New West Needs Great Service Businesses Too! Limina Spa

When I first moved to New Westminster, in September 2011, all the talk was about how New Westminster needed some new business that weren’t Dollar Stores, Car Repair shops and Bridal Boutiques. Since then, a lot of great new businesses have come to New West- bringing more quality products and services.

Often the talk about the quality of the businesses revolves around restaurants and retail establishments. But New Westminster needs more then great restaurants. Susan, owner of Limina Spa, believes it’s time for New Westminster residents to have access to high quality spa services without having to travel into Vancouver. Susan is eager to get the word out about her spa and the quality services and experience it provides. Recently, she invited Jen Arbo and myself to come and experience her spa first hand.

When talking with Susan it is clear that she loves the community here in New West and is passionate about her business. Since she opened in about a year and half a go at the Shops at New West Station, she has seen a fair amount of construction outside her door- something she worries may be impacting potential customers from discovering her Spa. But she believes strongly she has something unique to offer New Westminster.

I was excited to try out Limina Spa—it has been a while since I had gone for a massage. For me, going to a spa is about the whole experience- not just the service itself. I love the calming music, sense of peace, smell of subtle natural essential oils. I like to go somewhere that has a great atmosphere and has clearly thought about the details.

Limina Spa did not disappoint. The hot stone massage I had was amazing- one of the best massages I have had—and I have visited top spa’s in both Vancouver and Calgary.  Susan explained to me that many places just place the hot stones to warm up the skin and increase circulation- they do it a bit differently- they actually use the stones in the massage itself.

Jen said “The facial I had at Limina Spa was seriously the best facial I have ever had, and I am a spa junkie and have had a lot of facials. It was relaxing, all encompassing, and I felt completely taken care of during the facial. It was customized to me personally, and I walked out of there positively glowing.”

I noticed while I was in the spa that they had been named by the New West News Leader as a finalist of one of the best places to get a facial in New Westminster in 2012- so obviously Jen is one among many who feel that way. Their pedicure lounge is lovely and would be great to book for a pedicure party for a bridal shower, birthday party or other celebration.

The prices Limina Spa charges are higher then other places to get similar services in New West, but are very much in line with prices elsewhere in the Lower Mainland. To offset it they offer an Elite Membership ($29/yr) which gets you about 10-15% off the regular price of spa services. Each month, members are also offered a special at a further discounted rate— March’s special combines a full body exfoliation with a massage for maximum pampering.

Overall, Limina Spa is the type of business I want to support: local, run by a dedicated small business owner and offering quality to New Westminster.

Limina Spa

263-800 Carnarvon Street
The Plaza at New West Station

Hours:
Monday 10am-6pm
Tuesday 10am-6pm
Wednesday 11am-7pm
Thursday 10am-6pm
Friday 10am-6pm
Saturday 10am-6pm
Sunday By Appointments

(604) 525-0805
info@liminaspa.com
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Disclosure: Jen and I received spa services at no charge as a part of Limina’s invitation (facial, hot stone massage, pedicures, and underarm waxing). We were not asked to write this article. All opinions expressed are our own. 

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 McIntoshBob 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.)

Stop:

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.”

Create:

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.”

Advocate:

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.”

Conclusion

If you were to ask me, my two top issues in New Westminster from a child and family issues perspective are:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
What child and family issues do you see in New West? What would you like to see our elected officials do about them?

New West school board candidates weigh in on family issues

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about my first impressions of the 2011 Civic Election Candidates for New Westminster, based on a non-traditional all candidates forum at Lafflines Comedy Club. I based my thoughts solely on the all important ‘first impression’, in particular, the issue of trust and authenticity. However, that doesn’t discount the importance of know what a candidate actually stands for. I believe that it is important to do our research as citizens and vote based on policy platforms.

I was invited to write an article for Tenth to the Fraser specific to family issues in the Civic Election. I am happy to have that opportunity. I put together a couple questions and sent them to all the candidates via e-mail- hoping to get a better sense of their policy platforms. My questions targeted two things:

First, it is my belief that part of the reason voter turnout is so low in civic elections is that many voters are unclear on the ways in which Civic politicians can impact their day to day life. I wanted the candidates to help me explain through this article, when it comes to family issues, what it is that they can actually do within their municipal offices.

My second question required them to be as specific as possible about what they would actually like to see happen in our city. I believe in the “Nenshi” mode of civic politics: “Politics in full sentences”. (Haven’t heard of Nenshi? Calgary’s current mayor. Ran an awesome campaign based on grassroots consultation, social media, and a robust but clear policy platform). However, I also believe those sentences should be short, to the point and without unnecessary ‘fluff’. We often hear candidates talk about how they will improve or make things better. The catch is a) What does ‘better’ mean to them and b) how do you get from now to better, aka do we agree on the means to the ends.

I really appreciate the candidates who responded, I know how busy they are. Overall, I got the best response from the School Board Candidates, which reflected my general first impression that overall I was more impressed with the School Board candidates then the council or mayoral ones. I should note, I did have a few candidates who responded but are not included in this article, as they did not directly answer the questions I provided, making it difficult for me to include them in this format. I also had a number of candidates apologize for not having enough time to respond, which I respect.

I will share the candidates’ answers to the above questions in two posts. The first one (below) will focus on trustee candidates. The second will summarize responses from mayor and council candidates.

Part One: School Board

I know many parents make choices of where to buy a house in the Lower Mainland based on the schools, their reputation and their programs of choice. In clarifying what the school board can impact, the answer from Mary Ann Mortensen was that, “our Board of Education trustees are responsible for improving student achievement.” The School board can impact this by allocating budget (which comes from the provincial government) to ‘programs of choice’ such as “special needs, apprenticeship programs, drama and music, sports programs, international baccalaureate, adult education, self directed learning. It would also include after school care, child care, special counselling services.” Says Brenda McEachern Keen. The School Board can also provide community access for recreation programs, according to David Phelan. It is important to note, however, that the school board is not directly responsible for providing day care and can not change the curriculum, though it can advocate as such.

So given that range of what the school board can actually do, the second thing I asked the candidates is to be specific in terms of what they would like to see happen. To do this, I asked them to specific programs or policies (essentially, things they spend budget dollars on) they would like to see stop, reduced, improved, created and advocated to other levels of government. Essentially, I wanted the meat of their campaign platform. This is the part that really got at the heart of the issues for the school board. Here were some of my favorite responses:

Stop:

Jim Goring: “In the past Boards have passed a “Needs Budget.” This has not been effective, takes staff, increases costs and distracts focus. There are alternative methods to look at budgeting to establish needs and make decisions.”

Mary Ann Mortensen: “Creating policies without first creating a Mission and Vision statement through consultation with the community.”

Reduce:

Brenda McEachern Keen: “Participating in the day to day management of the district. This is properly delegated to our capable executive administrators with periodic review by the board.”

Glen Richmond: “Overcrowding in our schools.”

Improve:

James Janzen: “I think the School Board could communicate better with the wider community about what we do and how we are doing. We are doing well and more people should know about that!”

David Phelan: “We need to organize community walks, perhaps work with the PACS so students can partake in an active way of getting to school…. Develop local connections to farmer’s markets, community gardens and Farm to School programs that will help develop healthy eating habits in our children.”

Mary Ann Mortensen: “More advocacy for Special Needs funding and supports, more advocacy for a review of Special needs designation, assess students earlier for Special Needs and gifted/talented, improve parental engagement in public education, improve communication, increase programs of choice as demand increases and room in schools increases (3 new schools), improve employee morale, and a host of others.”

Create:

Glen Richmond: “[R]e-establish the School Liaison Officer (SLO) Program (one part-time officer assigned to each school) for all elementary and middle schools.”

Michael Ewen: “breakfast programs”

James Janzen: “In the area of policy I would like to find out from the community if we need to offer more protection for LGBTG students or whether our current policies are good enough.”

Casey Cook: “Increased funding to support special needs, school breakfast and hot lunch program and many many more education supports and services.”

Advocate:

David Phelan: “Funding for more child care spaces, and having the various levels of government work together to create more child care spaces in our schools, and to create more Community Hubs.”

Conclusion

Overall, most of the candidates indicated a need to advocate to the provincial government for more federal funding.

For me, as a parent of a toddler, there are few things in particular that resonated with me and that I will be looking for from our newly elected School Board. Those things are:

  • Getting the new schools built
  • Programs that focus on healthy living: healthy food in the schools, walk to school programs, physical education, ect.
  • The option for parents to enroll their child in a program with a focus on little to no homework and a focus on critical thinking and problem solving, rather then rote memorization

Based on what I heard from the candidates, I am confident there are candidates out there that can move us in the right direction.