City of Burnaby 2021 byelection Q&A: Candidate Baljinder Narang – Burnaby Now

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"There is more work to do to make our city safer, healthier, and more affordable for everyone"

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.

Baljinder Narang says more work needs to be done. 

QUESTION: When did you decide to run for the City of Burnaby byelection?

ANSWER: I believe more women, and especially more women of colour, should run for office. So, when two long time Councillors passed in early 2020, I met with friends, family, and people in the community to see if this was time for me to step up again. 

For more than 25 years, I’ve sought out ways to serve our community as a volunteer, a parent, a cultural preservationist, and especially as a school board trustee. If elected as your Councillor, I’ll bring my experience and values to work on issues that matter to us in 2021: safety, health, affordability, and inclusion.

QUESTION: Why did you decide to run for the City of Burnaby byelection?

ANSWER: There is more work to do to make our city safer, healthier, and more affordable for everyone. I value diversity, equity and inclusion and want to see these values reflected in all City plans and policies. Our communities need to be able to look to City Hall as a place that is not only working for them, but truly representing them and their priorities as well.

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

ANSWER: Our elected leadership has not reflected the rich diversity of our vibrant city. Burnaby is one of the most diverse cities in BC. We speak more than 100 different languages in our homes. People here deserve to have elected officials who celebrate this diversity, while inviting all residents to feel pride and a sense of belonging in our unique community. 

On issues of climate and affordability, I’ll work to bring more attention to the health and economic impacts of our transition to being a carbon neutral city. We must protect workers, seniors, and families as we implement our Climate Action Framework. I’ll be an advocate for climate actions that promote affordability, safety, and health alongside emissions reductions.

We need new energy, more involvement from youth and new residents, and more engagement from people who don’t have the time or resources to participate in City Council meetings and Task Forces. I’ll work hard to make sure more people are heard and are part of decision-making at the City of Burnaby.

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

ANSWER: In a word – yes!

But adding token members from certain communities is not the solution. We must create a deeper perspective on why diversity and equity truly matter and recognise that systemic racism is real and harmful. I also acknowledge that many families come to Burnaby from places where life was different but not necessarily all bad.

Including people of all ages and abilities in public life is critical. My background in occupational therapy has shown me that small, intentional interventions can make a big difference. And as a school board trustee, I learned that young people are so much more capable and engaged than I had imagined. Young people have a bigger role to play in municipal politics.

We should be able to harness all the rich life experiences of new neighbours, young people, and seniors as we look to the future. We are at a crossroads where we need to not only be inclusive but be anti-racist. Not only strengthen relationships but seek truth and reconciliation. Consultation must not only be available, it must also be accessible and understandable. Diversity and inclusion are key to this work, but equity and justice is my goal.

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

ANSWER: Affordable housing, equity and anti-racism, truth and reconciliation, and environmental sustainability are the issues I am focused on. I will act on these issues in ways that help us recover from COVID-19 stronger and promote the health and safety of everyone.

I am committed to fully implementing the City’s revised Equity Policy of September 2020. All plans and policies should be considered under a lens of equity anti-racism. Systemic racism harms everyone, in hidden and not-so-hidden ways, and I am committed to dismantling it. We must ensure we develop sensitivity to this major concern that faces all our diverse communities.

While the current council has put affordable housing and homelessness front-and-centre to the City’s agenda, there is so much work to do. I believe that housing is a human right and the most vulnerable in our society require compassion and assistance to improve their individual situation. I think the recommendations made by the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Homelessness are commendable and I would support these recommendations to ensure Burnaby has one of the most progressive housing policies in the province. We need more types of homes, in more places, where walkable communities are connected to shops, parks, amenities, and good jobs. Every decision I make on Council will center affordable housing and the urgent need to get more homes for people in our community. 

To make our city safer and healthier, I am fully committed to Burnaby reaching net zero GHG emissions by 2050. A carbon neutral city is one with cleaner air, more parks and trees, and healthy, sustainable buildings. Home and school retrofitting, clean energy, and other fast-growing industries are creating good, family-supporting jobs while making our city a more sustainable place to live. As we act on the climate emergency, I’ll make sure that vulnerable people, low-income families, and workers are considered and cared for as we make this urgent and important transition.

The truth about the wrongs done to generations of the rightful owners of our beautiful lands are staring us in the face. We must confront these injustices, both those in the past and today. Reconciliation and the full implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the only way forward. I am totally committed to prioritizing and implementing the Truth And Reconciliation Calls to Action for municipalities, and to apply an anti-racist and equity lens to every existing and new City policies.

Recovering from Covid-19 is going to take cooperation, patience, and understanding. Through creative initiatives and programs, and leadership on City Council, I know our city can be even better after we recover. This will require creating a healthier, safer, more affordable community for everyone. I will work with local businesses, unions, non-profits, volunteer groups to make this a reality.

I value our city’s wonderful diversity and believe that true success is measured by the wellbeing of us all together.

QUESTION: Why should voters vote for you?

ANSWER: I have deep connections to our city, which has been home to my family since 1995. Burnaby is where my children went to school, graduated from university, became professionals in their chosen fields, and continue to live and call home. It is my sincere desire to give back to a wonderful community that has given so much to me and my family.

I have direct experience in governance as an elected BCA School Trustee for 10 years. I took on leadership roles, including Board Chair and Vice-Chair, while serving on many committees both locally, and provincially.

I bring 25 years of community experience to the table. It is my desire to see our diverse community truly represented and reflected at City Hall. I will be a champion for equity and anti-racism and work to ensure everyone in our community is included in City governance.

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

ANSWER: Please know that the decisions made at the local level directly impact your daily life in the city. Paying attention to municipal and local government matters is important because the people you send to city hall will shape the kind of city you want to live in.

Please take the time to vote for your candidate of choice to ensure your perspective counts in shaping a Burnaby for everyone. 

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