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? – Susan Wandell
- How long have you lived in New Westminster? – 23 years
- What do you love most about our city? – small town feel
- What do you think most needs improvement? – some communities feel disenfranchised and needs to be remedied
- What is the civic issue that is the most personally meaningful to you? – the arts need to be supported and not just by adding salaries to City Hall expenses
2. What are the top three initiatives you believe would improve economic development?
- More support for local business improvement associations
- Small business incubation and support
- I would like to see the Braid Industrial lands changed to be more of a business park with some light/green industries
3. How would you like to see city council improve engagement with younger citizens?
If you define younger as under 18 (school age) having a presence at school assemblies, reading (like raise a reader) to the younger students. Offer a program through the middle or high school system on civic governance in which Mayor and Councillors would take part in. Depending on the size of the class, one day (or each day) of the program students attend at City Hall and shadow a councillor, mayor, staff.. etc.
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?
I have always thought that schools are the hub of each neighbourhood and the City should partner more. Schools have libraries and gyms so perhaps there could be shared costs for equipment/books and staff for off school hours.
5. Which approach best describes your philosophy towards City budgeting and spending?
The first two examples both have merit. I would like at each election to ask questions for prioritizing infrastructure improvements of the electorate to direct the new council for community projects. It would not be a referendum, but a guide. I do not believe that this would be cost prohibitive and I think it would help to increase voter turnout. It has been shown that governments should spend on projects during recessionary times (and yes take advantage of funding from other sources) but have direction from the community.
6. Which of the following most closely reflects your views on taxation?
Our taxes are high. I believe that departments should practice zero based budgetting and prove value for the dollars requested.
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?
Get involved in your local residence association, volunteer with a community group that interests you.
8. What should be done about truck traffic through our city?
Trucks should be taken off East 8th Avenue and routed onto the Pattullo from Columbia. At this point I still support the North Fraser Perimeter Road. I would also support opening discussion with Burnaby for the Stormont Connector for a tunnel on McBride like the Cassiar Connector.
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 use the facility regularly and do not see it as an urgent priority. We have time to plan and have community input to see what amenities should be included in a new facility. A major upgrade is a waste of money. Continue maintaining the facility until we can receive other funding (provincial/federal) or we are in a position to be able to afford the debt.
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?
Two new high schools – one at 8th and 8th and one in Queensborough. A flyover from the United Blvd. Connector to the highway. Encapsulate the North Fraser Perimeter Road.
If you’d like to know more about Susan Wandell you can find her online: