Why New West should say “Yes” to the Aboriginal Land Trust Sixth Street Housing Project

Interested in supporting this project? Send a letter to New West Council with our easy-to-use letter generator!

The Aboriginal Land Trust Sixth Street Housing Project is an exciting development proposed for 823-841 Sixth Street in New Westminster. The building will include 96 affordable rental units composed of one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom apartments for the Indigenous and Swahili communities in the area.

For the development of this project to go ahead, the proposed site will need to be rezoned and the Land Designation Use Map in the Official Community Plan will need to be amended in order to accommodate the building. Given the great benefit that this project would represent for groups experiencing high rates of housing insecurity and for the community as a whole, this project should be supported and approved by the city.

One of the central challenges facing New Westminster and the surrounding region is how to grow in a way that respects justice and the right to housing. To respect these principles, New Westminster must ensure that population growth and densification do not lead to the displacement of people who are the most at risk of experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness in our community.

To avoid this displacement, affordable housing needs to grow as a share of the total housing supply in all neighbourhoods of our city. Housing insecurity isn’t something that is the responsibility of some neighbourhoods but not of others. Communities flourish when we all care for each other, and this includes ensuring that everyone is able to meet their basic needs, including having access to secure housing. As part of showing that care for one another, we should all seek to support and encourage the development of affordable housing in every neighbourhood in New Westminster.

This much-need housing project not only helps to address the problem of housing insecurity, but it also represents a concrete step toward realizing the important goal of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada calls on all levels of government, including municipalities, to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People as a framework for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples (Call to Action 43). This declaration holds that governments should take effective and even special measures to advance the economic and social conditions of Indigenous peoples, including in the area of housing (Article 21). The approval of developments such as this housing project would help to demonstrate a substantive commitment in New Westminster to the principles of reconciliation.

Given that this housing project helps to address the issues of affordable housing and reconciliation in New Westminster, it is strongly supported by key policy priorities in the city’s core planning documents, such as the Official Community Plan and the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan. These documents quite clearly emphasize the importance of taking real and meaningful action in the areas of affordable housing and reconciliation as among the city’s top priorities. A commitment to the principles of these documents is a commitment to these types of projects.

There are, however, some residents who have organized in opposition to this project and have compiled a petition against the project with over 1200 signatures, which has been submitted to council. While we respect the right of our neighbours to participate in municipal political processes and have no desire to antagonize them, we believe that this petition and the campaign against the project are misguided and harmful. We implore our fellow community members who may have signed this petition to reconsider their opposition and to join us in support of this project.

It is important to note that it does not display a NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) disposition to simply voice concerns about issues such as parking, traffic, and shadows; indeed, local residents should have their concerns respectfully heard and addressed where possible. It does, however, reflect such a disposition to persist in those concerns once they have been addressed (and shown to be manageable) or where those concerns are taken to have greater precedence than the needs of those facing housing insecurity.

In the midst of fear and isolation from one another, it is all too easy to turn inward, focus on our own set of concerns, and fight to preserve the status quo around us. But that status quo is one in which working poverty is on the rise in our communities, where many individuals and families cannot find a secure place to live, and where Indigenous and Black peoples suffer disproportionately higher rates of homelessness than the general population in the region.

Instead of being overly consumed by worries about things like parking, traffic, and shadows, let us make space in our imagination for things like the relief of residents in having a secure home in this development, the laughter of children playing outside, and the joy of breaking bread together and enriching each other’s lives in community-oriented spaces. May our imagination of what is possible in our communities not be shaped by fear and fragmentation but rather by hope and a generosity of spirit that does not rest until all around us have a safe place to call home.

The Aboriginal Land Trust Sixth Street Housing Project is a great idea in a great location: it is close to schools; it is close to parks and playgrounds; it is a pedestrian-friendly area; it is well served by public transit; it is on a major street, which is higher density to the north and south; and it is close to many amenities. We should all say “yes” to this development!

We encourage you to support this project by writing a letter to city council, which is one of the most effective ways to show your support. Letters to council should be sent to the following e-mail address: clerks@newwestcity.ca

For a fuller and detailed defense of this project, please read this document prepared by Yes in New West.


Jonathan X. Cote’s 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?

Jonathan X. Cote is running for Mayor, and this is his answer:

Diversity is the key to building an ideal city. Cities that are able to be welcoming homes to people of all ages, all demographics, and all income levels are in my opinion the cities we should be striving to build. To build this kind of city, we need to ensure that there are adequate housing options to meet the needs of a diverse population. We also need to build our cities with inclusivity in mind. We need to make sure our public spaces and facilities are accessible and welcoming to all. If we are able to achieve these goals, the results can be beautiful and lead to community connections that can make a city stand out both socially and economically.

Mary Trentadue’s 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?

Mary Trentadue is running for City Council, and this is her answer:

What does my ideal city look like?

This is a great question and I suspect you will receive many different answers to it. I love that New Westminster has a small city feel but takes on BIG city challenges.
My ideal city would be a place where all of our residents feel safe, included and inspired.

Housing is the greatest threat to our existing residents and future community. We need to make sure that we encourage development that meets people at both ends of the spectrum. I am pleased that we are now seeing more townhouse developments but want to make sure they continue to be feasible for development. I would really like to find a way to encourage co-housing, co-ops and other housing forms so that people can get into the market in less traditional ways.

As New Westminster grows I think it’s important that we continue to honour our history but also make way for new community members and customs. An ideal city would reflect all of its residents in its planning, discourse, community events and outcomes.

The spirit and heart of New Westminster is incredible and the only way to sustain this is to make sure we continue to look out for each other and find ways for all voices to be heard!

Nadine Nakagawa’s 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?

Nadine Nakagawa is running for City Council, and this is her answer:

Connected. Beautiful. Compassionate.

A community where people feel welcome and valued. Where we have processes that encourage respectful dialogue and that generates new ideas and better understanding. My ideal city is boldly moving beyond sustainability towards regeneration.

My ideal city is built on the basis of reconciliation, diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion and one where the elected representatives reflect the community. It is a city where people have a right to housing, where residents make space for those whose voices are less often heard, where community members are connected with the local government and with each other. Where we listen.

It’s a city alive with public art, festivals, and music. Where creativity is valued and embedded within the community. A place that is livable for everyone.

This ideal city is possible, it’s within our grasp. Let’s keep going.

Troy Hunter’s 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?

Troy Hunter is running for City Council, and this is his answer:

My ideal city looks like this…


Figure 1: Potential Aerial Tramway connecting Queensborough to Uptown and Downtown

As a candidate for City Council with New Westminster, I am going to keep my ideas focused on #NewWest and in doing so, I will be drawing upon my historical roots and places I have lived and visited. My answer to housing will be at the bottom of the page.

  1. I am influenced a bit by what I saw there an around the world. In particular, I am in awe with the heritage conservation that has gone into the Old Quebec City. It’s a walled city that has more than 400 years of history; I wish we had that kind of heritage, we don’t but we have tremendous history and opportunities. I will write a few brief points about what I saw and how I think those could be transformed into what New Westminster is.
    1. Old Quebec City has five million visitors each year and two-thirds of them are in the summertime. The other one-third of visitors are there for winter including the activities that go with the cold season.
      1. New Westminster has tremendous tourism potential and I want us to be the next Granville Island or Steveston.


        Figure 2: New Westminster is going to be the next Granville Island, the next Steveston.

      2. With proper access, our waterfront on Queensborough should have paved bike paths, we could have our own biking like on the Rhine River in Germany.


        Figure 3: Beautiful arched bridge to Heidelberg Germany with boat passing under.

    2. There are cruise ship terminals bringing shiploads of eager tourists to purchase goods from the local artisans and to partake in fine dining, foody-ism, stay at the hotels, Bed and Breakfast (B&Bs), etc.
      1. New Westminster has much to offer with its own port on the Fraser River,
      2. We can develop a regional tourism strategy that involves the riverfront including kayaking, canoeing, water taxis and tour boats.


        Figure 4: River tourism in Bangkok, Thailand.

    3. There is a funicular which is like a diagonal elevator that helps people get up or down the hill where Quebec City is situated. Likewise, Hong Kong has an outdoor escalator.
      1. We could have our very own attraction and solution to transportation to Queensborough. We do have an elevator at riverside to Columbia Street. How can we bring people uptown and vice versa to downtown?


        Figure 5: The Funicular at Old Quebec City.

    4. Quebec City has the Videotron Centre which is a $50 million dollar building that houses 18,000 people and works for everything from NHL hockey games to major concerts.
      1. What we could use is a major events centre that could double as a sound stage for movie productions when not being used as a major events centre. If only we had the space…
      2. We need to reinvigorate Massey Theatre as it is a gem in the rough, with a makeover, new beautiful cladding and improved inside, we can turn it into a draw attracting tourists and locals alike to ongoing and programmed events. I would love to see some Aboriginal theatre in there as well.


        Figure 6: Aboriginal Tourism facility in Seattle, Washington.

    5. There is a sense of pride in the people that live there at Quebec, the Fur Traders especially the Courer des Bois (Runners of the Woods), Les Filles Des Rois (the so-called King’s Daughters), the Carignans Saliere Regiment (the Soldiers), the colonists, the French and the Irish immigrants that started New France and of course, the local Indigenous people, the Iroquois (all of the above my ancestors).
      1. We have the Sappertons, the first Capital City, the gold rush, the first hospital in BC and much more.
  2. In addition, I have resided in Bangkok and Jakarta, and what I saw in those Mega-Cities will also be described and how we can learn from them and incorporate such ideas into our lovely City of New Westminster. I’ve toured a few places across the Pacific Ocean to Fiji, New Zealand, Vanuatu, India, China, the Great Wall and Hong Kong, Thailand, Myanmar, Hawaii, and also been to Europe including Amsterdam, Bonn, Cologne, Brussels, and of course, Paris.  I’ve been to Ixtapa Mexico, the American Southwest, New York City and other parts of America, Arizona, North and South Dakota, Idaho, Washington, New York City, Montana, Reno and Las Vegas. In all of my travels, I have seen things which also shape my ideas about My Ideal City, my birthplace: New Westminster.
    1. The Rhine River in Germany has a whole industry of ships that bring goods and people up and down the waterway.  The ships are specially designed for passing under the many bridges that cross the river.
    2. The Seine River in Paris, France is also another example of we could do with our Royal City.


      Figure 7: River Seine at Paris, France with tour boat under low bridge.

    3. In Asia, there are markets that spring up overnight and disappear during the day for vehicle traffic, such as a night market in Bangkok.  There are also many malls and even outdoor places where small food stalls (warungs) are busy cooking up and serving a variety of foods from many different places such as Jakarta and elsewhere.
      1. New Westminster can have its own night market with food stalls, little pop-up stores selling wares, etc.


        Figure 8: Street food stall in Bangkok.


        Figure 9: A very small warung in Victoria, BC offering take away indonesian food.

    4. On my visit to India, I was so fortunate to have gone up to Darjeeling.  I travelled from Kolkata by train and then jeep up the twisting mountain road past tea plantations to about 3,000 metres above sea level where I had the chance to even see Mount Everest. On my way back down, I was so ever fortunate that the small group I was with (two other Bangkok law firm interns) to obtain tickets for the “Toy Train” which is an UNESCO heritage site. The little train uses small gauge railway tracks and is a very nice experience indeed.
  3. The key to development is infrastructure, I will also describe what I believe we should be doing to fix our infrastructure to make New Westminster the ideal city I envision.
  4. Lastly, I grew up in a small town in the East Kootenay’s: Cranbrook BC.  It is close to historic Fort Steele, the St. Eugene Mission and St. Mary’s Indian Reserve (now known as A’qam First Nation) and also the Bavarian City of the Rockies: Kimberly BC.  With an abundance of outdoor activities in both summer and winter, I learned a lot about things like skiing, hunting, fishing, and even tourism.
    1. I obtained a Two-Year University Diploma from the University of Victoria, Faculty in Fine Arts where I studied Cultural Resource Management.  I have the Diploma in Cultural Conservation. After graduating with my CRM education, I developed and opened the Ktunaxa/Kinbasket Interpretive Centre at the historic St. Eugene Mission which was an Indian Industrial School (Residential School) until it closed in 1970

Transportation Infrastructure Vision for the Future

  • I would much rather see a new 6-lane Sapperton Bar Crossing, with rehabilitated Pattullo Bridge for pedestrians and cyclists only, keeping trucks/commuters on the freeway and out of New Westminster.
  • An alternative is to build a tunnel so that traffic accessing the Pattullo is bypassing downtown, uptown and Sapperton.
  • I like the idea of a commuter aerial tramway or even a trolley like Toronto style, connecting pedestrians and cyclists to Queensborough and Uptown and Downtown New Westminster. We can have low bridges and need to insist the tug boats go the way Germany did with lower squatting boats.

A Vision for a new city, a Vision for New Westminster

  • If we dissect our municipal commercial and even residential zoning into categories such as for example, Waterfront, Victorian Era, Fifties Town Square at the Hospital District, Neo Modern, and Post Modern, etc. then we can have a strategy to rebuild according to those types.  By doing this, it allows for the accommodation, the means to have both old and new in a mixed fashion but in a controlled way so as to make sense out of it all. This type of thing has been done already, take for instance the many Chinatown’s across the globe.image10
  • A Fifties Town Square could be made as a faux “memory town” and situated near facilities where the Elders live, in particular, those that are dealing with dementia.  This is actually a trend beginning here in North America.


    Figure 10: A play showcasing the Fifties.

  • I want us to build more stone pathways like the one at top of the stairs at the New Westminster courthouse, a place called Queens Court, it is reminiscent of old Europe.


    Figure 11: New Westminster Courthouse with Begbie Statue, fountain and stairs (by Queen’s Court building).

  • In regards to tourism and activities for youth and children, we can connect zip lines that enhance activities in places such as Glenbrook Ravine Park or elsewhere in a suitable location.


    Figure 12: Ziplining.


    Figure 13: Mount Baker with Burnaby in foreground.

  • I want to see community gardens extended to private property where homeowners are paired with approved gardeners, and rainwater is harvested to irrigate such gardens.  City Hall can provide tax incentives and our local “farmers markets” could greatly benefit.


    Figure 14: Troy Hunter inspecting native plants in Richmond on Lulu Island.



Figure 15: New Westminster streetscape of row townhouses with Poplar Island in background.

We need to:

  • Address reconciliation with QayQayt First Nation and offer concrete solutions including Poplar Island;
  • be able to reduce commuter traffic through our city;
  • provide affordable rent to all people;
  • ensure that property owners see the equity in their homes is protected and growing;
  • offer a range of solutions from more mixed-use zoning such as light industrial with residential, consider micro-housing solutions where people can buy into new models for instance shared kitchens but independent suites of 300 square footage or so;
  • create community co-op housing and if possible re-invigorate the “worker bee” concept similar to habitat for humanity; find the ways and means to drastically reduce the cost of building homes while maintaining appropriate and adequate housing solutions that fit the character of New Westminster and enhance our city including more amenities, art spaces, artisan studios, etc.;
  • live and work in the community and decrease the commute elsewhere;
  • build malls with their own parking lots and hi-rise condo’s above;
  • have public access to a high rise rooftop for dining and lookout over the Fraser River;
  • maintain and enhance Queen’s Park Heritage Conservation Area and include a heritage wall so people know where it is and yet attractive and appropriate;
  • make it possible for a tourism operator to provide horse and buggy tours in select areas, operating out of Queen’s Park;
  • connect Queensborough to the rest of New Westminster;
  • build great bike paths at Queensborough and make it accessible for all;
  • protect our health and environment and make sure asbestos, rodents, and insects are dealt with properly for public health and safety.


Figure 16: The walled city of Old Quebec.


Patrick Johnstone’s 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?

Patrick Johnstone is running for City Council, and this is his answer:

My Ideal City is a vibrant, inclusive one. It is one where people are safe to move around, and feel engaged in their community.

I am inspired by Gil Pendalosa’s 880 Cities initiative, and his model that a city safe for an 8 year old to cycle to school and an 80 year old to walk for groceries is a city that will work for all residents and businesses.

I am inspired by Janette Sadik-Khan and her bold actions to transform urban environments and free them from the gridlock of 20th Century ideas about how we allocate public space.

I am inspired by Charles Montgomery’s “The Happy City”, and his application of psychology and sociology to understand how we can better connect our communities through better design.

I am inspired by Jane Jacobs and the generation of urban planners she mentored, and her ultimate vision that the core of any successful city is a web of well-functioning and empowered neighbourhoods.

My Ideal City is accessible and affordable, and one where the costs of short-term thinking are not externalized. It is a city on a south-facing hill and on a river, where there is a variety of housing, and a variety of cultures. My Ideal City is one where the residents are proud to be a resident or a business owner, and take that pride from how we care for each other, we support each other, and respect each other.

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.