When Mayor Greg Moore announced last fall he wouldn’t seek another term in Port Coquitlam’s top job, Coun. Brad West toyed with the idea of replacing him.
After all, West had topped the polls among council candidates in 2011 and ’14, and was a fixture in the community, having grown up in PoCo, graduated from Riverside secondary school and been an elected official since 2008.
His connections were considerable, too, and by the spring, he said he felt he had enough support from the labour and business sectors to make a move.
So by the time the province came down with new financing rules for municipal candidates, West had already amassed about $40,000 for his mayoral campaign.
By late July, when he finally made his big announcement, West had his funding, team and platform largely in place — plus a catch phrase to distinguish him.
#MadeInPoCo isn’t so much as a swipe at Moore, who has spent much of his two mayoral terms as chair of Metro Vancouver, but a promise by West to keep his focus local rather than regional or international.
And while he honours Moore’s civic service and his steady hand at leading council and the Metro board, West vows to be a different kind of mayor, if elected.
“We have different styles and backgrounds,” West says of Moore. “People are going to see that in the way I campaign and the way I do things.”
West hit the ground running a month and a half ago, knocking on doors “to earn people’s respect. Every campaign, I have always been pedal to the metal. It shows people how hard you work and how you’re going to work for them if you get into office.”
On the day The Tri-City News accompanies him, near the intersection of Prairie Avenue and Cedar Drive, he zeroes in on Burke Mountain traffic. The neighbourhood has seen a sharp increase in commuters heading to and from the expanding Coquitlam area that 30,000 residents are expected to call home over the next 20 years.
West is an outspoken critic of how his city’s much-larger neighbour has dealt with traffic flow, which affects northside PoCo, and he’s looking forward to the new traffic-calming measures along Cedar Drive this month. West is also in favour of stepping up RCMP traffic enforcement to control speeds and rat running in the area.
As for the Fremont Connector, West said Coquitlam and PoCo staff are working to find an answer. Will there be resolution next term?
“It’s very difficult to say when this is going to happen. Obviously, it’s going to be a big priority. Our roads are bearing the brunt.”
West said he’s open to the concept of designing a new route but only if it doesn’t affect the environment, PoCo residents’ land or Cedar Drive.
Another priority coming before city council next term will likely be Kwikwetlem First Nation land claims. West said he’s disappointed taxpayers’ funds are being spent on litigation but he said the city needs to defend itself as the outcome has the potential to open the doors to all fee-simple land across the country, should the municipality, Metro Vancouver and the province lose the case.
On the topic of cannabis legalization Oct. 17, West said he championed a bylaw earlier this year to prevent tobacco and marijuana smoking and vaping at playgrounds, parks, trails, public transit shelters and public gathering places. But, he said, the city has no jurisdiction over smoking on private property.
West also addressed the controversial transition allowance for the mayor — a perk he voted for in 2008 that will result in a payout of $48,376 to Moore. At the time, he said, it was part of a bigger remuneration package and “our minds were not on the departure of a mayor.”
Still, should he leave office if elected mayor, West said he won’t take the transition allowance as he will have a job to go back to; the United Steelworkers have given West the OK to return as their communications rep.
“I’m not going to take [the transition allowance] because I don’t believe it’s proper.”
Before wrapping up his door knocking, West offered this final pitch to voters:
“I’ve lived here my whole life. I don’t know anyone else who knows the issues better than me… I think that many people get into office and they become disconnected because of the politics. They suddenly forget who they are working for. That’s not me.”