Crosty starts campaign to stop borrowing bylaw

James Crosty -
James Crosty
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James Crosty is back on the campaign trail.

The former New Westminster mayoral candidate has decided to organize a campaign to oppose the city’s decision to borrow $59 million for various projects and to help finance a commercial office tower it is building in connection with the new civic centre. Crosty appeared before council July 9 to object to the borrowing bylaw, and had been contemplating requests to organize a full-out campaign, which he has now taken up.

The borrowing from the Municipal Finance Authority can be sent to a city-wide vote if more than 10 per cent of those eligible to cast a ballot in the last civic election sign an “alternative approval process” form. That means 4,528 signatures would be required to be collected before Aug. 7 to force a referendum.

The $59 million is for various upcoming projects, including $11 million to help pay for the parking structure to go with the civic centre and office complex. Money to pay for construction of the eight-storey office tower will come out of city reserves, which had previously been targeted to pay for the infrastructure projects the city is now borrowing for.

“The public has not approved building an office tower on the taxpayers’ backs,” said Crosty last week before deciding to try to collect enough signatures to force a referendum.

While it is possible to print the form off of a report on the city’s website, Crosty is upset the city has limited the number of forms a person can pick up from city hall to 25.

“It will be challenging to get the 4,500 forms from the city without paying to print them ourselves,” said Crosty in an email distributed to New Westminster residents.

“It is unfortunate that they are taking a further step in stifling democracy by imposing this limit. Now we have to deal with obtaining enough signatures and spend our own money to have enough forms. This is a flawed process.”

City clerk Rick Page said in the past when the city has gone through the alternative approval process, there would be requests for one or two copies on the nine-page document at a time.

But when somebody came in and asked for 1,000 the city decided to set a limit of 25 a day per person.

“We had to think about what is reasonable,” said Page. “We can’t limit the process. The process is open and has to be transparent, but we’re just trying to make it reasonable for our staff to deal with it.”

Crosty is asking those who do go to city hall to pick up 25 forms to drop them off at his office at 239 Sixth St.

He also asks people to drop the signed forms there so he can keep count and confirm the signatures from the voters list.

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