Two things you don’t see every day.
Someone not named Derek Corrigan was sworn-in as Mayor of Burnaby and a punk rocker pledged allegiance to the Queen.
New mayor Mike Hurley took the oath of office in the Crystal Ballroom at the Hilton Metrotown on Nov. 5 and gave a brief address, promising more details on his four-year plan in the first meeting of 2019.
The retired Burnaby fire chief defeated Corrigan, the five-term mayor since 2002, in the Oct. 20 election. Housing and affordability were central to Hurley’s campaign platform. He has a big task to stop displacements of Metrotown apartment renters in favour of luxury condo owners. Unlike his predecessor, he vows to have a plan to deal with homelessness.
“It’s not acceptable to allow our citizens to sleep outside in freezing weather conditions,” Hurley said, to raucous applause.
Hurley also pinpointed the sorry state of the 66-year-old Burnaby General Hospital in his speech.
“The buildings are in a very run down state, we need to be champions for the redevelopment of this vitally important facility for our residents. We will push the provincial government to get on with this work, we are B.C.’s third-largest city and our hospital has been ignored for way too long.”
Many of Hurley’s supporters from the local firefighters’ union and the International Association of Firefighters were in attendance. Even the general-secretary of the Boston-based union, Ed Kelly, made the trip. Hurley said he would sit down with local RCMP officer in charge, Deanne Burleigh, to ascertain the force’s needs.
A Hurley-Burleigh meeting will be better than it sounds.
“Our police department has been not fully staffed for a long time,” Hurley said in an interview after his speech. “There are many issues to address with the police force, first I need to talk to the chief to see what she needs.”
By the time Hurley had taken his oath of office, Doug McCallum had reassumed the mayoralty of Surrey and his new council had already voted to dump the proposed light rail transit line in favour of building SkyTrain to Langley. Hurley said he has yet to decide whether to Surrey’s new direction when he assumes a seat on the TransLink Mayors’ Council.
“If that’s the case he really does have enough funds to do it, then he should be supported,” Hurley said. “The question is, if he doesn’t have the right amount of funds, where do they come from?”
Hurley takes over a council that looks a lot like the one Corrigan was voted-off. Seven of the eight councillors with the NDP-aligned Burnaby Citizens Association were returned. The only newcomer is Joe Keithley of the Burnaby Greens.
Keithley, the leader of pioneering hardcore punk band DOA, had intended to run for mayor, but stepped aside so that Hurley could run.
“It’s a very nice mix, we have a lot of experience, we have some new enthusiasm, Joe and I, I think it’s going to work out very well.”
Keithley said NDP and Green politicians have proven they can govern provincially, so the same should hold true on Burnaby city council.
“There are going to be areas where we can come together on,” said Keithley, who didn’t bring his punk nickname “Shithead” into the political arena. “Part of being a Green is working with other people, it can’t be my way or the highway politics.”
Keithley lives by his motto “Talk-Action=0” and had sought public office municipally and provincially in elections throughout the last three decades. He vows to continue recording and touring with DOA, whose first album in 1980 was “Something Better Change,” but the band will take a backseat to his council duties.
Keithley said his priority is to help solve the housing crisis in Burnaby. He also wants to do his part to help musicians and artists who are also feeling the pinch from the overheated real estate market and to help underprivileged youth. He said he would like to reach out to new Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, who was bassist in State of Mind in the early 1990s.
“You make friends for life from [music],” he said. “For a lot of kids that had a hard time being accepted, music can be that bridge. It’s a non-discriminatory bridge that just speaks to everybody.”
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