Council candidates weigh in on family issues in New West
This is the second of two articles sharing election candidates’ opinions on children and family issues in New Westminster. The first article focused on trustee candidates. Kathleen asked all candidates to answer two questions: what is within the elected officials’ ability to influence and what specific initiatives would the candidates personally implement if elected? Unfortunately, due to time constraints, only three council candidates responded: Betty McIntosh, Bob Osterman and John Ashdown.
The role of the city is to ensure the livability of the city. In relation to child and family issues, this can include parks, recreation programs and space, identifying child care space and other community services.
More broadly, issues like transportation and safety also impact how liveable a city is for families. Incumbent councillor Betty McIntosh explains “The city develops Policy guidelines and has a Social Planner to assist the development of the Policies that are child focused. City Council works closely with School Board on major Capital Projects such as building of 3 new schools. The newer middle schools had City monies to increase the gym size for community shared use.”
A lot of the city’s work is in advocate to other levels of government for thing traditional in the provincial (and sometimes federal) mandate. As Betty said: “Council meets informally and formally with members of other levels of government frequently at Conventions. A variety of issues on homelessness, affordable housing, traffic and transportation are discussed.”
Child care is the most obvious example; the city can help identifying child care space, but does not run, operate or fund child care facilities. Bob Osterman indicates that council knows, “that the Social Health of a Community is directly related to adequate child care and inclusion of children in all our deliberations.”
Using the same framework as I used in my post on trustee candidates’ ideas on child and family issues, I have organized highlights from council candidates’ responses under the three headings: stop, create and advocate. I did not receive responses to my questions from any of the mayoral candidates. (You may note that I also included ‘Reduce’ and ‘Improve’ headings in the trustee post. I omitted those headings here because I wanted to just choose the best responses and not have too many quotes from the same person.)
John Ashdown: “Procrastinating, weighing out the impact decisions will have on Labour rather than to taxpayers and families. High Taxes are one of the key things working against families. They must be brought into line. The Bottom Line. ”
Betty McIntosh: “Public meters on Sunday need to be free.”
John Ashdown: “I would look at the existing programs to determine value vs cost. Then, I feel there would be room to introduce new programs and policies.”
Bob Osterman: “We would like provincial, federal Funding for : Social Housing, Enhancement of Royal Columbian Hospital, rebuilding our old infrastructure (Sewers, Water, Roads) We are the level of government closest to the resident Family, we need the funding support to continue to foster, build and enhance a healthy society.”
Betty McIntosh: “Advocate for increased funding to existing programs (Societies) for children & seniors.”
If you were to ask me, my two top issues in New Westminster from a child and family issues perspective are:
- Parks and Recreation: There are some great parks in New Westminster that I would like to see maintained. However, in a city where much of the year we experience rain and damp mornings, I would like to see more availability for safe spaces for indoor active play. Strong Start, which is funded by the provincial government I believe, is great. However, often there is a lack of programs and spaces on the weekend to support working parents.
- Walk-able City: If we want to encourage parents and their kids to spend time in New West, then we need business districts that better cater to the needs of middle income earners and have a vibrant business community. There seems to be a lot of dollar store/thrift store types business in New West and not a lot of opportunities for our family to spend where we live. So business development in downtown, uptown and Sapperton is important to me.