Sustainability in New West: What our mayoral candidates think

New Westminster Environmental Partners, in partnership with Tenth to the Fraser, asked all the mayoral and council candidates about environmental issues. NWEP has each candidate's complete answers on their website, and we will be publishing highlights from the responses over the next week or so. We will begin with the mayoral candidates' takes on sustainability: how to define the term, local successes and missed opportunities.

A bird's-eye view of New Westminster. Photo: Colour, via Flickr.
A bird's-eye view of New Westminster. Photo: Colour, via Flickr.

New Westminster Environmental Partners, in partnership with Tenth to the Fraser, asked all the mayoral and council candidates about environmental issues. NWEP has each candidate’s complete answers on their website, and we will be publishing highlights from the responses over the next week or so. We will begin with the mayoral candidates’ takes on sustainability: how to define the term, local successes and missed opportunities.

All comments that appear below are verbatim from the candidates’ emailed replies.

Sustainability seems to be a common word these days, but its use is often ambiguous. How do you define the word “sustainability”, and how does it relate to the job of a City Councillor or Mayor?

Vance McFadyen:
Sustain/ability to me means to use all possible avenues to maintain and/or improve the good of “something.” As to how it relates to doing a good job as a Mayor or member of Council it means that you need to maintain a good line of communication and openness to a whole variety of issues that concern and affect the citizens and the community as a whole.

François Nantel:
Sustainability is a concept that is in direct conflict with the “forced growth agenda” in which we presently live in. It can be defined as a fine balancing act between inputs, and outputs within a given environment. A lake within a river system is a good example of sustainability up to a point since once in a while the forces of nature will redesign the river system. When inputs are greater than outputs, inflation ensues, and works against the principle of sustainability.

In the case that we are concern with, the financial system need redesigning, and we must take in consideration in its redesigning the maximum ability for human to consume, as well as the maximum added value per earner, as opposed to the psychopathic tendencies of the big corporation having for mandate to make money..

It relates to the mayor since the mayor is in touch with other mayors, and can explore better approaches in developing a sustainable community.

Wayne Wright:
Basically it means “capable of being maintained at a steady level without exhausting natural resources or causing severe side-effects”. The term can be used in many different contexts such the economy, agriculture, business, health and so on.

For me it is the art of maintaining, as well as progressing forward with services and the needs and wants of citizens that minimizes or lessens our carbon footprint. We are living in an age of consumerism where things are disposable and generate waste. Ideally we should return to a more simple life.

In any city we have to provide many systems like transportation, waste management, and so on. As city management we strive to make these systems as inherently sustainable as possible. In many cases one has to balance different aspects. For example a system might be sustainable in an economic context but not in the context of global warming.

Our Council resolutions for all new buildings, retro buildings, and new business endeavours, include sustainability from the beginning of the projects. As a result our projects are at forefront of sustainability. This can be seen by how many are LEEDS gold certified! Examples include the Youth Centre, the Civic Centre, the Queensborough Community Centre, and the Brewery District development.

A highlight for our staff and City was receiving the Brownie 2011 Award for Sustainable Remediation at Pier Park.

As mayor it is important that I am “present at the table” at talks that might affect our city. To this end I serve on many committees at GVRD level. This allows me to bring back their discussions to our Council for further analysis and appropriate action.

There are different levels of sustainability: at the individual level, society (city, provincial, national), and global levels. Leadership is required at all levels of government to ensure that we are creating a society that sees the value of keeping our world in the best possible social, economic, and environmental shape. Our efforts alone are not sufficient, without the support of the general public sustainability is not achievable.

James Crosty:
Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of stewardship, the responsible management of resour

Briana Tomkinson

Briana Tomkinson is a Montreal-based writer and original founder of Tenth to the Fraser. She really likes to write letters by hand.

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7 comments

  1. If you haven't asked the candidates yet, I am very interested to hear their thoughts about plans for economic development in New West and how they plan to attract more (useful) businesses to the city.

    1. I included a question on economic development in the all-candidates survey that I sent out last week. I'm collecting responses now, and plan to publish each candidate's reply the week of the election (starting November 14).

    1. Hi Brad,
      Not sure why it was truncated my response was sent in full, technology go figure 🙂 Here is the answer I submitted:
      "Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of stewardship, the responsible management of resource use."

      1. Thanks for sharing your full answer James – and for pointing out the error Brad! I am not sure what happened, but it was likely just a copy/paste error as I put this post together. Sorry for the mistake!

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