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New West’s new civic party to regroup after clashing with biz group over name

Group formerly known as Together New West will provide more info in new year
The Downtown New West BIA's #TogetherNewWest mural was created on Columbia Street in the spring of 2021. Together New West was also the chosen name of a newly formed civic party but it's since announced it won't proceed with that name.

A newly formed political party will regroup and convey its plans to the community in the new year.

Together New West held its inaugural annual general meeting on Zoom on Dec. 5. No sooner had it announced its plans, when it was embroiled in a conflict with the Downtown New West Business Improvement Association, which had created the #togethernewwest brand in the spring of 2020.

Last night, the BIA took to Twitter to announce it had been informed the Together New West political party is rebranding.

“This resolves a very stressful situation for our BIA,” said the BIA on Twitter. “We appreciate those involved who stood up for our work; now let’s keep supporting each other as a community.”

In a Dec. 20 statement to the Record, the Together New West Electors Society said it will not be endorsing or supporting an elector organization called Together New West in 2022.

“The directors are currently communicating with the members and are establishing next steps,” said the statement. “Recognizing the season, we are unlikely to have more to report until the new year.”

It’s the latest development in a story that’s had a few twists and turns in the past week.

Last week, Together New West member Gurveen Dhaliwal told the Record the party had no plans to change its name. 

“Our branding – and its different accompanying elements – is unique,” she said in a Dec. 15 email to the Record. “We also recognize that hashtags often change and evolve and are used by different individuals and groups at different times.”

The party’s response didn’t sit well with the BIA, which expressed disappointment with the party’s decision to continue using the Together New West name.

“We are exploring all possible options, including legal, to determine next steps,” said the BIA.

A day later, Mayor Jonathan Cote, a member of Together New West, took to social media to address the issue.

“I am a strong believer that when you make a mistake, you own it and you take action to make amends. I need to take responsibility for being involved with the launch of a new local party that has negatively impacted an important community partner,” he wrote. “There was no malice or ill will behind this action, and I take responsibility for not doing the due diligence and engagement needed beforehand.”

He continued:

“The last thing I want to do is undermine my political colleagues for whom I support and deeply care about and what I am doing will probably break every rule in party discipline. Still, I did not join (and help create) a political party so that I could undermine my own integrity,” he tweeted. “I am disappointed the party executive have decided not to work with the @DowntownNewWest to fully address the legitimate concerns they have raised. With fully sincerity I apologize to the @DowntownNewWest.”

The group formerly known as Together New West was created to support and help elect progressive candidates for mayor, city council and school board. The party lists providing affordable housing, engaging in reconciliation and decolonization, addressing the climate emergency and supporting a strong public education system as some of its priorities.

The next civic election is on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022.