Opinion: It's time to remove Begbie's name from New West street, square

Thumbs up to New Westminster city Coun. Chuck Puchmayr for his motion to have
Begbie Square and Begbie Street renamed Chief Ahan Square and Chief Ahan Street.

The motion – deferred until October – comes after the city removed the Judge Matthew Baillie Begbie statue from in front of the New West courthouse.

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It doesn’t make sense if the statue is gone to still have a street and a square named after someone who still causes so much pain for the Tsilhqot’in First Nation.

Puchmayr states Begbie Square and Begbie Square are located in the vicinity of the site where Tsilhqot’in Chief Ahan was wrongfully executed in 1865. It’s perverse to have those two things named so close to where this wrongful execution took place.

The motion notes that the federal and provincial governments have both exonerated Chief Ahan and the five Tsilhqot’in war chiefs who were wrongfully executed in Quesnel “under the hand” of Begbie. It also says the city removed the Begbie statue as a result of a request from the Tsilhqot’in national government. In July, the Tsilhqot’in national government supported the statue’s removal, saying its presence represents a legacy of pain and tragedy that’s still felt to this day. Begbie, who was British Columbia’s first chief justice, presided over an 1864 murder trial in Quesnel of five Tsilhqot’in chiefs who were found guilty and sentenced to hang. The following year, a sixth chief, Chief Ahan, was tried, convicted, sentenced to death and hanged in a downtown location near Begbie Square and Begbie Street.

This motion is an important step in recognizing local history and moving forward the cause of reconciliation.

Thumbs down:

To the news that the beloved Greens and Beans Deli may have to close when its lease expires in 2021.

The reason? Soaring land values and rising property taxes related to those increased values.

“It’s pretty sad,” said Matthew Green, who co-owns the business with his mom Leona. “Our family has had a deli in New West for 30 years.”

The potential loss of Greens and Beans Deli will be a blow to the community in various ways, especially as the business contributes to many local charities – for years employees have been donating their tips. In addition to providing donations to many local fundraisers, the restaurant also donates soup daily to a local shelter.

Small businesses are being pushed out by these skyrocketing land values and the fact BC Assessment bases assessments not on the current use of a property, but on the maximum-potential use of a property – often luxury condos.

Politicians love to talk about supporting small business.

Here’s one area where they can start.

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