Since moving to New Westminster over a year ago, I’ve really been keen on becoming more active in the community but it always seemed one thing or another confounded my attempts. So when a notice showed up on my building’s door announcing an upcoming meeting for the New Westminster Downtown Residents Association, I took the plunge.
Showing up just as things were getting set up, I was able to quickly register. A short form, $5 annual dues and I was a member! After some quick procedural business, guest speakers took to the floor and talked about some issues, both local and regional.
Jayne Petula, Film Coordinator for the City of New Westminster gave a brief talk on filming happening in the downtown area. She also outlined efforts to promote shooting in all parts of the city, an important piece of the local economy. A couple concerns were raised, such as the impact of crews filming all night on Columbia and access to businesses. Jayne was happy to answer questions around the rules the city has in place to balance the needs of film crews with those of local businesses and residents. Meeting chair Andrew Boyd noted that relations between locals and studios had been good under both Jayne and her predecessor.
Next up was Travis Johnson of the Vancouver Circus School, the circus school located in the Quayside River Market. Travis shared they currently had a short term lease while the Quay was undergoing renovations but hoped to sign a long term lease soon, and were very committed to New Westminster. He talked a little about the recreational programs the school offered and their growing outreach with local schools. Nigel Wakita, Canada’s reigning National Yo Yo champion (and educational coordinator of the VCS) gave a demonstration – quite the unexpected surprise on my civic adventure!
Reena Meijer Drees, (who recently wrote her own guest post on Tenth to the Fraser) was there to talk about electoral reform and STV. Downtown residents seemed to have a good understanding of the issue and Reena fielded several insightful questions during a pretty engaging discussion.
Some committee reports were given, adding to my understanding of some local issues, including:
- Homelessness Coalition,
- Traffic Advisory,
- Community Policing,
- and Farmers’ Market.
I’ll definitely be at the next meeting and even volunteered to help out with the annual community barbecue happening at the end of July. Andrew mentioned they were always open to having more people come down and get involved and I’ll be sure to mention the association to my New West friends.