Mary Lalji answers my questions!

I asked some questions of the two school trustee candidates in the upcoming by-election, and Mary Lalji answered them!

Question: New Westminster Secondary School is going to be rebuilt one way or another within the next decade. One of the challenges with the site is the Douglas Road Cemetery under the existing high school. When the current NWSS is bulldozed, this will undoubtedly anger the spirits and unleash them on New Westminster. My question for the candidates is this: name three people who will join you as Ghostbusters to save our city.

Answer: The highly trained ghostbusters themselves, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray of course!

Question: Concussions and other repeated head blows in football and rugby have been shown to be the cause of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (or CTE), leading to player suicides, memory loss, depression, and dementia. The NFL has been sued by ex-players because of this link. High school students are more likely to suffer concussions, and seven died in the US in 2015 from concussion-related injuries. What will you do to ensure the safety of NWSS students playing football, rugby, and other heavy contact sports?

Answer: First of all, there is no rugby program at NWSS, just football and lacrosse as far as contact sports are concerned. Fortunately, my husband Farhan has been on the front lines of the concussion issue for football both at NWSS and provincially and has implemented a number of initiatives to improve the care of the kids playing the sport. Provincially while he was president of the BC Secondary Schools football association, they implemented mandatory baseline testing for all players, adopted a medical policy which included re-return to play protocol, higher standards of medical qualifications for all sideline medical staff, and increased education and awareness for players, coaches and parents. Currently a newly formed safety committee is recommending contact limits during practices, designed to reduce the amount of head contact exposures over the course of a week and season. Locally at NWSS, the football program was the first in BC to purchase a new product called guardian caps, a padded helmet cap used in practice that reduces the force of contact by over 30%. Also, all of our coaches have been certified in the “Safe Contact” program through the Canadian Association of Coaches, teaching contact without using the head. In addition, while some programs have trainers present for only games, our program has qualified people on the sidelines for every practice, and they all take a very cautious approach with potential head injuries. Total number of concussions in 2015 was just 3, and more importantly, NO repeated concussions, which is where the CTE danger come into play.

There is no question that football, like all contact sports, has associated risks, but we are doing everything in our power at NWSS to put our kids in the safest possible position. And it’s also important to note the number of low risk activities that result in head injuries (eg. Cycling, playground, etc) as a recent Vancouver Province article outlines.

Question: Parents in the West End of New West are asking for some sort of solution for getting their children to Fraser River Middle School. This is a two part question: 1. How boring is the name “Fraser River Middle School” on a range of watching paint dry to school trustee by-election? 2. Do you support Queensborough parents of NWSS students in telling West End parents to fuck off?

Answer: 1. Port Coquitlam High School was renamed after Terry Fox, who gave of himself for all after him. Maybe this might be an option in New West for the Fraser River School. 2. You seem like a very brilliant writer. I am sure there are many other more descriptive words to use instead of profanity.

Question: What will you do to ensure parents continue to be punished for daring to have children who get sick?

Answer: As a parent whose kids get sick and that I always get sick from them, I think that is punishment enough.

Question: After NWSS, what do you feel are the priorities for capital projects in SD40?

Answer: There is a Capital plan. Every district must submit a capital needs list on a yearly basis. The ministry has the final say on which of the projects submitted get approved. The next school to be seismically upgraded is McBride and then Howay. Neither has been funded, as yet, by the provincial government.

However every parent should know how safe seismically their school is and you will ask the secretary treasurer to release the information to each school PAC.

Question: What restaurant would you like to see in the Anvil Centre?

Answer: Anything that is really tasty.

There you have it! Thanks to Mary Lalji for answering all of my questions. You can follow Mary on Twitter at @MaryLaljiNW or visit her website at marylalji.ca.

Dee Beattie answers my questions!

I asked some questions of the two school trustee candidates in the upcoming by-election, and Dee Beattie answered them!

Question: New Westminster Secondary School is going to be rebuilt one way or another within the next decade. One of the challenges with the site is the Douglas Road Cemetery under the existing high school. When the current NWSS is bulldozed, this will undoubtedly anger the spirits and unleash them on New Westminster. My question for the candidates is this: name three people who will join you as Ghostbusters to save our city.

Answer: My ghostbuster friends I will invite all of the Lumineers.  I don’t know them personally but their new CD is totally awesome.

Question: Concussions and other repeated head blows in football and rugby have been shown to be the cause of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (or CTE), leading to player suicides, memory loss, depression, and dementia. The NFL has been sued by ex-players because of this link. High school students are more likely to suffer concussions, and seven died in the US in 2015 from concussion-related injuries. What will you do to ensure the safety of NWSS students playing football, rugby, and other heavy contact sports?

Answer: My son played football of of his youth, and luckily he never was seriously injured.  He quit the team when he realized he did not like getting hurt and I was okay with that.

The information is emerging on the injuries and consequences of the injuries that happen in these sports, so I would like to listen to the research and know more before we made big changes in this area. I think I need to listen to the recommendations of experts and doctors on how changes can be implemented.

Question: Parents in the West End of New West are asking for some sort of solution for getting their children to Fraser River Middle School. This is a two part question: 1. How boring is the name “Fraser River Middle School” on a range of watching paint dry to school trustee by-election? 2. Do you support Queensborough parents of NWSS students in telling West End parents to fuck off?

Answer: 1. The Fraser River Middle School.  I totally love the name of this school.  Did you know that I grew up in New West on McDonald St?   Our front room window faced the Fraser River.  My father was a Dutch immigrant to Canada.  His chair sat at the corner of the window facing the river. As a young child I remembered him saying that he was the luckiest man in the world because every day he could look at the most mighty magnificent river in the world.   He felt he had a million dollar view in his $4,000 dollar home.   We had that as a family home for over 30 years.    When my dad died in 1997 my brother and I took a few of his ashes and sprinkled them in the Fraser River.  It was a small tribute to a man who loved that river.  I have no problem with the name of the school.

2. I need to look into this problem and understand it more.  I don’t know what has been done. what planning went into this, and what are some good options.  Tonight I was door knocking in The West End and heard the concerns from many families.  I heard frustration.  A few parents I spoke to have a good solution to get their children to school and a few parents are frantic.  I don’t have the answers to help with this, but I will try my best to understand and appropriately advocate.

Question: What will you do to ensure parents continue to be punished for daring to have children who get sick?

Answer: My background is working in schools, and I think this is a standard policy. I think it is more about protecting the liability of a school district if something goes wrong. Schools are a busy place and if no procedure is put in place it is easy for the safeguards to not be there. To take on the liability of medicating someones child is serious when you have no medical background.

Question: After NWSS, what do you feel are the priorities for capital projects in SD40?

Answer: Seismic Upgrading of all schools is a Priority. Did you know I went to Sir Richard McBride as a child? I would hope to see McBride upgraded and saved. I love bigger older schools. New schools classrooms are small and common areas even smaller. The Stage in the gym disappears in new schools. Having a stage with curtains is like magic to children. The art of Drama belongs on a stage like McBride has! McBride is a Sapperton pride and has valuable heritage. If I can advocate to make that school a lasting piece of history that would be nice!

Question: What restaurant would you like to see in the Anvil Centre?

Answer: I loved taking my 2 boys to ChuckECheese. That could be a great family family fun destination. Just think a restaurant and game centre. ChuckECheese has my vote.

There you have it! Thanks to Dee Beattie for answering all of my questions. You can follow Dee on Twitter at @deelightful or visit her website at deebeattie.ca.

Questions for School Trustee By-Election Candidates

Good news everyone! New Westminster is having another election! This time it’s a by-election to elect a new school trustee after MaryAnn Mortensen resigned back in March! In case you can’t tell, I’m excited! I’m putting in more exclamation marks to make you excited too! OH BOY SCHOOL TRUSTEE BY-ELECTION HOW CAN YOU NOT BE PUMPED UP??!?!?!!!

Anyhow.

It’s my job to come up with satirical questions for any and all candidates that we get for any and all elections in New Westminster. I’ve had a hard time coming up with any good questions (my wife came up with the first one), so this time around I’m actually going to ask a mix of satirical and serious questions for Mary Lalji and Dee Beattie. It’s up to you, my loyal reader, to figure out which is which. Satirical and serious, not Mary and Dee. Although you will have to figure out which is Mary and which is Dee when you vote, you can’t just go “eh I don’t care”.

  1. New Westminster Secondary School is going to be rebuilt one way or another within the next decade. One of the challenges with the site is the Douglas Road Cemetery under the existing high school. When the current NWSS is bulldozed, this will undoubtedly anger the spirits and unleash them on New Westminster. My question for the candidates is this: name three people who will join you as Ghostbusters to save our city.
  2. Concussions and other repeated head blows in football and rugby have been shown to be the cause of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (or CTE), leading to player suicides, memory loss, depression, and dementia. The NFL has been sued by ex-players because of this link. High school students are more likely to suffer concussions, and seven died in the US in 2015 from concussion-related injuries. What will you do to ensure the safety of NWSS students playing football, rugby, and other heavy contact sports?
  3. Parents in the West End of New West are asking for some sort of solution for getting their children to Fraser River Middle School. This is a two part question:
    1. How boring is the name “Fraser River Middle School” on a range of watching paint dry to school trustee by-election?
    2. Do you support Queensborough parents of NWSS students in telling West End parents to fuck off?
  4. What will you do to ensure parents continue to be punished for daring to have children who get sick?
  5. After NWSS, what do you feel are the priorities for capital projects in SD40?
  6. What restaurant would you like to see in the Anvil Centre?

You can send your answers to me at brad.cavanagh@gmail.com. Thanks in advance!

Update: They answered! Here are Dee Beattie’s answers and here are Mary Lalji’s answers. Thanks to both of you for responding!

Well done, Moody Park Residents’ Association, well done.

In 1890 David McLaughlin purchased some land in New Westminster near the newly-created Moody Park. It’s rumoured that he, being a ship’s carpenter and handy with building things out of wood, built the house that still stands on that property today at 1031 Sixth Avenue. The house is typical of those of the time, in a simplified Queen Anne style with ‘Victorian’ features such as an asymmetrical floorplan, bay windows with decorative cast iron cresting, and mansard roofs.

It’s also remained relatively untouched over its 125-year lifetime, with the only major renovation being the addition of a workshop by McLaughlin himself in 1915.

David McLaughlin House at 1031 Sixth Avenue, New Westminster
David McLaughlin House at 1031 Sixth Avenue, New Westminster

So when the current owner wanted to expand living space for his family, he applied for a demolition permit to build a larger house on the site. As the house is on the City of New Westminster’s Heritage Register the permit was immediately put on hold pending the issuance of a building permit that authorizes the construction of a building to replace the building that is being demolished (City of New Westminster Heritage Procedures Bylaw No. 7606, 2013). This brought the pending demolition to the city’s attention, and council directed city staff to determine how the heritage house could be saved.

The owner of the property then agreed to enter a Heritage Revitalization Agreement (HRA), and had plans developed that would move the heritage house to the rear of the lot and raise it by 11 inches to allow for a new foundation and crawl space, and adding a new house at the front of the lot. The new house would be approximately 2160 square feet (footprint of 887 square feet), with the heritage house being approximately 1500 square feet (footprint of 800 square feet). These plans are found in the March 14, 2016 Council meeting minutes.

These plans didn’t meet all of the criteria for a standard HRA, as the heritage house would become “subordinate” to the new house. Also, it’s roughly twice the size of what a standard laneway house would be and it wouldn’t visually address the lane behind the property. Despite these shortcomings, city staff recommended that the HRA continue through the process as it would protect the historically significant house.

The application was then reviewed by the Moody Park Residents’ Association at a meeting on March 31, 2016. At this meeting, and I quote from the New Westminster Council meeting agenda from April 18, 2016:

Concerns were expressed about the size (height and massing) of the historic house, its setback from the lane, the over view into the neighbours’ rear yards from the historic house, and allowing two houses on one property with its accompanying higher density. Many were concerned that this proposal would set a precedent for future laneway houses. Some expressed concern about the lack of off-street parking and others about the low visibility of the heritage house from the street if it were relocated to the rear of the lot.

The Moody Park Residents’ Association then voted against the application.

Because of this lack of support from the neighbourhood, the owner is withdrawing the HRA and is renewing his request for a demolition permit, which New Westminster Council granted.

New Westminster residents have been crying out about heritage houses being torn town in our city for years now. People always complain when an old house is torn down to have a larger house be built in its place. So when it comes time to preserve a historically significant house, one that was built before 1900, you would think that people would jump at the chance. Unfortunately the NIMBYs in Moody Park don’t seem to care about preserving the history in our city. They would rather complain that the house already on the property is too high and would overlook their back yards more than it already does, even though the house would be positioned such that walls with fewer windows would have faced the closest properties. They would rather complain about a lack of off-street parking because they might lose one or two on-street parking spots. They would rather complain about low visibility of the historic house, even though the alternative is demolishing the historic house.

I highly suspect that the major driver behind this is the ongoing Official Community Plan consultations. A few months ago the president of the MPRA got a bunch of Moody Park residents’ hackles up when he sent out an email and handed out pamphlets strongly implying that the city was planning to force laneway houses (or worse — QUADPLEXES AND TOWNHOUSES!) down their throats after the OCP had finished. This resulted in a huge amount of pushback from Moody Park residents against the entire densification story that’s hitting Metro Vancouver lately, and this is seen here as well. I quote again: “Many were concerned that this proposal would set a precedent for future laneway houses.” I would love to check the MPRA’s minutes for this meeting but unfortunately they’re stuck in 1991 and don’t have a website.

So instead of preserving a house that was built 125 years ago by moving it and adding a single house to the neighbourhood, Moody Park Residents’ Association members would rather see that historical house be demolished.

van-der-beek-slow-clap

Just fucking rebuild NWSS already!

Okay, this post is going to have a little bit of swearing in it, so if that offends you, fuck off.

What the fuck, BC Liberals? Seriously, WHAT THE FUCK. For the love of god what do you have against the children of New Westminster? Since fucking 2003 you’ve said that the 70-year old school is going to be replaced. It was a major part of your 2005 re-election campaign — a promise of $52 million to build a new school on the site. But then Liberal MLA Joyce Murray got defeated and I guess you said “fuck off” to New Westminster? Is that the type of government you are? Are you really that petty?

Seriously Christy Clark, you were the fucking Minister of Education in 2003. A shitty Minister of Education, but still Minister of Education. You fucking well know how long this has been going on for.

Since then we’ve had seven Ministers of Education. Three of them have visited NWSS. Three of them have seen the peeling lead-based paint. Three of them have seen signs of rot and decay. I’m sure none of them have seen the rats or asbestos, but those are in NWSS too.

And this has been going on for years. Hell, this news story came out in 2007, and it described NWSS as “rapidly decaying” and “languishing from benign neglect and getting worse every day”. This is how the reporter started the story:

It looks like an abandoned building – construction tape held up by an umbrella, flag tattered, paint peeling. The front sign is busted, but inside 2000 students are getting an education.

What the actual fuck. Almost a decade later and the “rapidly decaying” school isn’t magically better, you know. And now Mike Bernier has come out, toured the school, and sent a nice little letter saying that “the Ministry is optimistic this project will receive funding support….” And the School Board says that they are optimistic that a funding announcement by government will take place very soon.

FUCK THAT. We’ve heard that too many times in the past. We’ve had fucking funding lined up and then had it pulled. And now you’re “optimistic”. Listen, we heard that back in 2007 too, when the School Board said there were “positive talks with the provincial government” and “hope by early next month there will be good news on funding.” Pardon me if I’m pessimistic about this “optimism”.

Jesus Christ. There’s three and a half billion dollars to build a fucking bridge but not a hundred million (oh yes that’s gone up in the decade since you asshole Liberals made it a campaign promise) to build a school for our children?

Just fucking rebuild NWSS already!

If you’re as pissed off about this whole shitshow from the BC Liberals, attend the rally on Sunday, April 10 at noon, and sign Judy Darcy’s petition. Do it now.