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City of Burnaby 2021 byelection Q&A: Candidate Lee Rankin

"Burnaby needs a councilor who is 'job-ready' on day one"
Lee Rankin-photoshopped
City of Burnaby council candidate Lee Rankin.

Burnaby NOW will be publishing candidate Q&As for each candidate leading up to the City of Burnaby byelection scheduled for June 26, 2021. The answers provided have not been altered or changed.

Lee Rankin says the City of Burnaby needs a councilor who is "job-ready" on day one. 

QUESTION: When did you decide to run for the City of Burnaby by-election?

ANSWER: I decided to run soon after the byelection was called because Burnaby needs a councilor who is "job-ready" on day one. I was a member of Burnaby council for 22 years. I was first elected in 1983, and re-elected in 1985, 1987, 1990, 1993, 1996, 2002 and 2005.  I have chaired most important council committees including the executive committee, the environment and waste management committee, the community planning and housing committee and the economic development and tourism committee. I do not need "on-the-job" training. I will be an effective, energetic advocate for Burnaby residents on day 1 of my term.

QUESTION: Why did you decide to be a candidate?

ANSWER: I am concerned about growing pressure in some quarters to "densify" our single and two-family neighborhoods. I have supported Burnaby town center planning during my 22-years on council and I am strongly opposed to densification and upzoning to high-density zoning in traditionally single-family housing neighborhoods. Densification of our single family neighborhoods would be an utter betrayal of our residents who have invested their life-savings in their homes with the belief that Burnaby will  protect their investments by adhering to widely-accepted community plans. As a member of council, I will defend our neighborhoods from "blanket" high-density rezoning. I support density in our established town centers which have access to transit and commercial services.  If elected June 26th, I will fight hard to protect our single family neighborhoods from densification.

QUESTION: What do you think is needed on city council the most? What do you think it’s missing/lacking?

ANSWER: Burnaby council needs a councilor with business expertise and analytical skills. I   manage a successful private law practice. I have a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from Simon Fraser University and a Bachelor of Law degree from U.B.C. I have served as Burnaby's finance liaison and chair of the economic development and tourism committee. Former Metro Vancouver Chairman George Puil appointed me to chair Metro's finance committee and I introduced a new budgetary process for the region. Chairman Puil appointed me to a directors' committee that negotiated the creation of Translink with the province. I will bring wisdom, experience and strength to the council table.

QUESTION: Do you think there needs to be more diversity when it comes to Burnaby’s municipal government? If so, why?

ANSWER: As a former councilor, I strongly supported the Burnaby Multicultural Society and supported funding for its operations including minority community outreach. In the past, my wife and I have recruited, encouraged and endorsed members of the Asian, Filipino and South Asian communities to run for school board and council.  As councilor, I advocated the appointment of members of visible minority communities to city committees, commissions and boards. As councilor, I will take a strong stand against anti-Asian hate crimes and encourage public education and awareness to combat this problem. I will encourage our police to aggressively investigate hate crimes against our Asian Canadian residents.  As a councilor, I will continue to promote diversity and tolerance in our community. We must all work to ensure that qualified, diverse individuals are given the tools to participate in public life.

QUESTION: What issues do you think need to be tackled the most in Burnaby?

ANSWER: Burnaby's population is growing steadily. We need to improve the transportation networks for pedestrians and cyclists and create more livable town centers. We must pursue initiatives to improve recycling and combat global warming. We need to support low-income, special needs and affordable housing. We need to provide new facilities for our community. We should plan for a performing arts facility for dance, classical and modern music, theatre and opera in Metrotown. We should plan for a modern art gallery to house and exhibit Burnaby's rich artistic collection and celebrate our diverse artists. Burnaby should encourage more restaurant patios so our residents can enjoy socializing and meals outside in warmer weather. We must recognize artistic excellence in our community. We need to encourage and support street festivals and music in our communities and we should develop program of public art and murals. We should work with artists and community to support public music performances. We need to work with the private sector to encourage the development of visual art spaces. We should encourage sports organizations to hold tournaments and competitions at our sports facilities.

QUESTION: Why should voters vote for you?

ANSWER: I am dedicated to building a more livable community. I spent more than two years negotiating a major land exchange between the Burnaby school board and the city that led to the development of the new Burnaby South Secondary School. I led negotiations with the province and Simon Fraser University that resulted in the university turning over more than 800 acres of land to the city for the development of Burnaby Mountain Park, now one of the largest urban parks in the Lower Mainland. I sponsored a motion calling for greater use of recycled materials in manufactured products that was adopted by both the Union of B.C. Municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. I have worked hard on local initiatives to combat global warming as Burnaby's representative Metro Vancouver's air quality committee. I introduced the resolution that saw Burnaby become the first community in B.C. to proclaim Rivers Day in B.C. as well as directing the publication of a map documenting all rivers, streams and watercourses in Burnaby. I will work to ensure Burnaby reduces its carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels for city operations.

QUESTION: What would you say to those who may not want to vote or don’t really see a point?

ANSWER: My father enlisted in the Canadian army on June 26th, 1943, four days after his 18th birthday. He was one of the Canadian liberators of Belgium and Holland from 1944-1945. He risked his life to free Europe from the tyranny of fascism. We should honour the brave Canadians who risked and sacrificed their lives for freedom by the simple act of voting in our civic, provincial and federal elections.