Harm Woldring is running for New Westminster Mayor, and he answered my questions!
1. There are two types of people in the world: people who like simple pop-culture “what type of cheese are you” quizzes that they can then share on Facebook, and people who don’t. Sadly, I don’t have a quiz for you but this is close enough: are you an order muppet or a chaos muppet? Which muppet are you?
2. When was the last time you visited City Hall? What changes would you propose to make City Hall more welcoming? When was the last time you attended a City Council meeting? What changes would you propose to make City Council meetings more welcoming? Sorry, I guess that was kind of four questions.
I visited City Hall to file my Nomination Papers in September to enter the race for Mayor. I work Monday evenings and can’t make it to Council Meetings. I used to have staff but after nearly 6 years of nearly continuous road closures I’ve been kind of busy trying to survive and provide services to my clients and employment for my, now, very limited staff.
While I’d love to have attended many council meetings to support citizen’s and residents in their fight to get heard in a city that listen’s but doesn’t hear I think all the changes that will be needed to make City Hall and Council more welcome is to replace Council and end 15 or more years Labor dominated councils that are more about enriching a few at the top while using the dues paid by the most vulnerable members of City staff to buy their election.
3. Buy Low Foods recently shut its store in Uptown, leaving a hole in the market for grocery stores. What will you do to ensure that there is proper competition among grocery stores and a Save-On Foods opens in that location, restoring the competitive marketplace that the Competition Bureau foisted upon us in 2014?
New West will continue to struggle to provide a mix of retail and commercial businesses and services to the public as long as it continues to overtax its commercial properties. At 3.6 times the residential rate, which is one of the highest in the Metro region, commercial enterprises will continue to favor neighboring communities that are committed to being more than a bedroom community.
4. New Westminster has a number of advisory committees, task forces, and working groups. Upon being elected, which one would you like to chair the most and why? No need to restrict yourself to an existing one either, if you feel strongly that a new one needs to be formed (that you’d obviously chair) feel free to answer that!
One of New Westminster’s strengths is its many community associations like Residents Associations, BIA’s and its large and heavily involved social service societies. In our 21st century tech oriented society we should be moving ahead using modern technology tools to improve community involvement and move the discussion with citizen’s about our future of our community to consensus building instead of pitting neighbor against neighbor. I would explore using technologies like Unanimous AI to firstly find out what issues are most important to our citizens and then use this interactive, real-time technology to build a consensus on where we, as a City, should be going in the future.
5. What is your favourite neighbourhood, and why is it Brow of the Hill?
I don’t have a favorite neighborhood. I live on the Quay in the winter, across from City Hall in the summer (I am technically homeless since I don’t have a permanent residential address. I do have two very comfortable places to live but they are other people’s homes that are vacant for extended periods. My occupancy of these homes provides their owners with a sense of security and provides the owners with continuous insurance coverage during their extended absences) and my business is downtown. I lived in Sapperton some 45 years ago.
6. The process leading up to and including the public hearing for the temporary modular housing in Queensborough was… challenging, to say the least. This question is only for the non-incumbent candidates: on the final motion to amend the OCP and rezone the property to allow the temporary modular housing, how would you have voted? Please note that you may describe why you would have voted a particular way, but you must say whether you would have voted in favour of or against the motion on the table.
I believe this issue was, to use your word, challenging because, as is often the case in our City, residents didn’t feel included and heard. We need to move our public processes to the beginning of these discussions and look to building consensus as opposed to constantly creating divisions and controversy.
7. Who would be on your sasquatch hunting team?
I don’t believe in hunting.
8. How do you propose engaging with renters, new immigrants, and youth?
I believe I’ve already answered that. Everyone in our community should have a voice. I’d like to include the groups you’ve mentioned but also include the hundreds or thousands of people in our community that are supported by the numerous charitable and service organizations that help and serve them but who don’t get a direct voice in any of the discussions about our City’s future.
9. With absolutely no apologies to Chris Campbell, what would your entrance music be? Please note that if you dare pick We Built This City by Starship you are hereby banned from ever running for public office ever again.
Thank you Harm!