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City wants to talk more to residents' groups

The City of New Westminster wants to open the lines of communication with the city's 11 residents' associations.

The City of New Westminster wants to open the lines of communication with the city's 11 residents' associations.

Council recently received a staff report that included revised guidelines for residents' associations that attempted to clarify the roles of the city and residents' associations in maintaining communication and cooperation.

"We want to have more discussions and more communication with them," said Mayor Wayne Wright.

Council considered the report at the Sept. 14 committee of the whole meeting, at which time council members made numerous revisions to the staff report.

"It's always good to review and update. That was good," said Coun. Betty McIntosh. "Council did a lot of changes."

McIntosh said the report was posted on the city's website before the meeting, but council later made changes to the guidelines. Some representatives from residents' associations were concerned that they hadn't been consulted about the guidelines.

"Even we didn't get consulted as council," she noted. "It is definitely undergoing a lot of change. Those guidelines (included in the report) are not the changes that will be following through."

The city will schedule a meeting between a committee consisting of three council members and all residents' associations in order to review and finalize the guidelines.

Coun. Bob Osterman said council would not adopt the policy without input from the city's residents associations.

"This report from staff caught them by surprise," he said about some residents' association representatives. "I firmly believe we are better off today with residents' associations than 25 years ago."

Osterman, who considers himself "a child of the residents' association movement" for his role in helping form the West End Residents' Association, said residents' association representatives got a grudging attitude from mayors in their early years. Nowadays, he said city council appreciates the groups' input.

"We are going to reinstate meetings three times a year with them," said Coun. Lorrie Williams. "That is a brilliant idea."

By having three meetings each year with executives of the city's residents' associations, Williams said the groups will be able to bring forward specific issues they want the city to address.

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