Chinu Das’ Ideal City

To find out more about New Westminster Mayoral and City Council candidates during the 2018 municipal elections, we asked them one question: what does your ideal city look like?

Chinu Das is running for City Council, and this is her answer:

My ideal city would reflect its demographics. Demographics are always evolving and this too should be a feature of the city, evolving and inclusive.

The demographics of New Westminster is very diverse. It is diverse by age, income, ethnicity, language and culture. New Westminster’s population is aging. Almost 30% of the population in the uptown area is seniors. About 40% of the city’s population is visible minority.

Housing needs in the city are also diverse and housing choices are based on affordability, location (proximity to public transportation, health, recreation and other civic amenities and facilities), housing design preferences (heritage, modern) and housing size (large, small). Matching housing demand to supply in the current housing market is challenging. New Westminster needs the full spectrum of housing options from shelters and social housing to rental units to single detached homes. What is in short supply in the current housing stock is townhouses and row houses (such as row housing on Holly Street in Queensborough).

An ideal neighborhood in New Westminster would provide a diverse complement of housing options such as multi-dwelling rental units, to row housing, to condominiums to supported housing (Dunwood type housing for seniors). This pulls the diverse community together and promotes understanding of the diversity. Without it, there is more social isolation for some population groups. I am thinking of low income, seniors and immigrant groups in particular.

This is not currently the case. I do understand the place of history in the housing distribution in the city, the economies of scale in the clustering of similar housing options, and the pull to live in the comfort of income, age, and ethnic groupings. But hey, you asked what my ideal city should look like. I focused on inclusion.

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