By Mike Hurley
My name is Mike Hurley and I am an independent candidate asking for your vote for mayor of Burnaby on October 20. I’m a 30-year Burnaby resident, husband, and father of four, who has served the people of Burnaby as a firefighter for the last three decades.
Being a firefighter means being active in the community, supporting people in their time of need while on the job, and supporting Burnaby’s neighbourhoods through volunteer work while off duty. In my 30 years as a firefighter, I have worked with Burnaby residents out in the community, every day. It is through this experience that I understand the community’s needs: the need for affordable housing, the need for safety in our parks and public places, and the need for open and welcoming environments for our young people and marginalized groups.
I am running for mayor of Burnaby because I believe that for too long, the real needs of everyday people in Burnaby have been ignored. More than 700 families have been forced from their homes in Metrotown demovictions, residents are bringing bear spray and weapons into our parks while walking at night because they fear for their safety, and our aging and overcrowded community centres are failing our young people and seniors.
Once upon a time, Burnaby was ranked the best-run city in Canada. But that was 2009. A lot has changed in that time. Today, in 2018, we are ranked 182nd on the list of the "Best Canadian Cities to Live". Our record on housing is worse: Burnaby ranks 520th out of 522 Canadian municipalities for housing supply and affordability, according to the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association. With a surplus of $1.3 billion in the bank and the power to improve critical issues like housing and infrastructure, that’s a pretty embarrassing record if you ask me.
As mayor, I will start by tackling Burnaby’s housing crisis by placing a moratorium on developments not yet approved until housing can be found for residents at the same rent levels. I will bring together a task force of affordable housing experts to research and propose solutions within six months of taking office. I will also listen and take direction from residents on laneway housing and additional secondary suites.
Similarly, when it comes to safety in Burnaby, I will listen to the experts. I will consult with the RCMP and take action to hire more officers to make our parks and public places safe. Burnaby has grown by more than 15,000 people since 2008 and not a single additional police officer has been hired in this time frame. That, to me, is poor planning.
To create more welcoming environments for our young people, seniors, and marginalized groups, I will invest in amenities such as community centres. With the rapid density that Burnaby has experienced, families should not be forced to go to neighbouring cities to enjoy recreational activities because our facilities are lacking. These kind of amenities are also so important in making newcomers feel at home. I myself immigrated to Burnaby from Ireland in 1983 and found community on the soccer field.
In supporting our children and the LGBTQ community, I am pro-SOGI. As a dad of four kids who have attended Burnaby schools, I see the positive impact our teachers have on our children every day. As past president of the Burnaby Firefighters, I have worked with teachers to develop the Healthy Snack program, which feeds children in 30 Burnaby schools, in addition to the creation of a CPR program for all Grade 10 students in Burnaby. I am grateful for the endorsement of the Burnaby Teachers Association and will take its lead when it comes to educating our young people.
As mayor, I will respect and listen to every resident, regardless of their background or circumstances, to find solutions to Burnaby’s most pressing problems. I will work collaboratively with all levels of government and all political parties, as I have done my entire career. And I will return respect for Burnaby’s residents back to the mayor’s chair.
This Saturday (October 20), I am asking for your vote to build a better Burnaby. It’s time for change.