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Support, advocacy critical for TransLink's Rapid Transit Action Plan

Plus: some of the other things that happened at council on Monday evening

A map of the transit priorities, as outlined by TransLink. City of New Westminster/TransLink.

Editor’s note: this recap encompasses the highlights of Monday night’s council meeting. You can take a look of the play-by-play on X.

On Monday evening at city council, Mayor Patrick Johnstone warned of what he characterized as an “existential threat” to bus service as council unanimously supported TransLink’s bus rapid transit action plan.

Johnstone noted that TransLink had no money for the plan, but that supporting the work was imperative if there were to be changes to some of the overcrowding that has been seen on some New West routes, including the 102 (formerly the 103) the 106, and the 123.

These aforementioned bus routes aren’t the only ones in question however, as the plan endorsed in principle on Monday night discusses supporting the development of rapid transit between 22nd Street Station along Marine Drive, “and in other priority regional corridors that could reduce regional traffic passing through New Westminster.”

Referred to as “bus rapid transit” corridors (BRT) just one of the proposed routes would service New West, according to the report. The BRT that would service New West is the 22nd Street SkyTrain Station-Marine Drive Canada Line Station via Marine Drive/Way.

“Although they will not operate within New Westminster, other proposed routes – particularly those south of the Fraser River and in the Tri-Cities and Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows subregions – may also contribute to reducing regional traffic passing through the city, by providing efficient alternatives to private motor vehicle travel,” the report notes.

These BRTs would include more than just bus stops for people to get on and off at: there would be what the report refers to as “enhanced passenger amenities at stations,” while the specialized vehicles utilized would also be able to take advantage of dedicated lanes.

With council’s endorsement—endorsement is also required from the other municipalities in the region—the work between city staff and TransLink will continue, with announcement on updates to come at a later date.

Peer Assisted Care Teams update

Jonny Morris, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association, was in chambers to give an update regarding where the Peer Assisted Care Teams (PACT) stand.

Morris acknowledged the immense support being provided by the city, including from Mayor and council, as well the chief of the New West Police Department.

“We are creating change in a system that’s been operating the way it has been for quite some time,” explains Morris, who wanted to acknowledge some of the team members who he said had been doing life-changing work.

Moving forward, Morris talked about further work needing to be done in the sphere of mental health care as a fourth type of response. “We’re getting closer to this, this is a multi-year initiative…but we are really trying to aim for PACT being the response,” he noted.

Morris said the three kinds of calls the teams tend to receive include mental health crises (including suicidal ideation), wellness checks, and substance use-related crises. The person in need of assistance will receive help ranging from de-escalation over a phone to referrals and/or navigation to a variety of services, including housing support, income support—to name a few. PACT members will also check on the client’s well-being within two days, with Morris emphasizing the importance of moving away from a parachute response.

Some of the other PACT teams have been able to expand their hours, but New Westminster’s operator, Purpose Society, is still working on that—as outlined by Morris when asked the question by Coun. Daniel Fontaine.

Mayor and council listen to the presentation by Jonny Morris, discussing PACT and its development in New West.

Pride flags in New West

Naomi Perks, the New West mom who is hoping to see a Pride flag displayed in homes, businesses, and in other spaces in New West. You can read more about the initiative in this story we wrote—and learn more about how to place an order.

She had a number of supporters present with her, including Shawn Sorensen, who has announced his intention to run for school board once a byelection is called.

Both Couns. Nadine Nakagawa and Ruby Campbell noted that they were in support of a city that has no place for hate, and Coun. Campbell pledged to speak to see about what can be done to garner support from the business community.

The next council meeting is happening on Monday, Oct. 30 at 6pm.

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