This was a non-Council week, as the annual Union of BC Municipalities meeting was being held in Vancouver. I was not able to attend the annual summit of good, honest, hard-working rural BC and latté-sipping condo dwellers of Greater Vancouver due to work commitments, but several of my activities were otherwise dictated by its happening.
On Wednesday, I attended my first meeting of the Contaminated Sites Approved Professionals Society board. I was recently appointed by the Province to be the local government representative on that board. The CSAP provides professional oversight to the approval and certification processes under the Contaminated Sites Regulation. There were some seriously keen minds around that board table (many I have worked with before), and it is interesting to have another insight into how policy is implements and carried out in the interface between government and science.
Also on Wednesday, the City’s Advisory Committee for Transit, Bicycles, and Pedestrians (ACTBiPed) did our slightly belated “summer walkabout”. This was a tradition started by the previous ACTBiPed chair (and current Mayor) where the committee gets out of the committee room and, by bike or foot, looks at transportation “trouble spots” to have a conversation about how to make things work better. Sustainable transportation advocates, interested citizens, a Council Member, and staff working together to better understand the problems on the ground, and to chat about specific solutions.
This year, we went to the top of the West End to look at connections between the New Westminster and Burnaby greenway networks across 10th Avenue, especially in light of potential larger-scale developments on the Burnaby side. Cyclist will recognize the offset streets where they cross 10th, and the challenges that this create when trying to cross the street safely. We also had great discussions about improving the London bikeway, and about encroachment on City boulevards by some homeowners which often impact the accessibility of the public space.
Thursday was the New Westminster stop on the Fraser Fest tour, organized by the Rivershed Society of BC, which just happened to coincide with the launch of River Fest, our biggest annul waterfront event in New Westminster. It was a rainy day, but a small brave crowd came out to hear great music, and to hear from a couple of local heroes in the “protecting the river” game: Marc Angelo (the founder of World Rivers Day) and Fin Donnelly (of swam-the-river-twice fame).
Thursday was also the Annual General Meeting of the New West Pride Society. Outgoing President Jeremy Perry ran a great AGM as his last official presidential duty, for what have been a spectacular year of successes for Pride. Their street fair was bigger and bolder than ever, their finances are secure, they have made some serious impacts on improving inclusivity in the city, and are ready to ramp up to make 2016 even better. New President Mike Tiney was so cool and coordinated during this year’s huge Pride Street Fair, you can see his confidence and experience is going to serve New West Pride well.
Friday, the Safe Energy Leadership Alliance met in New Westminster. This multi-agency group brings local and regional government leaders from Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia together to talk about trans-border solutions to common concerns around the transportation of fossil fuels through our communities in trains and pipelines. We discussed upcoming projects all along the Pacific Coast, heard from subject experts on regulatory challenges and spill response capabilities (short version – little of it was good news if you like oil-free beaches) and discussed pathways forward. It was a fruitful and interesting discussion, and I am glad representatives of New Westminster, Burnaby, Vancouver, PoCo and Richmond were there to forge cross-border collaborations.
Friday was also the start of the Feast on the Fraser event with a Boathouse Restaurant and Steel & Oak Brewing collaboration starting things off. This event is continuing for 10 days, you should follow that link and buy some tickets to one of the great foodie events happening across New West.
After filling up at the Boathouse, I joined the Mayor and other Councillors at the Hyacks Football Homecoming game. The entire homecoming extravaganza is pretty exciting, and a great community-wide event, from the game ball parachute drop to the rousing defeat of GW Graham. But the pre-game tug-o-war competition between City Hall, the School District, Fraser Health and the New Westminster District Labour Council was a new tradition. After easily defeating the medical types, your Mayor and Council (with a few hired guns) we defeated in a hard-fought battle with the Labour Council Machine. The jokes write themselves.
The weekend was full of River Fest activity down on the Quay, and the sun gloriously came out to shine upon the event expertly organized by the good folks at the Fraser River Discovery Centre. There were big crowds for the annual Work Boat Parade, lots of art, interpretation and love for the river that sustains us.
And then I attended a rare outside-of-NewWest event (but we like to the think Urban Digs Farm is just a temporarily inconvenienced New West institution), and there were a lot of New West folks there on Saturday night. Their annual Baconfest was a month delayed this year due to a variety of factors, but it made for a great evening on the Farm. They had bacon-themed food and drink, lots of food for sale, hay bales under the patio lanterns, incredible music of the washboard-and-moonshine flavour by The Still Spirits, and fun all around. If you choose to eat meat, you should check out Urban Digs and see how meat can be made more ethically and sustainably, and how much better the meat tastes when it is done that way. They are good people, working hard, almost making money, building a community and connecting us latte-sipping condo dwellers to the food we eat in a unique way.
Oh, and I did a bunch of election stuff this week, including exercising my right to Vote Early at 620 Royal Avenue. I was in the neighbourhood and it took less than 5 minutes. So one thing checked off my list for October.