It’s a regular occurrence unfortunately. A local business announces that they’re closing up shop for one of a number of reasons: lease terminated, profit margin too slim, irregular flow of business, cost increases, or just fatigue.
A lot of these reasons seem out of our control, so what can a community like New Westminster do? I believe it starts with small, regular steps and active decision making. I believe that every day we vote with our dollar. As such I wanted to share a few actions I take to vote with my dollar. But I also invite you to share what your favourite small businesses are in New West and what you buy from them.
This year I made a conscious decision to purchase eggs from vendors at the New West Farmers Market instead of buying from the major chain grocery stores. This may have meant spending $1-2 more per dozen eggs but I knew that the money was going directly to the food producers and quite often the eggs were fresher, larger and proven free range or BCSPCA Certified.
During berry season (which was pretty amazing) I bought a large amount of berries from local vendors like Mandair Farms, Maan Farms, Peace Arch Farms and others. Their berries were normally picked and packed in the morning for delivery and sale that afternoon. My freezer is now packed with local produce ready for a smoothie or baked treat and I don’t need to buy imported berries at 3 times the price.
Pet food and products
Most major grocery stores carry a variety of pet products, some better than others. I made a conscious decision to stay out of big box providers and buy from small businesses in New West that offer the food my cat needs.
Spice, baking supplies and all things wonderful Galloway’s is one of those incredible places that hasn’t changed much over the years. The ticket system sometimes works but the prices remain low and the products are pretty consistent. I remember my grandmother used to go there specifically at Christmas time to buy crystallized ginger claiming it was the best.
Did you know that Kozak Ukrainian Bakery in Uptown sells a dark chocolate sourdough loaf? I’m definitely a babka bun fan paired with a warm latte.
There are plenty of smaller product vendors scattered around New West. Each of them offer their own blend of unique products. While not all of their produce is locally grown, I try and shop there as I know the funds will go to a local business owner. I particularly enjoy shopping at Freshico in Glenbrooke North and try and go there regularly.
So, New West, how do you vote with your dollar? What are you favourite local businesses? Do you know of a gem? Share below and encourage others to keep them in business.
Spare Parts Adventure Society is having its next pop-up adventure playground Thursday, October 4th at Tipperary Park in New Westminster from 3pm-6pm. Come build with us during the last New West Farmers Market of the Summer season. We will be set up close to Queens Ave adjacent to the market and running rain or shine!
Spare Parts Adventure is about encouraging free play and is meant to be wonderfully unstructured! We encourage parents to take a mostly hands off approach and see what your kids create using their imagination! We provide basic tools such as saws and hammers as well as nails for the kids. We will also be on site supervising from a distance with an aim to ensure safety but not directing the play.
October 4, 2018 at 3pm – 6pm
New West Farmers Market
315 Queens Ave, New Westminster
Follow our adventures, volunteer with us and find our next pop-up through our website, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!
I’m a prairie kid. I’ve lived on the west coast for half my life now, but my shoulders still relax when I hit the flat land. Sometimes I pretend I am there when I drive the 17 to Tsawwassen . . .
I came to Vancouver for grad school, and landed a federal job as I was finishing my thesis. I used to say I got stuck. Used to say I don’t get this rain thing; you get wet. But after 24 years I can now maneuver an umbrella with the best of them.
My first husband used to say that if you are going to live in Vancouver, live in Vancouver. Then we moved to Burnaby. We purchased a brand new townhouse. Got a dog. Had a kid. Then we ended.
Leap forward ten years. Ten soul searching, demon releasing, voice finding years. I can hear the rain as I write this – the cars on Columbia – and perhaps catch a glimpse of a tug on the Fraser if I get up from my chair and look out the living room window of my high rise apartment.
I was still living in Burnaby when I met the Man from New West. I want to use geography and weather analogies to describe him but that feels trite. He was a force. A big, huge, rolling personality. His dog is mine now, and the aging Boston Terrier can get some air when he greets you. With all four paws off the ground and a teethy grin, I am always reminded of his first owner.
My second husband lived in New West for most of his time on the West Coast. He was a Toronto boy, but you couldn’t hear it in his intonation. When I met him he had been a bus driver for over five years and so he knew parts of the Lower Mainland in great detail, but he most especially knew New West. And when I – out of a very old habit – wanted to drive into Vancouver for something, he would always suggest that we could find the same closer to the Fraser.
It’s thanks to the Man from New West that the pier boardwalk became a regular part of my life, and that 3rd Avenue hill. Angelina’s and Amelia’s. The Neil Douglas Guitar Shop and Royal City Jewellers were part of our regular routines, as we went down an ever refreshing, stringed rabbit hole.
It was on the day Donald Trump was elected that we became uncomfortably familiar with Royal Columbian Hospital. A month before we hopped on an aquabus near Granville Island and tied the knot, the Man from New West received a diagnosis of stage four colon cancer. We walked the blue line on the floor of RC many times until we shifted treatment to BC Cancer in Surrey, at which point we crossed back and forth on the Pattullo Bridge. Back and forth. Back and forth.
We received support from Polo Health + Longevity Centre as that New West man struggled to manage his cancer. And eventually we took over the back room of Heritage Grill, for a living wake.
On 25 September 2017, my husband was the recipient of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) in the home we boldly purchased together during a year of disease, near the Fraser. His was the first assisted death in New Westminster. And thanks to the New West Hospice Society’s efforts to have New Westminster declared a Compassionate City, I don’t have to fear speaking about this end of life choice.
Being a Compassionate City will change how we act and what we we believe to be true by encouraging people and organizations to talk about dying, death and loss. Everyone becomes a compassionate neighbour, knowing what to do and what to say to those that are experiencing end-of-life. We envision a city with open dialogue in coffee shops & schools and caring for our neighbours when they need it.https://newwesthospice.ca/compassionate-communities/
MAID has been a legal right in Canada for over two years, but there are still so many – horrific – obstacles to its access. Since my husband died I have been learning about these obstacles, and raising my voice to bring change. Our experience was such a blessed one. The Fraser Health New West Palliative Team had never supported a MAID until they began to work with us, but they did not show the fear and judgement that some health care professionals are expressing. Instead they showed us the most beautiful mix of humanity and professionalism. And thank goodness for that, because the Man from New West released a lot of anger and fear in his dying. Perhaps you read about the elderly couple in Toronto who had simultaneous assisted deaths? They are somewhat the poster children for the peace that can come with this choice. And so I will continue to speak as I am to you right now, of what is most simply a choice. Just as in grief, there are no norms in death beyond the ones we make for ourselves.
The rain has stopped outside my window as I round these words out. The days are getting shorter and for each one of late, I hold a singular passage of the earth around the sun. Hold my year old heart. Hear the echo of an angry, insular man as he let go. But it’s not his anger I hear when I descend the wooden steps to Front St and Rain City Juicery, Hive Cafe, Old Crow, Fridays on Front. I hear the taunt of a broad shouldered, bearded man brimming with life, slipping his hand into the back pocket of my jeans and saying, “See?”
Photo credit for feature image: Ellie Ericson Photography
It’s Election time New West! (But you already knew that, right?) Saturday, October 20th is the big day to reach for the pencil and select your choice for Mayor, Council and School Trustees. There are a number of All Candidates Meetings popping up around town.
On October 3rd the New West District Parents Advisory Council (NW DPAC) will be hosting an all School Board Candidates Meeting. Questions from the 12 parent advisory councils (PACs) that make up the DPAC will be put to school board candidates. Find your school’s PAC contact information on their webpage.
The event will be held at New Westminster Secondary School’s Library at 835 8th Street in New Wesminster between 6:30 and 9pm.
Professional childcare and snacks will be provided. No RSVP required, just show up!
What does a Trustee do?
The British Columbia School Trustees Association gives a bit of info on their webpage: “As locally elected representatives, the trustees on these boards best understand their respective communities’ particular strengths, challenges and demands…School trustees listen to their communities, guide the work of their school district and set plans, policies and the annual budget.”
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.
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.
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.