Gavin Palmer: ‘Our city belongs to the people’ [council]

The following questionnaire was sent to all New Westminster candidates for mayor and council a little over a week ago. A separate questionnaire was sent to trustees (their responses are also being published this week). Questions were selected based primarily on comments from readers of Tenth to the Fraser collected via Twitter and Facebook, with a few of my own questions added in. Responses are published in the order they were received. Spelling/grammar are not corrected and candidates’ responses are published unedited.

Gavin Palmer
Gavin Palmer

1. First, let’s hear a little about you:

  • What’s your name? – Gavin PALMER
  • How long have you lived in New Westminster? – 14 years
  • What do you love most about our city? – The people, our history and the City’s future
  • What do you think most needs improvement? – Traffic movement through the City
  • What is the civic issue that is the most personally meaningful to you? – Developing a “CAN DO” attitude amoungst City staff.

2. What are the top three initiatives you believe would improve economic development?

  • More support for local business improvement associations
  • Funding a ‘buy local’ campaign
  • Cutting red tape for businesses at City Hall to streamline processes to obtain permits, inspections, etc.
  • Allow business taxpayers to vote in Civic elections

3. How would you like to see city council improve engagement with younger citizens?
We need to have a “Youth” City Council which would be set up through our school & collage systems. They need to be given Duties, Authorities and Responsibilities along with a small budget for specific projects which will give them a taste of what civic governance is all about. This is their City too and they need to be in the drivers seat and this will develope a greater interest in what is happening at City Hall.

4. What should New Westminster do to improve access to recreational programming and indoor public spaces in neighbourhoods that lack amenities like rec centres and libraries such as the West End, Connaught Heights and Sapperton?
Like our health care system, we cannot afford to have each neighborhood have ALL the services available to them. That being stated we need to have centers of different specialist activities in each neighborhood. That way we can spread out activities throughout the City so that each neighborhood can have a specific activity in their area. And, they can access other activities all within the 9 square miles we have in our small City.

5. Which approach best describes your philosophy towards City budgeting and spending?
New West should spend within its means. Borrowing money to fund community projects should only occur after a public consultation process to get a mandate from citizens to do so.

6. Which of the following most closely reflects your views on taxation?
Taxes are too high. The City should freeze or reduce property taxes by any means necessary, even if this requires cutting back on City staffing or services.

7. Beyond voting, serving on City committees and appearing at council meetings, what do you think citizens can do to become more involved in civic life?
We already have Resident Associations and we need to support them even more as they can be a benificial source of information and communication for our local neighborhoods. They can assist the City in delivering what the residents want as opposed to City staff ‘trying’ to guess what residents want. OurCity belongs to the people, not City Hall staff. And, as staff works for the people they need to adopt a “CAN DO” attitude in each and every department.

8. What should be done about truck traffic through our city?
We need goods & services and the trucks which deliver them. We need to encapsulate roadways for thru traffic only with NO exits or entries within City limits. As that traffic flow benifits the region, and there is NO way on or off it in New West, then it truly is a bypass and with no stops, will be faster and will get that traffic off our streets. Then our citizens can truly enjoy their individual neighborhoods and the City will be more liveable.

9. What should be done to improve our recreation facilities? Specifically, what would you like to see done with Canada Games Pool, which is in need of repair/upgrades?
Money is always at the heart of these issues. We need to look at private enterprise and model our civic services along the same lines. Fees for service so that those users pay for what they receive. Our staff also have to be productive and accountable. If a program or service is not productive, drop it and look for those that are productive. Public services should NOT be subsidised if they are competing with private enterprise offering the same service (unless, of course fees for service are the same or more).

10. Let’s conclude with some ‘blue sky’ thinking. What is one big-idea project or improvement that you would propose for New Westminster if cost was no object?
No Response