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Letter: Hope won't revitalize our 'ailing' New West downtown

Is a proposed shelter in the right spot?
downtown new west
Downtown New Westminster.


Well, here we hope again.

In a recent letter to the editor, Coun. Patrick Johnstone has … to defend the undefendable. He is hoping we’ll all close our eyes and simply pretend the rapid decline of our historic and once-vibrant downtown has nothing to do with anything he or his colleagues have done at city hall.

Now Johnstone and his Team Cote colleagues hope to revitalize our ailing downtown, (but are) opening up a “temporary” 50-bed homeless shelter at the old Army and Navy site on Columbia Street.

While I fully support providing housing for our mentally ill and homeless population, is this really the right location to be putting a facility this large? After all, we know it won’t be temporary.

Interestingly, Army and Navy owner Jacquie Cohen also owns a similar-sized property in Vancouver’s impoverished Downtown Eastside. According to a media report, for that site she “…envisions a mix of market and non-market rental housing, along with retail and office space, as well as publicly accessible community amenities.”

Why is something similar not being proposed in our city?

There is clearly no shortage of hope or lack of vision at city hall these days.

Mayor and council hope our cherished Canada Games pool will reopen sometime in 2022. But we all know that is unlikely to happen.

After failing to fulfill a campaign (desire) of building a foot bridge connecting Queensborough to Quayside, they hope ridership on the Q to Q ferry will go up. They also hope this will reduce a whopping … per trip taxpayer subsidy. This is not right and even Coun. Chuck Puchmayr has said he is shocked at the cost of subsidizing this service. And for a city that wants to be green, is a fossil fuel-burning relic the way to go? 

They hope our downtown will bounce back like historic Fort Langley has already done. Based on hope alone, I highly doubt it. 

This council claims to be progressive, but a truly progressive government doesn’t just peddle hope to its citizens. They roll up their sleeves, get to work and demonstrate concrete action on the key issues facing our citizens and local business owners. The 2022 civic election can’t come soon enough.

Paul McNamara, New Westminster