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Local New Westminster Politics

What’s Coming to New West Council on February 1, 2021

New Westminster City Council is having a Regular Meeting on February 1, 2021, and here are some highlights on what’s on the agenda.

Letter from New Westminster Police Board to New Westminster City Council

Backstory: in December New West City Council requested that the Police Board draft a 2021 budget with a 0% increase, in part to push forward calls for reforming police departments towards different models of providing services that better serve marginalized people in our society. Protests that have been occurring around the world, including those led by Black Lives Matter groups, have brought the inequities and injustices built into policing to the forefront, and this motion is a first step towards righting those wrongs.

The Police Board wrote back to Council, and they essentially said “sorry, but no” and they won’t be cutting their 2021 budget. I fully expect this to spur some lively and spirited discussion. I don’t know what Mayor Cote’s role will be in this discussion, and whether or not he’ll have to recuse himself because he is also the Chair of the Police Board.

There are two options for council to take in response to the letter:

  1. They can accept the letter and tell Finance to incorporate the Police Board’s recommended original budget into the 2021 Budget, or
  2. They can tell the Police Board to fuck off (rather, reject the recommendation) and tell City staff to figure out what the next steps are and what the tax rate implications will be for the 2021 Budget.

I suspect ultimately Council will go with option 1 but I highly doubt it’ll be a unanimous vote.

COVID-19 Pandemic Response – Task Force Updates

New West received “confirmation of approval of its application” for $101k from the federal government (I think that means the City will be receiving that money, or maybe the feds have confirmed they’ve received the application…? Tweet me to let me know!) to set up some food security hubs, along with planning and program coordination services, volunteer recruitment, and training towards improving food security in New West.

City staff are working with faith-based and non-profit organizations to put together a program where precariously housed or homeless individuals can have a shower at the Canada Games Pool, and they’re looking at providing individuals with a basic toiletries set as well, along with bus tickets and towels.

A “Rediscover New West” program will be launched on February 1 to support restaurant and entertainment venues.

The COVID compliance hotline is showing a decrease in calls per day, with 2.2 calls per day in January, mostly about businesses not following COVID-safe procedures.

Council will also be asked to support the New Westminster Digital Inclusion Project by donating 25 decommissioned iPhone 7s to allow at-risk and vulnerable people be able to access digital information more easily.

E-Comm Nominations for 2020-2021

Backstory: E-Comm 911 is the organization that handles 911 services across British Columbia. They have a Board of Directors. Various groups nominate representatives for the E-Comm Board, and New Westminster is part of a small group of municipalities (Burnaby, Port Coquitlam, Belcarra, Coquitlam, and Port Moody) that nominates two candidates. In 2019 Burnaby, PoCo, Belcarra, and Coquitlam all nominated Burnaby councillor Joe Keithley and Coquitlam councillor Brent Asmundson. Port Moody didn’t send in a nomination. New West objected, essentially saying “we don’t need two more white dudes, thanks”.

Through 2020, further motions and discussions happened, and at the end of the day for the 2020-2021 term only Joe Keithley was unanimously nominated, and the other seat will remain open (Coquitlam and Port Moody nominated Brent Asmundson again, Port Coquitlam and New Westminster nominated PoCo councillor Nancy McCurrach).

Development Stuff

A townhouse complex in Queensborough is applying to have half of their resident parking spots be tandem parking, where instead of having two parking spots side-by-side, they’ll be end-to-end so that you have to drive through one to get to the second.

Walmart’s asking for new signs so they can direct people to their online purchase pickup spots.

The City will be keeping Canada Post in business writing to nearly every First Nation in the Lower Mainland, along with the Board of School District 40 (that’s New West!), Burnaby, Coquitlam, TransLink, and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure about the Sapperton Green development at Braid and Brunette where the Amazon warehouse is.

And the Metro Hall at 759 Carnarvon (across from Ki Sushi) is looking to get a permanent liquor-primary license instead of obtaining a Special Event Permit for nearly every single event they hold there, and in getting the license they’d also require a Zoning Bylaw amendment.

2020 Filming Activity Overview

New Westminster received $730k in permit revenues from filming activity in 2020, even though filming could only happen during seven months due to COVID-19. In 2019 filming permits brought in $795k, so COVID-19 didn’t have a huge impact, but without the restrictions New West probably would have brought in quite a bit more. The City made some fat cash thanks to the Mighty Ducks.

Bill C-213, an Act to enact the Canada Pharmacare Act

“Hey, New Westminster isn’t the Federal government,” you say. You’d be right. But most New Westminster City Councillors have fairly strong relationships with their provincial and federal counterparts (especially now that New West is entirely NDP at those levels), and New Westminster’s Member of Parliament, Peter Julian, is the sponsor of Bill C-213 to allow all Canadians to access prescription drugs without financial or other barriers, in the same way that all Canadians have access to healthcare (but not dental care, which is another area the federal NDP is targeting).

Jaimie McEvoy brought forward a motion asking Council to officially support Bill C-213.

I suspect that there will be discussion by councillors falling over themselves to show how much they support universal pharmacare (Councillor McEvoy will obviously speak to the motion) and unanimous support.