Forum fuels insight
Up to 50 people showed up to tell the New Westminster candidates for the upcoming provincial election their thoughts on the environment at a forum in Sapperton on Saturday.
“We were absolutely amazed at how many turned out,” said New Westminster Environmental Partners president Reena Meijer-Drees. “It was a very interesting exercise. I was amazed at the turnout, and I was amazed at the energy in the room. No fights broke out and everyone wanted to talk.”
Considering it was organized in the last two weeks, she was surprised not only at the resident turnout but the fact all four declared candidates—Hector Bremner of the BC Liberals, Judy Darcy of the NDP, Paul Forseth from the BC Conservatives and Terry Teather of the Green Party—showed up.
The gathering was broken out into five groups to discuss different issues important to those that showed up. The largest, she said, was on transportation, “the perennial favourite topic in New Westmisnter.” Most of the talk in the waste group, which Meijer-Drees led, centred on the possibility of an incinerator in the community. There was another on coal dust, a big concern to Quayside residents, she said, and others on a green economy and food security.
The groups gave the politicians a chance to go from table to table to hear the concerns, and then summarized what they heard afterward.
“There was no input from NWEP, it was all citizen generated. [The politicians] got more feedback, it was much more informative for them than a debate or the usual confrontational style. It was a real exercise in grassroots democracy. It was fun.”
The organization has saved all the information and will write a report for posting on its website (nwep.ca) within the next couple of weeks and will distribute it to the candidates.
Meijer-Drees said NWEP also plans to hold an all-topic, all-candidates meeting after the election is declared, likely in partnership with NEXT New West.