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New West caucus: A “huge opportunity” to work more collaboratively

New Westminster council hopes to work with MP, MLAs and school board to benefit the community
New Westminster council hopes to set up a "New West Caucus" and meet with other elected officials.

New Westminster city council wants to join forces with the city’s other elected officials to collaborate on issues that will benefit the city.

On Monday night, council unanimously approved a motion aimed at improving and strengthening communication between all elected officials in New West. The motion’s preamble states that there is currently no organized forum for New Westminster’s Member of Parliament, Members of the Legislative Assembly, city council and school board elected officials to gather, share ideas and coordinate efforts to build a better city.

“I've seen this model work very successfully in the City of Vancouver when they were trying to bring forward the four pillars drug strategy,” said Coun. Daniel Fontaine. “And had I not witnessed it firsthand, I may be a tad skeptical about calling meetings and bringing people together.”

Council will send invitations out to MP Peter Julian, New Westminster MLA Jennifer Whiteside, Queensborough-Richmond MLA Aman Singh and members of the school board to participate in a “New West caucus” in 2023. The motion also directs staff to work in partnership with staff representing the other elected officials to draft terms of reference for the New West caucus and to establish a “joint secretariat” through the mayor’s office that will assist with the coordination of establishing agendas and selecting dates for the group’s meetings.

Fontaine and Coun. Paul Minhas put forward the motion for council’s consideration.

Fontaine believes the community will benefit if the elected officials jointly advocate on New Westminster’s behalf on issues such as funding for infrastructure projects.

“This type of model of a New West caucus, I think offers us a huge opportunity to work more collaboratively and to bring issues to the table, where perhaps we can jointly advocate and lobby. … I really look forward to attending the first New Westminster caucus meeting and I know there are a few issues I would love to be able to talk to our senior orders of government and officials about at that meeting,” he said.