MLA Update September 2023

In this, the first of a bi-monthly series that updates New Westminster residents on the work of the local Member of the Legislative Assembly, host Deni Loubert talks to MLA Jennifer Whiteside at her local constituency office.

This September interview takes place a few days into the sitting of the fall legislature and looks at both the basics of what an MLA office does and what local residents can expect from it.

The interview goes on to discuss upcoming funding for transit and how that might impact local residents as New Westminster is one of the heaviest users of transit in the region.

With the addition of the new mental health facility in New Westminster's Royal Columbian Hospital, Ms. Whiteside talked about the importance of this facility in the current mental health crises. She also talked about how important the various non-profits such as The Purpose Society are to her work as Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. Finally, Ms. Whiteside talked about several local initiatives that she was particularly excited about. These include the completion of the Agnes Street Greenway, as she discussed the importance of active transit for mental health.

Lastly she told of the approval to go ahead with a long planned for student housing facility for Douglas College. As an alumni of the college she was well aware of the struggles for many students in the New Westminster area to find housing. This student housing will be a key part of the solutions that the province is looking to find to our ongoing housing crunch. She saw this new facility as part of an education boom in downtown NewWest, stating "That area of the city is really becoming education central. We have the Fraser River Middle School, we are moving forward with the project for the Fraser River Elementary School...we have Douglas College and now we have this brand new building that will both house students and also provide academic space for Douglas College." The idea that New Westminster's downtown, for years a haven for brides to be and little else, could become an educational center is a bold move. But if done right, it could be the turn around that the city core has been looking for all these years.

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