Councillor Paul McDonell
I was elected to Council in 2008, but I have always been a people person. I was given a social conscience early and have always felt that life is like a honeypot – if you need some, take it. If not, put it back.
Before becoming a City Councillor, I had many opportunities to serve our community. I have been a Burnaby resident since 1964. In 1993, I began work on the Parks Board, where I spent six years, including time as chair.
In 1994, I got involved with the Burnaby Health Board where I enjoyed meeting with council and medical professionals to advance healthcare initiatives in our city and region. In 1995, I became chair; in 1998 I became chair of the new Simon Fraser Health Board.
Working as a Vancouver firefighter (from which I retired as deputy chief in 1999) and rescue service worker for 35 years, through which I became involved with Muscular Dystrophy as chair and provincial director, and working with United Way for seven years (one year as chair) until 2001, I met wonderful people and saw first-hand the social issues we face. Most importantly, in all of my roles, I learned how partnerships can enable significant change. When business, unions, governments and individuals come together, great changes can happen.
As a Burnaby City Councillor, I have welcomed the opportunity to advance many significant initiatives, building partnerships that ensure their success. In the Edmonds area, for example, I have continued to work with Council and the Edmonds business community, on a mural program to address graffiti issues. With a grant from the City, support from the Mayor (who, nine years ago, put together a graffiti task force), lots of door-knocking, and significant fundraising support from Burnaby businesses and citizens, I worked to launch this program as a member of the Park Board and have been thrilled to see and participate in its very successful implementation.
More than 20 murals are now complete; more are planned. The result has been great. People like the art and graffiti is 99 per cent eliminated in the mural areas.
I have also particularly enjoyed continuing to develop the Eco-sculpture program. In 2005, we brought the idea of Eco-sculptures back from Montreal. People in Montreal taught us how to make the sculptures. Now, the community has embraced the sculptures and we have a developed a program that enables high school students to work on them – a job they have enthusiastically embraced.
The City of Burnaby has an exemplary local and international reputation for livability. On Council, we are determined to ensure the City remains the number-one livable city for citizens. To ensure we can help those who need help in our city, we need to continue to develop community networks. We have to approach things holistically and part of that is making sure people who have needs get them met. There’s lots a city can do to make sure that happens and I look forward to playing a role.
A key area of focus for me in the near term will be to enhance opportunities and services for seniors in Burnaby through my roles on various boards and committees.
Memberships and Community Links
- Chair, Social Issues Committee
- Vice-chair, Community Policing Committee
- Vice-chair, Executive Committee of Council
- Vice-Chair, International Relations & Friendship Cities Committee
- Vice-Chair, Mayor's Task Force on Graffiti
- Member, Finance & Civic Development Committee
- Mayor’s representative, Emergency Management Committee
- Council liaison, Health Services
- Council liaison, Burnaby Seniors
- Council representative, Fraser Health Municipal Advisory Council
- Council representative (Director), Tourism Burnaby
- Council representative (Trustee/chair), New Vista Society
- City representative, Burnaby Board of Trade Social Development Committee
- Founding member, past-president, Burnaby Edmonds Lions Club
- Member, United Way Campaign Cabinet
- Member, Burnaby Board of Trade Task Force on Homelessness
- Member, Past-chair, Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission
- Past-chair, Burnaby and Simon Fraser health authorities
- Director (past-chair), United Way of the Lower Mainland
- Past-chair, Vancouver Firefighters Muscular Dystrophy Society
- Past-chair, Edmonds City Fair
- Chair, Edmonds Murals Committee
- Recipient, British Columbia Community Achievement Award
- Recipient, Syd Thompson Community Service Award
- Named Firefighter of the Year - Vancouver Junior Board of Trade Jaycees