Chuck Puchmayr answered my questions!

Chuck Puchmayr 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?

Chuck: Sorry Brad, that’s classified information.

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.

Yesterday, Monday, better sound system for overflow seating in public hearings.

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?

Consumers fare better when there’s competition. Buy Low is the same company as Save-On. The Competition Bureau was played brilliantly by Pattison after the 2014 ruling.

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 have been productive on all committees and would go wherever appointed.

5. What is your favourite neighbourhood, and why is it Brow of the Hill?

All of our neighbourhoods have unique characteristics. I have lived in the Brow, Queen’s Park, West End and now Moody Park. The Brow had the most vibrant cultural diversity.

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.

Note: Chuck is an incumbent and thus didn’t have to answer this question. He voted in favour of the motion on the table.

7. Who would be on your sasquatch hunting team?

My best friend Ed as he would surely scare any Sasquatch we encountered.

8. How do you propose engaging with renters, new immigrants, and youth?

By communicating the following : work we are doing to protect existing and develop new rental property; our work on new Canadian inclusion and diversity; our outreach to youth through youth centre, youth advisory committee and public engagement.

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.

Right now, during the election it would be Welcome To The Jungle by Guns N’ Roses.

Thanks Chuck!

Chuck Puchmayr and science

A couple of times now I’ve heard Chuck Puchmayr say that public surveys done by the City of New Westminster aren’t scientific, and by “scientific” I assume he means a survey that samples a representative sample of the population to provide a statistically significant result that can be applied to the overlying population.

And you know what? He’s right. They’re not. They usually only engage the people who are very interested in a given subject, so they artificially bias towards people who have strong opinions on either side. If you don’t care about, say, heritage houses in Queens Park, you’re probably not going to go to the effort to fill out a survey about heritage houses in Queens Park. There are ways to try to unbias the results (weigh them against the demographics of the general population, for example) but even those have biases. It’s tough to make a public opt-in survey scientific, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad.

But then Mr. Puchmayr seemingly goes on to reject them and instead replace them with either his walks around neighbourhoods or with the opinions of people showing up to public hearings.

The mind wobbles!

Walking around a neighbourhood and talking with people that you may or may not know is only scientific if you talk to every single person there, or if you choose people in an unbiased way (and the odds are stacked against you from choosing people in an unbiased way — everybody has biases, either implicit or explicit). And then you’re only targetting one specific neighbourhood. You’re a councillor for the entire City of New Westminster, you’re not a councillor for Fifth Street.

And public hearings are even more biased than public surveys! There’s less effort to fill out a survey, so people don’t necessarily have as strong an opinion about a given subject. But to show up to a public hearing and speak in public? That’s a tremendous barrier and only the very opinionated are going to show up and talk. Using the people who come out to a public hearing as a basis for an opinion that’ll affect the entire city is horribly unscientific!

Mr. Puchmayer, please educate yourself on survey methodology. A public survey of 500 people is more representative of walking around a neighbourhood and talking to a dozen people, and it’s way more representative of listening to five people talk at a public hearing.

Besides, you were elected based on the results of a public survey. Or was that unscientific too?