The following questionnaire was sent to all New Westminster candidates for mayor and council a little over a week ago. A separate questionnaire was sent to trustees (their responses are also being published this week). Questions were selected based primarily on comments from readers of Tenth to the Fraser collected via Twitter and Facebook, with a few of my own questions added in. Responses are published in the order they were received. Spelling/grammar are not corrected and candidates’ responses are published unedited.
1. First, let’s hear a little about you:
- What’s your name? – Jonathan X. Cote
- How long have you lived in New Westminster? – 10 years
- What do you love most about our city? – New Westminster has an incredible sense of place. We have some wonderful parks, historic neighbourhoods and commercial main streets that are truly unique in our region.
- What do you think most needs improvement? – Transportation
- What is the civic issue that is the most personally meaningful to you? – Building an environmentally and socially sustainable community.
2. What are the top three initiatives you believe would improve economic development?
- Small business incubation and support
- Funding a ‘buy local’ campaign
- Attracting new industries and commerical office space development in the city.
3. How would you like to see city council improve engagement with younger citizens?
During my time on council, I have actively tried to use social media to engage citizens who may not traditionally follow local government. I would like to see our local government stay on top of the latest forms of communication to ensure that all residents’ have opportunities to participate in the direction of our city.
4. What should New Westminster do to improve access to recreational programming and indoor public spaces in neighbourhoods that lack amenities like rec centres and libraries such as the West End, Connaught Heights and Sapperton?
The City of New Westminster already has a great partnership with the school district regarding the use of school facilities for recreational programing. I think enahancing these partnership is the best way to improve recreational programing to all neighbourhoods in the city.
5. Which approach best describes your philosophy towards City budgeting and spending?
New West should take advantage of funding offered from other sources (federal, provincial, developers, etc.) in order to fund important community & infrastructure improvements – even if it means having to borrow to pay for our share of a project
6. Which of the following most closely reflects your views on taxation?
I believe New Westminster residents are happy with the level of services they receive. I believe the city needs to aggressively pursue new industrial and commercial development to relieve the pressure on residential tax payers. I do not support cutting services.
7. Beyond voting, serving on City committees and appearing at council meetings, what do you think citizens can do to become more involved in civic life?
New Westminster is fortunate to have so many organizations that enhance the civic life in our community. I would encourage residents to explore the many different groups and organizations that exist in our city.
8. What should be done about truck traffic through our city?
I would like to see the city work with the region to reduce truck traffic through the city. Major provincial road projects (such as the South Fraser Perimeter Road) may provide opportunities to divert some of the current traffic that is affecting the liveability of our neighbourhoods.
9. What should be done to improve our recreation facilities? Specifically, what would you like to see done with Canada Games Pool, which is in need of repair/upgrades?
I would like to see a plan developed to accomplish the following improvements to the Canada Games Pool over the next 10 years: -Retrofit existing building -add lobby/fitness building linking Canada Games Pool and Centennial Community Centre -addition of a leisure pool and family change rooms
10. Let’s conclude with some ‘blue sky’ thinking. What is one big-idea project or improvement that you would propose for New Westminster if cost was no object?
If cost was no object I would like to see a tunnel under the entire city for both road and rail traffic. Although such a plan would likely be very cost prohibitive, I think New Westminster should still strive to reduce and mitigate the negative transportation barriers that are disconnecting our community from our waterfront.
If you’d like to know more about Jonathan Cote you can find him online: