Capacity crowd of 70+ attend inaugural New West Progressives Networking Night

It was extremely rewarding to be part of the New West Progressives (NWP)  inaugural Neighbourhood Networking Night last evening. There truly was a real positive energy in the room and a sense that if we work hard, we can build the momentum needed to defeat the 7-0 political monopoly currently governing city hall.

To learn more, I’m sharing what was posted on the NWP website earlier today. If you want to get involved or make a donation, please drop me a line today!

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After months of work, it was great to see over 70 people gather for the inaugural Neighbhourhood Networking Night on January 18th. There was a real buzz in the room as the group assembled for a big announcement by Daniel Fontaine, Chair of the New West Progressives (NWP) steering committee.

“I am pleased to announce that as of a few hours ago, I received an email from the Province of BC that we’re now officially a not-for-profit society,” Fontaine told the crowd. “We have an amazing group of individuals who’ve come together to start this grassroots political movement and in nine months we hope to see some real change take hold at both city hall and the school board.”

Daniel Fontaine, Chair of the NW Progressives announces to the crowd that the New West Progressives have become an official not-for-profit society as of January 18th

The NW Progressives have scheduled a founding meeting on Thursday, February 1st. In the spring, the NWP will also establish itself as a formal elector organization and announce an exciting group of individuals who will be taking on the District Labour Council endorsed slate of incumbents during the October 20th civic election.

“Our founding constitution calls for us to remove the influence that provincial and federal politics can often have on our municipal politicians and their decision-making process,” says Fontaine. “Our locally elected politicians should be making decisions which are in the best interests of local citizens, not political operatives in Victoria or Ottawa.”

Once the candidates are announced this spring, the NW Progressives will release a platform document which will detail how we’d like to improve and strengthen our city and schools. Over the course of the new few months, New West residents and business owners are invited to get involved with our local Neighbourhood Networking Nights and contact us through our website to inform us of what they believe should be the key priorities of council and our school board.

Over 70 people gathered to participate in the inaugural NW Progressives Neighbourhood Networking Night on January 18th

“I can’t believe what you guys pulled off in such a short time,” said one of the attendees. “If this type of momentum continues, you may have a David and Goliath battle on your hands, but you just might do it!”

The NW Progressives launched as an organization last November and made front page headlines in the Record newspaper. Since then, we have launched a new website and have been active on social media engaging with local residents.

“We were hoping to get 20-30 people out for our inaugural event,” says Lisa Falbo, Vice-Chair of the NWP. “We actually had to cut off registration due to the fact we were over subscribed. That’s an amazing problem to have when you’re a new political organization.”

The next Neighbourhood Networking Night will take place on January 31st. Additional sessions will be held in neighbourhoods throughout the city. Be on the lookout for a flyer promoting the event which may come through your door slot or in the mail in the coming weeks!

“Thanks so much to everyone for coming out and supporting us,” said Danielle Connelly, Chair of Communications. “It was great to see so many people here tonight who are encouraging us to develop a positive alternative.”

Location of New Westminster Skateboard park stirs up controversy

When my son was a bit younger, one of his favourite places to hang out was the local skateboard park. When I heard the new high school would eventually result in the relocation of this public amenity, I remember thinking how critical it would be to involve our community – in particular the users of the park – when it comes to determining the new location.

That’s why Council’s decision to consider moving the skateboard park next to the Bernie Legge Theatre in Queen’s Park took me a bit by surprise. On the surface, a move to Queen’s Park would seem to make sense. However, when you look at the actual location council has chosen, there are some good arguments as to why this location is far from optimal.

Skateboard park adjacent to the New West Secondary School may be about to make a move next to Bernie Legge Theatre in Queen’s Park

Similar to the online petition I started asking for a new arena to be constructed in Queen’s Park, another grassroots group has now emerged asking for council to listen to their concerns. This is what they’ve posted on their online petition website:

“Vagabond Players has been a part of New Westminster for over 80 years and has been proud to be located in Queens Park since 1950. We were left shocked and disturbed to discover that the City of New Westminster has approved a proposal “in-principal” for the relocation of an outdoor skate park to the former Arenex building site, immediately adjacent to our home, The Bernie Legge Theatre.

We have evening performances at 8pm and 2pm matinees. Any noise from outside echoes and reverberates throughout our lobby and auditorium. We have benefited greatly from being at the quiet end of this family-friendly park. Up until last year, we were behind a gymnastics building known as the Arenex. It was an indoor facility, so being located behind it, we retained a still, quiet and peaceful atmosphere amid garden-like surroundings. In December 2016, the Arenex roof collapsed and the building was left a heap of rubble. Now, a year later, the City wants to relocate a skate park to that site.

Vagabond Players would be unable to compete with the noise coming from an unsupervised outdoor facility. It would ruin our performances.

We have a loyal patron base made up of theatre lovers of all ages including a high number of senior citizens, some of whom use walkers or wheelchairs to get from their cars to their seats in our auditorium. They do not want to have to contend with skaters speeding by as they arrive nor would they feel comfortable or safe leaving after dark, under such circumstances. Many of our patrons would be significantly deterred from attending our performances.

In short, relocating the skate park next to the theatre would result in the death of our long-standing theatre society. Please help us by signing and sharing this petition.”

What do you think council should do? If you want to sign the petition, you can click here.

In a response posted online about a week ago, Mayor Jonathan Cote says no final decision has been made and staff are open to hearing from the community regarding the final location.

After 38 years on New West School Board is it time for Ewen and others to retire?

A few days ago I wrote a post which asked whether it was time for the City of New Westminster to impose term limits on elected officials.

I jokingly argued that no politician should serve more than 30 years in public office – which of course would mean school trustee Michael Ewen would have to retire. If Ewen runs in the October election and serves out the full term, he will have spent 42 years as a school trustee.

My post triggered an interesting discussion on the popular Jill Bennett Show which airs every weekend morning on CKNW. If you want to listen to the audio, you can click on the two links below:

Clip 1

Clip 2

 

 

 

 

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Is it time for Michael Ewen and other veteran members of council to make way for new ideas and a more balanced approach at city hall and the school board?