When Advocacy Works the Way We Want It To

C3 townhall photoBeing the MLA for New Westminster is a many-faceted job. From debating the Premier in the Legislature to speaking to elementary school students about what it means to be an MLA to attending innumerable community events, this is a job that is never boring. One of the biggest pleasures of my job is fighting alongside the community for services that matter to their everyday lives.

Here is a case in point: Recently I met with Sapperton resident Lori Nicks about concerns regarding TransLink route changes in her neighbourhood. She felt that cancelling the C3 bus service that previously ran up Richmond Street would have a negative effect on her community. She witnessed people – often seniors – struggling to trudge up the steep hill. We decided that I would organize a community meeting and invite TransLink to take part.

Lori is a tireless organizer who leafletted her neighbourhood and knocked on neighbours’ doors to encourage them to attend the meeting. She collected 28 letters which I submitted in a package to the new CEO of TransLink.

We were expecting about dozen people to attend, but Glenbrook Amenities Centre filled up quickly with over 90 residents! It was gratifying to be able to provide an opportunity for them to have their voices heard by TransLink decision-makers as well as New Westminster City staff. TransLink had held consultations previously, but none of the residents in attendance—many of them seniors—were aware of these and therefore didn’t have the opportunity to make their opinions and needs known.

The meeting was extremely fruitful–TransLink acknowledged the need for bus service up Richmond Street and agreed that by September 2016 they will re-route the C9 to respond to the issues raised that meeting. We will continue to push TransLink to address other community concerns about frequency of bus service and connections to other parts of the city. But this was a big step forward for the neighbourhood and it shows how much can be accomplished when the community comes together with their elected representatives to stand up for important services.

Walkable Cities: Can We Be Happier Than We Are?

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There has been a recent study that says that walkable cities do not make people happier. According to that study, this is because in the most walkable North American big cities such as Boston and New York City, there is a huge wage gap relative to cost of living for many of those city’s residents.

You can see where this is going already. With so many people working multiple jobs and trying to feed children, doing so at wages that are not in keeping with their financial constraints, the issue of how many walking paths, green spaces, or bike lanes in a given neighbourhood isn’t likely to make much of a dent on the happiness front in relation to those harsher realities.

My response to that, of course, is just this: duh.

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