This Happened

Every week or so I put out a newsletter to subscribers. Usually Wednesday afternoon/evening. It’s generally shorter-form than my posts here, provides updates on what I’ve been up to, with occasional opinion and politics that can get spicy. It’s free, no hassle to subscribe, just hit that “newsletter” link up at the top of the page.

And every once in a while I provide a reminder here, with a hint of what is in last week’s newsletter, where I wrote a bit more about these things:

ReDress day at Hyack Square to mark the annual National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirit People.
Attending the New Westminster Hospice Society annual River Walk for Hospice.
Standing at the Dias speaking during the Mayor’s State of the City address.
New Westminster won the Walk30 Challenge, and a class from QayQayt Elementary went the extra mile.
Taking part in the S&O Beer Run with a couple of council colleagues.

təməsew̓txʷ

Wow. It’s really happening. After more than a decade of planning, we are finally opening the doors on təməsew̓txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre.

I don’t want to write too much here, I want the images to tell the story. Even more, I want you to go down to təməsew̓txʷ and see for yourself what an incredible facility the community has built.

The Grand Opening is June 1st, but as we slowly open the doors and bring programming to the new facility we have had a couple of opening events.

The first was a thank you to the teams that made this happen. This included Mayor Cote, who lead the Council through some of the most challenging consultation, design, and decision-making that led us to this day. It was wonderful to be able to celebrate with Councillors Puchmayr, Harper, Das and Trentadue, who each had a role in the development of this project. From the first decision that a new facility was needed, through public consultation, initial design, more public consultation, procurement, and the final go-ahead in 2020, these leaders were there to help guide us to today, and deserve a victory lap of the pool, and the gratitude of the community.

We also got to thank the team that made the vision a reality. The architects at HCMA, the project managers at Turnbull Construction, and the builders at Heatherbrae. They worked with our stellar project delivery team at the City to deliver this project within weeks of the planned opening and within 5% of the original budget.

If that sounds like I’m hedging “On Time and On Budget”, I want to walk you through the headwinds this project faced. Council had to make a procurement decision at the peak of the 2020 COVID pandemic – a time of unprecedented global economic uncertainty. We were guided with expert advice and (it turns out) incredible foresight to procure then the market conditions could not have been better. Since then, the news tells us of a protected regional labour action affecting the concrete industry, a global supply chain crisis, unprecedented regional construction labor shortages, and the highest construction inflation rates of a generation. Through all that, this incredible team brought this project home – an absolute gold medal performance.

And it is a beautiful building. An integrated and connected aquatic, fitness and community complex, physically and demographically accessible to all, and a new social hub and community destination. Two pools, one ready to support inter-regional competition, one more fun and accessible for a broader community of users. Two hot tubs sauna space, all accessible change rooms. Two gymnasia, dance rooms, meetings rooms, fitness area twice the size of the previous buildings, and a community living room connecting them all.

The first aquatic centre in Canada to achieve the Canada Green Building Council Zero Carbon Building-Design Standard, and designed to follow the Rick Hansen Foundation Gold Accessibility certification which considers people of differing levels of physical mobility, as well as addresses gender and cultural sensitivities.

The City’s largest ever capital investment, now having the keys turned over to an operation team who have already spent months staffing up, training up, and learning how to work in this new space. All of this required coordinated efforts across city departments, from Finance, to engineering to Parks and Recreation. There are a lot of kudos to hand out here.

The community has a new heart. I hope you head over there and check it out, because it belongs to you. The “dry side” is open now, the aquatic centre side will soft open on May 14, and there will be a Grand Opening celebration on June 1. All the info you need is available here.

This happened

Every week or so I put out a newsletter to subscribers. Usually Wednesday. It’s generally shorter-form than my posts here, provides updates on what I’ve been up to, with occasional opinion and politics. It’s free, no hassle to subscribe, just hit that “newsletter” link up at the top of the page.

Here’s a hint in what was in last week’s newsletter, where I wrote a bit more about these things:

Opening of an affordable housing project in the Downtown.
Business Roundtable with the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions on the City’s Three Crises Response Pilot.
Vaisakhi events, including a tour of Queensborough Gurdwara.
…and a walk in the Park that passed a baseball game.

Sign up here to find out more, and to keep track of what’s happening.

This Happened (23.6)

The last two weekends have been action packed. Summer events season is upon us, and I can’t possibly blog all of the events happening in town, but here are some highlights from the last couple of weeks.

With the end of May comes the opening of the 2023 Salmonbellies season, with a convincing win by the home team, S&O beer for sale, and Chief Larabee performing the ceremonial faceoff, it was a fun night overall! (no, I wasn’t wearing a jersey, I wore that shirt to celebrate the colour of the legendary QPA wood floor)
The Hyack Parade was as well attended as I’ve seen in a decade, and more than 100 entries. Here I was chatting with one of the Filipino cultural groups in the parade, as we all staged for the walk ahead.
There was a great street fest following the Hyack Parade, with booths, music, food trucks, and the best imaginable weather.
There was a great street fest following the Hyack Parade, with booths, music, food trucks, and the best imaginable weather.
There are several other events that come along with the Hyack Parade, including the planting of a rose in front of City Hall by the Royal Rosarians of Portland to honour (or “honor” as they spell it) the President of Hyack.

The same day as the Hyack Parade and Festival, the May Day celebrations took place in Queens Park, featuring 2023 May Queen Alessia Preovolos (right).

The same weekend, the Greater Vancouver edition of the Walk to Make Cystic Fibrosis History started at Ryall Park. There was a great turnout, and inspirational words from people impacted by CF. You can learn more and help them with their fundraising goals here.
This weekend included the annual Newcomers Festival and Information Fair, organized at the Welcome Centre at NWSS, where Chinu Das (a force behind getting the Welcome Centre built) was the Master of Ceremonies.
The Newcomers Fair, I got to meet groups of youth (and their parents) recently arrived from Ukraine, Eritrea, Columbia, and other places. It was great to hear what they liked about New West/Canada and what they missed from home.
I was also able to drop by the Opening of the new show at the New Media Gallery- entitled “Dust”. The Anvil had youth performing in the theatre, a wedding on the main floor, and other events on a busy Saturday.
Arts New West was also holding their first Craft Market of the season at the boardwalk at the River Market.
The Quayside Boardwalk was also the location of the “5th annual” (after a bit of a Covid pause) River Walk for Hospice. It started brilliantly on a sunny Sunday morning with the Rainbow Chorus.

I love Summer time. Wait – its not summer yet?

THIS HAPPENED (23.5)

Aya Carumba, I been busy. Mostly good stuff, but a lot going on. I’m walking every day (come along!), there are Metro and TransLink meetings happening, and as we wish April Showers goodbye, it looks like my May calendar is already filling up to a distressing degree. So I don’t have time to blog much, but here is my oft-promised and always-late photo essay of things I have been doing that aren’t strictly work, though a lot of it is work.

I got to stand next to a ribbon being cut! This for the KIDS Queensborough Childcare centre, built through a partnership between the City, the Province, and Anthem Properties. This is a City-owned building that the development built as an amenity as part of their townhouse development, with funds from the City and the province to fit the spaces out.

I took a quick trip over to Victoria for the Municipal Finance Authority Annual General Meeting (New Westminster is a member). While I was there I was able to set up a couple of side-meetings, including with Jason Lum, who is Chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District and an all-around great guy. We talked about Metro-FV alignment on flood preparedness, air quality, and inter-regional transportation in preparation for the Lower Mainland LGA meeting coming up in May.

I also went out to the Fraser Valley to join Metro Vancouver senior staff and Board Members for a two-day Strategic Planning session that was informative and at times challenging, with the massive scale of infrastructure work Metro needs to do in coming years.

New Westminster hosted (for the first time!) the Pacific Contact conference at the Anvil Centre and Massey Theatre. This conference by the BC Touring Council brings performing artists and venues across BC together to showcase, network, and coordinate seasons for travelling performing artists. It was great for New West to showcase the Massey Theatre and Anvil Theatre, and I was able to provide a welcome to delegates and provide a bit of the background of the two theatres and the City’s continued commitment to performance arts. It was great to run into (and bend the ear of) Briana Doyle, who is more famous in New Westminster than you might expect!

Vaisakhi was on April 14th, and the good folks at the Gurdwara Sahib Sukh Sagar wanted to “share the harvest” and thank City staff for their work thought the pandemic, and offered a free lunch to crews at the City’s Works Yard. The food was delicious, and we lucked out with a sunny day that made for a great picnic for staff. This was a really generous offer by the folks at the Gurdwara, and it was great to be able to break bread with the outdoor crews in such a casual setting.

The Local HUB Cycling chapter invited me to their monthly meeting to talk about what the City is doing for active transportation, and to let me know what they see as the big priorities in the year ahead.

Like many Local Government folks around the region, I attended the UBCM Housing Conference in Vancouver. I don’t remember there ever being an event like this, with so many elected folks and planning staff from local governments, provincial government representatives (including the leaders of all three Provincial parties) and housing providers in the same room, talking about the need for different and more aggressive approaches to getting housing approved and built. The panels were great learning, but the networking and connections were the most valuable part, especially for the new members of Council.

One of the Conference days, I slipped out for an hour to run across the street and see the UBC SACRP Studio student project presentations, including one sponsored by the City of New Westminster on the topis of public washroom services.

I also dropped by the opening of the New West Artists pop-up gallery space at the Community Space at Columbia Square,

A few members of Council attended the Fraser River Discovery Centre Hall of Fame induction of SRY and SeaSpan. It was great to meet more of the people who work on the river, and bend the ears of the Port and marine carriers about our common interests.

And finally, Earth Day came and went, which brought a lot of activities to the City. I joined the Family Bike Ride organized by a couple of local “Rad Moms” and Babies for Climate Action with some support for the local HUB chapter. A few folks there were unsarcastcially thankful of City of New West for building safer bike infrastructure, though they do still need work to do to make the network complete.

This Happened (23.4)

It’s been a busy week, a busy month. Lots going on. I hope I don’t sound to frantic!. I do occasionally like to write these blog posts to give brief summary of some of the things I have been up to, but have some catching up to do, so this goes all the way back to March 8th when there was…

The Downtown BIA AGM and Social! I wasn’t able to stick around for the entire AGM, but it was a well attended event at the Terminal, and fun and smiles were all around.

I left early as that night I took part in the annual Metro Vancouver Homeless Count. Over the two days of March 7 and 8, teams across the Lower Mainland attempt to estimate the number of people without secure housing, and do a bit of a survey to help determining the factors and causes that led to them not having secure housing. The stories you are told, the diverse histories of people living rough in our community, and the systemic failures that often lead to a form of societal abandonment are both shocking, and banal.

Along with MLA Jennifer Whiteside, I was able to provide some welcome remarks and attend some of the Bottom Line Conference at the Anvil Centre. This conference was organized by the Canadian Mental Health association and was a gathering to talk about workplace mental health.

I also had a chance to have a pretty informal meeting with Mayor Lahti of Port Moody to talk about some regional issues, dog sports, and the nexus of conditions that led to Brewery Row.

Bosley’s Pet Store held a Bollywood Fundraiser to celebrate their 12th anniversary, and to raise money for the New Westminster Animal Shelter, where elected officials were offered the chance to embarrass themselves in a Bollywood Dance off. And we did so.

New West Pride also held a Pride Pub Night that raised some money for their organization, brought folks together and allowed us to celebrate Don’s 60th Birthday!

I was asked to drop the Puck for the final game of the Al Hughes Tournament for U-13 teams hosted by the New West Minor Hockey Association. The Royals fought a valiant battle for silver in the tournament, matching the silver medal won by the U-11 team in the same event.

When a group of Reporters-in-Training from BCIT’s journalism program shows up at a Council meeting, they were hoping to interview me after the Meeting. As the meeting went pretty late (alas) I agree to meet them later in the week at City Hall, and they had a chance to do an old-fashioned scrum, peppering me with questions about the Council Meeting. And mug for a few photos.

The Royal Westminster Regiment held their first Annual Dinner since the COVID thing shut this type of event down. I had some great conversations with the CO and the Chief Warrant Officer about the impacts of COVID, changes in the forces related to NATO support for Ukraine, and some potential increased collaboration between the Regiment and City.

Speaking of doing your duty as a Canadian, I was one of a small elite team of volunteers who took the CAO of TransLink (who was born and raised south of the Curling-NASCAR line) to the Royal City Curling Club and taught him the basics of the Roaring Game. Have to say, dude got the knack of it fast!

Yes the meeting with Anita Huberman happened. And… I think I’ll have to write a blog post about that.

I was able to have sit-downs with the two newest members of the New Westminster Police Board, and you will be hearing more about their contributions in the years ahead.

Finally, I was able to sit down at City Hall with the new Minister of Municipal Affairs. We were able to talk about some of the City’s ongoing initiatives around housing and livability, discuss our support for regional calls for better accountability of local government elected officials, and thank her for championing the Growing Communities Fund through cabinet.

This Happened (23.3)

Another necessarily-incomplete run-down of the things I have been doing that aren’t Council Meetings. It’s a little weird to try to report on everything, because my calendar is stuffed these days, and some things are more fun/interesting/relevant than others. So in no particular order, here are some things I’ve been up to. Besides randomly running into people at coffee shops and posing for selfies:

Met with Aman Singh at Mood Swing Coffee to talk Q’boro transportation, and another Q’boro denizen dropped by.

There are a series of talks and events at Douglas College under the umbrella of the “Changing the Conversation Project” which are exploring different aspects of community, housing, homelessness, and poverty. As February is Black History Month, they led a panel discussion on the Black experience in housing in the Lower Mainland, tying together the history of Hogans Alley to the Swahili Vision participation in an affordable housing project in New Westminster.

The moderator of the discussion “From Displacement to Housing Justice” was Lama Mugabo, Founding Director of Hogan’s Alley Society.

February also brought us Family Day, and there was a lot going on around New West, including an open door at the Learning Lab at the Anvil Centre. This is the hands-on offshoot of the New Media Gallery where people of all ages (yes, adults can learn to 3D print!) learn about new media video and sound, programming, electronics, robotics, and digital creativity. You should check it out.

Kids playing with Little Bits, a learning toy that does for electronics what Lego does for construction.

Some members of Council took a tour of the Fraser River Discovery Centre to see what their new initiatives are, and to learn about their vision in the years ahead.

Members of the FRDC Board and staff guide Council members though their exhibit spaces.

I went to my first wedding in something like 8 years. It was great fun (Congrats Jack and Jason!) but more personal than Mayoral, so I wouldn’t normally report out here. Except that the grooms knew enough to seat me next to a guy who I have mentioned on this blog, but never actually met before, Jens von Bergmann at Mountain Math. So it was half wedding, half geeking out on housing policy, and therefore a perfect evening!

We went to a wedding, and a housing policy discussion broke out!

You may not know that March 3rd is Bulgarian Liberation Day, marking the day in 1878 that the Treaty of San-Stefano was signed, and Bulgaria was liberated from Ottoman rule. For the first time since COVID, this day was marked by the raising of the Bulgarian flag at Friendship gardens, an event attended by representatives of the local Bulgarian-Canadian community, the honourary Consel General, and Senator Yonah Martin, who is co-chair of the Canada-Bulgaria Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group.

The Bulgarian Flag was raised at Friendship Gardens to the sounds of Mila Rodino.

I also had a visit in the Mayor’s Office from a group of new Canadians that was organized by the Welcome Centre at NWSS. This group have been learning about Canada and New Westminster, and were able to tour City Hall to learn about how local government works. It was great to welcome them, and show them around Council Chambers and some of the curiosities of the Mayor’s office, like the Chain of Office and registry signed by the actual Queen and the King of Pop.

The Mayor’s office is a bit small for this number of visitors!

This last weekend was also busy with overlapping events. The Dancers of Damelahamid were hosting the annual Coastal Dance Festival at the Anvil Centre, and I was able to see several performances, including the group Dakhká Khwaán from Whitehorse who really (in their own words) brought the noise.

Spot the Light Sabre.

Saturday was also Hoobiyee, the Nisga’a New Year celebration. This is a big event both in the Nass Valley, and in the Lower Mainland where a large number of Nisga’a people live, and the celebration is shared with Indigenous people from around the province and beyond. This year, the festival filled the PNE forum with dancers, music, crafts, food and storytelling, and I was honoured to meet the organizers and take part in the event.

Hoobiyee 2023 at the PNE Forum

And finally, I was invited to join the head table at the New Westminster Police Department’s annual Mess Dinner – their first post-COVID. It was a great evening of speeches, memories, more than a few jokes, (“What happens when a member of the NWPD leaves to join the RCMP? The average IQ of both organizations go up!”) with a mix of camaraderie and formality that always kind of keeps you on edge.

The Head Table at the 2023 NWPD Mess Dinner

Now that curling season is almost over, and the days are getting longer, event season is rushing towards us. I hope I will have time to keep writing these summaries. Meanwhile, get out there and enjoy the events of New West. If you see me out there, be sure to say Hi. And remind me to get a photo.

This Happened (23.2)

One thing I have discovered about myself is that I am not very good at the getting the photo. I am having meetings all of the time in this job, and am going to some fun events and many of both really should result in a photo. To prove I was there, to promote the event or person I was meeting with, to fill the space in these update blog posts I call “This Happened” about what I have been up to. I need to work on that.

A good example has been the meetings I have been having at various City facilities with City staff who work there. I have been trying to get out to various departments with coffee to just chat with the folks who are on the “front line” doing the often thankless public-facing work, and those in the offices who do the things that keep a complex organization running. They are really great learnings for me, and a chance to familiarize myself with the different complexities of the City. But I always forget to get a photo.

As a Council, we have been wrapping up our onboarding tours and meetings, which means we have seen the innards of the new təməsew̓txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre, and have seen the working parts of some of our older facilities. We were able to see the ice room for the Queens Park Arena, which is spic-and-span in its newness, as the old ice plant has been recently replaced with a much safer and more efficient plant that not only reduces the risk of ammonia spills, but also is way more energy efficient:

That’s a new ice plant, the compressor part.

I was able to attend the Hyack President’s Tea at Centennial Hall, where I shared tea with President Penny McIvor, met some of the new Executive Members and the 2023 Ambassadors. It was great to be back to meeting in person for these events, and I know the entire community is looking forward to the 2023 Hyack Parade and festival.

Tea with the Ambassadors and the President. I might be out of my element here, with all their poise and elegance. Yeah, that’s a cake in front of us.

I have continued to work with regional leaders on some common interests, including hosting a couple of members of Langley City Council at one of our City’s best meeting spaces:

At S&O with Nathan Pachal and Paul Albrecht from Langley City.

And had several Metro Vancouver meetings, which are generally held at their offices in Burnaby. As there are commonly two meetings a day, there is some lag time when Board Directors from around the regions can network, or just point the back of our laptops at each other.

Area A Director Jen McCutcheon, Bowen Island Mayor Andrew Leonard, and their laptops.

There was also a press event I attended with some members of the TransLink Mayors Council to announce the launch of the new battery electric buses. These Nova all-electric buses are going to be serving the 100 route from 22nd Street Station to Cambie. They have 100+km range, can be charged in 5 minutes with that overhead gantry thingy, and are made in Canada!

Mayor Brad west points to the Electric Bus, Senior government electeds look on with awe and inspiration.

Have I mentioned the meetings? I had a great sit-down with Jay Chalke, the Ombudsperson for the Province about their program and mandate, and their role in assuring citizens are treated fairly by Local Governments. He was also able to share some of the research the Ombudsperson office does to provide guidance to elected officials and others in the Public Service to assure the public interest is served.

I also had a chance to meet with Paul Horn who has the unique distinction of being a fellow Mayor (the District of Mission) and the President of the Senior Salmonbellies, which gave us the chance to talk about “mayor life”, and about how the City and the ‘Bellies can partner more closely.

I not only attended the 10th anniversary Pecha Kucha New West event, but I was invited to be one of the presenters. For those out of the loop – a Pecha Kucha night is when around 10 people give shot presentations on something they are passionate about. The presentation are kept short (Under 7 minutes) by the rule “20 slides, 20 seconds each”, and the slide change every 20 seconds automatically, so you need to keep up. There was a great turnout for the 10th event, some great speakers (my highlights by paraphrased title: “I tried Rugby at 35” and “Talking about shame”), and the MC of the night was a real ham:

Ria was the MC of the night, I was speaker #6. She was way more relaxed about this than I.

Finally, for reasons that were all over the news, Members of Council and some senior staff from the City did a tour of the Shipyards in North Vancouver to see what a transformation of public space can look like, and to hear a bit from the Mayor of North Van of the challenges and opportunities the pace presented:

Some of Council, lighting it up at Shipyards.

And a few of us may have popped into the Copperpenny after, but those memories are fuzzy.

This Happened (23.1)

Regular readers (Hi Mom!) might remember some of my earlier practice of talking up community events I go to and cool things happening in the City. I am going to try to get back into this practice, because there is a lot going on, and because I don’t have time to celebrate it all at the great length it probably deserves. I’m so grateful for all the people doing good things to bring the community together and celebrate New West. Here’s some good moments that happened so far in 2023:

Had a meeting with the one and only Cassius Khan to talk about his experiences as an artist and an arts supporter in New West. He also signed CDs (you can’t really sign a digital file!) for me and Councillor Campbell. As always, he was generous with his thoughts and ideas, and the most gracious person you could ever meet.
New West Firefighters had their annual Tree Chipping, event at City Hall to give folks an chance to recycle their dried out tree, and raise money (More than $5,000 this year!) for their Charitable Society. Every day, NWFF deliver heavy lifting with a smile!
I was able to do a tour of Douglas College, see some of the exciting changes at the New West campus, and talk about their proposed new academic and residence building. I also learned about their “Coat of Arms”, that was recently designed by Carrielynn Victor, an artist from S’olh Temexw who was able to blend traditional knowledge and language from this region into what is typically a very Colonial media.
I was at the Royal City Curling Club to give greetings from New Westminster to the Scottish contingent visiting Canada as part of the century-old tradition of the Strathcona Cup series of  friendlies between Scottish and Canadian club teams.
There is a new photography exhibit at the Anvil Centre Community Art Space on the third floor. These are photos and short essays on “What Housing Means to Me”, prepared by residents of the supportive housing lodge in Queensborough. This is a simple, but really thoughtful, exhibition you should check out!
There was also a near full house for the first evening of the Outside/In program at Anvil Centre, as the BC World Music Collective brought a diverse program of music from around the Americas (with a bit of Africa thrown in) that left everyone thinking on the way home: Who knew you could do that with a tambourine?
And of course, January 22nd was Lunar New Year, and there were a few events around the region, including a traditional big event at the Nikkei Centre featuring the Whos Who of Burnaby and New West, where I was honoured to be invited to Dot the Dragon’s Eye and enjoy the loud and boisterous dance. I also go to hang with these cool kids…
…and we were also invited to take part in a perhaps louder and more boisterous Dragon parade at the Starlight Casino, which really pulled out all of the stops to ring in the Year of the Rabbit. gōng xi fā cái!

This Happened (v.5)

Yikes, too much going on since last time I reported out on my Council-adjacent activities, so I’ll keep this short. One paragraph each (scroll down to see if I keep that promise, kinda curious if I do myself…)

I am on the Lower Mainland LGA executive, and we had an executive meeting to move some business along, which was mostly about making some fundamental program decisions about the 2020 conference we are planning for the beginning of May. It looks like a great program, so if you are a Local Government elected type reading this (and who else would?) make sure you register!

I gave opening greetings as “Acting Mayor” at the 2020 Innovation Expo at Anvil Centre. This annual event is part of the Intelligent New West program, where we bring people working in tech and innovation in the private sector together with people from the public sector to talk about how the two can work together to build capacity and promote investment in science and engineering. One of New West’s innovative businesses – Landcor – was a major sponsor of the event this year, and the event was really well attended.

Last weekend, the City of New West also hosted the semi-annual Council of Councils meeting, where local elected types from accross Metro Vancouver get together to get an update on what Metro Vancouver is up to. I guess I should write a blog post about separately!

On the same day, a few of us from Council attended the annual Royal New Westminster Regiment Mess Dinner, which is an event I have never actually had the honour of attending before. I was lucky to be seated with some members involved in the Cadet programs, and it was great to hear about the work they do, and the role they play in the community.

I am now serving as Chair of two new Council advisory committees: Facilities, Infrastructure, and Public Realm Advisory Committee (“FIPRAC”) and the Sustainable Transportation Advisory Committee (“STAC”), and both had their opening meeting in the last two weeks. It occurs to me now that I need to write another blog post about this, and how we are envisioning our new advisory committees being more effective and efficient.

For reasons too complicated to get into here, I was able to tour the OceanWise laboratory at the Pacific Science Enterprise Centre, which is what we are now calling the old DFO laboratories in West Vancouver. I was there to learn about some of the work OceanWise is doing to better understand microplastic pollution in our marine environment. This is an emerging area of science, as the impacts of residual clothing fibres, tire dust, paint chips, and other microscopic plastic particles are not well understood, even as we are now recognizing they have become ubiquitous in our oceans, air and sediments, and are becoming more common in marine micro- and mega-fauna. We may be some distance from knowing if we have any policy levers to do anything about this, but the foundational science is being done to at least allow us a better understanding of the problem.

I am also the Chair of the Community Energy Association, a not-for-profit agency that helps communities across BC (and increasingly adjacent parts of Yukon and Alberta) set and achieve energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. We had a meeting last week where we approved a 2020 budget and set some priorities for special initiatives for the year ahead (including a new website, so enjoy this one while it lasts!).

I had a brief telephone interview with CKNW’s Jill Bennett on the morning of February 29th to talk about Council’s plans to undertake a master planning exercise for the 22nd Street Station area. It is interesting that a mention of reducing auto-dependency, even as a long-term plan in light of a Climate Emergency, triggers a strong reaction for people. Even as we continue to have a regional vision of less car dependency, the idea that we can create an area attractive to people who choose to not be car-reliant, even in a small underdeveloped area around a 30-year-old SkyTrain station, is treated with the level of incredulity expected if we were planning a moon base.

I was able to attend the small vigil/gathering at Hyack Square last weekend to show support for the Wet’suwet’en people and express hopes for respectful dialogue and a peaceful resolution for the current dispute. It was nice to see some local engaged residents come out, and I had some great conversations with people. Although there has been some positive news coming out of Victoria and Smithers as the two sides work towards resolution, the discussion on that day was mostly around how unhealthy and divisive the conversation was in the social and traditional media on this topic. Having a gathering of people support a more respectful model of discourse left me feeling more positive about our community. Thanks to the organizers for this!

There was also a successful fundraiser event thrown last weekend by the Rotary Club of New Westminster that brought a couple of hundred people to the Royal City Centre atrium to have a some snacks and taste craft beer from around the region as an excuse to raise money for two great organizations in the City, I’s on the Street and KidSport.

Finally, the Royal City Curling Club is winding its season down over March, and Team DeGobbi went into the playoffs in 12th seed, and won our first game against the #5 seed but then lost our second game to the 14th seed, so we have the long row to hoe if we plan to go deep in the playoffs. If you are wondering where I am Tuesdays and Thursday evenings…