The New West Progressives party has pledged to install free parking on New Westminster City-run property if elected in the next municipal election.
Daniel Fontaine, candidate for mayor under the party, says such a strategy is about “the economic revitalization and vibrancy of our business districts.”
“One way to do that is to make sure that people who shop and come here for entertainment aren’t nickel and dime,” Fontaine said.
The party’s strategy proposes to provide battery electric vehicles with two hours of free parking, while all other non-zero emission vehicles would get one hour of free parking. They claim that the municipal government’s use of digital pay parking stations enables this capability.
This would seem to run counter to the current City Council’s aggressive approach of actively discouraging car use and encouraging public transit, walking and cycling. It’s also unclear how lost parking revenue would be made up for.
But in recent years, some jurisdictions in Canada and the United States have used free parking as a tool to help support struggling businesses, and these measures are usually supported by local business improvement associations.
The Halifax municipal government recently adopted the new approach of waiving parking fines in exchange for spending $35 at a local business.
The New Western Progressives were formed before the 2018 municipal elections, but they were unable to gain a foothold on the city council. The party’s four alderman candidates placed just behind the six elected winners, with Fontaine coming the closest by a seat – just over a thousand votes short.
Danielle Connelly, who sits on the New Westminster School Board, is the party’s only incumbent in the 2022 election.
The party’s candidate for mayor is Ken Armstrong, who is a lawyer and former president of the British Columbia chapter of the Canadian Bar Association. The race to become mayor of New Westminster is wide open, as current mayor Jonathan Côté is not seeking re-election after two terms as mayor and three terms as councilor.
New West Progressives are fielding five candidates for the councilman seats.
Fontaine, who ranked seventh on city council in the 2018 election, served as chief of staff in the Vancouver mayor’s office between 2005 and 2008, during Sam Sullivan’s tenure under the NPA. Previously, he was also a board member of 2010 Legacies Now and Mitacs, and a columnist for the now defunct 24 Hours Vancouver. Most recently, he was Deputy Minister and CEO of Metis Nation BC.
Other candidates for New West Progressives City Council are business manager and former competitive cyclist Jiayi Li-McCarthy, accountant Rick Folka, attorney Karima Budhwani and The Heritage Grill restaurant owner and operator Paul Minhas.
According to the party’s website, their campaign platform will focus on the basics such as repairing crumbling infrastructure and inadequate community amenities and facilities, and tackling crime, public safety, economic recovery and social justice. housing affordability.
“I have grown increasingly frustrated with our current city council, which I believe has gone astray. Rather than just writing my frustrations on a Facebook post or sending another tweet, I decided to put my name forward for public office to be part of the solution,” says Minhas.
“Whether it was a lack of support for our police and the downtown business community, or the fact that City Hall simply stopped listening to average citizens, I felt compelled to demonstrate and offer voters an alternative perspective… We need to be more engaged. We need to make sure our streets are safe for everyone. We need to ensure that senior levels of government hear loud and clear that our priorities for adequate housing options for our homeless and mentally ill people living on our streets are being met.
When it comes to revitalizing downtown New Westminster, Minhas says attention should be focused on Columbia Street. “The ‘Golden Mile’ must once again serve as the primary hub of our business and commercial activities,” he says.
Residents of Metro Vancouver will go to the polls on October 15, 2022 for their municipality’s individual municipal elections.