All Candidates Meetings – Democracy in your community

The next General Local Election for our municipal government is on Saturday, October 20th from 8am-8pm BUT there are several opportunities for advance voting including October 10th, 13th and 17th. The City of New West has complete information posted online with dates, times and locations.

There are a number of ways to find out what city council candidates values and priorities are: their websites, print pamphlets, social media accounts, door knocking and of course all candidates meetings.

With full honesty I will admit that this is one of the first years that I have followed local elections relatively closely. Perhaps it’s my circle of friends and acquaintances that have encouraged me to get involved or my role with the New West Farmers Market that has me engaging more regularly with our local government. Either way I’m following along and engaging more as a resident – like playing BINGO!

I have not attended an All Candidates Meeting yet but I do hope to attend one or two this time around. There is no shortage of meetings planned! The City of New West posts All Candidates Meeting information online (they do not solicit information but they do accept submissions and share it).

I also went looking for some useful information on how to organize an All Candidates Meeting and while I couldn’t find anything BC-specific, the Scarborough Civic Action Network published a fairly comprehensive guide. There are different format options, tips about logistics (like providing an accessible space for people with disabilities) and how to publicize your event.

So the call to action for you? Attention one All Candidates Meeting this year and meet some new faces! Find one that has a format that fits your comfort level or reach out to the organizing committee to see what they are planning.

And don’t forget to vote!

Door knocking 101 – hitting the pavement with Gurveen

Like many folks in New West I live in an apartment. This means that knocks on my door are pretty rare (I’m a quiet neighbour). But if you live in a detached home and some townhomes you may find knocks at your door a more regular occurrence. Door knocking or canvassing is going to be picking up soon and for many candidates intending on running in October’s municipal elections, it’s already begun.

Gurveen Dhaliwal, candidate for New Westminster School Board Trustee, invited me out on Tuesday, September 4th to see what door-knocking involves and hear what some residents in New West had to say. We picked a corner and a time to meet up and promptly lay out our course for the evening.

My observations and lessons:

  • Door knocking takes time. We walked the length of a street that spanned about 2 New West blocks and it was took over an hour to do both sides of the street.
  • New West likes to talk. It might take a few probing questions but people have strong opinions and want to be heard.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Always close the gate behind you and never walk across someone’s lawn.
  • People are really happy about getting a new high school.
  • The candidates are not out to openly debate or argue, it’s more about listening to what you have to say.
  • Candidates often try and communicate with other candidates where they will be on certain days to avoid doubling up and door-knocking on the same street.
  • Dogs. There are some awesome dogs that need to be pet. I was happy to oblige.

Door knocking was largely a positive experience. I would recommend that anyone interested in gaining experience or testing the water of your future political career reach out to a candidate and ask them if they need help for an hour or two. You don’t only gain perspective and experience, you get one-on-one time with the candidate. I learned that Gurveen grew up in New Westminster and is the daughter of immigrants from India which has helped shape her desire to increase transparency and engagement in the New Westminster school system, especially for new immigrants and working class families. She recently completed her degree from UBC and we completed very similar undergraduate courses (my major was Women’s Studies at SFU and Gurveen’s was Sociology with a minor in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice.

Two final thoughts as an apartment dweller. In the 2011 Census it was reported that approximately 18% of New Westminster residents lived in detached homes while over 70% lived in an apartments (of all types).

Candidates: If door knocking is only targeting detached homes, how are you proactively seeking input, opinion and ideas from residents living in other structures?

And fellow apartment dwellers:

How are you making your voice heard for the next municipal election? Are you speaking directly to candidates? Are you attending any of the all-candidates meetings?  Are you inviting candidates into your building? Your voice and vote count.

Gurveen is friendly with all creatures she meets while door-knocking.

Who *is* that girl?

-Carly in

Hello! Welcome (back) to Tenth to the Fraser! Here’s a little introduction about me, Carly Fryer, your new resident collaborator, cultivator, curator and keeper.

Jen recently asked me if I would be interested in continuing the tradition that is Tenth to the Fraser. About two years ago I introduced myself to Jen at the New West Farmers Market. We’d interacted over social media and I recognized her from photos so I went up and introduced myself – “I’m Carly, you may know me as @theregoescarly.” (Seriously, that’s how I introduce myself to people that have only known me on social media.) Jen saw some potential and later recruited me as a board member for the New West Farmers Market where I am the Board President (as many of you know Jen was also a previous board member and President). Now I have been gifted a huge responsibility of steering Tenth to the Fraser.  Thank you Jen! (I also promise I will not join the McBride Elementary PAC and three-peat filling the impressive shoes of Jen.)

Who is Carly Fryer you may ask?

  • I am a resident of New West and have been for just over 10 years.
  • I enjoy walking, running and hiking as well as exploring our city as much as possible.
  • In 2011 I moved to London to work for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and prior to that I worked for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  • My cat, Lucy, is a constant source of amusement.
  • Hawaii (Maui) is one of my favourite travel destinations. You may see a few photos pop up here and then.

As is tradition with Tenth to the Fraser, outside contributions and content is welcomed as well as ideas for collaboration. I preface this with the fact that I work full-time and commute at least two hours a day. So my time and energy might be limited but I find with a new challenge I am often re-energized. If you see me around please feel free to say hi, drop me a line or give me a high five.

Bring it on!

Five Tips To Help Take The Pain Out of Tax Time

I tell all my friends that January is the perfect time to start thinking about taxes. I usually get a very unimpressed look and hear the common reply “Oh, I have until April to get those done!”

While that may be true, I often find the first part of the year flies by, especially when we all get back into our own routines after the December holidays. If there’s anything that preparing tax returns has taught me, people will wait and wait, and the next thing they notice — it’s April and there are stories in the paper, on the radio, and online reminding them it’s time to get that tax return done. At that point, I get a lot of questions from friends, especially those with business activity to report on their personal taxes. I always wish my friends had started with their preparation sooner. If they asked me earlier in the year, this is what I would tell them.

Continue reading “Five Tips To Help Take The Pain Out of Tax Time”