Car-free Councillor Jonathan Cote makes the front page

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

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Coun. Jonathan Cote, right, hands over his keys to acting city administrator Rick Page
Coun. Jonathan Cote, right, hands over his keys to acting city administrator Rick Page. Photo: Jason Lang

Not soon after I poured my morning coffee, a copy of the Royal City Record was dropped off at my door by the ever reliable delivery guy named Robert Jost.

On the front cover was a story of councillor Jonathan Cote announcing that he was going to participate in the 1st Annual Civic Leaders Car Free Challenge.

Cote could be seen in the paper proudly handing over his car keys to city administrator Rick Page. As part of the challenge, local civic officials in Metro Vancouver have to commit to going car free from July 19-25th.

The first-term New Westminster Councillor is one of four elected officials participating in the challenge. George Peary, the Mayor of Abbotsford as well as councillors Suzanne Anton in Vancouver and Brad West in Port Coquitlam are also going to partake in the car free week.

In an interview with the Record, Cote provided an explanation as to why he decided to give up his car for the week.

I thought it was an interesting thing. We spend a lot of time on council talking about being sustainable, getting people out of their automobiles.

According to the Record, when Cote agreed to participate in the challenge, he thought he would be at work. As it turns out, he will actually be off work next week with his family which will make the challenge all the more difficult. Although the environmentally conscious councillor states:

We are used to walking and biking. In New Westminster, we are pretty close to the park. We have a double stroller. We will be getting a workout, especially if we are walking up from SkyTrain.

With over 100 elected officials in the Metro Vancouver area, it is a tad disappointing that only 4 brave souls decided they could live without their car for a week. Peary, Cote, West and Anton deserve our full praise for participating in the event.  Each plan to post at least one blog entry about their experience on over the coming weeks.

As a New Westminster resident I'm particularly proud of the fact that at least one elected official from my community stepped up to the plate on this one.

I'll be turning in my keys to my wife tomorrow, even though I only use my car at most one day per week to go to work (I use transit for all my other trips). Regardless, I'm thrilled to be taking public transit and walking/cycling all this week as part of the challenge!

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