Daniel Fontaine is hoping second time’s a charm.
Fontaine, who helped organize the New West Progressives electors group before the last civic election, is making his second run for a seat on city council. In 2018, he ran under the NWP banner and placed seventh in the race for the six seats on council.
“I love public service. I love New Westminster. I love the community, and I am putting my hat back in the ring because I think I have a lot to contribute,” he said. “It’s a good time in my life for me to be able to do this. I’m in the midst of a bit of a career shift, a career change, so it’s offering me a bit of an opportunity to have some time to do it. So I’m in.”
On election night 2018, Fontaine told the Record he had no interest in returning to politics as the campaign had been very negative.
“Time has an interesting way of allowing you to put perspective into everything. I think if you asked any politician on election night or the day after they have lost they are probably not going to have a huge penchant to wanting to jump into the fray,” he told the Record this week. “I have watched the council in the past four years and I have watched what has transpired in terms of our community through the pandemic, etc. And to be quite frank, I have had a lot of encouragement from the community and from friends and family to throw my hat back in ring again given how close I came last time.”
Fontaine said there are a lot of community members who feel the city needs new leadership and needs different perspectives and voices. If elected, he said he will advocate for affordable housing, work on addressing the city’s “infrastructure deficit” and focus on taking care of the city’s main day-to-day, bread-and-butter infrastructure, such as the condition of sidewalks, roads and boardwalks.
“People are noticing that it is really failing and it is not well,” he said. “It just seems that far too often city council or councillors are more interested in dealing with things that are maybe not as connected to the day-to-day lives of New Westminster residents. So I am going to talk about that. I am as passionate about repairing and patching sidewalks and making sure roads are in good condition as I am about fighting for more affordable housing and to reduce crime and make sure that issues like public safety are top of mind.”
With the city’s population projected to increase to more than 100,000 residents in the coming years, Fontaine said it’s important that the city have a plan in place that results in buy-in from current residents for that growth – and demonstrates the upside of the additional density.
“If we are ever going to get support from the community to grow and to accept and to accommodate the growth, which is inevitably coming regardless of if we want it or not, we are not going to be able to do that if we have things like a pool that is closed for two years and we have lack of skating rinks and other things, other community infrastructure projects that we really need,” said the Quayside resident.
Fontaine joins mayoral candidate Ken Armstrong and council candidates Paul Minhas, Jiayi Li-McCarthy and Rick Folka who will be running for the New West Progressives in the Oct. 15 election. It plans to announce additional city council and school board candidates in the coming months.
“It’s great to see someone with Daniel’s background, experience and commitment to New Westminster put his name forward once again to become a city councillor,” Armstrong said in a news release. “As an Indigenous person of Métis heritage, he brings a thoughtful perspective and understanding regarding how our city can better listen and engage with our residents, including those who have been historically marginalized.”