Troy Hunter is running for New Westminster City Council, 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?
Troy: My daschund that I rescued came with the name Chaos and I hated that so I renamed him Brad Pitt. I guess that makes me an order Muppet.
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.
It was about a couple of weeks ago, I had to have a meeting with the electoral officer. I always visit City Hall to pay my electricity bill. I guess a more welcoming approach would be to make the public park and enter through the front doors, it almost seems weird to use the backside and I am sure the architect that made the building is not happy about that. I would propose a big comfy couch along with a good cup of Java to make city council meetings more welcoming. The last time I attended a City Council meeting was around ten years ago when I was still a law student. I also attended the 2008 Canadian Constitutional Affairs Conference in Quebec City and made a vow to return; I am back. I almost forgot to mention but I was an elected School Trustee from 2008 to 2011 and I think that also counts.
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?
I am saddened for the loss of Buy Low Foods as it was one of my favorite grocery stores and that is for sure. What is more sad is that there is now a vacant space, people that used to work at that location no longer do so and it diminishes our sense of community. Losing that flagship store was like a punch in the gut. As for proper competition, it seems that there is only so much City Hall can do as we live in a free and open market space. If I could wave a magic wand, I would do it in a way that the shoppers had fatter wallets and were not attracted to the lowest hanging fruit but that they would reach for the locally grown produce and farmed products. This would help with our local economy, support local farmers, and help in the fight against climate change. On that note, I would also make a new program to match land owners with those that want to grow their own food, just like the community gardens program and also institute a rain harvesting initiative to feed those local crops. We can turn acres of trimmed lawns into productive yields of corn, squash, beans, and herbs, etc. Maybe the space could be the farmers market which happens at my favorite park by city hall at Friendship Garden by closing the parking lot. At least those with cars will have a place to park when visiting the Farmers Market. By the way, my dog Brad Pitt loves Friendship Garden.
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!
I wish to chair the Indigenous Reconciliation Committee. I have previous experience chairing meetings, and it doesn’t hurt to have an actual Indigenous person chairing the meeting.
5. What is your favourite neighbourhood, and why is it Brow of the Hill?
Yes, I live at Brow of the Hill area but really, my favourite neighborhood is probably downtown because that is the gem in the rough that has the best potential to make New Westminster an attraction. While we don’t have a walled city, UNESCO World Heritage Site like the one I am writing this from: Old Quebec City, we do have a history of the New Westminster Quai which with great vision and passion, we can turn this place into an attraction and a place where people will want to be. We are the original Capital City of the Province of British Columbia, we had the first hospital, maybe even one of the first court houses, and we have some fine Victorian style buildings. As we demolish the past to make way for the future, perhaps, we can think about heritage conservation and re-create a unique Victorian era heritage village, even it means relocating structures (actually this is being done take for example 8th Street or Blackford Street).
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’m not a big fan of “temporary modular housing”; however, the Indian Reserve I am a part of near Cranbrook BC, went with modular construction for a new school and gymnasium and it seems to work well even though its situated right beside one of British Columbia’s finest Victorian era wooden churches (St. Eugene Church). I would prefer stone masonry structures, but I guess modulars could also be clad in stone facades to give it that permanent feel. What people need to understand is that we need to think outside of the box when it comes to creating low cost solutions for the homeless, the at risk and for people in need. If it works for the Aboriginal community, why would it not work for Queensborough? There is a building downtown Vancouver made of shipping containers. As we move into the 21st century we need to keep an open mind about what we are building, how its done and to how to be more efficient. I would have voted with an unequivocal yes because we need solutions and the modular housing is just that. I am thinking that architecture wasn’t the real problem it was perhaps, NIMBYism (not in my backyard). As much as we want to have a beautiful and lovely city we also need spaces for the less affluent and such spaces should not be in segregation.
7. Who would be on your sasquatch hunting team?
I don’t hunt Sasquatch and believe that would be in poor taste. Some people believe Sasquatch are almost human and we don’t go out hunting humans (at least not anymore). If I wanted to find Sasquatch to see one or to take a picture, I would have Todd Standing on my team.
8. How do you propose engaging with renters, new immigrants, and youth?
I can relate to this question on two levels, I don’t consider myself a youth as I am not a spring chicken anymore. With respect to renters, I am one. With respect to new immigrants, I am married to one. How do I propose to engage with them, I think City Hall could be more open, could consider brochures in other languages including Chinese, Indonesian, Tagalog, etc. We could have community get-together’s for social events. When we get to know our neighbors we become closer as a community.
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.
Well at first I was going to say Helter Skelter because I just saw Paul McCartney play that song at a sold out show in Quebec City but then I changed my mind and went with Jukebox Hero by Foreigner.
Thank you Troy!