Council – December 10, 2018

The last Council Meeting of 2018 was an eventful one, as you can see in the Agenda here. We started with two pretty lackluster Opportunities to be Heard:

Development Variance Permit DVP00657 for 41 Duncan Street (490 Furness Street) (Child Care)
Variances are required for this childcare project because the measured set-backs between the childcare building and the edges of the lot they are constructed on are reduced (in part because of the development plan for the overall site, in part to give better playspace. No-one sent any correspondence and no-one came to speak to the variance. Council moved to approve the variance.

Development Variance Permit DVP00656 for 618 Carnarvon Street (Sign Bylaw Variance)
A sign bylaw variance is required because the measured area of the sign, not the printed copy, but the entire field of paint, exceeds the Bylaw No-one sent any correspondence and no-one came to speak to the variance. Council moved to approve the variance.

The following items were Moved on Consent without discussion:

2019 Child Care Grant Recommendations
This is an annual $40,000 grant program to support capital improvements to non-profit childcare operations in the City. Council moved to grant a total of $39,321 to eight Child Care projects in the City representing over 400 child care spaces, with the remaining $679 to be allocated through the Child Care Action Team to subsidize education or training to non-profit childcare providers in the City.

2019 Heritage Grant Recommendations
This is an annual $25,000 grant program to support heritage initiatives in the City. There were 3 applications totaling $15,992, and the committee recommended granting them all. Council agreed.

800 Boyd Street (Queensborough Mini Storage): Consideration of Development Permit for Issuance
The landowner at this Queensborough property wants to expand the existing self-storage place to include a third building, and needs a Development Permit to do it. It has been supported by the Residents Association, and their public open house to receive comment on the application was attended by zero members of the public. The Design Panel also approve of the project. Council move to approve the Development Permit.

Q to Q Pilot Ferry Service – Update
This is an update on the QtoQ ferry service, which is seeing much less use than in the summer (as expected). There are a consistent 120 trips a day during the week, indicating a base level of service for commuters (what we kind of hoped would happen), with between 200 and 300 rides a day on the weekends, depending on the weather. Staff are going to do some more monitoring, hoping that they can adjust operations to best suit the needs of the passengers and hopefully save a little on operational cost.

Of bigger concern, there are a few operational concerns with the Port Royal dock, and the Port of Vancouver does not approve of the efforts the City wants to implement to make it work better, because of navigational risks for the log boom operators next door. So we have some more work to do.

Small Dog Off-Leash Area Trial in Moody Park
After some public engagement and a short trial, Parks are ready to install a permanent “small dog only” off-leash play area in Moody Park. Through the public consultation, it is pretty clear that some portion of the dog-loving public is not going to like the approach the City takes, no matter what that approach is, as there are many divergent views on every aspect of dog parks. Of course, a larger facility in another part of the park might be desired by most users, but there is limited space in Moody Park, and having two separate dog areas in that constrained and very busy park is just not fair to other park users.

The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

2019 Amateur Sports Fund Committee Grant Recommendations
This grant fund is a legacy of the 1973(!) Canada Games, along with some Casino funding added in 2000. There is an endowment with the interest paid out as grants to support amateur sports programs in the city. We had $323,000 in requests, and $35,000 budget. Council moved to approve the recommendation that the entire $35,000 budget be allocated to 10 sports organizations in the city, representing almost 2,700 athletes.

2019 Arts & Culture Grant Recommendations
This is an annual $30,000 grant program to support independent Arts & Culture programs in the City. The Grant Committee reviewed requests totaling just over $39,000. Council Moved to approve the recommended granting of a total of $30,000 to 13 different programs.

2019 Community Grant Recommendations
This grant program is meant to support projects which contribute to the community livability of the city, and grant recommendations made by a volunteer committee of New West residents. There is a $75,000 budget for this grant program. There were 24 applications totaling $105,000, and the committee recommended providing grant to 19 projects totaling $63,393, and the transfer of the $11,000 surplus to the Youth Counselling program under the Partnership Grant (see below).

2019 Environmental Grant Recommendations
This is an annual $20,000 grant program to support environmental initiatives in the City. There were $32,000 in requests, and Council supported the committee recommendation to grant a total of $20,000 to 6 programs.

2019 City Partnership Grant Recommendations
This grant program is meant to assist incorporated not -for-profit organizations with delivery of major services to the community. The services must assist the City to fulfill its vision statement and requests are reviewed by a Review Panel. The best way to think about partnership grants is that these are things some might expect a City (or senior government) to do, but it is easier and less expensive for us to grant money to others and let them do it.

Hence, this is the biggest grant category – established programs tend towards here, and it takes on the character of a “catch all”. In this lies the trouble. There is a $485,000 budget for this grant program, but there were 23 applications totaling $1,061,755. Clearly, hard choices need to be made here.

One concern this year is that several organizations that asked for 3-year grant commitments rely on that stability to not only create consistent programming, but also to allow them to leverage other grant sources – both goals we want to see from partnership grants. But if every grant is promised for three years, we have no room for new (and potentially really beneficial) programs to develop.

Alas, this is mess, not because of the work of the review committee, but because we as Council have not done the work to provide clear guidance and priority to inform their work. In the end, Council moved to refer these recommendations back to the committee for more work with a bit of guidance. More to come in January.

Committee Governing Documents
This is an update to the terms of reference of a bunch of our Council Advisory Committees, to explicitly open spaces for representatives from a First Nation, to open up opportunities for co-chairs to make committees work better if needed, and to allow Council to remove representatives that don’t actually show up.

We got into a bit of a debate here about some of the wording, which might have sounded bureaucratic to some, but I think speaks to our cautious approach to reconciliation. The wording of opening up a seat for a “representative of a First Nation” is potentially more limiting than we intended. I think our intent was to incent participation on our committees by people with indigenous experience, but the term “First Nation representative” may be read to mean representative from the governance of a First Nation as a stakeholder as opposed to a community member who can add to our conversation. Nothing wrong with the former, but I think we also want to encourage the latter. At a second level, the term “First Nation” is generally thought to not include Metis or Inuit, which may preclude the urban aboriginal residents we want to hear form. Short version: we can’t make these gestures without considered intent, otherwise they risk becoming token gestures that don’t actually move us towards a meaningful dialogue. So we will do a bit of a review of our language here and make sure the language fits our intent. Let’s make sure we are doing this right.

Rent Bank Program: Update and Request
The Rent Bank is working. It is providing no-interest emergency loans to prevent a small catastrophes from making a people homeless – as serious concern in our tight rental market, as we can stop the vicious cycle of homelessness right at the start. The City provides administration funding for the program (the cooperating Credit Unions provide the loans). It also acts as a point of contact for people facing homelessness, so even if they do not qualify for the emergency loan, they may find out about other programs that can provide them support at a crisis time in their lives. The program in its short history has prevented a couple of dozen people becoming homeless – helping them, but also saving the provincial government a lot of money.

Council moved to increase our funding to help with this administration, and to ask the Province to help fund the program now that it has been demonstrated to be viable and something that is likely saving the Province orders of magnitude more money.

Development Services Fees and Rates Amendment Bylaw: Retail Sale of Cannabis – Bylaw for Three Readings
This is a Bylaw we adopted back on November 19, but it had the wrong Schedule B attached at the time due to a clerical error. Staff caught the error, so now we are going to amend it to include the appropriate schedule.

Proposed BC Energy Step Code Requirements for New Part 3 Multi-Residential and Commercial Buildings
The Province has been working on updates of the building code to make buildings in BC more energy efficient in order to meet our long-range energy and emissions reduction goals. There is a lot going on here, but the very short version is that the province has termed it the “Step Code”, with the idea that Cities can phase implementation towards higher “steps”, with the top step being zero energy buildings – those that are so efficient they can be heated by waste energy already in the house (like the back of your fridge and the human bodies in the house). The idea being that this buffers homebuilders, the construction industry, regulators and inspectors from an all-at-once change, and instead we can phase in improvement over time.

The City is already implementing a Step Code strategy for single family homes, and all buildings up to three stories and 600m2, we are now moving into the larger-building sector (condos and purpose built rental). By 2020, new buildings will have to hit Step 3, unless they have a Low Carbon Energy System, in which case they will be required to hit Step 2. The result is basically the same from greenhouse gas emission sense – either they switch to non-carbon energy sources, or they useless energy.

We are also going to look at requiring homebuilders to apply energy ratings on their new buildings, so owners will know what they are buying. Like knowing the fuel consumption of the car you buy or the KW/h usage of your clothes dryer, you really should know what the energy costs of your new house or apartment is.

Update on the City’s Snow and Ice Response Preparations
This is a timely update on the City’s snow and ice response plan, following up on requests last year and the year before to review how snow removal from sidewalks and pedestrian areas are managed in the City. The City is going to do more to get the information out about residents’ responsibility to clear their sidewalks, and to address the issue of lane-ways creating pedestrian barriers.

However, I don’t think we are going far enough. Since we adopted a Master Transportation Plan that prioritizes active transportation (walking and cycling), then public transit, over personal automobile use, it seems incongruous that we spend so much money and resources keeping roads free of ice and cleared of snow, but rely on the neighbourliness of our residents to do the same for our sidewalks and bus stops. This is also in opposition to our Age-Friendly Community Strategy, and our goals to become a more accessible City.

Therefore, I moved that we ask staff to let us know what the practicalities and costs are of the City taking over the responsibility for sidewalk plowing, at least in a set of pedestrian priority areas (in the same way that we prioritize roads). If we can’t afford it, I want to know what that cost is. If we need to move priorities to make it happen, I need to have the data to support that.

September 6, 2018 Arts Commission Recommendation re Cultural Services
The Arts Commission has a recommendation about how we structure Cultural Services in the City. This will likely be a part of our strategic planning process for the coming term, and will no doubt interact with the Arts Strategy which we discussed during the Open Workshop portion of today’s meeting. More to come here…

We then had one item of New Business:

Draft Inclusionary Housing Policy for Rezoning Application Negotiation
The City now has the authority to require that any development above a certain size to include an affordable housing component, in the form of below-market rental. We have the ability to make this a condition of OCP amendment or rezoning. There are a lot of details here, and this is sure to cause a lot of public conversation – and raise a bit of concern among the development community.

The City has already negotiated two below-market affordable housing projects as parts of larger developments – 159 units in Victoria Hill completed in 2017, and 66 units on Carnarvon Street about to break ground now. But the need is increasing, so this policy will allow us to move beyond the ad-hoc process we currently use. This is a preliminary report, and these will be public consultation on this. I am looking forward to learning more as we go along.

We then adopted the following Bylaws:

Council Indemnification Bylaw No. 8075, 2018
As discussed last meeting, this Bylaw that outlines when Council members are and are not indemnified in relation to their Council work was adopted by Council.

Five-Year Financial Plan (2018-2022) Amendment Bylaw No. 8062, 2018
Also discussed last meeting, this amendment to the Five-Year Financial Plan to include some financing for the replacement of the Canada Games pool was adopted by Council.

Engineering User Fees and Rates Amendment Bylaw No. 8071, 2018
Discussed at some length, this Bylaw that formalizes the utility rate increases for 2019 was adopted by Council.

Development Cost Charge Reserve Funds Expenditure Bylaw No. 8072, 2018
As discussed last meeting, this Bylaw that allows us to build things with the money we collected from the development community through DCCs was adopted by Council.

Parks and Recreation Fees and Charges Amendment Bylaw No. 8066, 2018
This annual update to our Parks and Recreation fees, as discussed last meeting, was adopted by Council.

Whew! It was a content-dense last meeting of the year. I am taking a bit of a vacation, so will probably not be blogging much for the next few weeks. If you want t know where I am, find me on Instagram or Facebook, as I will try to send updates from the vacation. I hope you have a good holidays, and your 2019 is full of the best kinds of excitement!

Council – Dec 3, 2018

Proving my prognostication skills are as terrible as I always suspected, here is my report on this week’s Council meeting. You can follow along on the Agenda here, and note that I thought those new business items were just Notices of Motion, not topics of discussion this week, which is kinda how I missed them earlier. I’m such a rookie at this.

We started the Meeting with an Opportunity for Public Comment:

Five-Year Financial Plan (2018-2022) Amendment Bylaw No. 8062, 2018
This Bylaw provides us the authority to borrow the money we need to build the proposed Canada Games Pool replacement. We do not yet have a detailed design, and our cost estimates at this point are “Class D” and put the project at about $100 Million, or $114 Million if we expand the facility to provide all of the competition-supporting changes that the swim club was asking for. The rush here is the timing of the Federal government infrastructure grant process, and the requirement that we have a financing plan in place and approved prior to us completing that application.

We had one person ask a few questions regarding the structure of the Five-Year Financial Plan and the planned structure of the loan if and when the City decides to go forward with the project. There will be a *lot* of discussion of this project in 2019 as the design and planning come along and we get all of the details of financing the largest capital project in the city’s history together. In the meantime, Council gave this amendment three readings.

The following items were Moved on Consent without discussion.

New Westminster City Council Indemnification Bylaw
The City’s Solicitor is updating some of the practices in the City, including clarifying the limitations of liability for Council. This is a little meta to how Council operates, but as the executive to a large organization, we have some protection from legal liability if we make decisions in good faith that have bad results. This protection is much less robust if we act dishonestly or in violation of the law.

Engineering User Fees and Utility Rates Amendment Bylaw No. 8071, 2018
We talked about utility rates last meeting, and I have been writing a few blog posts about it. This is the Bylaw that makes the water, sewer, and solid waste rates for the next year official, and we gave the Bylaw three readings.

DCC Expenditure Bylaw No. 8072, 2018
Development Cost Charges are money the City collects from developers that the City is required by law to spend on designated infrastructure improvement projects directly related to the impacts of population growth. If we need to replace the water pipes under your street due to it being old and leaky, that is paid for out of your utility rates (through utility reserve funds, usually). However, if we have to build a bigger water pipe to accommodate the new multi-family building on your block, the marginal cost of that expansion is paid for with DCCs collected from the developer of that multi-family building. Like everything else in this City, we need a Bylaw to permit the pulling of the money out of the DCC accounts and spending it on the projects.

For example, there are a couple of drainage projects in Queensborough, one related to Ewen Street redesign, the other a major pump station at the end of Wood Street. They are going to cost a combined $6.4Million. About $4.5M of that (or 70%) will be paid for out of our reserves (ie. paid by all users), while $1.9M (or 30%) will be paid by DCC funds collected through density increases in Queensborough.

Council gave the Bylaw, which authorizes the spending of a little more than $3 Million of DCC funds on various projects.

Code of Conduct for City Council
We have not operated with a modern Code of Conduct for Council. This is something many Cities have adopted, partly because of increased expectations for respectful workplaces, and partly from observing examples from other cities where the municipal operations were hampered by poor conduct on the part of a few disruptive Council members. So, no sign of problems here, just our City Clerk being proactive as part of our general effort to make City Hall and Council function as well as possible. Council move to approve the Code.

Recruitment 2018: ICAC Appointment
The School Board representative to the Intelligent City Advisory Committee is changing due to some staffing shifts at the School District. Moved!

2018 Heritage Register Update – Addition of Five Properties and Removal of One Property
The Heritage Registry is a database of significant heritage assets in the City (mostly single family homes) that have statements of significance, and the owners are able to avail themselves of some special provisions of the BC Building Code to support the protection and preservation of the buildings. Some (not all) are protected from demolition or modification. New houses granted property rights through Heritage Restoration Agreements are commonly added to the Register every now and then, and this time, a building demolished after a fire a couple of years ago has been stricken from the Register.

Recreational Cannabis: Nuisance Monitoring Program
As I’ve said a few times, the biggest hassle we are going to have to deal with as a City with the legalization of cannabis is the inevitable complaints about exposure to second-hand smoke. I am of the opinion that the actual nuisance will not be increasing substantially (because I don’t think legalization is going to come with a substantial increase in users), but I am confident the number of complaints will as people are less sensitive to how their personal use impacts others. Staff have some tools in place, but will provided this report to let us know they will be collecting data and will report back to us about how the nuisance issue plays out in the City.

SkyTrain Stations (TransLink): Request for Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption
SkyTrain works often involve working at times when the SkyTrain is not running, for some pretty obvious reasons, which usually requires a construction noise bylaw exemption. We are granting one until December 24th, then again starting in January so TransLink can wire up their new announcement system.

Pattullo Bridge Seismic Upgrading: Request for Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption
As plans for a replacement for the Pattullo bridge proceed, the old structure is still going to carry traffic through to 2023. TransLink has concerns about its ability to withstand high seismic and wind loads events, and want to install an early warning system to close the bridge in the event of a bad event. The work to install some of this will have to happen at night to not impact drivers. So they came to us for a construction noise exemption.

CP Rail Pipe Crossing Agreement – Proposed Watermain Crossing on Braid Street
We need to replace a piece of water main, and it goes under railroad tracks. So we need to get separate approvals from all three rail operators. This is the CP one. This is also related to the reason why the sidewalk improvements along Braid have not been completed to date. The water line thing has to happen first.

Amendment to the Parks and Recreation Fees and Charges Bylaw (resubmitted)
This is a second shot at updating our Parks and Recreation fees, as we do annually, after a few recommendations came from Council last meeting. Council moved to approve them this time.

We then adopted a few Bylaws

Revenue Anticipation Borrowing Amendment Bylaw No. 8038, 2018
As discussed last meeting, This Bylaw that allows us to borrow a bit of money if we need to spend a little bit more cash than we strictly have on hand to get past short term (less than a year) cash crunch was adopted by Council. I have no idea if staff ever use this flexibility, but they are definitely happy to have it.

Engineering User Fees and Rates Amendment Bylaw No. 8058, 2018
As discussed last meeting, this Bylaw that formalizes the annual CPI-related increases in Engineering Fees to assure cost recovery was adopted by Council.

Zoning Amendment (1102, 1110, 1116 and 1122 Salter Street) Bylaw No. 8034, 2018
As discussed back in June, given Third Reading on July 25th, and just approved by the Ministry of Transportation, this Bylaw that supports the development of a combined townhouse, rowhome and detached house development in Queensborough was adopted by Council.

Now for those New Business items I thought were Notices of Motion:

Poverty Reduction
Council resolved that: the City of New Westminster support the Coalition’s ABC Plan for an accountable, bold and comprehensive poverty reduction plan for BC; and that this council advocate to the provincial government to develop and implement a provincial poverty reduction strategy that includes the measures within the ABC Plan before February 2019, with the commitment that this council will work with the provincial government in implementing this plan.

This is a motion to ask the Provincial government to include the framework and items in the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition’s “ABC Plan” for an Accountable, Bold and Comprehensive poverty reduction plan for BC. Beyond just a good idea at a good time, it is important to realize that although the costs of poverty often fall on municipalities to manage, the causes of poverty are firmly in senior governments’ jurisdiction. We do what we can in New Westminster to mitigate the effects, but the root causes will need serious senior government action.

Truth and Reconciliation
Council resolved to endorse the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report Honouring the Truth, Reconciling the Future; the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action; the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and that the City use the Declaration as a framework for truth and reconciliation.

The City has been working on a reconciliation plan since 2017, and are quickly entering a phase where Council will and the public will be engaging in conversations, and the City will be opening opportunities for truths to be shared. We have taking a cautious approach, but based on the messaging of the recent election campaigns, we will be integrating reconciliation into our strategic planning for the term. In the meantime, it is timely that the City endorse the principles that will provide the framework for those actions.

All on Board Campaign
Finally, Council also resolved to endorse the #AllOnBoard Campaign; the City write a letter to the TransLink Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation, the TransLink Board, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction asking TransLink to work with the provincial government regarding funding and developing a plan that will provide free public transit for minors (ages 0-18), and reduced price transit based on a sliding scale using the Market Basket Measure for all low-income people regardless of their demographic profile;
and that the City write a separate letter to the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation and the TransLink Board asking them to 1) require TransLink adopt a poverty reduction/equity mandate in order to address the outstanding issue of lack of affordability measures to ensure those who need public transit the most can access the essential service of transit, and 2) to request TransLink immediately and without delay amend existing by-laws and cease ticketing all and any minors for fare evasion as the first step towards the full implementation of free transit for children and youth 0-18, and allow low-income adults to access community service and/or culturally appropriate restorative justice community service as an alternative to the financial penalty of a fare evasion ticket;

I have been an outspoken supporter of providing free transit for youth, and the All on Board campaign has pushed this issue forward in recent months.

My only caveat with this motion is my concern that poverty mitigation efforts undertaking by TransLink do not come at the cost of reducing transit service or increasing fares for other users. Reducing accessibility to or reliability of public transit will ultimately hurt those with lower incomes worse than those who have access to other options. I will not support sliding scale or subsidized transit passes for the lowest income categories if it comes at the cost of increasing fares for the next economic tiers. It is not progressive or fair for the marginally poor to be asked to subsidize the poorest sector of society. The provincial government must fund any low-income transit subsidy from general revenue. It is the only just way to address this issue.

Clearly, we have a new Council, one ready to jump in with two feet and get some things done. It should be an exciting term!

Council – Nov. 19, 2018

Our first real meeting of the new term was full of interesting Agenda items, but we managed to get through them fairly quickly, even before the Public Delegations began.

The following items were Moved on Consent without discussion:

Queensborough Electrical Substation Loan Authorization Bylaw and Temporary Borrowing Bylaw
It is time for the Electrical Utility to build a new substation in Queensborough to deal with increased loads on that side of the river. The Electrical Utility is self-funding, so the capital cost of the substation (approximately $30 Million dollars) will be paid by electrical customers through their regular electrical bill, which requires that we borrow the money and amortize the cost of the construction over 20 years. The City cannot borrow money beyond the 5 years of our financial plan without specific authorization from the province and the public. So we are starting that process.

There are actually two Bylaws here. One will allow us to temporarily borrow up to $30 million dollars (“temporary” being within the 5-year financial plan) to provide the electrical utility access to the cash they need to hire contractors to do the work and pay them at the time they need to hire and pay contractors. The second is to do a long-term (and hopefully lower-rate) infrastructure loan through the Municipal Finance Authority so we can amortize up to $30 Million debt over 20 years. In short, we pay the contractor with the first loan, then pay off the first loan with the long-term loan, because it will cost less in the long run.

Revenue Anticipation Borrowing Amendment Bylaw No. 8038, 2018
Let’s for a few moments do the dangerous thing of comparing municipal finance to your household finances. The City has a chequing account to pay for day-to-day operations. From salaries to asphalt to photocopy fluid, it all gets paid from this chequing account. Much of the money going into that account arrives in a short period of time around Tax time, but much of it trickles in over the year through fees, senior government grants, etc. We are required (by law) to balance our budget at the end of the year, but it is possible that at some point through the year we may be in a negative cash position because we need to write more cheques in, say, April, than the money we take in that month. In this case, we may need to borrow money for a month or two until those tax cheques start arriving. As a City, we cannot borrow money without a Bylaw authorizing us to do so. So every year, we pass this “revenue Anticipation Borrowing Bylaw” which gives our finance staff the authority to borrow in the short term so we don’t go overdraft.

618 Carnarvon Street: Development Variance Permit No. DVP00656 to Vary Sign Bylaw Requirements – Consideration of Notice of Opportunity to be Heard
There is a development property in Downtown that installed signs that, by the most generous interpretation of the Sign Bylaw, do not comply. When staff informed the developer of this, they applied for a variance.

There is a bit of nuance here, because the printed copy of the sign is within the size allowed by the Bylaw , but the very large white space of the sign is not. In theory, the developer could have painted the wall white (which is exempt from the sign Bylaw) and put a regulation-size sign up and the result would be indistinguishable from the current situation. Alas, after the fact, a variance is the best way to deal with this, and there will be an Opportunity to be Heard at the December 10, 2018 meeting. C’mon out and tell us what you think.

Engineering User Fees and Rates Amendment Bylaw No. 8058, 2018
There was a typo in the Bylaw we gave Third Reading last month, so we are going to rescind that Third Reading, and do another one with the edited Bylaw.

1209 – 1217 Eighth Avenue: Rezoning and Development Permit Applications for 22 Unit Infill Townhouse Project – For Information
This is a preliminary information report to let Council know that this project is going through reviews and public consultation. The project is the first larger Infill Townhouse project that Council has seen since the changes in the OCP, so there will be some curiosity about how the project develops. As the project will eventually work its way to a Public Hearing, I will hold my comments until that time.

The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

2019 – 2023 Draft Financial Plan – Utilities
Right back at it in the first meeting of the new Council, and we need to keep the process for the new budget rolling.

Utilities are self-supporting in the City. Water, sewer, and solid waste are paid for through utility fees, including a significant amount of money put aside in their capital reserves in order to fund ongoing and anticipated capital upgrades to the aging infrastructure. The Electrical Utility is slightly different, because it makes a profit and pays a dividend to the shareholder (the City) every year.

Water and sewer increases are pretty much what we have been anticipating. The cost of capital improvements and maintenance locally (the higher-than-inflation increased cost of replacing old pipes in this super-heated construction market) and regionally (we are building many new and improved sewer treatment plants and water supply infrastructure, as both federal standards and public environmental expectations are higher than ever before) means these rates will continue to grow slightly faster than CPI for the foreseeable future.

No doubt 7% increase a year looks like an unsustainable path for many homeowners – this culminates to a 40% increase over 5 years, but the regional water rates are anticipated to go up 62% in the same time, and sewer rates by 64%. So our local rate increases are actually lower than the regional trends.

Solid waste increases have been very modest over the last few years, even below CPI, but those good times appear to be coming to an end. There are some significant problems in the regional solid waste system, including issues with managing the organics stream (with a major Richmond facility shutting its doors in 2019) to ongoing issues with provincially-regulated EPR programs dealing with plastics and printed paper. The amount was pay per household in relatively modest for the level of solid waste service we receive, but with increases averaging 10 percent over the next 5 years, we may want to have another conversation about waste reduction and diversion education, and perhaps enforcement, to reduce tipping costs.

Now on to the tough one. I am not currently willing to support increasing our electrical fees above what is charged by BC Hydro to customers across the borders in Burnaby and Coquitlam. The electrical utility provides a dividend to taxpayers in this City, which is one of (not the only) benefits of having an electrical utility. However, it is much harder to argue that we should continue to offset property taxes by expecting electrical customers to pay *more* than the market rate for electricity. I think that represents a change in practice (if not policy) that requires more discussion around Council.

In the end, we moved to approve in principle the other utility rate increases (staff will now draft the appropriate Bylaws, so we can still debate some of the details), but I asked that the Electrical Utility bring back more options for Council in regards to electrical rates, including an analysis of what it looks like if we peg our rates to BC Hydro rate increases.

2018 General Local Election – Report of Election Results
This is the required-by-regulation report of final numbers for the election. The only new news here is that the turnout of registered voters was 29%, In the end, the turnout of registered voters was 29% turnout is slightly below the previous election but not anomalous. This report will be followed up in a later report with a more comprehensive review of how the election went and we can have a discussion then about voter engagement, poll issues, or budget needs for the next election.

420 Boyne Street (Animal Shelter): Consideration of Development Permit for Issuance
The City still plans to build a new Animal Care Facility and tow yard in Queensborough, and just like everyone else, we need to apply for a development permit to do so. Having Adopted the required Zoning Amendment back in October, and the building complying with that zoning, this shouldn’t be too complicated. The RA has no objections and the Design Panel supports the project with some minor adjustment of the cladding. I had a few questions about the pedestrian realm and roads around the new building, but as far as the DP itself, it’s ready to go!

41 Duncan Street (Child Care): Development Permit and Development Variance Permit – Consideration of Notice of Opportunity to be Heard
The development approved recently for 41 Duncan Street included a building that is intended to be a childcare facility. A DP and DVP are required to put that landuse there. Again, this stage reviews some of the form and character of the building and clarifies the amenities, parking facilities, and such things that will support the final building. This has been through the RA and design panel, and will go to a public Opportunity to be Heard on December 10, 2018. C’mon out and let us know what you think.

Front Street Sewer Upgrade (Metro Vancouver): Request for Extension of Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption
The sewer project that keeps on going is delayed a bit longer. Some of the work they need to do has to happen at night because that is when sewer flows are lower, so they are asking for a noise variance until the end of the year. I moved that we not give them an exemption from December 24th to December 31st. It’s Christmas, people are at home more and trying to enjoy time with their families. In the end Council moved to grant the variance until December 23, and if they need more time they can come back to us after January 1st.

Integration of the Regional Disaster Debris Management Guideline with the City of New Westminster Emergency Response Plan
This was a really interesting report for me (but perhaps not for everyone?) In the event of a major disaster, management of debris can be a huge logistical issue, and it is difficult to plan this kind of thing after the event when you have piles of debris everywhere. A little regional coordination and pre-planning will help a lot in the event of a seismic event, building collapse, tornado, or other derbis-inducing event. My concerns were mostly around liability and how our responsibilities under the Environmental Management Act are relinquished in the event of emergency action.

I might have geeked out a bit (sorry, staff), but am glad to see that this work is being done, and the region is being proactive planning for the certainty of a major incident.

Amendment to the Parks and Recreation Fees and Charges Bylaw
We are doing our annual review of fees. There were some election discussions at looking at making some changes to some Parks and Rec programs to make them more affordable, so Council asked staff to come back with a few adjustments of these proposed rate increases, especially around how the toonie program is supported.

There is also some good news in here about staff looking at a system where liability insurance can be provided at a very low cost to “unaffiliated” community group that may want to use Community rooms in our Rec centres and such. This is actually a significant barrier to some small users groups who lack meeting space, and I hope we can make something work here for them

We then had a couple of items Added to the Agenda:

Appointment of Chairs to 2019 Advisory Bodies of Council and Organizations
With a new Council Term comes new responsibilities. I am going to continue to chair the Access Ability Advisory Committee and ACTBiPed, am going to Chair the Intelligent City Advisory Committee, and join the Electrical Utility Commission. I will also continue on the Canada Games Pool Replacement Task Force and Transportation Task Force, and an joining the Riverfront and Public Realm Task Force. Outside of the City I am serving as the Chair of the Community Energy Association, and as second vice President of the Lower Mainland Local Government Association. So that should keep me busy.

Re-Appointment to the New Westminster Municipal Police board
Our Police force is regulated under the Police Act by a Police Board, the members of which are appointed by Order in Council by the Attorney General of BC, but City Council must nominate the appointee and send that recommendation to the AG. We are recommending the re-appointment of a current member.

Appointments to the New Westminster Library Board
Similar to the Police, the Library is regulated by a Provincial Act, but we are able to appoint the members to the Library board without asking the province for permission. We are appointing Councillor Trentadue and a community member to the board for two-year terms.

*I have decided this term to skip talking about all of the Bylaws we give various readings during these reports, its really not that exciting, gets long sometimes, and you can read the details in the Agenda. I will only report on the Bylaws when we adopt them, so you know when they become the Law of the Land and your compliance is expected.

We then Adopted some Bylaws:

Tree Protection and Regulation Bylaw Amendment Bylaw No. 8052, 2018; and
Development Services Fees and Rates Bylaw Amendment Bylaw No. 8053, 2018
These Bylaws that formalize the updates to the Tree Protection Bylaw that were given Third Reading back on October 1st were adopted by Council.

Development Services Fees and Rates Amendment Bylaw No. 8061, 2018;
Cultural Services Fees and Charges Amendment Bylaw No. 8060, 2018;
Fees Amendment Bylaw No. 8059, 2018
These Bylaws that formalize the updates to our planning and engineering fees to keep up with inflation and changes in operational costs that were given Third Reading back on October 1st were adopted by Council.

Housing Agreement (813-823 Carnarvon) Amendment Bylaw No. 8056, 2018
This bylaws that secures affordable housing will be offered for the life of the recently-approved building in Downtown was adopted by Council.

And other than a few announcements and Public Delegations (that you will need to watch the video to learn about), we were done for the evening!

Council – Nov. 5, 2018

We had a bit of a Council meeting on November 5th. The first meeting of a new term is limited to a few procedural matters that get us up and running as a Council, but there were decisions made so I may as well report on them.

Oaths of Office
First we had Oaths of Office required by regulation, which all of our Council managed to get through relatively unscathed. Even the newbies. And I pronounced pecuniary correctly after 4 years of daily practice.

Metro Vancouver Board Appointments
We officially appointed Mayor Cote to the Metro Vancouver Board, as is the general practice. Municipalities like New Westminster get a single seat at the Board, and it is typically the Mayor who serves that position.

We also name and Alternate to cover for the Mayor if they are not available. In New Westminster, the practice has been to allow the Alternate serve on one of the regional committees with an available spot for New Westminster. (e.g. for the last 2 years, I have been serving as Alternate and have been on the Metro Vancouver Utilities committee). We voted to appoint Councillor Trentadue to serve as Alternate.

Task Force Creation
The Mayor is setting up a new Task Force to give local economic development a little more focus than it previously had. This model – a Task Force with a clear mandate and financial support to do the work needed to bring new ideas to council, supported by staff and outside experts – worked well for Public Engagement last term (although our implementation is a little slower than I might like on that), and on ongoing issues related to Affordable Housing and Transportation.

Acting Mayor Appointments
Sometimes the Mayor is out of town or even (gasp!) on vacation. We always have to have a Mayor designated for some legal reasons around signing important stuff, emergency chain of command, etc. In New Westminster, we share this responsibility with each Council member “acting” two months a year in the event that His Worship is not around. As was the case in the previous term, my months are March and August.

Committees and Task Force appointments
The Mayor gets to assign us to committees and Task Forces as well. This does not include the myriad of Council advisory committees (those are yet to come), but more the legislative committees and Mayors task forces. I will be continuing to serve on the Transportation Task Force and Canada Games Pool Replacement Task Force, and will be serving in a full role on the Riverfront and Public Realm Task Force (after serving as an alternate for part of the last term). My time on the Land use and Planning committee has also come to an end –as we have tried to rotate that around Council members.

Zoning Amendment (1050 Boyd Street and 1005 Ewen Avenue) Bylaw No. 8033, 2018.
Finally, we adopted this Bylaw given Third Reading back in July, because it took until now to get Ministry of Transportation sign-off as required.

First real Council meeting will be on November 19th, and I am expecting a stuffed-full agenda!

Council – Oct 1, 2018.

Final! Council! Meeting! Of! The! Term!

The election is reaching fever pitch, but some of us still had some work to do. The final council meeting included some time to reflect on the careers of retiring councilors Lorrie Williams and Bill Harper. I will talk more about that in a future blog post, because we also had a full agenda:

The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

Public Engagement Strategy Update
The City’s Public Engagement Taskforce created a strategy to improve how the City engages its residents and stakeholders in planning and decision making. We are a year into implementation, and have already achieved some of the short-term tasks like creating a Public Engagement staff position and developing a toolkit for all departments in the City to use in their own engagement. There is much work to do, however, and this report lays out our approach to the medium- and long-term tasks.

Council Approval of Future Forward: An Economic Development Plan for New Westminster 2018-2023
Similarly, our Economic Development plan has taken almost two years to put together with extensive public and business community consultation. One of our great advantages in New Westminster is our collaborative relationship with our BIAs, with our Chamber of Commerce, and with other business groups like the New West collective and the Tech meetup. Getting business leaders in the City involved in the development of this strategy means we avoid the top-down approach that overlooks the local element. I’m looking forward to seeing this plan implemented, leveraging the advantages of the RCH expansion and the new regional buzz New Westminster is experiencing>

Proposed 2019 Schedule of Regular Council Meetings
This schedule shows a slightly reduced number of meetings compared to 2018. We had a bit of discussion about this, because we have had issues this year with extremely lengthy agendas, and fear that some of the items are not getting the fulsome review that is ideal. That said, meetings are expensive – they take a lot of staff time and resources, and that is time not being spent doing the other things staff have on their busy schedules. We need to strike a balance.

Ultimately, I hope we can schedule a couple more daytime workshop meetings. We had great success this term with workshop format meetings on complex issues like the Heritage Conservation Area and cannabis regulations. We were able to debate, disagree, express our concerns and work with staff towards consensus. They were the most satisfying part of my Council experience, as they gave us a change to dig into policy implications of our decisions. Though we may not be able to predict what new strategic direction the new council will take, and therefore what the workshop topics will be, I hope to continue that trend.

New Westminster Food Security Action Plan (October 2018): for Information
About 10% of New Westminster adult residents are at some time of the year food insecure. The City has been working with stakeholders and service agencies to help address this issue in the City as part of our larger anti-poverty strategy. Some will argue this is outside of the mandate of local governments, and indeed we are not the lead on this policy, but we do have a role in supporting the agencies who are experts at this work.

813 – 823 Carnarvon Street: Housing Agreement Amendment Bylaw for Three Readings
We have occasionally failed in the past to manage parking provisions in some affordable housing/ market housing development, and this is currently causing quite a bit of conflict in one community in the City. As we work on that legacy problem, we need to assure we are not repeating the mistake, and make it clear to developers who are receiving development benefits in exchange for including affordable housing what the expectations are for parking, secure cycle storage, and general storage in those developments so that the people in the affordable housing portion are not nickel-and-dimed out of affordability.

Q to Q Pilot Ferry Service – Update and Extension of Pilot
This report is good news. The ridership of the QtoQ Ferry is good enough (65,000 rides!) that it warrants an extension through the winter to determine if it is viable not just as a summer cruise, but as a transportation link.

There are some details in here about challenges. One is determining how to make the waiting areas at each end more customer-friendly and less impactful on neighbours through signage (cues to help the QtoQ queues), and another is the challenge of Compass Card integration. We also need to get a long-term business plan together to decide what the best structure is for a permanent service if the winter ridership supports this.

In the short term, we will continue running the QtoQ until May at the least, and will adjust the schedule somewhat to reflect expected off-season use patterns. Staff and the operators will continue to talk to the users to make the schedule as useful for those users. Ultimately, we need ot make this link work for them if we are going to make the case for long-term investment in the ferry service.

New Westminster Urban Solar Garden – Next Steps on a Second Array
Phase 1 of our Solar Garden is installed n the Queensborough community Centre roof, generating electricity, and paying back the investors (including me!). There is still public demand, so we are moving forward with Phase 2, likely to be located at the works yard in Glenbrook North.

Recruitment 2019: Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) Appointments
The Youth Advisory Committee has a different schedule than the other Council Advisory Committees, because we try to synch it to the school schedule. The 2018-2019 edition of the YAC is now struck. There is room for a few more members of the New West youth community – if you know someone between the ages of 13 and 19 who might want to tell City Council how to do or job better, send them here.

The following items were Moved on Consent:

Users Fees and Rates Review Amendment Bylaws for 2019
Every year we review our various fees as part of our budgeting process. Almost all of them go up with CPI (“inflation”), but we also review them to assure we are recovering costs and to match with the fee structure in adjacent communities.

In summary, Engineering fees going up 2% to match CPI, Business Fees, building fees and Planning fees will go up 2% with a couple of small exceptions (we are in the bottom 25% of Lower Mainland municipalities on these fees). Cultural Services fees are doing the 2% thing, and the fees we charge Lawyers and Notaries for tax records and other filings are going up more than 2% to align with regional averages.

Due to CPI adjustments, the business licence rate for a Tea Cup Reader is now $47.87 per annum. I expect the Tea Cup Readers saw this coming, and have already raised their rates accordingly.

Investment Report to August 31, 2018
The City has about $180 Million in the bank. Much of this is in reserve funds – money we have put aside for specific purposes (like the CGP replacement and DCC funds that must be used to expand utility capacity concomitant with population growth). We have drawn this down a bit over the last year, as we are spending it on the things it was saved for, like sewer separation in Sapperton and the Ewen Street project.

This is our regular report on the return we are making on investments. As a City and for statutory reasons we are very low risk in our investment strategy, but the bond market is flat right now, so our finance department has moved some money to secure savings accounts. About 2/3 of the way through our year, we have reached about 66% of our budgeted return on investments. We will likely make about $2.3M in investment income this year.

Major Purchases May 1st to August 31st, 2018
This is our ternary report on what the City purchased through sole source or public procurement. We are required by law to have an open bid process for most purchase and use BC Bid to do that purchase. If you bidded on a job at the City, and didn’t get it, here is where you can see who got the job and how much we paid them!

406 – 412 East Columbia Street: Development Permit – Issuance
This mid-rise mixed-use project on a vacant lot in Sapperton has been through extensive review and public consultation, and is now at the Development Permit stage. This is an exciting new landform for Sapperton, mixing commercial,retail and residential, and bringing a bit of new energy to East Columbia. I am happy to support it.

811 – 819 Twelfth Street and 1124 Edinburgh Street: Heritage Revitalization Agreement for Six Storey Residential Building – For Information
This is a preliminary report: Council’s first view of a proposed project in Twelfth Street before it goes to internal reviews and public consultation. There is a lot going on here: passive house standard multi-family 6-story building, four more “missing middle” units, lots of family-size units, and a heritage house preserved as a transition to the adjacent residential neighbourhood. Coming soon to a public consultation near you!

837 – 841 Twelfth Street: Rezoning and Development Permit for Six Storey Residential Building – For Information
This is also a preliminary report for a project right next to the above one. It is a little more straight-forward in being all residential. This will no doubt raise some discussion about the role of residential at grade and retail along the Twelfth Street corridor. Coming soon to a public consultation near you!

466 Rousseau Street (Urban Academy): Zoning Amendment Bylaw Text Amendment and Amendment to Development Permit – For Information
Another preliminary report. This is unprecedented in my time on Council, an application to expand the capacity of a recently approved building during its construction! There will need to be some review and public consultation here!

310 Salter Street (Port Royal): Development Permit and Development Variance Permit Application for Four to Six Storey Residential Development –For Information
This is one more – and almost the last – piece in the Port Royal development. It needs to go through DP and some variances for setbacks. Again, a preliminary info report with lots of review and public consultation to do!

268 Nelson’s Court (Brewery District): Development Permit Application for a High Rise, Mixed Use Development – For Information
The next phase of mixed-use development in the Brewery District is ready for the Development Permit stage. At the LUPC, there was a bit of push-back on the level of amenity (specifically, provision for child care) with this development, given its size and scope and the concerns raised in the community the last time the scale of this development was reviewed. (note – this does not include an increase in height or stories over the previous application)

This is a preliminary info report – lots of review and public consultation to do!

We also had a raft of Bylaws to read and adopt:

Tree Protection and Regulation Amendment Bylaw No. 8052, 2018 and Development Services Fees and Rates Amendment Bylaw No. 8053, 2018
These Bylaws that support the recent changes in how the Tree Bylaw is administered were given second and third readings by Council.

Engineering User Fees and Rates Bylaw Amendment Bylaw No. 8058, 2018;
Fees Amendment Bylaw No. 8059, 2018;
Cultural Services Fees and Charges Amendment Bylaw No. 8060, 2018;
Development Services Fees and Rates Amendment Bylaw No. 8061, 2018
These Bylaws that support the fee changes described above were given three readings.

Housing Agreement (813 – 823 Carnarvon) Amendment Bylaw No. 8056, 2018
This Bylaw that outlines the requirement for the affordable housing component of the approved development on Carnarvon Street was given three readings.

Taxation Exempt and Exempt Properties Bylaw No. 8054, 2018
This Bylaw that formalizes the properties exempt from property taxation was adopted by Council.

Five Year Financial Plan (2018 – 2022) Amendment Bylaw No. 8055, 2018
This Bylaw that updates the 5-Year financial Plan to reflect some shifts in Capital project spending was adopted by Council.

Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw No. 8042, 2018 to Return Heritage Conservation Area and Related Protection to 207/209 St. Patrick Street
This Bylaw that returns HCA protection to this house in Queens Park upon the request of the homeowner was adopted by Council.

Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw Amendment Bylaw No. 8049, 2018
This Bylaw that sets fines for violations of our Business License Bylaw related to cannabis retailing was adopted by Council.

Road Closure and Dedication Removal (Clarkson Street) Bylaw No. 7950, 2017
This Bylaw that closes a thin sliver of Clarkson Street to support the encapsulation of the SkyTrain line and the adjacent development was adopted by Council.

Official Community Plan Amendment (Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Guidance for Development Permit Area Guidelines) Bylaw No. 8039, 2018; and Zoning Amendment Bylaw (Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure in Residential Buildings) No. 8040, 2018
These Bylaws that make it a requirement to pre-wire new residential buildings for EV changing were adopted by Council.

Zoning Amendment (420 Boyne Street) Bylaw No. 8036, 2018
Finally, this Bylaw that approves the zoning for the new Animal Shelter facility in Queensborough was adopted by Council.

And that may or may not be my last council report! It’s been fun!

Council – Sept 17, 2018

Once a year, Council heads over the Queensborough Bridge and holds a meeting at the Queensborough Community Centre. This year was the first I was able to take the QtoQ ferry over, which made the bike ride much more pleasant, both because of the ride and because of the ride through Port Royal and along the refurbished Ewen Ave.

It was a meeting with lots of opportunity for public participation, with four (4!) Opportunities to the Heard, Public Hearings on four (!) Bylaws, and Public Delegations. Try to keep up with the twists and turns of the agenda.

We started with an Opportunity to be Heard:

Business Licence Bylaw Amendment Bylaw (Cannabis Regulations) No. 8044, 2018
This is the bylaw that sets out the operational rules for new Cannabis Retail locations, once the federal legislation legalizing the sale of recreational cannabis comes into effect in October. We have had lots of discussions about this at Council, and if you want to do a deeper dive, here is a report from our February workshop, and another from our June discussion. We have gone through some public and stakeholder consultation, Bylaws have been drafted, but they require a Public Hearing to get to third reading.

We received no written submission, and had two presentations from the public: one asking us to move faster, one asking us to consider slowing down. Council moved to adopt the Bylaw, and we have a clear path to this new retail regime.

We then moved into our Public Hearings on three issues:

Official Community Plan Amendment (207/209 St. Patrick Street) Bylaw No. 8042, 2018
The owner of this house wants to opt into the Queens Park Heritage Conservation Area. though it was automatically removed during the process where houses were evaluated for heritage value and potential negative economic impact. We received no written submissions, and no-one came to speak to the matter. Council moved to give the bylaw Third Reading.

Official Community Plan Amendment (Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Guidance for Development Permit Area Guidelines) Bylaw No. 8039, 2018 and
Zoning Amendment Bylaw (Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure in Residential Buildings) No. 8040, 2018

These bylaws will change the City’s zoning laws to require that all new residential buildings include the built-in wiring to support a Level 2 electrical vehicle charger in all off-street parking spots. This is a Bylaw change that is occurring regionally, as we prepare our community for the next decade of transition away from fossil fuels. We had a single piece of correspondence in favour of this change, and no-one came to speak to the matter. Council moved to give the bylaws Third Reading.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (Cannabis Regulations) No. 8043, 2018
These are the zoning law changes that will set out the location rules for new cannabis retail businesses in the City. Again, these are changes that were workshopped and discussed at length (see the links above), and we wanted to have them in place before Federal regulations make cannabis retail legal. We received no written submissions and no-one came ot speak to this matter (though the earlier speakers at the Opportunity to be Heard were really also addressing this issue). Council moved to give this Bylaw third reading and adoption – it is now the law of the land!

We then had the following Opportunity for Public Comment:

Five Year Financial Plan (2018 – 2022) Amendment Bylaw No. 8055, 2018
We need to update our 5-Year Financial Plan to reflect revised plans for the electrical substation in Queensborough (both in timing and cost for the project) and for increased costs for the new Animal Shelter and Tow Yard project related directly to regional construction market changes. No-one came to speak to this matter.

…and more Opportunities to be Heard:

Temporary Use Permit for 610 Brantford Street (TUP00018)
The development at the north end of Bent Court includes market condos and the preservation of a historic single family house. The condo marketers want to use the protected house as the sales centre for the condos. This requires a Temporary Use Permit, because this use is not specified in the zoning for the lot. We had no written submissions, but the owner of an adjacent business appeared to express concerns about parking, which were addressed by staff (to the apparent satisfaction of the delegate). Council moved to approve the TUP.

Development Variance Permit for 1 Cumberland Street (DVP00652)
That big construction site at the foot of Cumberland Street is a new sewer pump station being built by Metro Vancouver to support population growth in the northeast sector (Coquitlam, for the most part). A development like this would usually require that the electrical services be undergrounded, but that is not technically feasible on this site, for a variety of reasons related to rail crossings, riparian areas, and rights of way. So they require a development permit variance to allow this variance from what is permitted. We received no written submissions, no-one came to speak to the matter, and Council moved to approve the variance.

Development Variance Permit for 200 Nelson’s Crescent, 228 Nelson’s Crescent, 258 Nelson’s Court and 268 Nelson’s Court (DVP00650)
The Brewery District is a unique development, especially in how it faces Brunette Ave. The developer wants to create a better aesthetic for the façade facing Brunette Ave, but require a variance of the sign bylaw to do so. We received no written submissions, and no-one came to speak to this variance. Council moved to approve the variance.

Council moved the following items On Consent:

BC Penitentiary Cemetery Restoration Task Force
This task force’s work is completed with the official opening of the preserved BC Penitentiary cemetery memorial site. So the task force is being dissolved.

Exempt Properties – Review of Questionnaire Results
There are some properties that don’t pay property tax. Some are exempted by provincial regulation, like churches and private schools. Others are given a “permissive exemption” based on their public service, mostly supportive housing, daycares, and sports facilities. This review of exempted properties is something we do as part of our annual budgeting process.

41 and 175 Duncan Street (Townhouse and Child Care) Consideration of Issuance of Development Permit
This townhouse development in Queensborough has gone through the OCP amendments and rezoning required, it still needs a Development Permit to move forward. The DP is the stage where “form a character” work is done, including landscaping, building, building design, etc. A separate DP for the attached Child Care centre will come to a subsequent Council meeting. Council moved to approve the Issuance of the DP

11 – 30 Capilano Way (Another Brew Co.) Brewery Lounge Endorsement
A small start-up brewery in the Braid Industrial Area wants to open up a tasting lounge of 20 seats. This endorsement is part of the business and liquor licensing process. Council moved to approve endorsement.

200 to 400 Blocks Columbia Street: Sewer Interceptors – Request for Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption
There is a semi-regular piece of sewer maintenance work that cannot occur during the day because sewer lines are too full of water and… stuff. In order to do this kind of work at night, we need a construction noise bylaw exemption. The work will occur in September of October on a night when storm water flows are low. The equipment will be muffled as best as possible, but nearby residents will be aware of the work happening.

2017 Corporate Greenhouse Gas Emissions Update
There is good news and bad news on GHG emissions – we are ahead of our target in every sector except our fleet. The fleet is killing us, as the technology for large vehicles, utility trucks, and such has not kept up with that of automobiles when it comes to adopting hybrid and electric technologies. This clearly needs to be the area of concentration in the coming year as we implement a new emissions reduction plan.

Amendments to Tree Protection Bylaw: Tree Protection and Regulation Amendment Bylaw No. 8052, 2018, and Development Services Fees and Rates Amendment Bylaw No. 8053, 2018
We are making adjustments to the Tree Bylaw to make it work better, less onerous for residents, and potentially less expensive. We are not reducing the protections for trees in the community, but are seeking to streamline the processes to reduce the cost and hassle of the bylaw for our internal operations and for homeowners.

The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

Updated Intelligent New West Strategic Plan 2018 – 2022
The Intelligent New West program has been a pillar of the City’s Economic Devleopment plan for the last few years, and has turned in some serious benefits – from a big increase in tech-industry employment in the City to a successful dark fibre utility and Smart City 21 designation. However ,a strategic vision for where it goes over the next 5 years is needed, and this report outlines it.

Environmental Strategy and Action Plan Final Report
Similarly, the City’s overarching environmental strategy has not seen a comprehensive review in a decade, though much work on sustainability has been done, and new goals and targets have been created. We asked staff to put together a single strategy o align our ecological, greenhouse gas and energy reduction, and waste management goals. After more than a year of public consultation, committee re-working and policy development, the strategy is ready for endorsement.

After all of this, we did our usual reading and adopting of Bylaws:

Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw Amendment Bylaw No. 8049, 2018
There were some clerical errors in this Bylaw when we gave it second and third readings on August 27th that Staff needed to correct. So we rescinded those readings and repeated the second and third reading as amended.

Tree Protection and Regulation Amendment Bylaw No. 8052, 2018 and
Development Services Fees and Rates Amendment Bylaw No. 8053, 2018
These Bylaws that introduce some changes to our Tree Bylaw to make it more functional were given first reading.

Taxation Exempt and Exempt Properties Bylaw No. 8054, 2018
This Bylaw that formalizes the list of property-tax exempt properties in the City (as described above) was given three readings.

Five Year Financial Plan (2018 – 2022) Amendment Bylaw No. 8055, 2018
This Bylaw that updates the Five Year Financial Plan (as described above) was given three readings.

Zoning Amendment (420 Boyne Street) Bylaw No. 8036, 2018
The zoning amendment to permit the new animal shelter, which was given previous readings on July 9 and August 27th, was given three readings, and is now off to external agencies for review.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (1084 Tanaka Court) No. 8011, 2018
The zoning amendment that permits a banquet hall to be built in Queensborough was adopted.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (618 Carnarvon Street) No. 7949, 2017
This zoning amendment to permit a large development on the corner of Sixth Street and Carnarvon (the one with the big “618” signs) which had a Publci Hearing back on January 29th, was Adopted by Council.

Heritage Revitalization Agreement (205 Clinton Place) Amendment Bylaw No. 8046, 2018
This HRA amendment to give the homeowner a little more time to complete their heritage restoration was adopted by Council.

Development Services Fees and Rates Bylaw Amendment Bylaw No.8047, 2018;
Smoking Control Bylaw Amendment Bylaw No. 8048, 2018; and
Municipal Ticketing Information Amendment Bylaw No. 8050, 2018
These Bylaws that related to the legalization of cannabis retail and better managing the nuisance of cannabis smoking were adopted by Council.

Council – August 27, 2018

It was a strange Council meeting on Monday. Maybe we were out of practice, maybe election fever is frying our brains, but the meeting had a different feel. Or maybe it was just me. Nonetheless, we persevered, and started our Agenda with four (4!) Opportunities to be Heard:

DVP00648 for 601 Sixth Street
This is a pretty straight-forward sign variance to replace an existing sign for an established business. The variance is because the area of the sign is twice what is permitted, mostly because it’s location fits in under the more restrictive category of “under canopy” sign. Other than that, it is completely appropriate in size as a building identification sign.

We received no correspondence on this variance, no-one came to speak to it, and it seems reasonable. Council voted to grant the variance.

DVP00649 for 315 Fifth Street
This is an interesting application. The owner of the heritage home in Queens Park wants to install a livable basement, and wishes to raise the house by 2.75 feet to accomplish this. Some complications exist in digging down to make up enough basement roof height, mostly around how the perimeter drainage of the house interacts with groundwater and the invert of the adjacent drainage network. Although the request puts the roof 1.25 feet above the allowable height, it would still be significantly lower than the heritage houses adjacent on either side.

We received some correspondence for neighbours concerned about overlook issues, and had two neighbours come to speak to Council about their concerns. After a bit of discussion, I am satisfied most neighbouring concerns (around drainage changes and the City enforcing overlook mitigation) were addressed, and the relatively minor lift of the house is a reasonable request. Council voted to approve the variance.

Tanaka Court Road Closure Bylaw No. 7991, 2018
This is the process through which the City “closes” a road. The road in question is currently undeveloped, and the city has no plans to ever develop it. The owner of the adjacent undeveloped property would like to purchase the land and include it in their development plan for a new business. As the road is surplus to City needs, there is no reason to oppose this. We get paid for the land, and the new owner starts paying taxes to us for the land!

Building Bylaw Amendment Bylaw No. 8030, 2018
The City is making adjustments to its building bylaw to restrict some types of pile driving, after making the changes to the Construction Noise Bylaw. The impact on residents of the current building boom is something the City recognizes, and we are trying to balance the needs of new developments with the livability impacts of construction. Getting rid of the largest diesel-hammer pile drivers will be a noticeable difference.

We receive no correspondence on this, and no one came to speak to Council on the Bylaw. Council moved to approve the Bylaw for three readings.

We than had a Report for action:

Official Community Plan: Phase Two of the Infill Housing Program – Discussion of Scope of Work,
This report outlines what staff will be working on for the next few months as part of the ongoing OCP implementation work. In Phase 1 of the work, they have been concentrating on getting the laneway/carriage home guidelines operational and have been working on the infill townhouse/rowhome program, with results of that work coming to Council in October and November.

Phase 2 is going to look at other more flexible housing forms: duplexes and triplexes, with a hopes to better understand what works in the economics of lot size vs. construction cost with an eye to making more flexible housing forms available, and to actually fill and affordability gap for families that need more room than an apartment

The goals here are good, but it is important that we are doing this work in the context of a shifting economic environment. The goals of the OCP are to create more housing choice across the affordability spectrum, and we need to assure the tools we are applying are actually moving us that direction. More to come!

The following items were Moved on Consent without Council discussion:

Draft Economic Development Plan
The City has been working on this plan for a bit of time, based on some strategic direction given at the beginning of this Council term. After extensive stakeholder consultation, it is time to open it up to more public discussion. This is the first comprehensive update of the EDP since 2008, and a lot has changed locally and regionally in that decade.

Stakeholder input so far include 600 business respondents to survey, a formal meetings with business stakeholder groups. It bounced of Council in February workshop, and some changes included. The strategy includes 4 goal statements, 6 strategies, and about 30 concrete actions the City can take to enact those strategies. As this is a report about a strategy that is going out to public comment, I don’t want to pre-judge too much before we hear from that public. However, I will talk about one aspect that I’m not sure any City is really ready to deal with: the future of retail.

Will our retail space be different in 10 years? Will we need to move towards smaller storefronts and more affordable spaces for “artisan” or more curated retail experiences, or will we see continued amalgamation to larger 20,000-square foot+ major retail as has been the trend over the last decade? What does that mean for our commercial areas, and how can we shift them to meet the demand that will be different in 2025, even if we don’t yet know what those difference will be? I don’t have answers ot these questions, but want us to be thinking about them.

Recruitment 2018: Multiculturalism Advisory Committee Appointment
We have seats on several City committees for representatives from School District 40. The School district has asked us to shift the person in the role for this committee, and we moved to approve this change.

205 Clinton Place: Heritage Revitalization Agreement Amendment Bylaw for Timeline Extension – Bylaw for Three Readings
The homeowners who are doing extensive renovations to a heritage home on the edge of Queens Park need some more time to complete the heritage restoration. This is not unreasonable – these types of projects on 100-year-old houses commonly run into unexpected delays, and there is ample evidence that the homeowner is moving forward with good intent, but had some unavoidable delays. Council moved to grant them an extension.

207 – 209 St. Patrick Street: Official Community Plan Amendment to Return Heritage Conservation Area Related Protection – Bylaw for First and Second Readings
This is a property that qualified to be removed from the Heritage Conservation Area in Queens Park as part of the group evaluation process developed to refine protections as the HCA was rolled in. However, the owner requested that protection of the HCA be applied to their property – they were automatically opted out do to the evaluation criteria, and wish to opt back in. It seems a little ungainly, but the process here is actually the quickest way to get through these post-HRA adjustments, so this is the path we are taking! It will go to Public Hearing on the September 17th.

647 Ewen Avenue: Official Community Plan Amendment Section 475 and 476 – Consultation Report
This small development in Queensborough will preserve the heritage Slovak Hall while building five new townhouses in a predominantly single-family neighbourhood. This is a preliminary report, and needs to go through some committee review, public consultation, and a Public Hearing. This report outlines that consultation and gives Council an opportunity to highlight any concerns. We had no concerns, and are OK with the project moving forward towards a Public Hearing in 2019. Mark your calendar.

610 – 612 Brantford Street: Temporary Use Permit for a Sales Centre – Consideration of Opportunity to be Heard
This medium-density development in the Bent Court area of Brow of the Hill included the preservation of a heritage home on the property. The developer wants to use that restored heritage house as their sales centre for the development. To do this, they need a Temporary Use Permit. It is in a somewhat unique location, with adjacent commercial uses, so it seems reasonable, but if you feel differently, there will be an Opportunity to be Heard on September 17.

228 Nelson’s Court: Development Variance Permit No. DVP00650 to Vary Sign Bylaw Requirements for the Brewery District – Consideration of Notice of Opportunity to be Heard
The Brewery District developer wants to vary the sign bylaw to put larger-then-permitted signs on the Brunette Ave fascia of the building. There will be an opportunity to be heard on September 17th!

This is not directly related to the “The Sappers were Here” public art piece, which I think may need to be discussed at some point in context of the City’s reconciliation work. However, we have a lot of work to do before we get to that conversation.

1001 Edinburgh Street: Appeal of Tree Removal Permit Issuance
The City passed a Tree Protection Bylaw in 2016 to prevent the loss of tree canopy in the City. A fundamental part of this Bylaw is not permitting the removal of large trees (called “specimen trees” in the Bylaw) unless they pose a hazard or have reached end of life. When refused a removal permit for a tree on private property, that owner has the right to appeal to Council. A homeowner is exercising that right after they were refused a permit to remove a large monkey puzzle tree in their front yard.

The arbourist the landowner hired and the City’s arbourist agreed that this tree is healthy and does not present a hazard. Council did not grant the appeal.

420 Boyne Street (Animal Shelter): Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Outstanding Referral: Rescinding and Amendment to Zoning Amendment Bylaw – Consideration of Readings and Public Hearing Waiver
The zoning amendment for this property that occurred in 2017 apparently skipped an important step, which is referral to the Ministry of Transportation. So we need to rescind it, complete that referral step, then do it again. As the application already went through a Public Hearing, we will not have to do that again.

1400 Quayside Drive (Muni Evers Park and Poplar Landing): Update on Phase 1 Consultation Results and Proposed Next Steps
The last piece of Quayside Drive land has an interesting history, and is still, for the most part, vacant. The property belongs to the City and Metro Vancouver utilities, and has a Combined Sewer Overflow tank on it – a storage tank designed to temporarily store surges of sewer water during intense storms to prevent those surges from overflowing into the Fraser River when the down-pipe capacity is not able to accommodate the volume. At some point, the property was christened “Muni Evers Park”, after New Westminster’s longest-serving Mayor. It is, however, not currently a park, and is secured behind a fence after extensive soil and groundwater remediation occurred on the site.

The City would like to activate this site, and would like to use it for some combination of affordable housing and park use, with a market housing component to pay for those. This will involve a number of steps, the first being getting Metro Vancouver to agree, as they have an ownership stake on the land and the existing infrastructure there.

As the City works that angle, we are also doing public engagement to get an idea what the neighbourhood thinks of the property and potential uses. This report provides some of the feedback we heard from the attendees of an open house at the Quayside.

DVP00652 – Off-Site Servicing Works for 1 Cumberland Street (Alias) – Metro Vancouver Sapperton Pump Station
For technical reasons including a couple of rail lines and a SkyTrain guideway, it is difficult (I try never to say “impossible”) to provide underground electrical service to the new Metro Vancouver pump station being built in the Braid Industrial Area. To allow overhead service, we need to provide a Development Variance.

Application for Grant Funding to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program
We are applying for senior government grants to help pay for our ongoing sewer separation program. We did receive a grant to help with the Sapperton program, and though the timeliness conditions attached to that funding meant we had to work faster than we might have likely contributed to the impact on the community during the works being less than ideal, it meant that the City received more than $5Million that did not have to get passed on in your utility bills. The next priority is in the Kelvin Heights and West end. If we get a grant, it will allow us to accelerate the sewer separation, and further reduce the increases in your sewer costs.

Licence to Occupy Agreement for Brow of the Hill Parklet at Seventh Street and Fourth Avenue
The City’s newest Parklet is half-completed – the part on City lands has been installed and planted by volunteers from the Brow of the Hill Residents’ Association. The second half is on land that belongs to the First Presbyterian Church, and we need a license agreement with them to make sure everyone is clear who is responsible for what.

Queensborough Dog Off-Leash Area Relocation
The current off-leash area in Queensborough is going to be developed, so the City has been working with members of the Q’Boro community to plan for a replacement. There have been pop-up events at “Pawfest” events at the current park, a couple of public open houses, and Residents’ Association conversations. The result was a request for two off-leash parks: one at Ryall Park to replace the current one, and a smaller one at Port Royal. The first we can do right away, the second is going to need some more work with the neighbourhood to identify the right size and location.

Multicultural Advisory Committee: Immigrant and Refugee Survey
The City’s Multiculturalism Advisory Committee is recommending we re-do a survey of the refugee and immigrant community in the City, to repeat one last performed in 2013. Good idea.

Environmental Advisory Committee: Contaminants and Pollutants Entering the Environment
The EAC identified a concern around lead and other metals entering soil and waterways via sporting equipment (shot and fishing lures), which expanded into concerns about activities in the City that may act to introduce contaminants and pollutants in to the waterways and soil in the City. I am OK with adding this to our burgeoning Environmental Strategy, but want us to be cautious about expanding the City’s limited capacity into areas of jurisdiction that clearly belong to senior governments. The Federal Fisheries Act regulates deleterious substances, the provincial Environmental Management Act regulates spills, waste management, air quality and pollution prevention. If we have a role to play in these areas, it is in assuring senior governments enforce the rules they have, and providing them assistance in doing that. Creating another layer of rules is not an effective way to address this situation when there are no resources to manage the rules we have. Still, advocacy at the local government level can push senior government towards better enforcement.

Access Ability Advisory Committee: Request for Additional Accessible Taxis
The AAAC raised this issue to Council after recent decisions by the Passenger Transportation Board meant that requests to increase the numbers of accessible taxis in New Westminster were not approved. The City will advocate and let the PTB and the Minister of Transportation know that this is not acceptable, that accessible taxis are in desperate need in the City right now, and that any changes to the regulations that will bring ride-hailing services like Uber or Lyft to British Columbia have to assure that the needs of the disabled are integrated in to the regulations.

The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

Committee Recruitment and Diversity
This is a follow-up on Councillor Trentadue’s motion to start work on assuring the demographics of our committees better represent the demographics of our community. The first step on this process is to actually collect the demographic information for Committee members, and for committee applicants, so we know what the gaps in our recruiting process are and what the underrepresented groups are.

This first step is making changes in the application form for committee recruitment to collect the demographic info. It will be optional to fill that part of the form out at first (let’s see how the take-up is), but we can hopefully start on this path and use the data to be more systematic about our committee recruitment in coming years.

Tl’etinqox Sister Community Agreement
The City has several “Sister City” relationships with cities in Asia, some more active than others. However, we have been looking at a new form of International relationship – that with the First Nations of Canada. As we are working towards reconciliation and addressing the Call to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we are cognizant that the first step is always in building relationships to forge a mutual respect and trust. As a municipality, we are hoping to establish a Sister Community relationship with the largest community in the Tsilhqot’in Nation.

Council moved to approve this agreement, and we will send the invitation to the Tl’etinqox leaders in hopes that they will meet us to formalize this relationship.

Recreational Cannabis: Consideration of Bylaws for Implementation of Cannabis Regulatory Framework
We are moving forward with cannabis regulation, as a nation, a province, and a city. In New Westminster, we have had a series of public engagements and Council workshops to work our way towards a regulatory framework. This is a good example of where the 7 members of Council have had some pretty strong disagreements on the details of the regulations, but have worked with staff to integrate the public engagement results and put together a framework that we can all agree upon. I suspect this isn’t perfect, and there will be some adjustments needed as this unrolls, but this is ready to go to Public hearing on September 17, in hopes everything can be in place by the time the Federal law makes this new industry and these businesses in our community legal.

Rental Replacement Policy and Inclusionary Housing Policy: Next Steps and Timeline
We are continuing the policy work of getting the newly-developed Inclusionary Housing and Rental Replacement Policy in place. This is actually a massively complicated piece of public policy work because it interacts with so much of the City’s core functions, and multiple other internal and external policy. Some of the groundwork has already been done, including internal intra-departmental consultation, case studies of other municipalities, and land economics analysis to give us an idea what we would need to do to get any take-up on this new policy. There will now be some stakeholder consultation, and reaching out to Advisory Committees, the development community, non-profit housing providers and the public.

I think there is an opportunity here for us to use these new zoning tools to protect and preserve exiting purpose built rental, but it must be applied with an understanding of the positive and potential negative impacts. The law of unintended consequences will no doubt apply, but I think we are well positioned to take great advantage of this change.

Electrical Vehicle Charging Infrastructure for New Buildings
The City has developed a zoning bylaw amendment that would require a Level 2 energized outlet for all residential parking spaces in new buildings. As it is much easier and more cost-effective to build the supporting infrastructure for chargers during initial construction than to retro-fit buildings after, this will ultimately save residents and building owners money.

The Bylaw change will assure the necessary infrastructure to support chargers will be installed during construction (adequate power supply, conduit to carry electricity to parking spots, and energized outlets) but will allow building owners to install their own energy management tools and charging units when the need arises. This balances the up-front cost with making sure future homeowners are not burdened with engineering barriers to having a home charger.

This bylaw amendment will go to Public Hearing on September 17, so come out and tell us what you think!

Then we had one piece of new business:

Communities on the Move Declaration
The BC Alliance for Healthy Living is a partnership between organizations involved in Public Health initiatives, including the Heart & Stroke Foundation, the Canadian cancer Society and the Health Officers Council of BC. Their main call in the Communities on the Move declaration is to call on the Province to prioritize active transportation as a public health initiative.
We know people who engage in active transportation –transit, walking, cycling – have better health outcomes than those who rely on automobiles, and as communities invest in supporting active transportation, the province’s health agencies are the primary budget beneficiaries – we save out health agencies money by supporting healthier lifestyles for our residents. So we are calling on the Province to budget accordingly and support active transportation not just in our urban areas, but in all parts of the province.
Our Local HUB chapter has asked New Westminster to join the dozens of other communities across BC to endorse the declaration. This meets so many of our City’s goals in building a healthy community, mobility for all, clean air and environment and safety for all road users. Council voted to endorse the declaration.

We then ran through the Bylaws of the day:

Zoning Amendment (420 Boyne Street) Bylaw No. 8036, 2018
As mentioned above, to make the Ministry of Transportations process valid, we rescinded third and second reading, and re-read Second Reading for the amended Bylaw so that we can bounce it off MOTI.

Zoning Amendment (Cannabis) Bylaw No. 8043, 2018
As mentioned above, the Bylaw that changes our zoning Bylaw to allow cannabis retail in the City was given two readings. There will be a Public Hearing on September 17 if you want to share some thoughts about this with Council.

Official Community Plan Amendment (207/209 St. Patrick Street) Bylaw No 8042, 2018
As mentioned above, this Bylaw that returns HCA protection to this home at the request of the homeowner was given two readings. This will have a Public Hearing on September 17 if you have any concerns or issues.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure in Residential Buildings) No. 8040, 2018 and
Official Community Plan Amendment (Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Guidance for Development Permit Area Guidelines) Bylaw No. 8039, 2018
As mentioned above, these Bylaws that bring electric charging infrastructure to new residential buildings were given two readings, and will also come to a Public Hearing on September 17.

Heritage Revitalization Agreement (205 Clinton Place) Amendment Bylaw No. 8046, 2018
This bylaw that extends the timeline for restoration of this heritage house was given Three readings.

Business Licence Bylaw Amendment (Cannabis) Bylaw No. 8044, 2018;
Development Services Fees and Rates Bylaw Amendment Bylaw No. 8047, 2018;
Smoking Control Bylaw Amendment Bylaw No. 8048, 2018;
Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw Amendment Bylaw No. 8049, 2018;
Municipal Ticketing Information Amendment Bylaw No. 8050, 2018
These Bylaws that cover the various aspects of cannabis regulation in the City around business licenses an nuisance smoking were all given Third Readings.

Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw Amendment No. 8031, 2018 and Municipal Ticketing Information Bylaw Amendment No. 8032, 2018
As discussed on the July 9th meeting, these Bylaws that formalize the fines and ticketing to support the ban on large diesel impact pile drivers were adopted. They are no the law.

Zoning Amendment (228 – 232 Sixth Street) Bylaw No. 7996, 2018
As discussed at the April 30, 2017 Public Hearing, this Bylaw that formalized the zoning of the proposed development in at the old La Rustica restaurant site was adopted by Council.

Zoning Amendment (406 – 412 East Columbia Street) Bylaw No. 7995, 2018
As discussed at the April 30, 2017 Public Hearing, this Bylaw that formalized the zoning of the proposed development at the vacant lot in Sapperton was adopted by Council.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (41 and 175 Duncan Street) No. 7983, 2018 and
Official Community Plan Amendment (175 Duncan Street) Bylaw No.7982, 2018

As also discussed at the April 30, 2017 Public Hearing, these Bylaws that formalized the OSP update and zoning of the proposed townhouse development in Queensborough was adopted by Council.

Wood-Boyne Street Road Closure Bylaw No. 8037, 3028
As discussed at the July 12st Meeting, this Bylaw that formally closes a section of road in Queensborough was adopted by Council.

And after that, it was all over except the speeching.

Council – July 9, 2018

The last full Council Meeting before we take our summer break (back in late August – in the meantime, I’ll have to find something else to write about) had a fairly full Agenda that started with an Opportunity to be Heard

Temporary Use Permit TUP00017 for 620 Third Avenue
I recused myself from this conversation, not because of an actual conflict of interest, but more because of a standard practice when a member of Council’s home or property are very close to an applicant’s, there may be a perception of unfair bias. There is no hard-and-fast rule about how close it too close, but this property is only few doors down from my home, and it is always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to perceived conflict.

This application is from Westminster House, who would like to operate a supportive housing facility for young women recovering from addiction in the Brow of the Hill neighbourhood near their other properties. We received some correspondence on this (all in support, though some concerned about the need for a painted crosswalk or other safety improvements at this corner), and I can’t comment on how many came to the Opportunity to be Heard, because I wasn’t in the room!

Council voted to approve the Temporary Use Permit.

We then moved onto a Report for Action:

Recreational Cannabis: Summary of Consultation, Proposed Regulation Framework, and Next Steps
Following up on our previous workshops and other discussions about the local regulatory framework on cannabis legalization, Staff came with some final discussion on the work they plan to do over the summer to get our local regulatory regime worked out. The City has been having, I think, a pretty fulsome discussion of a local regulatory regime around the legalization of cannabis, and Staff now has a good framework to put together some model Bylaws and changes to existing Bylaws to make the transition as smooth as possible.

We had a few of open houses for the general public in June, along with one targeting the local business community. Neither was overwhelmed with response (indicating, I think that people are not as worried as perhaps us regulators are about impacts), but some positive feedback was provided to staff. We also had an on-line survey, with more than 300 responses (and I love that staff provided a concise summary of over- and under-represented demographics in the consultation, this is really valuable info for a detail geek like me!). Here is where we are at:

Locations: The City is putting a 200m distance between cannabis retail locations, and are creating a 150m buffer from schools and other “child-centric” land uses. The only change made to the map proposed by Staff was to remove the 150m buffer from our core Downtown business area (although the 200m separation would still apply).

Business licenses: The rules around business licensing will very closely parallel those for liquor stores, in regards to external appearance, staffing, hours of operation, etc.

Manufacturing: as suggested earlier, will be limited to M-2 zones that provide appropriate security and other site characteristics.

Cultivation: the City is not going to make any rules above or beyond the ones by the provincial and federal government regarding growing your own for personal use.

There was quite a bit of discussion around the rezoning process that we will undertake. It will not be a quick one by the look of it, and will eat up quite a bit of staff resources. I hope (and asked staff to evaluate) some sort of group rezoning application process to avoid the duplication we will see with a number of first-time applicants. With extensive public consultation (Advisory Planning Commission, Resident’s Association, Open House, Public Hearing, etc.) for each individual applicant after a year doing public consultation on where we will and will not allow these operations seems incredibly redundant, a draw on staff resources, and a burden for the community.

We also had quite the discussion about whether “first come- first served” for the limited number of initial applications is fair, or whether we should have some objective/subjective evaluation of application quality, or even a lottery system for initial applicants that meet some minimum threshold of application. This speaks to procedural fairness, and wanting to incentivize local entrepreneurship over global multinationals (to keep more of the benefits in the community). It is a tough process to wrap ones head around.

In the end, we came up with some advice for staff, and will see how that pans out at the end of summer when we hope to have these regulations drafted into Bylaws.

The following items were Moved on Consent:

Status of 2015-2018 Strategic Initiatives – Update for First Half of 2018
Staff are reporting out (as they are wont to do twice a year) on progress on the Strategic Initiatives that Council identified for this term. From a Council point of view, most of the work for this term is done. We have three council meetings until the election, and the last two will no doubt be clouded by the pall of that oncoming storm. That said, staff are still working away, and summer is a time when a lot of actual work gets done in the City, as time- and effort-consuming council meetings and public consultations head to the back burner.

BC Penitentiary Cemetery – Interpretive Signage and Unveiling Event
There has been an ongoing effort to recognize the BC Pen cemetery. It is a place where predominantly marginalized people were buried, including hard criminals, and it is difficult for some to think about these graves as something worth memorializing and saving, but this is an important piece of our History as a City and a province. The court and penal systems, imperfect today, were generally atrocious in the early part of the last century, especially for people of colour, for the indigenous population, and foe people with mental illnesses. Our ideas of what constitutes “society” today is different than it was then, and it is worthwhile for is to spend time contemplating those changes and what we can learn from them. New West is a compassionate city, and a historical City, and respectfully memorializing this site could be thought of as a encapsulation of that.

An interesting side-point for a Child of the Kootenays is the Doukhobor names of several men who died in prison the 1930s. I suspect (but can’t be sure) that these men were part of the 1930’s crack-down on “un-Canadian activities” in the D0ukhobor community that occurred in the area around my home town. Alas.

Recruitment 2018: Seniors Advisory Committee Appointment
There is a change in one of the community representatives to this committee.

Recruitment 2018: Restorative Justice Committee (RJC) Appointment
There is a change in CERA representative to this committee.

Recruitment 2018: Parks and Recreation Committee Appointment
There is a change in SD40 representative to this committee.

Recruitment 2018: NTAC Appointment
There is a change in MVHRA representative to this committee.

509 Eleventh Street: Remedial Action Requirement Update
We had a longer discussion about this problem property back in November, and this report is an update on enforcement actions. It is problematic, the many steps we must go through to take action on someone’s private property, but staff are carefully working through the process and assuring that we are following a defensible path.

838 Ewen Avenue (Modular Housing): Development Permit to Facilitate a 44 Unit Housing Development with Support Services for Women – Issuance of Development Permit
The Temporary Modular Housing project in Queensborough requires a Development Permit, but that permit does not require a complicated public process following the rezoning because there are no outstanding variances in the development. Council just needs to agree to issue the Permit, which we did.

Naming of the Interim Multi-Sport Facility
There is going to be an “Interim” facility built in Queens Park to replace many of the functions of the Arenex, and it needs a name. As it is interim, I am ok with the fairly innocuous and descriptive name “Queens Park Sportsplex” as proposed by Staff. I am sure a nickname will develop organically (Sporty McSportsface?)

315 Fifth Street: Development Variance Permit to Vary the Height Requirement – Consideration of Opportunity to be Heard
The property owner here wants to finish a basement, which requires lifting the house so it is a little more than a foot higher than permitted in the zoning. This requires a variance, which will require a public process. There will be an Opportunity to be Heard on August 27th, if you want to come out and tell us what you think.

The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

Preparation of a City Theatre Policy –Workplan
With the City currently the owner of two performance theatres, and potentially the owner of three if the plan for the future of the Massey pans out, we need an plan for how to get the most value out of these assets. The discussion of how to balance the desire to support local artists, students, and arts programming, while also providing stages for major performances, and balancing the revenue stream to minimize the amount of subsidy the City needs to provide while still meeting its goals- that takes some strategic thinking. This report provides the workplan for developing that theatre strategy.

Official Community Plan: Launch of Phase Two of the Infill Housing Program
As the next phase of policy work coming out of our new Official Community Plan, staff is looking at ways to accommodate more flexible housing options through allowing different infill density types. This could include more duplexes on smaller lots that traditionally used for duplexes and more common subdivision of single family lots into more compact lots (think 25-foot lots instead of 50 or 60 foot).

I think there have been some significant changes in the region and in New West since 2016 when we adopted the OCP. The regional housing crisis was percolating around our edges then, we are fully immersed in it. The $1Million line for single family homes has swept through New West, and how we measure “affordable” or “family friendly” family housing has changed remarkably in just two years.

The work plan here includes several steps around one of the more modest forms of infill density, including economic analysis of the viability of it in the current land price environment. I’m not a land economist but I would need to be convinced by one that making a single family house in to two single family houses will solve any of our most pressing problems. We need to have a more frank discussion about more middle-density housing further from the arterial roads if we hope to build the flexible, affordable, and accessible housing stock for the next generation. So I asked that staff expand this economic analysis to take a renewed look at the economics of the “next step” of infill – tri- and quadraplexes, cluster homes, and other alternative forms that can maximize flexibility of some of our single-family-detached areas.

The ground is moving so fast on land value. We need to not be afraid to challenge some of the assumptions make two years ago when we finalized the OCP.

302 Twelfth Street (Key West Ford): Development Permit for Building Addition and Façade Improvements – Council Consideration of Issuance
Key West are great community partners in New Westminster, and am glad to see them investing in making their commercial space more viable. They came to the city to ask for a Development Permit, and have worked on it for a while.

The corner of Third and Stewardson is an aggressively pedestrian-unfriendly location, with heavy traffic and not a lot of room between the Key West fence and that traffic. And because the SkyTrain ROW and the railway, this is the only pedestrian crossing of Stewardson for more than a kilometer and a half. It is an important pinch point for pedestrians, and a horribly uncomfortable and arguably unsafe one. Through this application, Key West has given a corner cut that should improve the pedestrian experience at that corner.

Pile Driving Technology: Consideration of Restrictions on the Use of Diesel Impact Hammers over 30,000 Foot Pounds – Bylaw for First, Second and Third Readings
The City is essentially banning the loudest form of pile drivers, those that use a diesel impact hammer to advance the pile. This should result in a measureable reduction in pile driving noise in the City.

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Outstanding Referrals: Update and Five Related Bylaws – Consideration of Readings and Public Hearing Waiver
These are five recent rezoning-type Bylaws that, due to a procedural SNAFU related to determining the buffer distance from MOTI infrastructure, missed having appropriate Ministry of Transportation review. So we need to back them up and do them again, excepting that we do not have to go to Public Hearing again, reasonably assuming that the public engagement process for these application was fairly met in the original process.

We then finished up with the regular run through of Bylaws:

Zoning Amendment (1050 Boyd Street and 1005 Ewen Avenue) Bylaw No.8033, 2018;
Zoning Amendment (1102, 1110, 1116 and 1122 Salter Street) Bylaw No. 8034, 2018;
Zoning Amendment (630 Ewen Avenue) Bylaw No. 8035, 2018;
Zoning Amendment (420 Boyne Street) Bylaw No. 8036, 2018; and
Wood-Boyne Street Road Closure Bylaw No. 8037, 2018
As mentioned above, these five rezoning bylaws that are being re-launched in order to correct a procedural mistake in relation to Ministry of Transportation consultation were each given two readings.

Building Bylaw Amendment (Pile Driving) Bylaw No. 8030, 2018;
Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw Amendment No. 8031, 2018; and
Municipal Ticketing Information Bylaw Amendment No. 8032, 2018
These Bylaws that makes diesel-impact hammers for pile driving in the City and set the appropriate fines, were given three readings.

Five Year Financial Plan (2017 – 2021) Amendment Bylaw No. 8023, 2018
This Bylaw that updates our five-year financial plan was adopted by Council. It is now the law.

Official Community Plan Amendment (838 Ewen Avenue) Bylaw No.8021, 2018; and
Zoning Amendment Bylaw (838 Ewen Ave) No. 8022, 2018
These Bylaws discussed at the last Public Hearing that permit the building of a 44-unit Temporary Modular Housing project in Queensborough were Adopted by Council.

Utility Commission Bylaw No. 8029, 2018
This Bylaw that updates the name and mandate of our Electrical Utility was Adopted by Council.

And that was the last meeting of the spring session of Council. Our next regular meeting is in late August, meaning Staff can get some work done without being hassled by Council! Have a good summer!

TMH and the Public Hearing

We had a Public Hearing on Tuesday, and I have gnawed the ends off of a few metaphorical pencils thinking about how to write about it. Partly because it was an emotional night for a great many people, including members of Council. So I’ll start by talking about the facts, and save the emotions for after the fold.

The Public Hearing was to evaluate an OCP Amendment and Rezoning to permit the construction of a 44-unit supportive housing project on City land in Queensborough. This project is funded by the provincial government’s rapid response funding program, where capital and operational cost of a temporary modular housing (“TMH”) building will be covered by BCHousing, if a local government can provide land it owns (for a 10 year lease) and a reliable service agency agrees to operate the facility.

The City went through an extensive search for an appropriate site, and several sites were evaluated in Q’boro and other New West neighbourhoods. Of the three “short listed” sites, only the site at 838 Ewen Avenue was found to be viable. After some initial feedback from the community, we did some more evaluation of a second site in Queensborough, but again found it was not viable for reasons I discussed here. In short, if we wanted to take benefit of the rapid response funding, and have a TMH project in New Westminster, the Ewen Ave site is the only location.

Going into the Public Hearing, we received about 200 pieces of correspondence, and almost all of them were in favour. There was also an electronic petition circulated in the neighbourhood that opposed the project. The Design Panel, Advisory Planning Commission, and Community and Social Issues Committee all voted to support the project. I attended the public open house back on May 1, and heard concerns expressed by some residents, and also had some of my questions answered about the project. I had meetings with people who expressed specific concerns about the site, and the project in general, and also had many conversations with people who supported it, including many people who approached me at the Queensborough Children’s Festival two weeks ago. Along with other members of Council, I did a tour of the similar (but larger) TMH project in a residential Marpole neighbourhood that received significant public attention when it was proposed, but has been operating for more than four months without significant issues.

All this to say I had a *lot* of information going into the Public Hearing, but I was not sure what feedback we would receive, and only hoped for a rational and respectful conversation about concerns and benefits. In the end, we had about 80 people delegate to Council, with a majority in favour of the project. Even if we separate the presentations from the proponents (BCHousing and E.Fry), there were still as many community voices speaking in favour as opposed. That said, Public Hearings should not, in my opinion, be about raw counts of Pro vs. Con presenters, but should be about the weight of the arguments when seeking balance between benefits and costs of any project.

Fundamentally, this is a land use issue. The question before Council was whether this is an appropriate use of the land. This being the only piece of City land available does not by itself make it the right place for TMH. Every land use decision is about balancing positive and negative impacts, including opportunity costs. This lot was purchased by the City along with an adjacent piece of land a couple of years ago from the owners of the previous gas station on the site (demolished in 1991). It had recently been used as a construction staging and supply stockpile during the Ewen Avenue reconstruction, but is currently bare gravel. The location is close to the Queensborough Community Centre, adjacent to a bus stop with fairly regular service, and about 800m from major shopping. The service providers think the site is a good balance of being close to services but also in a residential area.

I am cognizant of the green space concerns, but do not see this project as a significant takeaway from Ryall Park. The lot is about 1,430 square metres, which is less than 2% of the Ryall Park area (when you include the Community Centre and adjacent playing fields, but not including the schools). Despite some comments I heard during the Public Hearing, Queensborough has more green space by area and per capita that the City’s average, made even more so with improvements over the last decade related to Port Royal Park, Old Schoolhouse Park, and greenway improvements along the waterfront. I am protective of the City’s green space, and agree that many neighbourhoods need more (which we are working on), but every discussion about green space is about balancing the opportunity costs and other community benefits.

A lot of the conversations and research over the last month has been around a “risk” argument – the argument that the residents of this housing will pose a greater risk to other park users than any other resident of a house or townhouse in the area. We met with BC Housing folks and reviewed the Community Advisory Committee and PAC minutes from the Marpole project and adjacent schools. We have talked to law enforcement and support agencies. We did everything we could to learn what the experiences in other locations were in relation to these concerns, talking to people who have dedicated their careers to providing assistance to people in need of housing. I could not find any evidence that this project will create some exceptional risk to neighbours or other park users. Quite the opposite, the evidence is ample that an amenity like this improves the lives of people in our community, and makes our entire community stronger.

Council each had their own reasons to support this project moving forward (and you can watch the video here, I don’t want to speak for others). For myself, I believe this is an appropriate location, the only location in New Westminster where this valuable amenity can be rapidly built, and I am convinced this project can and will be a positive for the entire community.

Now for the hard part.

This Public Hearing was soul-crushing. There is no other way to describe it. A week later, it is still causing me a mix of feelings, most of them negative. I cannot get over what was an overwhelmingly negative experience for every member of the public who attended – those in favour of the project, and those opposed. But I don’t know how we take a project that elicits so much emotion and provide outlets for people to speak from their hearts and their minds such that they feel heard or understood without the antagonism that was displayed. I believe in community consultation, and in representative democracy and responsible governance as a force for good… this was none of those, and I feel heartbroken about how the event unfolded.

One thing that was made crystal clear to me: the Public Hearing process is broken. This structure demanded by the Local Government Act is almost perfectly designed to create an 11th hour all-or-nothing us-vs-them divisive conflict event where opponents face off and speak past each other instead of providing a safe, inclusive, and collaborative conversation about the relative merits or costs of a project.

The structure is such that it makes it difficult for Council members (who must remain open minded through the process in order to act semi-judiciously in the ultimate decision making) to moderate the debate or pre-empt the conflict. Staff must balance on the razor’s edge of providing factual information about a project without appearing to be advocating for a project that must have had enough public policy merit to get as far as the Public Hearing. The delegates at any Public Hearing are almost exclusively people who feel strongly for the specific project, or are strongly opposed to it. This is evidenced by the fact that most Public Hearings are sparsely attended – you have to feel personally affronted to bother going out on a Monday night to speak at a boring public meeting. Of course, the stronger those feelings, the less likely one is going to accept or appreciate new data or varying opinions provided at the Public Hearing. And as it is always a last-minute winner-take-all debate, there is very little opportunity to learn, or discuss the larger policy implications that underlie a project, from affordable housing policy to transportation demand management to voluntary amenity contributions and urban design principles, because those are bureaucratic-sounding and technocratic solutions that are lost in the fog of parochial personal concerns and emotional battery. That is a terrible way to make decisions in a complex world.

I wish a week later I had suggestions, a model for a better way, but I don’t. I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know how we have a more nuanced discussion with the general public about any new project that comes down the pike. I don’t know how we provide space for the somewhat-interested and potentially-benefiting to engage when so much of the space is taken up by the personally aggrieved. All I know is that the current model of the Public Hearing doesn’t work. As currently structured, it is an affront to representative democracy, a barrier to good decision making, and a terrible form of consultation. It divides at a time when we should be coming together. It needs to change.

Council – June 25, 2018

The June 25th Council meeting was the Reports and Awards edition! We had a presentation of the City’s Annual Report (which you can read here), and had presentations to our staff for a recent raft of planning and economic development awards won by the City. We also had a chance to thank recently-retired Director of Planning Bev Grieve for the work she did – and her instrumental role in making New Westminster a regional leader on innovative affordable housing policy. Our community owes a serious debt to Bev, and I hope she enjoys a lengthy and enjoyable retirement, content in the knowledge that her career made a meaningful difference in the lives of so many residents.

But we also had business to do, starting with an Opportunity to be Heard:

Five Year Financial Plan (2017 – 2021) Amendment Bylaw No. 8023, 2018
The City’s “budget” exists in the form of a 5-year financial plan, as required by Provincial Regulation. It is completely updated once a year, and we occasionally do interim updates to keep it compliant and assist with continuous financial planning and transparency. These amendments all fall under the category of “things our finance staff do their best to accurately estimate ahead of time, but are hard to predict”, such as how much DCC revenue we will receive and how much cost recovery we can achieve on disposal of capital assets.

The regulations say we need to give the public an opportunity to comment on changes to the Financial Plan before we adopt the Bylaw. We received no correspondence, and no-one came to comment during the Opportunity. Council moved to refer the Bylaw for Adoption.

The following items were Moved on Consent:

Arts Strategy – Update
We had a framework for a new Arts Strategy come to Council back in May, and it received a slightly frosty reception, at least in part because of a similarly-frosty reception it received from the Arts Community during the last round of public consultation. This is a quick update on the roadmap moving forward that was developed by our Arts Strategy Task Force and our Arts Commission.

This is a positive step forward, and we have a clear path towards a more community-focused Arts Strategy that should come back to Council before the end of 2018.

The City is investing in the Arts like never before. From the building and running of the Anvil Centre, the expansion of arts programming, the Public Art strategy and amenity fund, and our commitment to invest in renewal of the Massey Theatre, it is clear this Council wants to support the Arts, so it is really important that we get the strategy right.

Cannabis: Public Consumption – UBCM Resolution
As reported last week, we are working through the municipal response to cannabis regulations. One aspect with high potential impact on local governments is the regulation of public consumption and integration with existing smoking bylaws. Part of the problem is that smoking regulations in BC are a mish-mash or overlapping jurisdictions. The many players who have some responsibility for enforcing smoking restrictions include private property owners (through WorkSafe), the Ministry of Health (and Fraser Health), TransLink (for Transit property), the Province and Local Governments, both through Police and Bylaw Enforcement. At least in the last case, every local government has taken their own approach, resulting in more confusion amongst all of the agencies about what just what the rules are where.

We are taking a resolution to UBCM requesting that the Province use the introduction of recreational cannabis and their authority to prescribe public smoking restrictions, so that the patchwork between local governments can be made consistent.

601 Sixth Street: Development Variance Permit for Signage – consideration of Notice of Opportunity to be Heard
An Uptown commercial property wants to update its signage in a way that does not strictly comply with the Sign Bylaw, which requires a Sign Bylaw Variance, which requires an Opportunity to be Heard so people can tell us if they like or hate this idea. That Opportunity will be on August 27, 2018. C’mon out and tell us what you think.

2017 Annual Water Quality Monitoring Report
Our drinking water is supplied by Metro Vancouver, but the local delivery system (pipes and valves and such) are operated by the city, so we have a joint responsibility to assure that Provincial Regulations regarding water quality testing are met. This is our annual report. We collected just under 1,000 samples in 2017, with no significant concerns.

The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

Renewal of Uptown New Westminster Business Improvement Areas – Results from Notification of Affected Property Owners
The 5-year term for the Uptown BIA is expired, (Has it been 5 years already!?) and it is time to re-up. As a reminder, a BIA is a business-community-led initiative permitted under the Community Charter, which allows a local government to collect a parcel or frontage tax from all commercial property owners within a geographic area and turn that tax over to the BIA members with the commitment that it will be spent on improving the viability of the commercial district and businesses therein.

After requesting that the City commit to another 5-year term, the participant businesses in the Uptown were surveyed. 6.1% of the businesses opposed participation, representing 1.15% of the commercial property in Uptown. So Council moved to approve the renewal of the BIA for Uptown.

Renovictions Action Plan: Update
Rental vacancies in New West are below 1%. Rents are going up. Much of our more affordable rental stock is reaching the age where extensive renovations are required. These factors add up to a serious “renoviction” crisis. The City has been very effective at reducing the types of wide-scale demovictions other communities are suffering, but renovictions are a more difficult problem to address because of our limited powers under the Local Government Act. As a result, we have had renoviction of at least 215 rental units in the City in the last two years (to put that in perspective, there are about 15,000 rental households in the New West).

In the last few years, New West has sought ways to do more than is strictly required by legislation to protect the vulnerable members of our community, and our staff have done many things to reduce renoviction, and assure people facing renoviction have access to as many resources as possible to assure their rights are protected. We have also advocated with the Provincial government to make changes to the Residential Tenancy Act that would provide the marginally housed more protection from renoviction (with some moderate success recently). This report provides a bit of a summary of what we have done, and an update on what we will be doing going forward, including taking part on the Provincial Rental housing taskforce work through 2018.

Sapperton/Massey-Victory Heights Transportation Plan
A new Transportation Plan for Sapperton and Massey Victory Heights was needed. The last comprehensive review of the area was last century, and with the introduction of the Millennium Line, expansion of RCH, the Brewery District and (eventually) Sapperton Green, along with regional transportation pressures, it is time to review again how we will balance the need for people to move through the region and the need to protect the livability and safety of our residential neighbourhoods.

There were some public workshops and a Community Working Group representing residents and businesses in the area. There was also extensive consultation with RCH. TransLink and other stakeholders. There was also a lot of data collection, research, and engineering planning work that went into this. As a result, the report has *a lot* of detail regarding traffic loads, future plans, and phases of implementation. Some parts are meant to be implemented in the short-term (mostly traffic calming improvements), some in the medium term (more complicated network improvements), and some more longer-term priorities are identified.

Although the 320+ page report was more than I could dig deeply into before Monday’s meeting, my initial impressions are that the estimates for “Trip Reduction” (diversion to transit or active modes as opposed to single-occupant vehicles) seem very conservative, both locally and regionally. We currently have 16% of all trips generated in Sapperton as walking/cycling only, and the report estimates 20% for Sapperton Green – a pedestrian-oriented community on a SkyTrain station to be built out in the 2030s. Throughout the document, current mode shift is projected to the decades ahead, with little gain over current numbers. I recognize the need to be conservative when planning far in to the future, but if we do not achieve much greater mode shift to transit and active modes by 2040, then the regional plan and regional transportation plans will have completely failed. In this eventuality, the regional call to pave Sapperton down to accommodate through-drivers will be deafening.

On a related topic, the data around traffic and parking related to an expanded RCH is concerning. Unless Fraser Health starts to recognize that dependence on single-occupant vehicles as the “default” transportation option is a public health concern and makes Transportation Demand Management a priority for its community, starting with its staff and patients, the impact on Sapperton threatens to offset the benefits of having this important community health amenity in our City.

Another important aspect not discussed in the Plan (and I have been harping on about this for a while) is that East Columbia will never be a Great Street, and we will never achieve the goals we have for that commercial streetscape and pedestrian realm if it is the sole access for all traffic to RCH and the Brewery District. Those two uses are incompatible. There must be access to the expanded RCH via Brunette Avenue, and that means a fully signalized intersection at the foot of Keary, Allen, or Sherbrook. (I think Keary works best, as that is the direct access to the RCH underground and the later phases of the Brewery District underground – however a traffic barrier will be required between Brunette and East Columbia to prevent this becoming a major rat-running throughfare).

Of course, installing a signalized intersection will impact through-travel “capacity” on Brunette, which is a truck route and on the Major Road Network, meaning the City cannot make these changes without buy-in from everyone one from TransLink to the trucking industry. However, as this plan talks about re-aligning the East Columbia & Brunette intersection to improve flow, and making Brunette four lanes between East Columbia and Spruce we need to assure these things are designed as a single package, or we will never receive this important amenity for our community.

Anyhow, besides these point, which fall squarely in the “medium- and long-term” category, and as the plan is a living document, I do not want to delay the short-term traffic calming and livability improvements. Council endorsed the Traffic Plan with this in mind.

New Utility Commission Bylaw No. 8029, 2018
We are updating some of the language in the Bylaw that regulates our Electrical Utility, mostly as a result of how we have really expanded the responsibility of the Utility as of late, to include power generation (Solar Garden and District Energy) and information networks (BridgeNet). We are really lucky in the City to have this resource that not only pays a dividend to taxpayers, but provides us an ability to take on new and exciting challenges.

Emergency Advisory Committee: Request Provincial Government to Provide Access to Alert Ready (Emergency Alert System) to Local Governments
This recommendation from the Emergency Advisory Committee is to take a resolution to the UBCM meeting in the fall that the Provincial Government provide better access to real-time emergency alert system info to better plan our local emergency response in the case of a large, regional emergency event. Endorsed by Council.

We then had another Opportunity to be Heard:

Temporary Use Permit for 218 Queens Avenue
This is an interesting project. The owner of an exceptionally large residential lot in Queens Park wishes to relocate a couple of smaller heritage homes that may otherwise be demolished onto the back part of his property so they can be preserved and renovated. There are two challenges to this. When a house becomes available, it must be moved fairly quickly, usually because the current owner just wants the house out of the way so they can re-build, and moving it is only considered over demolition when it doesn’t delay the project. Of course, permitting the moving of a house onto a property from the City’s side is not a fast process, so the property owner here wants to get a sort of “pre-approval” for the land use. The best path is a Temporary Use Permit, with the idea that the full Zoning change would happen after the house is moved, in the event a house is moved.

We received no correspondence on this item, and only the Proponent came to speak on the Temporary User Permit. Council moved to approve issuance of the permit.

Finally, we went through our regular Bylaws approvals:

Utility Commission Bylaw No. 8029, 2018
As mentioned above, this Bylaw that updates some of the language and mandate of the Electrical Utility was given three readings.

Uptown New Westminster Business Improvement Area Bylaw No. 8019, 2018
As discussed last week, this Bylaw that renews the Uptown BIA agreement was adopted by Council. Adjust your buying habits appropriately.

Street Naming Bylaw No. 7984, 2018
As discussed previously, this Bylaw that officially names a new street n Queensborough Roma Avenue was adopted by Council.

Housing Agreement (406 to 412 East Columbia Street) Bylaw No. 8000, 2018
This Bylaw that secures rental use for the residential portion of this development in Sapperton was Adopted by council. More Purpose Built Rental in New West!

Animal Care and Control Bylaw Amendment Bylaw No. 8026, 2018
Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw Amendment Bylaw No. 8027, 2018 and
Municipal Ticketing Information Bylaw Amendment Bylaw No. 8028, 2018
These Bylaw changes that remove charges for the licensing of therapy dogs in New Westminster was adopted by Council.