'Ban the sale of marijuana in Burnaby,' says BFC

An election forum in Crystal Mall allowed candidates for Burnaby city council to spar in English and Mandarin.

The sale of marijuana in Burnaby needs to be controlled by government stores, according to Burnaby Citizens Association and Burnaby Green Party council candidates, whereas the Burnaby First Coalition wants a ban on retail sales, at least for now.

The imminent legalization of marijuana was one the first questions lobbed at council candidates at Crystal Mall at an election forum on Saturday afternoon.

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Coun. Paul McDonell of the BCA said the plan is for four outlets in town centres and no private marijuana sales in the city.

Rick McGowan said the Green Party of Burnaby wants to keep marijuana sales in BC Liquor Stores.

He pointed out marijuana is a drug and his party wants “evidence-based research” to find out the best way to deal with it.

“We want to make sure kids are educated and, in schools, we will provide drug and alcohol education,” he said, adding “It’s a reality it’s becoming legal and we have to be prudent on how it’s distributed.”

Charter Lau said his party, Burnaby First, plans to join other municipalities that won’t allow the retail sale of marijuana.
“We will work hard to ban the sale of marijuana in Burnaby until we are confident that it poses no harm to the citizens in the city and the children in school,” Lau said.

Heather Leung, also running under the Burnaby First banner, added how she has seen in her work in a seniors home how young people are brain-damaged from drugs, and could spend 30, 40 or 50 years in senior homes because of drug overdoses.

Burnaby Greens candidate Rick McGowan addresses the crowd Saturday. - LISA KING

At the bilingual candidates forum, six candidates shared the stage with translators – two of whom were themselves council candidates – to answer audience questions in both English and Mandarin. There were candidates from the Green Party of Burnaby, Burnaby First Coalition and the Burnaby Citizens Association.

During the course of the forum, Lau and Green’s Mehreen Chaudry discussed the issue of BCA trustee candidate Larry Hayes and his altercation with a woman and a baby at a trustee candidates meeting on Wednesday night. Chaudry said it was “uncalled for,” and Lau appealed to Hayes to say sorry.

“BCA and Larry Hayes, be a man and apologize, otherwise you will lose support in the community,” Lau said, although Hayes wasn’t on the panel Saturday.

Transportation and housing were also hot topics at the meeting as well as the need for an effective opposition to the BCA whose members hold all current positions on council and school board. Burnaby First’s Leung said an effective opposition is good for citizens and makes city hall more accountable.

“Vote us in so that opposition is there to work for your benefit,” she appealed to the crowd, that had thinned out after a mayoral debate between BCA’s Derek Corrigan and independent Mike Hurley.

While Burnaby First candidate Lau said more roads need to be built to combat traffic woes, McDonell said a system of one-way streets is being planned in Burnaby.

But, he added, there is no way to stop people coming through the city.

“If you want to expand roads, you have to have lots of money and lots of housing,” he added.

Council debate
Six candidates vying to be Burnaby city councillors debated a variety of topics at Crystal Mall in Metrotown on Saturday. - Lisa King

McDonell challenged McGowan over a comment he made at a previous forum about putting “developers on notice.”

“The supplementary density bonus for highrises… began in 2011 exactly when development in Metrotown went crazy – that’s the root cause of the displacement of people with the speculation that it then led to and continues to lead to,” McGowan said. He’d like to see the density bonus removed from high-rises and “human-scale development” built instead.

The municipal election is on Oct. 20, with some advance voting dates, for mayor, councillors and school trustees. Information about the election can be found at burnaby.ca.

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