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Get to know Burnaby council candidates: Carrie McLaren

“Council can and should work quicker to implement a variety of ways to make the city more adaptable to climate changes, such as safe alternative transportation options, separated bike lanes and continuous sidewalks that are accessible for all types of people.”
Carrie McLaren
Carrie McLaren, Burnaby Green Party, is running for Burnaby city council in October.

Burnaby will head to the polls on Oct. 15 and vote for eight city councillors and seven school trustees. Mayor Mike Hurley has been acclaimed for a second term after receiving no challengers. 

The Burnaby NOW asked every candidate running for office in the upcoming civic election to respond to a questionnaire on issues facing Burnaby today.

Candidates were given strict word limits and a deadline to submit their answers. Answers exceeding the word limits are marked. For details on how and where to vote, see our voter’s guide.

Questionnaires have been edited for clarity.

Name: Carrie McLaren

Current occupation: Co-op housing manager

Short biography (50 words maximum): Having served as a director for a Burnaby non-profit housing organization for six years, I learned a great deal about the difficulties of finding homes for those with complex needs. This experience reaffirmed my belief that everyone needs a home. I currently work in co-operative housing management and work with many boards and hundreds of members. 

Growing up, my family lived in many communities across the country, and I chose to put down roots in Burnaby with my husband. I earned a diploma from BCIT and more recently received a business degree from Capilano University.  For fun and relaxation, I enjoy crochet and sci-fi/fantasy books and TV shows.

Why are you running for city council? (150 words maximum): Council needs to represent all members of the community and I don’t see that diversity there. 

When I was at BCIT and volunteered with the video department shooting council meetings, that’s when I became interested in city council. Many of the same councillors were behind the desk back then in the 90s. 

I see a great deal of potential to make council more accessible to residents and take advantage of the enormous talent of the city’s universities, businesses and non-profits to make better choices for everyone. Better housing choices, transport options and more.

What are the top three issues facing Burnaby today, and what are your plans to address them? (250 words maximum):

Housing: We need to increase the housing types and allow mixed-use multi-family development. The city has a great opportunity to make lives better through better zoning and partnerships with government and non-profit groups to increase rentals, co-ops and non-profit housing. The city also needs to review and close rental protection loopholes in their new program.

Council can and should work quicker to implement a variety of ways to make the city more adaptable to climate changes, such as safe alternative transportation options, separated bike lanes and continuous sidewalks that are accessible for all types of people. Allow community gardens almost anywhere, increase tree canopy along city streets, water runoff rain gardens and more initiatives for community supported agriculture.

Public consultation: Notify and hold open information houses closer to people – not everyone goes to a community centre or a local event or has online access – try having staff at grocery stores, in the local shopping centres, or coffee shops.

What is your housing situation? Are you a homeowner, renter or something else (describe)? Do you rent property to others? (50 words maximum): I live in a Burnaby co-op housing complex.

Residents are a diverse group with wide range of differing economic situations. Co-op living is more affordable and the best of owning and renting that allows you to know your neighbours and help each other out. 

Burnaby currently has a population of about 250,000 people and is projected to grow to about 360,000 by 2050. How – and where – do you want the city to accommodate that growth? (200 words maximum): Increase density in the city – along all transit routes allowing mixed use neighbourhoods and development of a 15-minute walkable city. 

Various housing forms and heights are needed to gently add density, with affordable co-ops, social, rental and non-profits. 

Some organizations are calling on municipal governments to support the creation of non-profit housing by allowing projects to be built without rezoning requirements. (As an example, Women Transforming Cities wants social housing initiatives of up to 12 storeys to be permitted in multi-family areas and up to six storeys in other residential areas, without a rezoning requirement). Is this something you would support – why or why not? (250 words maximum): I support social and affordable housing and streamlined zoning and permitting process to fast track these projects – but we can’t take away residents’ ability to have their say and planning’s ability to mitigate any possible issues in the neighbourhood.

The official community plan updates are a great opportunity to make some zoning changes and make it easier to create these kinds of projects we need.

In 2021, 73 people died in Burnaby due to the heat dome. What are your plans for the city to address increasing heat? (150 words maximum): The increase in heat is only one of the ways that our climate as been changing and we need to implement as many recommendations as possible from various agencies and scientists – some long-term, some short-term – to prevent more deaths. 

Long-term includes adding more tree canopies into neighbourhoods, incentives for passive housing, and retrofits to buildings to add cooling capability (such as heat pumps). The Official Community Plan is a huge opportunity to update to include all climate adaption/prevention measures for the city.

Short-term – making more cooling centres available for all neighbourhoods – include the options of using many more different city buildings and schools, partner with business and community groups for their cooling use – not just community centres.

Is crime a concern for you, and how do you hope to address it? (150 words maximum): RCMP stats show some crime has gone up – overall it has been an 8 per cent increase since 2021.

One idea to help with community crime prevention include more bike patrols.  I am sure there are other ideas but would leave that to experts and consultations with communities together.

What is the biggest achievement and/or failure of Burnaby council in the last four years? (100 words): The city’s greatest achievement has been its opening of homeless shelters finally and the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Housing was a great step forward.

How would you spend a leisurely 24 hours in Burnaby? (150 words maximum): Go for a nice walk or a bike ride around Deer Lake, and a shopping trip in the Heights.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell voters? (100 words maximum):
How can folks contact you? (Website, email, social media handles)

  1. [email protected]
  2. 604-626-6086
  3. @cwalkker on Twitter / @mclarenphoto on Instagram