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Letter: Tax us and make New Westminster a 'destination'

We're a better place to live than Burnaby and Vancouver, so let's act like it.
Restore "Wayne's Wharf" (a.k.a. Westminster Pier Park, seen here in 2016) to its former glory as part of an effort to make New Westminster a destination again, this writer suggests.


An open letter to New Westminster Mayor Patrick Johnstone and city council:

I do appreciate that the City of New Westminster (through the city council and all of our dedicated civic employees) is looking to keep our 2023 tax increases to a minimum. With the scary numbers coming out of Surrey and Vancouver, this is appreciated.

That being said, it is time to make New Westminster the destination it should be. It is a Royal City and needs to act like one and to display itself as one. 

I was a census area manager here in 1986 and have been a resident of Queen's Park and then downtown since 1988. It is a phenomenal place to live simply due to our transit system.  While trucks do congest Royal Avenue and Front Street, SkyTrain is a huge asset to the city, to bring people both in and out of the city. 

So let’s make it what it can be.

My proposal is that you raise taxes by one per cent (which I believe will raise > $ 2.5 million*) and that amount be spent exclusively as a “destination tax." Bring the hanging baskets of flowers back to Royal Avenue, rebuild Wayne’s Wharf, and schedule events that increase the awareness of everyone in the region that New Westminster is a great place to live, work and play. 

Our property values are lower than those in Burnaby and Vancouver — yet this is a better place to live.

I have kept this note short because I do want you to actually read and consider it.  Vancouver is rehabilitating Chinatown — we need to rehabilitate our image to showcase New Westminster as a wonderful destination.

Robert Prendergast

(* Note: Mayor Patrick Johnstone clarified that a one per cent tax increase would, in fact, increase revenue by just under $1 million.)

📢 SOUND OFF: Should New Westminster try to market itself more as a destination? Is this a way you'd like to see your tax dollars spent? What should the city's priorities be for tax dollars? Share your thoughts — send us a letter.