Longtime New Westminster resident Daniel Fontaine is the first out of the gate in the race for a seat on city council.
Fontaine is a founding member of the New Westminster Progressive Electors Coalition that launched last fall with a goal of fielding a slate of candidates for city council and school board in the Oct. 20, municipal election. He will seek the group’s endorsement at its nomination meeting on May 29.
“I have been doing various things and public service for the better part of a few decades. For me, the timing was right to put my name forward and to be part of the solution, to be there on council and to bring some new ideas,” he told the Record. “I was excited about that opportunity.”
While some citizens had encouraged Fontaine to run for mayor, he said council would be a “perfect fit” for him at this time as it allows him to contribute to the community in a different way than he’s done in the past and to continue working in the field of seniors care. Fontaine is chief executive officer of the B.C. Care Providers Association.
While all current members of New Westminster city council were endorsed by the New Westminster District and Labour Council, Fontaine is optimistic that can change in this year’s election. The New West Progressives’ hope is to bring new perspectives and balance to city council and school board.
“I think there is a real sense in the community that people want an alternative. They think it’s important to ensure that for good governance that not everyone is part of the same political party or the same political organization,” he said. “I think that by electing people like myself they are going to get people who are going to ask critical questions on council, that are going to be putting forth perhaps different perspectives. I think that’s healthy. I think it’s healthy for the community and I think that’s why we have had such a good reaction from the residents of New Westminster so far.”
Bringing different perspectives to city council and school board doesn’t necessarily mean conflict, Fontaine said.
“I think you need that balance and you need that good debate,” he said. “At the end of the day, I am prepared to work with everyone on council, everyone that is elected, to make sure that we bring forward good public policy. If it requires that I ask critical questions, I am absolutely prepared to do that. But my goal would be to work collaboratively with everyone on council to bring forward good public policy. I think for the most part that’s what you will see.”
Fontaine said there’s few issues he’s concerned about and has heard are concerns among New West residents, including affordable housing, transportation and traffic. Having spearheaded an online petition aimed at getting the city to build a third ice arena in the New West sooner rather than later, he said he hopes to champion that project and contribute to other recreation projects such as the Arenex replacement and construction of a new Canada Games Pool.
“For me personally, I would say that I really want to be a champion for parents and kids that are involved in organized sport and physical activity in New Westminster,” he said.