other? Landlord?
My partner and I own a modest, mid 1940's home. I also own a recreational property, which I allow a single person on disability to live at rent free.
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?
Dense growth needs to happen around transit stations, with some gentle infill in neighbourhoods. Some wooden multi family buildings are allowed on main roads and in business corridors they should include ground-level small businesses. It's crucial to protect the dwindling tree canopy which is so important to alleviate the impacts of climate change.
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'm not a strong proponent of rezoning without public input. I understand that there may be a strong "Not In My Back Yard'' sentiment coming from some community members, but I'm a strong believer that people need to be heard whether in favour or against.
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 do not support defunding the police. I'm proud of the New Westminster police service, which I've seen transform into a diverse and efficient service provider in our city. In the last 25 years we've seen the regionalization of services with other communities to such an extent that we have almost the same number of uniformed members in our service today as we did when the city was half our current size. New Westminster police present a large number of women officers and men from previously unrepresented populations.
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?
We recently sold our carbon emissions credits for $27 million. This shows that some of our work on the Seven Bold Steps is paying off. We can further increase these gains by expanding electric vehicle charging capacity and by building our district energy facility, which will turn sewage heat into home and business heating. We are also building carbon neutral facilities, which will also create a carbon-credit commodity.
You have 24 hours and your calendar is open. What would be your ideal day in New West?
In nice weather, around 7:30 a.m., I would ride my scooter to Kamini's Cafe on upper 12th Street, have a coffee with friends, then take the Seventh Avenue Greenway to 22nd Street and then over the Queensborough Bridge to meet some friends for a ride on the Komagata Maru trail. I would then lunch at Nandos, or Epic Grill or Frankie G's, then take the Q to Q ferry across to the River Market, and then home to catch up on some projects. When Amber gets home from work, we would go for a late dinner to Gino's in Sapperton.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell voters?
As mayor of this great community, you will have a stable, sensible and open government. I believe in greater public access to city hall, not less. We have strayed away from being one of the most open and accessible councils, to one that limits personal public engagement. I firmly believe that openness and transparency is the cornerstone of democracy and anything less is a dangerous step in the wrong direction.
How can folks contact you?
Campaign office 614 Sixth St.