Voice could not have said it better: D. Brown’s letter in the Record

D. Brown’s letter in Saturday’s Record has raised many of the same issues Voice has been raising for the past several years.

While we do not know who D. Brown is, nor is he/she known to Voice, we could not have articulated these issues better and we fully agree with Brown.

For example, D. Brown points to the fact that “The city is piling on residential units at an astonishing rate, yet is not balancing that with infrastructure to support them.”

Of course, one of the consequences of expanding the city’s population without increasing public infrastructure, as Brown states, is the meagre allotment of swim times and skate times “suitable for school children” on weekdays, which Brown says “compares very poorly to other municipalities’ leisure centres, such as Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Delta and Vancouver, which are available, in part or whole, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.”


The 37-year-old Canada Games Pool, is the most used facility in the city. Fourteen thousand children a year take lessons there.” (from D. Brown’s letter in the Record)


D. Brown also comments on the Pier Park and states: “The city has seen fit to commit to $53-plus million for a riverfront, perimeter road/rail-hugging park that is looking more and more like a taxpayer-supplied amenity for the Larco towers that will be built between Sixth and Eighth streets.”

This mirrors the central point that Voice has been trying to make over the past several years; i.e., that during the last eight years the city has slowly but steadily been turned into a bedroom community.

There has been a clear and dramatic increase in density in the city accompanied by the steady erosion of jobs. This has resulted in a shift in the city’s tax base, and what used to be a consistent tax-producing commercial-industrial base has been converted for the most part into multi-family housing which requires a significant increase in costly public services and amenities.

And as D. Brown points out, these public services and amenities, including those vital to children and families, have not kept up with the increasing densification of New Westminster.

Ironically, it was the announcement of a New Westminster Children’s Charter, and its juxtaposition with the strain being placed on New Westminster’s only public indoor pool, that occasioned D. Brown’s letter.

While we reserve judgement on the new Children’s Charter until we see whether it translates words in concrete action, as Brown points out in his/her letter, if things don’t change in this city “the playroom at McDonald’s could be the major recreational facility in New West” and our children will be adults by the time urgently needed school replacement projects are completed.

STOP THE PRESSES!

We had to laugh when we saw the Record and NewsLeader’s sensationalized “news flash” stories about Bob Osterman and Betty McIntosh “leaving” Voice. News travels fast in this town, eh? Will they be reporting on the disappearance of Amelia Earhart or the landing of the first man on the moon next?

Bob Osterman hasn’t really been part of Voice since the election campaign two years ago. We don’t have any particular problem with Bob or the representation he has provided for the community, but Bob was really only onboard with Voice during the election — and only nominally so — as he really never fully bought into the concept of a team working together for a common purpose.

But for the record (no pun intended), Bob Osterman has never been central to Voice and we presume vice versa. Despite the slow news day “news flash” stories, things are pretty much as they always have been and no one ever expected that Bob would run with Voice again.

We can certainly appreciate the kind of strain that Bob and Betty have been under on council during the past two years. In the Record, Betty very eloquently alluded to the kind of bullying they’ve been subjected to at the hands of their council mates from the-slate-that-claims-they-aren’t-a-slate. We feel for Bob and Betty on this point and have always indicated our readiness to back them up on issues. They took a bold step in joining forces with Voice and stepping away, albeit tentatively, from the past and into the future.

Unfortunately, Bob and Betty didn’t have the same strongly developed connection to the Voice team the way the three Voice school trustees did and consequently Bob and Betty didn’t have the strength to stand up to the bullying. And based on what we’ve seen and heard over the past year or so, Bob seems to have been particularly shaken by the experience of stepping out from his old comfort zone.

Fortunately for the community, Lisa Graham, Jim Goring and Casey Cook have had a much more successful, more team-spirited relationship on the school board with solid support from the community and Voice members. As a result of that mutually supportive spirit they’ve demonstrated the kind of positive results that can be achieved when the community’s interests are put before special interests.

The strong community voice the Voice trustees have brought to the school board table is what got things on track with the middle school and high school projects after decades of watching these projects languish in a cloud of stale thinking and the patronizing “we-know-best” attitude of trustees from the-slate-that-claims-they-aren’t-a-slate slate.

So, contrary to amusingly sensationalized non-news stories on the subject in the NewsLeader and Record, Voice is very much alive; And slowly but surely the nepotism, cronyism and special interest agendas that have taken precedence over community interests in New Westminster for decades are being replaced by accountability, transparency and fresh thinking, and Voice is at the forefront of bringing about these positive changes.

We wish Bob and Betty all the best in the final year of their electoral term and we will continue to be ready to back them up on issues of importance to the community. But we’re also keeping our eyes open for fresh new talent that can help move our community into the future while building on the best of the past. And we’ll also be watching for any breaking news on the Amelia Earhart and moon landing stories!

Enjoying the summertime lull

Everyone deserves time off and the Express crew are no different. We hope everyone has been enjoying their well-deserved summer hiatus and making the most of the hot, sunny weather we’ve had in recent weeks.

But September is approaching fast and the cooler weather today is a reminder that summer is starting to wind down.

And despite the summertime lull, there is no shortage of issues requiring the attention and participation of the community.

Notable on the list of simmering issues are the school district capital project and the waterfront pier project.

Waste-to-energy is also back on the table at Metro Vancouver and concerns are being expressed about the implications for New Westminster.

The replacement of the Pattullo Bridge is also emerging as an issue requiring community attention with word that city hall has received a proposed bridge replacement plan from Translink and that Translink is awaiting a response from the city.

As summer winds down and we start returning to our posts we wanted to put some of these issues on people’s radar because September in really just days away now.

Best wishes to all from the Express and we hope everyone fully enjoys the rest of the summertime lull.

SD40 Capital Project framework announced

Congratulations are in order for all parties involved in what appears to be a very encouraging proposal and framework for resolving the many longstanding issues relating to the school district’s capital plan (a plan which includes replacement of New Westminster’s only secondary school, construction of a third middle school, and the replacement of John Robson elementary).



This proposal provides facilities for up to 3,000 of the district’s school children which is good news indeed.



We will be eagerly watching community reaction to the proposal which also includes replacement of the Massey Theatre and the addition of Neighbourhoods of Learning facilities.



Four key documents relating to the project proposal that provide additional details can be accessed through the links below:



Press Release



Capital Project Proposed Comprehensive Plan



Letter from the Minister of Education



Performing Arts Centre Business Framework Agreement



There are also some related articles in the local papers and these can be accessed through the links below.



Massey Theatre could be replaced as part of high school project (New Westminster News Leader: July 21, 2010)



Parents’ groups say high school/Massey plan is ‘promising’(New Westminster News Leader: July 22, 2010)



School plans unveiled (New West Record July 21, 2010)



We’re looking forward to the comments and reactions from the community to this long-awaited announcement.