Council Top 3!

This is episode 7 (?) of my hopefully-regular pre-council list of what I think are going to be the most important three items on our Council agenda on Monday* in no particular order, so you can decide if you want to tune in.

#1: Queensborough Electrical Substation Loan Authorization Bylaws
We need to build a new substation in Queensborough. It has been in the long-term capital plan for the Electrical Utility for quite some time as load demand has been going up, and the fire on the Q’Bobo bridge last year that caused a protracted power outage in the neighbourhood demonstrated a surprising lack of resiliency in our grid over there. Substations are expensive, and we will need to borrow to pay for it (well, the Electrical Utility will need to borrow to pay for it, but we own the electrical utility), which will require a Bylaw and public approval.

#2: 2019 – 2023 Draft Financial Plan – Utilities
The budget process moves on, and it is time for us to talk about utility rates changes so the appropriate rate bylaws can be drafted. No surprise utility rates are going up, but once again the rates are increasing more than inflation for a variety of reasons. The water, sewer, and solid waste utilities operate somewhat separately from the City’s general revenue, and their increases are directly tied to the increasing cost of the service and the need to plan and finance infrastructure improvements. The Electrical Utility is a special case that makes us different than other cities, but it is still impacted by the increasing cost of wholesale electricity from BC Hydro. Expect a robust discussion here about efforts to keep utility rates in check.

#3: Testing out the new ones!
This is the first real Council Meeting for a couple of new Councillors, Chinu Das and Nadine Nakagawa. They have both been inaugurated and through a bit of orientation training, but nothing like budget deliberations to really turn the heat on them. Fortunately, they both have a tonne of experience working on boards and are pretty will versed on how Council works. I’m not expecting any strangeness, though there are still sometimes unexpected procedural hi-jinks even for us experienced types!

*footnote: The funny thing about Council: it is almost impossible to predict what three items will rise to the top and get the most debate/ public feedback / media coverage. These are only my guesses, and I am only one of seven.  For a full prediction of the entire Council agenda, go to the agenda!

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 Top 3!

This is episode 5 of my hopefully-regular pre-council list of what I think are going to be the most important three items on our Council agenda on Monday* in no particular order, so you can decide if you want to tune in.

#1: Public Engagement Strategy Update
As I recently mentioned over on that other website, I am keenly interested in how the City improves it Public Engagement. The implementation of the Public Engagement Strategy has already seen some great results, but the medium- and long-term action items are yet to come, and this report will outline what staff will be working on to inform, consult, and include the citizens of New Westminster in our decision making.

#2: Q to Q Pilot Ferry Service – Update and Extension of Pilot
This report provides three things: an update on ridership and operation of this summer’s Pilot project, a proposal to extend to a modified winter schedule to determine how amenable people are to using this service for commuting, and the development of a longer-term business case for the service. The report looks like good news on all fronts, and we are getting a lot of feedback from the Port Royal neighbourhood about the desire for us to continue the pilot. However, we do need to assure the service we are providing is tailored for the needs of this community, not just a tourist attraction.

#3: Recognition of Retiring Council Members Bill Harper and Lorrie Williams
There is likely to be laughter and tears at this meeting, as two Councillors with a combined 29 years of service to this City are taking their last council bow. I have enjoyed sharing the table with Lorrie and Bill. I have often agreed and sometimes disagreed with each of them on some pretty substantial policy directions in the City, but have always respected that they had their hearts in the right place, and had real visions for the direction of the City. I have learned a tonne about the job, and about the City from each of them. Regardless of what happens on October 20th, it will be a very different council without them there.

*footnote: The funny thing about Council: it is almost impossible to predict what three items will rise to the top and get the most debate/ public feedback / media coverage, so these are only my guesses. For a full prediction of the entire Council agenda, go to the agenda!

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 Top 3!

This is episode 4 of my hopefully-regular pre-council list of what I think are going to be the most important three items on our Council agenda on Monday* in no particular order, so you can decide if you want to tune in.

#1: We are in Queensborough!
This isn’t an agenda item, but the traditional first meeting in September is held at the Queensborough Community Centre – the only time we take Council Meetings out of City Hall. Also unique in this meeting is that it is Public Hearing on a few items, but we are still going to have Public Delegations (usually Delegations are not permitted on a Public Hearing night- but the point of going to Q’Boro is to hear from the community, so the regular rules go out the window. If you are in Q’Boro, come out to the QCC for a 5:45 start, and if you have something to say, you can delegate at 7:00.

#2: Cannabis Regulation Bylaws:
We will be doing a Public Hearing on the zoning law changes required to get cannabis retail operations ready for application by the time the federal legalization occurs in October. It took quite a bit of work on Staff’s part to get this together on a tight timeline, especially as details of the legalization regime were trickling out of Ottawa and Victoria. We have had several workshops and lots of discussion around the Council table about this (the members of Council have had some pretty fundamental disagreements about how to approach this new regulatory regime). Happy to know we are ready for Public Hearing before the October 17th change in federal regulations. Even if we approve the Bylaws after this Public hearing, it doesn’t mean that the stores will open in October. Staff have developed a pretty streamlined process to get the first tranche of applications through all of the zoning and business regulations, but it will still take a bit of time once applications start arriving. If you have opinions about cannabis retail, you may want to read up on these Bylaws and come to the Public Hearing!

#3: Environmental Strategy and Action Plan Final Report:
It has been some time since the City updated its overarching environmental protection strategy. This solid piece of policy work has been in the works for a couple of years, and has seen public review and endorsement from the Environment Advisory Committee. It outlines our goals in emissions and energy reduction, ecological protection, resource protection and waste management. Implementation will take money and several years, but in Local Government, it is always good to have an endorsed strategy document that staff can point to in guiding their work, and a set of defined goals to know if we are hitting our targets.

*footnote: The funny thing about Council: it is almost impossible to predict what three items will rise to the top and get the most debate/ public feedback / media coverage, so these are only my guesses. For a full prediction of the entire Council agenda, go to the agenda!

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 Top 3!

This is episode 3 of my hopefully-regular pre-council list of what I think are going to be the most important three items on our Council agenda on Monday* in no particular order, so you can decide if you want to tune in.

#1: 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. We have already made some adjustments to the Construction noise Bylaw to reduce the number oh hours of allowable noise, and we are now looking at getting rid of the largest diesel-hammer pile drivers for future projects. These are the loudest pieces of construction equipment, and there are viable alternatives available. Some in the development community are not happy about this. We are having an Opportunity to be Heard about this. If you have an opinion, you can come out and let us know!

#2: Official Community Plan: Phase Two of the Infill Housing Program – Discussion of Scope of Work
Things are moving fast in the housing file, as the economics of housing across the region are shifting. This piece of policy work will help the City better support the building of more flexible housing forms in our Residential Ground Oriented and Townhouse/Rowhouse areas. This follows on the work to implement laneway and carriage home policies. The goal is to figure out what kind of “missing middle” we can support and the economics of the region can support, then develop guidelines to make it easier for that type of housing to be built. Staff are going to give us an outline of their proposed workplan to make this happen.

#3: Communities on the Move:
The local chapter of HUB has asked the City of New Westminster to endorse a Communities on the Move Declaration developed and promoted by the BC Alliance for Healthy Living. A premise being approached here is that 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 our health agencies money by supporting healthier lifestyles for our residents. I’m going to ask Council to endorse this, and as the initiative reflects so many of our goals, I’m not going to expect it to me controversial. But hey, this my listicle, so I can promote anything I want!

*footnote: The funny thing about Council: it is almost impossible to predict what three items will rise to the top and get the most debate/ public feedback / media coverage, so these are only my guesses. For a full prediction of the entire Council agenda, go to the agenda!

Ask Pat: Permit times

Someone asked—

I am a rental tenant at [redacted to protect privacy – a downtown Strata building]. I have heard our Strata is considering dissolution & sale of our building to developers. How long does a demolition process take per the City of New West’s permit(s) process etc.?

This is really not a question I can answer with certainty, because I am not involved with these kind of front-counter operations. The short version of your answer is that a Demolition Permit can probably take less than a day or several months (depending on things like the need for hazardous material surveys, Environmental Site Assessments, and safe disconnection from City utilities) but it isn’t the Demolition Permit timing that would necessarily be a limiting factor here.

It sounds like the feeling in your building is that the current building will be demolished and a replacement building built. I suggest that, if this was the case, a new owner would not apply to demolish the building until they had a certainty that they would be permitted to build a replacement on the site. That would likely require a Development Permit, and may even require a Rezoning or an Official Community Plan amendment, depending on what the owner wishes to build. The more of these you add, the more time it takes to get through the process. Those processes also include extensive public consultation, and would likely result in a Public Hearing. All told, these processes can take a year or more. The more complex the project and the more it varies from existing land use, the more complicated and time-consuming these applications go. It is also possible that a developer’s proposal will not be found acceptable by City Policy or by whim of Council, so the wait an be literally endless.

That said, I have no idea what process your building will have to go through, nor do I know what the new owner would plan to build. No application for your address has come to City Council yet. I did a quick scan of the Land Use and Planning Committee agendas for the last year, and don’t see it mentioned there at all (as a preliminary step, any application would likely go to LUPC before it came to Council). I also checked the on-line “Projects on the Go” table, and see no reference to your location, so I am pretty sure no formal application has been made to the City.

In researching your answer, I stumbled upon a report that I am a little reluctant to link to, because it was authored by an organization that has a long reputation of producing dubious reports using sketchy research methods. But for that it is worth, a third party with no reason to make a progressive city like New Westminster look good found that we are comparatively quick in getting new buildings through the approval process. They found that our staff and process are able to process applications faster than most Municipalities in the Lower Mainland: generally in the top 3 or top 5 in the region (depending on the application type). They also found we had among the lowest “Costs and Fees” for a typical application (those fees are ideally set to act as cost recovery). I started by saying I am somewhat separated from front-counter activities at the City, so none of this credit goes to me, but kudos to our great professional staff!

So, in summary, if you are curious about redevelopment plans for your apartment, keep an eye on the City’s LUPC Agenda and the “Projects on the Go” list. Also remember, as a renter, you have rights under the Residential Tenancy Act, including appropriate notice and compensation for being evicted. If you have questions, you should contact those professional staff in our Planning Department. They almost certainly know more than I do. Good luck!

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!