One of the people who spoke out in support of the recent Heritage Revitalization Agreement and Heritage Designation for Queens Park Meat & Deli spoke rather awesomely so I had to capture the transcript and share it. Enjoy!
This is the first public meeting we’ve ever taken part in, that’s probably how much we believe in Florin and this project. Florin did not ask us to do this, we offered to do this of our own volition. As [my partner] said we are fully supportive of this proposal, we support small business in New Westminster full stop, we don’t support small business in New Westminster but. All around New Westminster you see shuttered businesses because of COVID. While we want to hope otherwise the reality is that many of these small businesses will not reopen, they will be gone forever. Here we have a small business owner that no only wants to stay but wants to grow. How anybody cannot support such initiative is beyond us.
I’ve read through the public submissions and they generally can be divided into two camps: the residents from the neighbourhood who fully support the proposal, they can usually be identified by the brevity of their emails. In the other camp are the usual suspects that appear at most public hearings to oppose, you have the NIMBYs, the wanna-be planners who painstakingly explain why they should be the Director of Planning rather than the professionals you employ, next are the heritage buffs and finally the residents associations. All have one thing in common: they profess to speak on behalf of the community but in reality they speak on behalf of themselves.
You will notice that none of the supporters of the project spend a lot of time discussing the bylaws, the ins and outs. Why is that? A, we simply don’t have the time, and B, they understand that’s staff’s job actually, they believe that you have excellent professionals on staff whose job it is to protect the public interest.
We’re not experts in traffic patterns or parking spaces or FSR or massing or shadows dispersed. We don’t feel qualified to engage as to whether the building or the use has heritage value. We don’t presume to offer our thoughts on whether the facade should look like the 1950s, the 1920s, or the 1850s for that matter. We rely on professionals and your staff to determine what is appropriate. They’re the professionals, that’s their job, please let them do it. If staff didn’t think the project was appropriate they would not support it, but they do support it. I know the staff report says staff considers the project consistent with related policy and advises it will provide a balance of development benefits with community benefits, of heritage protection and exterior building renovation. If you believe the people telling you staff are wrong and this project doesn’t do that then I suggest you fire your staff and hire the letter writers.
It’s easy for people who sit in the cheap seats and oppose everything. They have nothing to lose and have no skin in the game. Here you have a small business owner who’s proposing to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve his business, this isn’t Walmart or Save-On Foods with deep pockets, this is just Florin, Camilla, and their daughter. He isn’t asking the city for money, he isn’t asking those who oppose this proposal for money. He may be wondering why he’s risking his family’s future when he sees some of the letters from the people that don’t want him to succeed. I only hope that Florin and Camilla are buoyed by the amount of support that they have in the neighbourhood and don’t simply give up and move to Burnaby or Coquitlam.
In summary [my partner] and I urge council to approve this application in its entirety. You have before you a small business owner that is saying I believe in New Westminster, I believe in my community, I want to grow, not contract, I want to prosper, not wither. We ask you to reciprocate that belief. Thank you very much.