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New West mayor signs resiliency declaration

Mayor Jonathan Cote has signed on to the 2020 Declaration for Resilience in Canadian Cities.
Tree canopy
New Westminster is embarking on an ambitious plan to plant 11,800 new trees by 2035.

Mayor Jonathan Cote has signed on to the 2020 Declaration for Resilience in Canadian Cities.

Cote is among the politicians, academics, architects, planners and urban planners, real estate developers, business leaders, nonprofit and foundation leaders, environmental leaders, authors, filmmakers and musicians who have signed the declaration.

“We cannot return to the old normal, when we already face massive challenges and urgent crises,” states the declaration. “This declaration should be considered a starting point: a series of clear and distinct actions that Canadian municipalities can take right now to address the sustainability, mobility and equity issues that the pandemic has highlighted.”

According to the declaration, the COVID-19 pandemic provides a once-in-a-lifetime responsibility to accelerate the change required in Canadian cities.

The declaration includes 20 commitments, including:

*Updating zoning policies to allow more households to access existing neighbourhoods by permitting and encouraging appropriately scaled multi-tenanted housing, co-housing, laneway housing, and other forms of “gentle density” to be built, as-of-right, alongside houses in low-rise residential neighbourhoods.

*Restricting short-term rentals to ensure rental homes aren’t removed from the rental market post-COVID-19.

*Removing all mandatory minimum parking requirements for any new building.

*Prioritizing the use of existing municipally-owned land and public funding to create affordable and accessible housing that incorporates universal design principles, remains affordable in perpetuity, and enables strategic public green space that supports increased density.

*Prioritizing the transformation of existing streets and roadways for active transportation both for the immediate, post-pandemic recovery period and as permanent measures by adding additional space that meets the needs of pedestrians, individuals with mobility challenges such as the elderly and people with disabilities and cyclists.

*Enhancing transit service levels, recognizing that interim social distancing requirements will demand high levels of accessible public transit service on existing routes, since passenger limits on buses, streetcars, and subways will be required.

*Committing to making public bus fleets fully accessible and electrified.

*Requiring all public sector vehicular fleets to be fully electrified and, where possible, accessible.

*Enacting a funded, detailed plan to achieve a 40% urban tree canopy.

*Adopting universal design principles to ensure everyone including an aging population and the quarter of Canadians who have a disability can participate in their community.

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