Council – May 15, 2017

At New Westminster City Council, we have Open Delegations, meaning anyone can come to a Council Meeting and have 5 minutes to delegate on any topic. There are not many cities where delegations are so open (most require you to address a topic on the day, register ahead of time, limit numbers, etc., if they have delegations at all). This week’s meeting was one of those ones where people showed up in force, arguing both sides of an upcoming issue, which kept us going until after 11:00. More on that later.

The actual agenda was not a lengthy one, with the following items Removed from Consent for discussion:

Homeless Count 2017: Update
There is a coordinated regional count of homeless persons every few years, run mostly by volunteers as it is a fairly large effort. The numbers in 2017 are not good, which is probably not a surprise to most who pay attention to these things.

You can read the preliminary report here. Regionally, the numbers of homeless have risen since 2014, after being mostly stable for almost a decade. We can point at the general housing afforability crisis, increases in renovictions, and reduced provincial supports for marginally housed or people impacted by addictions, those living on social assistance or with disabilities. There are a lot of trends to parse out here (i.e. increases over the last 3 years are markedly higher in the suburbs – Delta, Langley, Richmond, Ridge Meadows and the TriCities), and I will probably write a longer blog post on this topic.

Council moved to refer this report to staff in order to develop resolutions to take to the UBCM to address this issue.

Bequest to New Westminster Animal Services
A gentleman named Daryl Mutz passed away in January, and left part of his estate to a variety of causes that were important to him, mostly protection of animals and children. Included in his bequest was $275,000 for New Westminster Animal Services to improve the quality of life of animals being cared for at our shelter. The City will be working on an appropriate way to mark this significant contribution, likely as part of the new Animal Shelter that will be built in Queensborough.

The following items were Moved on Consent without discussion:

Amendment to Dance Studio Rental Rates in Cultural Services Fees and Charges Bylaw No. 7875, 2016
As part of ongoing reviews, we occasionally adjust fees for some of our facilities, which require a Bylaw to change. Some of the dace spaces in the Anvil Centre were determined to be underutilized, and a price comparison to other similar spaces around the region found that an adjustment to the cost may be in order. Council voted to support this Bylaw change.

Queen’s Park Heritage Conservation Area: Official Community Plan Amendment and Related Heritage Procedures Bylaws for Consideration of Readings
This topic did bring many people out to delegate, both in favour and opposed. I don’t want to go too deeply in to the debate here, because this will be going to Public Hearing next month (a special Council Meeting scheduled for June 13), and I don’t want to pre-judge those discussions.

Council moved to give the proposed Bylaw first and second readings, and the schedule a Public Hearing for June 13. As per regulation, once the Public Hearing is scheduled, we cannot receive any more public delegations on the topic until the evening of the Public Hearing. However, I hope residents will go to the City’s website here and inform themselves about what the HCA is and isn’t, and chat with your neighbours about the goals and concerns it may raise. Then show up on June 13 to let Council know what you think.

Sign Bylaw No. 7867, 2017: Bylaw for First and Second Reading – Public Hearing June 26, 2017, and
Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw No. 7921, 2017: Bylaw for Three Readings
This has been the culmination of a couple of years work for our staff, updating our slightly-aged Sign Bylaw. It appears to me to be a reasonable approach, considering some significant changes in sign technology, but also creating stronger guidelines around physical intrusion of portable signs in to pedestrian space and the use of LED lights and other emergent technology. It also sounds a potential death knell to Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man, pictured above.

Council moved to give the Bylaws three readings.

412 Third Street: Development Variance Permit 00626 for Front Yard Setback, Projections and Height – Notice of Opportunity to be Heard
This Queens Park property owner had various constraints on the development of their property, and is doing this work at the time that the Design Guidelines for the Queens Park Neighbourhood are in a kind of flux with the Heritage Conservation Area Bylaw in development. Staff worked with the proponent to find compromises that would allow them to build within the guidelines and protect mature trees on the lot, but this required relatively minor variances. These variances will go to an Opportunity to be Heard at the end of May.

736 Eighth Avenue (7-Eleven): Development Variance Permit 00629 for Sign – Notice of Opportunity to be Heard
The gas station on Eighth Ave is changing branding of their convenience store, and the preferred signage, though not fitting the letter of our (old) Sigh Bylaw, will nonetheless not be a significant change from the existing signage. However, laws be laws and a variance is required to permit the change. This variance will also go to an Opportunity to be Heard at the end of May.

Pattullo Bridge Replacement Project – Environmental Assessment Process Including Public Engagement Under the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Act
This is a good sign that the Pattullo Bridge project is moving forward. The EA process is fairly prescribed, including timelines. The first public participation part of the EA is during the pre-application phase, where the proposed application is reviewed and stakeholders are able to provide feedback to the EAO about potential gaps or issues with the application materials, and give the proponent and the EAO an opportunity to understand public concerns regarding the environmental impact of the project. There are some tentatively scheduled public meetings at the end of May in New Westminster and Surrey – be sure to check the project website and keep an eye on the local newspaper for updates.

In my professional life, I have worked on a half-dozen EAs for major projects, and can attest that active participation by the public is important to the process, but takes some commitment on the part of those willing to take part. There is a lot of information to absorb and understand, and the constraints around what can and cannot be addressed through an EA are not always straight-forward. I encourage people to follow the project website, show up at the meetings, and get informed about this project.

National Public Works Week – May 21–27, 2017
Next week is National Public Works Week, and the City’s engineering department will be doing some outreach to the community to help people get informed about what our Public Works staff do in keeping your City functioning, including being at the Bellies game next week.

Complimentary Parking for Veterans
The City, along with many other communities in the Lower Mainland, provide parking benefits to those who display Veteran’s license plates. As this regulatory change requires periodic update, here we are doing that update to keep that benefit going for another few years.

2017 Canada – BC Clean Water and Wastewater Fund Grant Applications – Sapperton Combined Sewer Separation Program and Wood Street Drainage Pump Station
This really should be bigger news than it is. The City applied for, and was granted a $5.5 Million grant from the federal government to accelerate our sewer separation program in Sapperton. $5.5 Million is a lot of money for New Westminster, we should be excited.

This being an old City, most of our sewer system was installed in the good old days when all sewage went straight to the river, so our storm sewer (rain running off of our roofs and streets) and sanitary sewer (the things you flush) went in the same pipes. As society evolved to building sewage treatment plants, cities started putting storm water and sanitary sewer into different pipes, so the former could go to the river, and the latter could go to the plant. Unfortunately, New West has a long legacy of “combined flow” pipes, and have been slow to separate the flows.

These combined flows are expensive, because we pay to have all that storm water treated as sewage, but separating the pipes is also expensive, so the $5.5 Million will not only save us some money in the short term, but will reduce long-term costs and ultimately benefit the environment.

Licensed Events at Westminster Pier Park
The City is going to pilot some flexible licensing in Pier Park this summer in partnership events with the Arts Council to take advantage of some recent changes in provincial liquor laws. The idea here is to try this out in July under relatively controlled conditions as a pilot to see what works and doesn’t and inform future policy for these types of events.

Thursday Nights in July should be fun at the Pier Park! Reschedule your vacations, folks, there is no reason to leave New Westminster during the summer!

150 Fitness Challenge
Notwithstanding the gluteus of a certain delegate, Canada is barging ahead with celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Confederation, and that celebration is manifest in various programs. In New West, our Parks and Recreation department is doing a 150 fitness Challenge. Info available at our Recreation facilities (Century House, Moody Park Arena, Queensborough Community Centre, Etc.) where you can get a tracking card to participate in the program and potentially win some great prizes.

628 Eighteenth Street: DVP00627 to Vary Accessory Site Coverage in Order to Construct a Pool and Hot Tub – Notice of Opportunity to be Heard
These residents in the West End wish to enhance their back yard by putting in a pool and hot tub, but this will result in more site coverage than the zoning strictly allows. This requires a variance, which will have an Opportunity to be Heard at the end of May.

Finally, we went through the usual raft of Bylaws:

Official Community Plan Amendment (Queen’s Park Heritage Conservation Area Amendment) Bylaw No. 7926, 2017
This Bylaw to institute a Heritage Conservation Area in Queens Park was given two readings. It will go to Public hearing on June 13, please come on out and tell us what you think.

Sign Bylaw No. 7867, 2017
Bylaw Notice Enforcement Amendment Bylaw No. 7921, 2017
This update to our Sign Bylaw, as discussed above, was given two readings.

Bylaw No. 7928, 2017 to amend Heritage Procedures Bylaw No. 7606, 2013
Bylaw No. 7929, 2017 to amend Heritage Alteration Permit Procedures Bylaw No. 7859, 2016
Bylaw No. 7930, 2017 to amend Development Services Fees and Rates Bylaw No. 7683, 2014
These Bylaws that will need to be updated to support the Queens Park Heritage Conservation Area if it were to be adopted by council, were given three readings, so that they can be adopted in conjunction with the HCA Bylaw if that is the decision of Council after the June 13 Public Hearing. Once again, I encourage you to read, share and enjoy these Bylaws, and come out to the Public Hearing to tell us what you think.

Street Naming (“Mabel Street” in Queensborough) Bylaw No. 7902, 2017
This street naming Bylaw was adopted. A street in Queensborough now has a name. Adjust your Googlemaps accordingly.

Voting for…

I have written a few things about this election, and recognize that (perhaps reflecting our social media environment) much of it is about what I am voting against. This post I’m going to avoid all of that and speak only about what I am voting for have already voted for.

I voted for change. Real change that can start on May 10th.

I voted for a leader that works with a team and speaks with people. One of my first impressions of John Horgan at a rally last year was that he called attention to his team. He talked less about himself and more about the accomplishments of David Eby, of Melanie Mark, of Judy Darcy. A good manager (and really, that’s what a Party Leader is) is one who gives his team the tools they need to get their work done, and supports them in that work. In watching his interactions with his team, that is exactly the kind of guy John Horgan is. He also speaks to – and listens to – people, no deposit required. He does not turn away from a dissenting voice, whether giving a heckler at a public event a chance to speak his peace, or following up with a party supporter like me when he makes a campaign promise I don’t support. I want my province and its government to be well managed, and John Horgan seems to me to be the kind of manager I would work for.

I voted for a balanced and costed platform that doesn’t over promise, but delivers solutions to critical issues on a realistic timeline. Real change includes a long-overdue coordinated provincial approach to day care that will ultimately result in a universal $10/day plan. Real change means turning electricity planning and rate forecasting back to the BCUC, the independent agency of subject experts working specifically to keep politicians from milking BC Hydro for short-term benefit. Real change means investing in health care to bring residential care up to the government’s own established standards. Real change means a respectful and accountable approach to Truth and Reconciliation that goes beyond lip service. Real change is attainable, starting next week. Time to stop putting it off.

I voted for a stronger democracy. We need campaign finance reform, reducing the influence of corporations and unions on the way our province is run, and reducing the cost of elections by reducing the money available for all of those noisy attack ads. We also need electoral reform, so that a vote for the party you want is more meaningful even if your party cannot form a majority. These changes can be delivered in the next term, moving BC from the “wild west” of elections to a modern, functional democracy.

I voted for a party that will support our region by putting our region’s biggest issues at the front of their platform. The Mayor’s Council (a diverse group of NDP, Liberal, and Conservative politicians) have made a clear choice this election, endorsing the NDP approach to regional transportation, including supporting the 10-year vision for transportation investment. I cannot help but believe that our affordable housing file will be better managed under David Eby, who has been the most passionate and pragmatic political voice on this issue for the last 4 years. The opioid crisis needs to be treated as the public health emergency it is, not with sympathy and naloxone, but with the resources needed to save lives and get people out of the cycle of addiction.

I voted for a party that will represent the diversity of British Columbia. The NDP are running a group of candidates across the province that represent the diversity of the Province. We also need a party that will measure our economic success not by increases in wealth for the most fortunate, but by how that wealth invests in the future of the province. A minimum wage that provides dignity, removing punitive cuts to those with disabilities, investing the seismic upgrading of schools, returning to the business of supportive housing… the list goes on. We are a rich province, we will continue to be a rich province because of our wealth of resources (natural and human) and our fortunate location in the evolving world. It is time we started acting like a wealthy province and invest in our people.

I voted for a great MLA. Judy Darcy is someone I am proud to support. She works hard, she works collaboratively, and she treats all people with respect. She is loud when she has to be, and is quietly collaborative when that approach is needed. She is supremely optimistic about her city, about her province, and about the positive role of government. I have seen her work hard in New Westminster, and speak loudly in Victoria. She has brought positive initiatives to New Westminster, even while in opposition. I know she will work just as hard for us when she is in government, and New Westminster will have a voice in Victoria that will be heard.

Most importantly, I voted. Please get out there and vote for the result you want to see.

Council – May 1, 2017

Our Council meeting on May 1st was another long one, as a large number of delegates came to speak to the proposed Heritage Conservation Area for Queens Park. Again, if this proposal moves forward, it will be going to Public Hearing, so do not take Council’s cautious approach to responding to delegates’ direct questions as disinterest, but more an acknowledgement that there is still much discussion to have in the neighbourhood and community before Council makes any decision here.

The regular agenda began with a couple of presentations and reports.

Arrival of EVO Car Sharing in New Westminster
This announcement is important to New Westminster because it supports the policy goals of our Master Transportation Plan by reducing vehicle reliance in the City, encouraging active transportation choices, and making transportation in our city more affordable for more people.

The presentation and report outlined the various ways Car sharing support these goals. Every car-share vehicle correlates with the reduction of 5-11 private vehicles, reducing the need to accommodate cars through parking and road space. For many users, it is more affordable than owning a car, and supports increased use of transit, cycling and walking. I was amazed that there are already more than 500 EVO members in New Westminster, before they even brought any cars here.

The following items were Moved on Consent:

Request for License to Occupy – Quayside Community Board
The QCB has a large yard sale / festival in the summer, which brings in merchants from around the region to activate the boardwalk. The construction ongoing on the waterfront has created a bit of a challenge for them, and there is an underutilized space at the west end of the Quayside. Although the property is owned in partnership with Metro Vancouver, staff have been working with the QCB to provide a one-day license to allow their merchants to park their vehicles there during the boardwalk sale. Liability and licensing issues abound, but it sounds like all three partners are on side here and have worked through most of it.

1102, 1110, 1116 and 1122 Salter Street: Official Community Plan
Amendment and Rezoning to Allow a 78 Unit Residential Development, Park and Road Dedication – Bylaws for First and Second Readings

This large family-friendly development in Queensborough will have a variety of housing forms, and result in road and park dedication to the City. Council moved to give the OCP and RZ first and second reading, and send the project to Public Hearing. I’ll hold my comments until then.

The following items were Removed form Consent for discussion:

Provincial Property-based Taxes in the Metro Vancouver Region
This is a report for information, you can read it here. Short version: people living in the Metro Vancouver pay more taxes to the Provincial government, in raw numbers and per capita, than the rest of the province. This is especially true of school taxes where the Mil Rate is flat across the province.

Street Naming Bylaw for ‘Mabel Street’ in Queensborough – Bylaw for
Three Readings

I am in favour of this motion, and am comfortable moving forward with this naming, but took the time to suggest to my Council colleagues that the Street Naming Policy that underlies this choice needs to be updated.

Perhaps this conversation can wait until we hear back from staff on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (following on our April 10th motion), but as a rule our street names disproportionately acknowledge the European settler experience, and probably fail to recognize the diversity of our history.

As a point of discussion, it may be interesting to discuss why streets named after men generally use surnames, and streets named after women fall to the given name…

630 Ewen Avenue (Affordable Housing Project): Housing Agreement
Principles – for Endorsement

The city is working with a not-for-profit to develop a small supportive family housing project in Queensborough. This agreement will set out the conditions under which the housing operates, the duties of the operator and rights of the residents (above and beyond those in the Residential Tenancy Act) which make up the “supportive” part of the housing. Council endorsed these principles.

Queen’s Park Universal Washroom Design
Times change, and how we design public buildings change with them. The concession stand in Queens Park needs replacement, as do the attached bathrooms. The new model for these types of facilities on BC (although this has been standard practice in large parts of Europe for a long time) are to make them “gender neutral”, with secure toilet booths open to either gender attached to a common sink/washup/baby changing area. This reduces a variety of barriers, especially with kids and others who need supports to use public facilities, and assures that the rights all persons are protected.

Queen’s Park Heritage Conservation Area: Full Draft of Conservation Area, Administrative Policy, and Design Guidelines
This conversation followed more than two hours of public delegations, mostly on the topic of the proposed HCA. It is clear there are a variety of opinions and a lot of deeply felt convictions about this proposal. Unfortunately, there are also a variety of “facts” being provided, which makes the conversation challenging. We have more work to do.

This report, however, outlines some of the most important aspects of the HCA proposal, as it details the actual process through which permits and approvals would be managed under the proposed HCA, and also provides a draft of the Design Guidelines that would become mandatory under the HCA if approved.

Council was not able to discuss the Design Guidelines in detail, as we had only received them on Monday, and wanted some time to dig through them and have a fuller understanding before we approved them. That discussion will happen in an Open Workshop on May 8th at 4:30 in the afternoon. It will be open to the public as are all Council meetings.

There is some detail in the report, and if you are concerned, you should rely on the report and not my necessarily reduced summary here, but the draft policy looks something like this:

For houses built before 1941 (about 500 of the 700 homes in QP), the house would need a Heritage Alteration Permit (“HAP”) prior to demolition, construction on the front of sides of the house (parts visible from the street), or changes in the roofline. Internal renovations require no extra permitting. The proposed changes would be evaluated based on a transparent “checklist” to determine if the changes would significantly alter the heritage of the neighbourhood, and whether alternative approaches to meeting the owner’s zoning entitlement could be found.

Staff would review these applications, based on a transparent and clear set of standards, and would deny or approve the permit. If the owner is denied a permit, they would be allowed to appeal to Council, who would make the final decision.

All construction on the visible front of the house and replacement buildings would need to meet the Design Guidelines established under the HCA, as approved by staff.

For all other houses, an HAP would only be required for new construction or subdivision of the property. Demo permits and renovations would not require an HAP.

Staff have tried to develop a fee structure that is fair to all residents of the City, and reduced the cost for renovation vs. demolition, in order to further encourage renovation of heritage homes. The process has also been designed to operate as transparently and quickly as possible, with most permits only taking a couple of weeks to get through the process. The evaluation standards and guidelines have been developed though guidance from the Heritage Commission, Technical Review Panel, and Heritage Working Group, but they will not be involved in the review of individual applications.

In the few cases where it will be required, the appeal process will add time – getting on the agenda so Council can have the final say creates scheduling delays – but by delegating authority we simplify the process and make the entire process work faster, more transparently, and at a lower cost to the City and less stress for the homeowner.

Again, these proposals are going to be going to a Public Hearing in June. Best if you let Mayor and Council know what you think through e-mail.

231 Twelfth Street (Gas Works Building): Site Safety and Demolition Process
The building belongs to the province, and the owner is asking us for a demo permit. The building is in terrible condition, and needs to be removed for public safety reasons. It is unfortunate, but the time to save this building was 20 years ago, and it clearly was not a priority. We can move on and start looking at re-purposing this piece of land, which starts with us getting out of the way and giving the province the room they need to remediate the industrial site.

As a City we don’t own a lot of land that isn’t already completely programmed, this is an opportunity for us to acquire a valuable piece of land that links lower 12th to the Brow neighbourhood.

We wrapped the evening, as always, by addressing a few Bylaws:

Official Community Plan (Land Use Designation Amendment) for 1102, 1110, 1116 and 1122 Salter Street Bylaw No. 7916, 2017 and
Zoning Amendment (1102, 1110, 1116 and 1122 Salter Street) Bylaw 7917, 2017
These Bylaws to support a multi-family development in Queensborough was given two readings. The project will be going to Public Hearing on May 29, 2017. C’mon out and tell us what you think!

Street Naming (“Mabel Street” in Queensborough) Bylaw No. 7902, 2017
This Bylaw to name a new street in Queensborough after Mabel Bowell, Queensborough’s first school teacher, was given three readings.

Heritage Revitalization Agreement (1023 Third Avenue) Bylaw No. 7871, 2016 and Heritage Designation Bylaw (1023 Third Avenue) No. 7872, 2016
These Bylaws to support he building of two stacked townhouses and refurbish and protect a heritage home on Brow of the Hill, as discussed at the Public Hearing on November 28, 2016, were adopted. They are the law of the land.

Downtown New Westminster BIA Parcel Tax – Primary Area Bylaw No. 7911, 2017
Downtown New Westminster BIA Parcel Tax – Secondary Area Bylaw No. 7914, 2017
Uptown New Westminster BIA Parcel Tax Bylaw No. 7912, 2107
These Bylaws that allow us to collect taxes on behalf of the City’s three BIAs were adopted. Adjust your behaviors accordingly.

Tax Rates Bylaw No. 7913, 2017
This Bylaw that sets our property tax rate increase for 2017 at 2.98% was adopted. The bill will soon be in the mail.

Council – April 24, 2017

We had another daytime workshop in Council this week, discussing some details of the proposed Heritage Conservation Area for Queens Park. There is a lot of work to do, and some more discussions to have (based on the bombardment of e-mail I am receiving on the topic), but we expect that issue to come to a Public Hearing in June, so I suggest you watch the video if interested, and I’ll save my comments until the public hearing.

As it was the last meeting of the month, we started with a Public Hearing on two projects:

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7907, 2017 for 1002, 1012, 1016 and 1020 Auckland Street
This is a new multi-family development on a challenging site in the Brow of the Hill. The now-vacant lots have a high slope, but are in a great walkable location near downtown and lower 12th. The proposal has 13 townhouses and 75 apartments, the majority of which will be 3- and 2-bedroom, which puts them above the minimums in our Family-Friendly Housing policy.

The Design Panel and Advisory Planning Commission approved the project, the Neighbourhood Association raised no concerns, and the 6(!) people who replied to the 6,700 (1) mailed out invitations to the open house similarly raised no concerns. We receive no written submissions, and the one person who came to speak to the development was not opposed, but did raise a valid concerns about parking issues for his very constrained lot across the street that I hope Engineering can address.

Council moved to refer the application for Third Reading, which Council approved in the regular meeting immediately after.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7833, 2016 for 518 Ewen Avenue
This is a simple re-zoning of a single lot in Queensborough to match the zoning of the adjacent properties and in compliance with the Queensborough Community Plan. We received no submissions and no-one came to speak to the matter. Council moved to refer the application for Third Reading, which Council approved in the regular meeting immediately after.

The Regular Meeting started with us moving the above Bylaws to Third Reading, followed by a Opportunity to be Heard:

Development Variance Permit No. DVP00624 for Royal Columbian Hospital (330 East Columbia Street) – To Vary Front Yard Setback for New Mental Health Care Building
The RCH expansion is a big project, and this is a minor variance required for the Phase 1 building. There are two relatively small protrusions form the main building that will stick into the setback required by zoning (the minimum distance allowed between any building and the lot line). These two encroachments will in no way impact the pedestrian or other transportation realm around the building, wont impact any other land owners, and will not result in a significant reduction of greenspace (as other parts of the building are set much further back from the setback.

We had one written submission opposed to this DVP, with no reason given for that opposition, and no-one came to speak to the application. Council moved ot approve the DVP.

The following items were moved on Consent:

Festival Grant – Appeal from Philippine Festival Society
This being Canada 150 year, festivals organized on July 1st have a few unexpected budget constraints. The PFS came to the Festivals Committee and made a compelling case for an increase in their budget, and demonstrated an ability to also address their budget constraints with increased sponsorship. As there is some room left in the Festivals budget due to the cancellation of another funded event, the committee recommended that this request be approved. Council agreed.

22nd Street Bus Exchange Upgrades Public Art Proposal
The pedestrian realm around 22nd Street Skytrain will see a modest, but much overdue, upgrade this year, thanks to TransLink. In consultations with the City, some ideas around introducing Public Art have been brought to TransLink, and a collaboration is in the offing! Our Public Art Advisory committee likes the idea, has some money in the Public Art Fund, and will be helping coordinate this partnership – a great way to leverage or modest PA budget to greater gain. I’m looking forward to what they come up with, we could use a little public space enhancement in the area!

Front Street Mews – Proposed Public Realm Enhancements
So much work has been going on down on Front Street, and the merchants down there have been so patient going on down there, I am glad we are finally seeing the end of the disruption. However, we are also looking forward to a much improved public space, and even collaborating with the Downtown BIA on some events down there this summer. Again, I want to thanks staff for again showing creativity and vision, and for the BIA and other partners for being great partners! Summer is almost here!

Downtown BIA Parcel Tax Bylaws No. 7911, 2017 and 7914, 2017;
Uptown New Westminster BIA Parcel Tax Bylaw No. 7912, 2017
These are the official Bylaws that authorize the City to collect a parcel tax on behalf of the Business Improvement Districts in Downtown and Uptown, so they can offer the programs they do to their members. We moved to approve them going to three readings.

2017 Tax Rates Bylaw No. 7913, 2017
With our Financial Plan update done, and in preparation for sending our official Tax notices and documentation to the Government, we have to pass a Bylaw officially approving our property tax levels for 2017. As anticipated, they are going up by 2.98%, meaning the City will collect a total of $75.5Million in property taxes this year. A good primer on what a 2.98% increase across the board means to you based on your assessment change since last year is available here (from last year, so adjust the numbers accordingly).

European Chafer Management Program Update
The grass-munching buggers seem to be back with a vengeance this year, and the best way for you to manage them is to not have grass, but instead plant planet-friendlier things in your front lawn. The second best way to manage them is to have really healthy deep-rooted grass that isn’t overwatered. The third best way to manage them is to use nematodes, and the City will help you pay for nematodes, but there is a process. Follow the links here if this option is right for you, because timing is everything for nematode application.

The following items were removed from consent for discussion:

Anvil Theatre Piano Purchase
Theatres usually have pianos, I get this. Great performers require great pianos, I also get this. Staff have asked Council to approve the purchase of a $215,000 piano for the Anvil Centre Theatre. I don’t get this.

It may be possible that this is the right piano for the Anvil, and that its purchase is important, but I was not convinced of this by the report I received. For a purchase of this size, especially a sole source, I need to see a business case around how it will improve our operation, and how this source and this piece of equipment is the best way to address the need.

Council did not approve the request, and have sent it back to Staff to make a better case or come up with a different plan

Repeal the 1903 Curfew Bylaw
I am glad that youth and unescorted ladies are now able to roam the streets at night. Adjust your behavior appropriately.

Official Community Plan Review: Summary of Draft Official Community Plan Feedback and Discussion of Land Use Designation for Glenbrooke North
This report provided some response to the last round of public consultation on the OCP Land Use Designation map, and some public feedback received outside of the formal consultation process.

The report was great, and showed broad general support for the direction of the OCP, and also pointed out that OCP consultations in New West suffer from a common problem: there is a general underrepresentation of people under 35, renters, young families – just the kind of people we recognized as being most in need of more affordable and more diverse housing choices. Still, the overall message in this last round is clear: we need to provide more housing choice and are either on track, or slightly behind, where we need to be when it comes to accommodating family-friendly housing

This is why I have concerns about the changes proposed in this report (as I did about the changes on Fifth Street). These changes take away those things we need the most: flexibility in housing forms in family-friendly neighbourhoods, and potential for increased affordability in those neighbourhoods. For these reasons, I proposed instead designating these areas Residential Ground Oriented. This would allow the maximum flexibility for current landowners, and provide the most potential for sensitive lower density infill like laneway houses, cluster houses, and small townhouse developments. I appreciate the feedback from the residents, and think Ground-Oriented best represents the balance between allowing flexibility for current owners and still providing impetus towards greater housing choice.

The majority of Council did not agree with me and the designation for the area was rolled back to Single Family Detached.

The OCP is an ongoing process, and we should see a Bylaw ready for Public Hearing by the end of summer.

We then went through our usual Bylaws shuffle:

Downtown New Westminster BIA Parcel Tax – Primary Area Bylaw No. 7911, 2017
Downtown New Westminster BIA Parcel Tax – Secondary Area Bylaw No. 7914, 2017
Uptown New Westminster BIA Parcel Tax Bylaw No. 7912, 2107

These three bylaws that allow us to collect taxes on behalf od the three BIAs was given three readings.

Tax Rates Bylaw No. 7913, 2017
This bylaw that formalized the 2017 property tax rates for the city was given three readings.

Council – April 10, 2017

We had a long night on April 10th, as often happens when we have open delegations on an important issue like the Heritage Conservation Area for the Queens Park.

For some of us on Council, we started at 8:30 in the morning with a Canada Games Task Force meeting, so this Monday was spectacularly long. Recognizing that there were ~30 delegates, Council for the most part avoided getting into long discussions with delegates, even to the point where we left some questions hanging somewhat – but we do that to assure everyone gets a chance to speak before midnight. As the two topics of most concern (the OCP and the plan for creating a Heritage conservation area in Queens Park) will both be going to Public Hearing, and there are conversations ahead about that, please don’t take our lack of conversation as a lack of interest in the presentations!

We started the evening with our annual signing of the Parcel Tax Roll:

Parcel Tax Roll
There are a number of properties in the City that pay a little extra tax than everyone else, through the Parcel Tax System, These are members of the Business Improvement Areas (for whom we collect a tax, then turn it back over to the BIA so they can use it to fund their business development and support programs) and some special assessment areas, where neighbours have requested some works and were willing to pay for that specific works (like enclosing a drainage ditch in Queensborough). These are all voluntary programs decided by a special vote of the neighbourhoods.

Every year we need to officially list the impacted properties and let them know what their special charge is, and this provides them, Council, and the general community an opportunity to make any corrections or alterations of the roll. We received no complaints of comments from the impacted property owners this year, or from the general public. So the roll was passed without much fanfare.

Then we began our regular meeting, which started with presentation of the Heritage Week poster contest winners (arguably the cutest Council Meeting of the year) before we got down to business. The following items were Moved on Consent:

Official Community Plan: Draft Development Permit Areas and Design Guidelines
As part of the ongoing OCP work, staff and our external consultants have been working on draft Design Guidelines to inform how the development of new buildings in the City will fit into the existing neighbourhoods. Development Permit Areas are tools Cities can use to facilitate and/or restrict the shape, form, and character of buildings within those areas. There are examples in this report of proposed guidelines for multi-family residential forms in the Brow of the Hill and Sapperton that are lower density than high-rise or even medium-rise buildings, there are examples from employment lands, and a discussion of how development around the Brunette River will meet the requirements of the provincial Riparian Areas Regulations.

There is a lot to chew on here, and the detailed report (the draft form of which I liked to above) is pretty complex. From here, it will go to the Advisory Panning Commission, and will be wrapped up in the bigger OCP Public Hearing process. Council moved to support this path forward.

425 Columbia Street (Columbia SkyTrain Station): Construction Noise Bylaw No. 6063, 1992 – Request for Exemption by TransLink and 200 to 700 Block Columbia Street and Front Street: Construction Noise Bylaw No. 6063, 1992 – Request for Exemption by Metro Vancouver and 1400 to 1500 Block Stewardson Way and the intersection at River Drive and Stewardson Way: Construction Noise Bylaw No. 6063, 1992 – Request for Exemption by Metro Vancouver
All three of these are applications to do work outside of regular banker hours that will require some noisy equipment. The first because you can’t work in the SkyTrain guideway while trains are going by, the second is sewer work that needs to be done on Sunday night, because that when sewer loads are low enough, the third is being scheduled to reduce traffic flow impacts on Stewardson Way. Council approved all three.

809 Fourth Avenue: Application for Strata Title Conversion
This unique development on 8th Street at Fourth Avenue preserved three heritage homes by moving them over a bit, and built a multi-family mid-rise next door, with shared underground parking for all of them. The intent all along was to operate the three houses as Strata ownership, which requires this application process.

Asset Management Strategy Update
The City has more than $1Billion in physical assets like pipes in the ground, street signs, vehicles, buildings, etc. They are all depreciating, and will all need to be replaced or renewed eventually, some long after they have depreciated to “zero value” on paper, some at accelerated rates due to heavy use, obsolescence, or changing needs in the community. We are required to cost that depreciation as part of Public Service Accounting Board standards, but like all governments, there are still some areas where we are reactive to replacing infrastructure (find ways to pay for it when we need it) as opposed to proactive (planning ahead for when assets need to be replaced). Council has identified an Asset Management Plan as one of our priorities. This report is staff giving us a framework on how they are going to achieve that goal.

It is no secret that New West has a bit of an infrastructure deficit: our infrastructure is aging faster than we are replacing it. However, this is true for pretty much every city in Canada, and comparatively, we are actually far ahead of the average or median Local Government. This is due in part to our being a compact city (avoiding the externalized costs of sprawl) and because density increases have allowed us to invest in new infrastructure required to facilitate that growth. Still, a fully integrated Asset Management Program should help future councils better plan and adapt for the changing needs of the City.

This isn’t sexy work, and it is hard to cut a ribbon on an Asset Management Strategy, but the City will be stronger and more sustainable in the future for us doing this work now.

2017 Spring Freshet and Snow Pack Level
Surprisingly, it still looks like snowpack levels across the province are around or below average this year, so the risk of flooding related to the Spring Freshet remains low. Snowpack is only one measure of flood risk – a long cold spring that preserves that snow followed by sudden warming and rains that accelerate melt can still cause problems, but all things being equal, we are less worried this year than in some others.

Environment Advisory Committee (EAC): Master Recycler Pilot Program
The EAC is recommending Council ask staff to support this program, which trains people in multi-family housing to be “recycling champions” in their strata or rental complex. Recycling rates in multi-family housing lags behind that in single detached households, and this type of education program has proven successful in other jurisdictions. The small cost ($3,000) of supporting this program can be absorbed in our solid waste budget, and should result in higher rates of recycling, eventually reducing our solid waste costs. Council moved to support the program.

Railway Community Advisory Panel: Regional Railway Inclusion in Brunette Avenue Interchange Discussions
The RCAP recognizes the City and Railways should be working together to address issues that impact both of our operations, and the potential Brunette Interchange project definitely falls under this category.

The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

Community Garden at City Hall
A simple request by an established community group (full disclosure – one I used to be the President of!) to place community gardens on the expansive green space in front of City Hall has expanded somewhat.

Staff made the reasonably point that gardens placed in such a high-profile location need to be well designed as they will, like it or not, represent a bit of the “Face” of the City. They have come up with a clever design that works well with the natural slope of the land, and will integrate with some further planned improvements in the area.

There are actually two things going on here – the Community Garden being developed by the NWEP and managed in partnership with the New Westminster Community Gardens Society, for which the NWEP is fundraising and developing, and the park improvements that City has decided to do to support and enhance the Community Garden and City Hall Lawn. Council has already voted to support the former, and this report more addresses how we will make the latter happen.

12 K de K Court Boulevard Trees
This report resulted from a request to remove or otherwise manage trees that are planted in a location that negatively impacts their views. The initial request was for the City to remove or replace the trees, and this obviously raised concerns related to our newly-adopted Urban Forest Management Strategy. Staff has worked with the residents to develop a pruning schedule that can address the resident’s concerns without risking the health and vitality of the trees.

We then had a long Public Delegation and Presentations part of the meeting is not something I usually report on here, as they rarely result in us making big decisions, but rather guide future decisions (which I will report on then). I will say that the topics of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations and Heritage Conservation Area are both creating a buzz in the community, I will be blogging about them separately very soon.

We then addressed a couple of Regular Agenda, items:

Queen’s Park Heritage Conservation Area: Round 2 Public Consultation – Report Back
The conversation here is clearly moving to the next phase, as several months of work in developing guidelines and potential policy directions (based on earlier phases of consultation with stakeholders, the public, and Council) were sent out ot the greater community for feedback. Invitations to the open houses were mailed directly to every household in the Queen’s Park neighbourhood, including links to the online survey, and based on the large number of e-mails in my inbox (both in favour and expressing concern for the draft regulations), a large number of people are paying attention.

Again, I am going to have to hold off on a lot of discussion of this until the Public Hearing, but I do want to encourage people to talk to their neighbours, to get informed, and to let Council know how you feel about the regulations as drafted. This has been a long process over the last couple of years for the citizen Working Group and more than 20 years for heritage advocates in Queens Park. There are Heritage Conservation Areas in many jurisdictions in BC, some more successful than others in balancing the desire for heritage protection with the need to accommodate growth and change.

Demolition of the Pattullo Bridge
It has been discussed before, and will be again, I’m sure, but the topic of what happens to the existing Pattullo Bridge when a replacement is built is not something the City has much control over. TransLink has been pretty clear that the bridge is nearing the end of its useful life, including the underpinnings and foundations, and removal of those pillars from the river is probably required.

That said, I could dream is the City retaining parts of the bridge that are self-supporting and over City lands to create a type of elevated platform or park. These conversations have begun, but it is way to early to say if this is a viable plan. Stay tuned.

Ask Pat: Medicine Hat

Alice asks—

Is there any reason the Medicine Hat approach of reducing Homelessness in their city can’t be applied to New Westminster? I know it has been said senior gov’t needs to step up but the Medicine Hat strategy involved very little additional funding from senior gov’t. Their population and homeless population appear to be in line with New West.

This is one of the areas of the City’s operations where I have had to climb a pretty steep learning curve. We have Councillors and a Mayor with much more knowledge of this than I do (and some pretty stellar staff, as a bonus), but I’ll take a dive at answering this with that caveat in mind, and keep myself open to correction from those with more knowledge.

Essentially, the Medicine Hat model is based on “housing first” – the idea that if we can first get homeless people into shelter, regardless of how temporary it is, we can get them services they need and start the process of moving them to more permanent and sustainable housing options, and (this is the bigger hope) access to services to help them manage the underlying cause of most homelessness – disabilities, trauma, exploitation, and mental health concerns including addiction. This has been standard operating procedure in New Westminster for a decade or more. So why is Medicine Hat different?

Medicine Hat is a rural community, so it’s 61,000 residents are surrounded by farms and wilderness. New Westminster’s 70,000 people are in the middle of an urban population of 2,500,000 people. New Westminster needs to work along with its neighbours and operate within that reality. That is both an advantage to New Westminster, and a disadvantage.

In Medicine Hat, the most recent homeless count put their numbers at about half the average of the province of Alberta on a per-capita basis. The numbers provided in 2016 news stories estimate there were 875 people moved to supportive housing over the six years of their aggressive program – one for every 70 residents. Extrapolate that to Greater Vancouver, and we would need to facilitate 36,000 supportive housing units in the same period – 6,000 per year. To make this work, the Medicine Hat Community Housing Society received $3.9 million from the province of Alberta (plus about 10% that amount from a combination of the federal and local governments). It is clear the province of Alberta, even during difficult financial times, fulfilled their constitutional responsibility to provide housing. Extrapolate that to the Lower Mainland, and this becomes another boring post about lack of Provincial resources and the terrible priorities of the BC Liberals…

However, there is a persistent problem we have in the Lower Mainland that makes us stand out, and with which “Housing First” is of limited help: the flow of people being forced into homelessness by our out-of-scale housing costs, the erosion of our housing support programs (including the Co-op Housing model), lack of resources for people at risk (aging out of care, coming out of incarceration, or leaving protracted medical care), and our ongoing lack of rental vacancy. To avail oneself of “Housing First” assistance in BC, one first has to be homeless, which is like addressing gun violence by buying bandages: it has a value and is measurably effective, but does not address the source of the problem. This is a terrible way to organize public resources, but more importantly, it completely dehumanizes of the actual problem.

Which brings me back to the Medicine Hat miracle I keep reading about in the news. Considering it is not particularly groundbreaking in approach, and aside from the resources put into it, it’s success is not outstanding compared to many municipalities (including New Westminster), I wonder about the narrative of its success. I do not want to take even the tiniest bit of credit away from the City, the not-for-profits, or programmers (paid and volunteer) who put their lives work into helping less fortunate people, but there is a part this makes me twitchy.

Google any story of the Medicine Hat Homelessness approach, and you hear some version of the same narrative: how the “fiscally conservative” Mayor was convinced to support the program, because it turns out paying to put people in housing saves the City and the Province money in the long run. Now, this is true; so well established it isn’t even a point of debate, but quotes likes this fire my cynicism gland:

“It makes financial sense. That’s how I had my epiphany and was converted. You can actually save money by giving somebody some dignity and giving them a place to live.” – Mayor Clugston

The fact that a leader describes his decision to provide basic human dignity to marginalized residents of his community in terms of its ability to turn fiscal profit is abhorrent to the way I view governance and society. Maybe he is just saying that to keep the Randian libertarians in his town off of his ass, or perhaps it speaks deeply of the state of western Canadian politics and the erosive influence of Calgary School neo-liberal fiscal policy projected by “Think Tanks” like the Fraser Institute on governments at all levels… I’m about to go on a long rant here, so perhaps I will save that for a future blog post… but this economically-driven “come-to-Jesus moment” narrative sound more like cowardice than visionary leadership to me.

Short version is we, in New Westminster, are regional leaders in providing housing support to our homeless residents, and I will hold our success up against Medicine Hat’s any day (not that this is a contest – when it comes to supporting marginalized populations in this country, we are all losing). New West is forging partnerships with senior governments and investing in supportive housing, and we are providing City lands to develop innovative housing solutions. We have incredible staff and NWPD liaisons partnering with an amazing suite of not-for-profit agencies to address the multiple causes of (and solutions to) homelessness at a person-to-person level. We did this before it was sexy, and perhaps we don’t brag enough about it. More importantly, I would like to think we do it not becasue of some fiscal bottom line calculation, but because homeless people in New Westminster are citizens of New Westminster, who deserve representation for their elected officials, and should have the same access to support, dignity, and opportunity as everyone else.

Council: March 27, 2017

Our post-Spring Break council meeting featured a Public Hearing and an interesting afternoon workshop, if you are one of those freaks for whom Council Workshops on infill density guidelines informing Official Community Plans are “interesting” (if they are, you should either go to planning school and get it over with, or watch the video here to get your fix).

The Public Hearing concerned two projects:

260 Twelfth Street Zoning Amendment (Calvary Worship Centre and John Knox School) Bylaw No. 7905, 2017
This project will replace a recently-demolished small church at the corner of 12th street and Third Ave with a larger building to house a private Christian high school. We received a number of submissions in favour of the project (mostly, if not all, parents attached to the school), and a few submissions in opposition.

The project meets the Official Community Plan designation for the site, and the objectives of the Lower 12th Community Plan objectives. The density is a little higher than zoning, but the land use and other aspects of the development are within the intended zoned use. The Advisory Planning Commission and Design Panel approved of the project, and no major concerns were raised by the residents association.

There were some concerns, mostly from adjacent car dealers, about what the project will mean to the number of cars parking and driving in the area (read that sentence again), however the parking and drop off provisions for the school are well within what we should expect for the use, and the School has a pretty aggressive Transportation Demand Management program to get students out of cars. This brought me to suggest that the ACTBiPed might want to review the surrounding bike and pedestrian safety (working with our staff, of course) and make recommendations to Council if there are any changes required to assure the City is doing what it can to promote active transportation by the students.

I’ve said it before, I am no fan of private or religious schools, because I think the potential erosive influence they have on community is greater than the benefits they provide the small portion of the population who are able to use their services, but it isn’t my job as a City Councillor to set provincial education policy. My job in an application like this is to help the community regulate land use through policy. This project meets the stated policies the City has established over a decade or more, so I had no compelling reason to oppose the project.

Council moved to refer the project to Regular Council, where we voted unanimously to give the proposal Third Reading.

43 Hastings Street Zoning Amendment Bylaw (Hastings Street Unzoned Right of Way) No. 7899, 2017
This is a zoning amendment to support apply a zoning designation to an undeveloped piece of road, which will be amalgamated with and adjacent lot to support an affordable housing project. No written submissions were received, but we had one resident come to ask a few questions. As her questions were related more to the housing project (which will go through its own public process), her questions were answered as far as we could at this time, but that is a separate discussion.

Council move to refer to Regular Meeting, where we moved unanimously to adopt the zoning amendment Bylaw.

This brought us to our Regular Meeting, where following the votes on the above projects, we launched into Opportunities to be Heard on three separate variance requests:

43 Hastings Street Road Closure and Dedication Removal Bylaw No. 7898, 2017
This is the actual street closure and dedication of that unopened road to support the affordable housing project above. We received no submissions, written or otherwise, and approved the road closure bylaw.

700 Royal Avenue (Douglas College): Development Variance Permit No. DVP00623 to vary Sign Bylaw requirements
Douglas College wants to modernize the signage on the side of their campus at Royal Ave and 8th Street. The site is a little outside what would typically fit into our Sign Bylaw, so they are asking for a variance to make the sign large enough to be visible and to scale with the wall upon which it will appear. The design is relatively understated (black sans-serif font), and only lighted from wall wash lights.

We received four letters in opposition to this variance, but they strangely didn’t have much to say about Douglas College or the sign itself. They all had a common theme around managing truck traffic on Royal Ave, and I couldn’t find a way to connect their concerns to this sign bylaw variance.

Council moved to approve the variance.

350 Johnston Street: Development Variance Permit No. DVP00621 for Frontage
This is yet another one of those variances related to the rule that a building lot frontage must represent more than 10% of the circumference of the lot – or a rectangular lot can only be 4x as deep as it is wide. For a few spots, typically in Queensborough, the lots are very deep and subdivisions that would normally be fine anywhere else break this rule, necessitating the variance.

We receive no submission for or against this variance, and Council voted to approve it.

We then went into a couple of Reports for Action:

813 Carnarvon Street: Rezoning to Allow a 245 Unit Residential development – Preliminary Report
This is a preliminary report for a proposed development downtown which has yet to go to public consultation, panel reviews, etc., and will end up at a Public Hearing, so I am holding off much commenting on the design or scale of the project for now. The amenity they wish to build (non-market secured rental for retired artists from the performance arts community) is interesting.

Ultimately, we were asked to provide some preliminary guidance to staff towards areas not well defined by existing policy – whether Family Friendly Housing criteria should be applied to all housing, including non-market secured rental provided as an amenity (I argued yes, it should), and how we determine what the amenity value of extra density is on this site. Kinda inside baseball, but rather important as a precedent for how we manage these projects in the future.

This project will be going out to public consultation, watch for an Open House near you!

2017 City Partnership Grant – Appeal from Rivershed Society of BC
The Rivershead Society have an annual event on the waterfront in September, coinciding with their AGM. They applied for a grant and were turned down by our Partnership Review Panel as they had used up all of their budget and this project was not placed high enough in the priority list. They appealed to Council, and we voted (in a split vote, me against) to fund them anyway.

The following items were moved On Consent:

518 Ewen Avenue: Proposed Rezoning from (C-1) to (RQ-1) to Permit Construction of a Single Detached Dwelling – Updated Application for Consideration of Public Hearing
This rezoning request to permit a single family home in Queensborough has been through a long process, and is now off to a Public Hearing in April. I will hold off further comments until then.

1002, 1012, 1016 and 1020 Auckland Street: Rezoning from Light Industrial Mixed Use Districts (M-5) to Comprehensive Development Districts (1002 Auckland Street) (CD-69) – Bylaw for Consideration of First and Second Readings
This rezoning to support a mutli-family development on the steep part of the Brow of the Hill is also going to a Public Hearing in April, so I will hold off comments until then.

Inclusion BC letter received February 17, 2017 regarding the first ever Disability Pride celebration and parade and requesting a contribution
Inclusion BC is based in New Westminster, and is working on a project to bring attention to access issues across BC. Council referred this request for funding to staff.

The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

330 East Columbia Street (Royal Columbian Hospital) Development Variance Permit No. DVP00624 – Consideration of Issuance
The expansion of RCH is going to result in a lot of permitting and other requirements from the City. We have every reason to help facilitate this, as RCH is out largest employer and a significant part of our long-term planning for Sapperton, but we also have to assure we do proper reviews of the permits and plans to assure community interest is protected.

This DVP will support the design of the first building in the RCH expansion by allowing two small intrusions into setback areas on the west and north sides of the building. The intrusions are small, and integral to the design of the building, so I don’t think there is a large concern here.

I have some concerns about the Brunette Ave side of the building, as we have received two views of what that facia will look like – both contradictory. It will wither be a treed boulevard with sidewalk, or a parking spot for trucks dropping occasional fuel deliveries to the Hospital. I’m curious how these two uses are considered compatible – removable trees?

328 Second Street: Heritage Alteration Permit No. 084 to Build a New House in Queen’s Park – Consideration of Issuance
The HCA process is proceeding in Queens Park, and we are still operating under the temporary Heritage Conservation Period. We have turned down a couple of demolition permits (and have supported a couple), but the Heritage Protection measures also include guidelines to assure new builds are complimentary to the heritage landscape of the neighbourhood. This is the first application we have had that is testing the limits to how those guidelines will be tested.

The house is generally complimentary to heritage character in its massing and form, but the Technical Review Panel and staff expressed concern about the design having two garage doors facing the street, which is not typical of the street or of the Craftsman style, and has implications for the boulevard and street trees that are not in conformance with the existing standards for Second Street.

Council voted unanimously (Mayor Cote recused) to support the staff recommendation that the HAP not be supported, meaning that the architect will need to work with staff to adapt the design to better fit the guidelines.

Walk New West Initiative
The City is working with a residents group called The Walkers Caucus to promote walking in April and May – leading up to Jane’s Walks. One initiative is walkers challenge, where teams will keep track of their steps and miles walked and compete for some fun prizes and bragging rights.

I challenged the members of ACTBiPed to start a team, and it filled so fast I was not able to join a team, so I instead decided to put together a team of Council members – and we will set as our goal, more steps than the ACTBiPed!

If you have a community group, business, not-for-profit, neighbourhood or group of friends who might want to get a little fitter and set some goals for walking in the City, with a chance to get some prizes and motivation, you should sign up here!

12 K de K Court Boulevard Trees
Council Watchers may remember a group came to ask that the City trees on a stretch of the Quayside boardwalk be removed and replaced with smaller trees, as the trees that are currently there are much larger than anticipated when they were put in a decade ago.

I cannot support removing trees to protect views, at a philosophical level. It is 2017, and we have a newly adopted Urban Forest Management Strategy. There may have been some decisions made in the past by staff or council that need to be reviewed in light of this new era – we have not had the time to create new policies and directions for staff under the UFMS, but I can assure you “not cutting trees down to protect resident views” is one of those policies that will be seen as a reasonable response to a strategy designed to reduce the loss of trees.

I’m glad that staff has found a pruning solution that may keep trees closer to the scale that was originally envisioned to meet the aesthetic values of the neighbourhood, without threatening the health of the trees themselves or the cost and risk of relocation.

Finally, we launched into the always-popular Bylaws part of the meeting:

Zoning Amendment (1002 Auckland Street) Bylaw No. 7907, 2017
This zoning amendment to support the multi-family development in the Brow of the Hill was given two readings. This project will be going to public hearing on April 24. C’mon out and tell us what you think.

Heritage Revitalization Agreement (720 Second Street) Bylaw No. 7887, 2017
Council resolved to exempt the new parcels created from 720 Second Street from the statutory minimum frontage requirements set out in section 512 of the Local Government Act (that is, their frontage will be less than 105% of their circumference)

Heritage Revitalization Agreement (720 Second Street) Bylaw No. 7887, 2017 & Heritage Designation (720 Second Street) Bylaw No. 7888, 2017
This Bylaw to permit the subdivision of a lot in Glenbrook North to support the restoration of a commercial building and building of a new house as was discussed a the Public Hearing on February 20, is now adopted. It’s the Law of the Land.

Housing Agreement (295 Francis Way – Affordable Non-Market) Amendment Bylaw No. 7910, 2017 & Housing Agreement (295 Francis Way – Market Rental) Bylaw No. 7909, 2017
These agreements to support secured market and secured non-market rental use for a multi-family development in Victoria Hill, as discussed at the March 6th Council meeting, were Adopted. They are no the law of the land.

Subdivision Control Amendment Bylaw No. 7908, 2017
This Bylaw update that regulates lighting design standards for the City was Adopted. Justice (and pedestrians) should no longer be blind.

And with that we wrapped.

Ask Pat: Taxes – the western suburbs edition

westvandude asks—

I read your property tax comparison article as I was looking to compare West Vancouver to City of Vancouver taxes. For instance if we say what is the total tax paid on a $2.5 or $3 million house in either community (so property tax, garbage, sewer, water, etc) as I always thought City of Vancouver was more expensive…. when you compare Vancouver streets potholes and snow removal it seems Vancouverites are getting ripped off. Where would I find a comparison for total taxes for same value houses?

Hey, wait, this isn’t a New West question! It also sounds like you want me to answer one of those questions that a few minutes on Google could answer. That link I just used is a little old, but fresher information is pretty easy to find. For example:

Go to the City of Vancouver Property Taxes webpage, and it gives you a pretty good summary of what your Mil Rates are, and where they go:


Unfortunately, no such page exists that I can find on the West Vancouver property taxes webpage.


To find the Mil Rates, you need to dig a bit through the Bylaws until you come upon Bylaw No. 4885, 2016, where the Mil Rates Rates are set out:


If we can ignore Metro, School, and other property taxes that don’t go to the City and are set provincially or regionally, on a house assessed at $2.5 Million in 2016, you paid $3,700 to West Vancouver (2.5M/1,000 x 1.4758), and $3,900 to Vancouver (2.5/1,000 x 1.56168). Of course, we also have to, just for a moment, put aside the absurdity of the phrase “$2.5 Million house in West Vancouver”.

Utilities are more complicated. West Van charges Quarterly for water and sewer. Water has a $60/qtr base charge, and rates that go from $1.15 to $1.93 per cubic metre of water depending on how much you use. Sewerage further costs you $32/qtr plus another $2 per cubic metre of water you use.

Vancouver bills for water on a Ternary basis, with about a $31 base charge, and rates that go from $0.95 to $1.20 per cubic metre of water based on season. Sewage costs a further $0.87 per cubic metre of water use. So it sure looks like for most users, Vancouver water rates are quite a bit lower, but it depends completely on your use. If you have typical household use, Vancouver is several hundred dollars cheaper per year.

Notably, West Vancouver charges homeowners a “Drainage Levy”, which is $400 per year for a typical home. Vancouver does not have a charge like this. That extra $400 charge easily exceeds the difference in property taxes between the Cities. And also points out how the deeper you dig into the comparisons between how different cities pay for their public services, you discover that simply saying “Vancouver has higher taxes than West Vancouver” is a bit of a meaningless phrase. This is why I tried to compare what cities collect in taxes per capita, using data normalized a bit by the provincial government. West Van looks pretty expensive when you look at it that way.

Finally, about the roads and pothole thing, you can look at the 2016 West Van budget, and see they have about $100M in revenue every year, and spend about $4.5M on all engineering services (about 2/3 of that spent on roads). Vancouver’s 2016 Budget showed $1,260 Million in revenue and spending of about $75 Million in all engineering services – so about a 33% higher proportion of revenues. Of course, the roads that Vancouver spends money fixing are way more likely to be used regularly by a West Vancouver resident than vice versa. Also note that Vancouver has (almost) the most roads by area and the most road lane kilometres per capita than any City in British Columbia, where West Vancouver has relatively sparse roads. So we are, once again, comparing apples to pineapples here.

New West taxes? We are about average per-household in the region, and are well below average on a per-capita basis. And the potholes this year are terrible, despite the $4.5 Million spent on asphalt annually. That December snow event was pretty hard on asphalt, and that is going to cost us.

Ask Pat: Anvils and elephants

Duke of Belyea asks—

Hi Pat, perhaps the notion of the Anvil Center being a white elephant could be dispelled if you or the City could show the actual revenue/expense numbers for the facility.

First, on the premise, I disagree with you. Second, on the solution, I wish it was that simple.

I do not think critics of the Anvil Centre (or indeed critics of Council) will ever be convinced that it is anything but a white elephant. Specific residents of Coquitlam will write occasional long-winded factually-challenged screeds to the Record for some time, using the Anvil as an example of New Westminster’s failures, regardless of any success seen around or within the Anvil. That is just political bullshit theatre we need to live with, and facts will not change it, because the Anvil is more than building, it is a totem around which previous elections were fought and lost. Some people never stop fighting yesterday’s battles.

The premise further relies on measuring the success or failure of Anvil on a balance sheet of effort-in & revenue-out. I simply don’t see it that way. To explain that, we need to clarify what the Anvil is, and what a City does.

For one building, The Anvil Centre has purposes to fill a long paragraph (noting, for full disclosure, that I was not on Council when these conversations and decisions were made):

The Office Tower was conceived as an economic driver for Downtown, but since the City sold it off for more than it cost to build (success?), the City no longer had much say in how it is operated. The owners have every right to set their rent and manage their incentives any way they see fit, regardless of whether it serves the larger purposes of the City. The restaurant space is finally leased, and although later than we may have liked, I think we will have an operating restaurant that fills a niche in the City, brings attention to Columbia and 8th, and becomes a revenue driver for the City. I’m not sure how you measure the success of the shift of the Museum, Archives, and Lacrosse Hall of Fame to this venue. They have been relocated from various other locations to a central cultural hub, which also freed up space in those other venues. The New Media Gallery has quickly become one of the region’s most important artistic venues, drawing visitors and raves from around the region. Conference services are on or ahead of target for bookings and revenues, the program at the Theatre is (slowly) coming along, and the numerous arts and culture programs on the 4th floor are similarly starting to fulfill the original vision for activating the Arts in our City. All of these tangible purposes are wrapped up in the larger benefit of turning a windfall (the DAC funding) into a community asset to replace a failing retail strip at the renewed gateway to our central business district.

This brings us to your solution to the inevitable political push-back: a simple spreadsheet that outlines the costs and recoveries from the Anvil. I suppose it is doable, as the City’s Financial Plan and backing documents are openly reported, and every input and output is buried in those spreadsheets somewhere. But it would be really complicated, simply because the Anvil is not a single entity operating separate from the rest of the City.

The museum and archives have always cost money to operate; moving them to the Anvil doesn’t change that. The old Hall of Fame site is now home to a very popular and revenue-generating recreation program: is that success part of the Anvil, though it is located at the Centennial Community Centre? The City’s Arts Programmer works out of the Anvil, but also administers the City’s Public Art program, which is funded through a combination of fees, sales revenues, and taxes – how does that balance sheet overlap with Anvil’s? Even the Conference Services, which are a revenue-generation aspect of the Anvil, share resources with other departments (especially the theatre and our catering contractor), and rely on an integrated operation to be successful. There are staff who spend part of their time doing Anvil-related things, and part of their time working at other facilities, just as the toilet paper and photocopier toner at Anvil are bought as part of City-wide operations. The tax revenue for the office tower is higher than it was when the space was a one-story retail space, but that tax enters general revenue, and needs to be measured against opportunity cost if a private developer had taken over that site… the list goes on.

I guess it sounds like I am creating a list of excuses of why not, instead of addressing your original concern. Lyrical gentlemen from Coquitlam will accuse me of “spinning” the facts here for political reasons – the same way they would accuse any spreadsheet produced of doing the same thing. So if you want a spreadsheet to solve a political problem, I suggest it won’t work. So why spend valuable staff time producing it?

I tend to agree with one idea buried in your premise, and maybe an answer to that last question: we need to find a better way to share our financial information in the City. Although all reporting is “open”, I am afraid our efforts towards “transparency” is a little clouded by the complicated way that Public Service Accounting Standards are regulated and performed. Even as a City Councillor exposed to this stuff all day, I am sometimes challenged to create connections between line items in spreadsheets. There is a lot of Accountant Talk here, and with all due respect to the profession, they are no better than others at explaining to lay people just what the hell they are doing. I’m not sure what the answer is from a public engagement viewpoint, but suspect (hope?) we can do better. I’m just not sure it will ever be enough to satisfy some Letter-to-the-Editor authors, and maybe that shouldn’t be our goal. However, we do need to find ways to translate our financial reporting so residents and businesses can be confident that their money is being spent wisely.

I am pretty sure of one thing: any honest accounting would reveal the City spends more money on operations at the Anvil than it receives in revenue from Anvil operations. Just as it spends more money on the Canada Games Pool than revenue earned, or the all-weather playing field at Queens Park, or the Queensborough Community Centre, or the Library. I suppose there is a discussion that could be had about which of these operations community assets would need to show a financial profit to be considered “successful” in the City, but I don’t think that is where you were going with this question.

I also think there are improvements we can do to make Anvil run better, especially in opening up the first floor to more public use and making the entire centre more inviting. That is an ongoing discussion, and one very much worth having.

Council – March 6, 2017

We had quite a long agenda on the March 6th Council Meeting, although a large number of items on that agenda went by on Consent. It is worth looking at least at the table of contents to see all the things we *didn’t* talk about.

The evening began with two very made-in-New Westminster events: the selection of the 2017 May Queen and Royal Suite, then a discussion of design guidelines for the proposed Queens Park Heritage Conservation Area, which will be going to public consultation, so I won’t go through them here.

The following items were moved on Consent:

City of New Westminster Public Art Plan Development
The City has a nascent Public Art program, funded through a reserve fund, overseen by a Public Art Advisory Committee, and has become more sophisticated in how it manages the role of introducing art to our public spaces. However, we don’t have a well-developed plan or strategy to look at the program holistically, which limits us to ad-hoc decision making when it comes to installing pieces.

Council approved the plan to develop a Public Art Plan for the City to synchronize it with the broader Art Strategy for the City.

Request from Hyack Festival Association to re-allocate 2017 Festival Grant funding awarded for Hyack Grand Prix to 2017 Parade Float
The Hyack Festival Association is working through some of the details of their evolving festival in May, and have come up with some interesting events to bolster their work on the Hyack Parade and all of Hyack Week. As they are pushing their envelope a little bit to make the week better for the community, I am happy to give them the flexibility to adjust how they use the funds granted to them under the Festival Grants to make everything work better. Notably, they expect to save some money on a slightly stripped-down Hyack Grand Prix event, and re-allocate it to the Parade and Float program. This is not an expansion of their Grant or an exceedance of the Festival Grant budget, but a shifting between events.

Community Heritage Commission Resignation and Appointment
The CHC changed meeting schedules, and as a result one member was no longer able to serve due to conflicts. Another applicant from the 2016 call has therefore been asked to step in. Council moved to appoint Lynn (2015 New Westminster Citizen of the Year) Radbourne to the CHC.

Moody Park Residents’ Association Representative on the Neighbourhood Traffic Advisory Committee
The NTAC is a different kind of Council Advisory Committee, as it is comprised of appointees from the City’s 10 Residents’ Associations and the Quayside Community Board. Council does, however, need to approve the appointee offered by the RA, which we just did for the Moody Park RA representative.

Restorative Justice Committee Amendment to Terms of Reference
DoneThe Terms of this Council Advisory committee was amended to include a space for a representative of the New Westminster Victim Assistance Association
Board. Makes sense.

1319 Third Avenue (Steel and Oak): Increase of Seating Capacity
This is part of a long process Steel & Oak has gone through to expand their business plan within the strange, new world of Craft Brewing in BC. The industry is exciting, although it does tend to run up against archaic rules and bureaucracy at every level of government – City not exempted. Part of this is puritan laws around alcohol production and sales, part of it is inflexible ideas in City Planning about separating “manufacturing” and “industry” from commercial and retail areas. Council moved to allow an expansion in their permit to allow 30 seats in their current space. I may have a whole lot more to say about this in a future blog post, if I find time to write it.

700 Royal Avenue (Douglas College): Development Variance Permit No. DVP00623 to vary Sign Bylaw requirements – Consideration of Issuance
Proposed new signage at Douglas College is completely in scale and compatible with their building, but does not meet the strict guidelines of our Sign Bylaw. Council therefore granted them a variance, recognizing they are not a “typical” building, and that their sign will not be obtrusive and is within the intent of the Bylaw, if not the strict letter.

100 Braid Street (466 Rousseau Street) Urban Academy: Development Permit – Consideration of Issuance
Urban Academy continues on its long journey to design a new building to provide long-term sustainability to their school.

As far as zoning and land use requirements, the proposed building meets all of the permitted uses, density, height, etc., which may not be surprising as those limits were developed as part of the OCP amendment and Rezoning specifically for this plan. It is good to know that the detailed design is worked out, and the Public Consultation was generally supportive of the project, at least through a well-attended Residents’ Association meeting. Perhaps surprisingly, the Public Open House, which was advertised with two ads in the newspaper, on the City website, at the school site, through the RA mailing list, and through mailing our advisory flyers to 850 residences in Sapperton, attracted exactly one resident.

Council moved to issue the Development Permit application.

425 Columbia Street (Columbia SkyTrain Station): Construction Noise Bylaw No. 6063, 1992 – Request for Exemption
The good news: you may soon have cellular access in Columbia SkyTrain Station and the tunnel parts of the SkyTrain through New West. The bad news: the bulk of the installation work will need to happen at night while trains are not running, meaning a bit of night-time construction noise.

Council moved to approve a Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption to facilitate these works between March 8 and 24, on the condition that notices are posted at the adjacent residential buildings with contact numbers.

295 Francis Way (Parcel O): Housing Agreement (295 Francis Way) Bylaw No. 7909, 2017 and 
Housing Agreement (295 Francis Way) Amendment Bylaw No. 7910, 2017
The project at 294 Francis Way in Victoria Hill is a 5-story residential building where the developer has agreed to build dedicated and permanently protected rental. Aside from the 85 “Market Rental” suites in the building (where rents are rented for whatever value the market will bear), there are 100 suites that are “Non-Market” Rental – housing offered at below –market rates to protect an affordable housing stock. The two housing agreements that would secure these statuses were approved for third reading by Council.

East Tenth Avenue at Cumberland and Coquitlam Street Intersections (Metro Vancouver Regional District Watermain Project): Construction Noise Bylaw No. 6063, 1992 – Request for Exemption
The good news: we are connecting our new Tenth Ave water main into the Douglas Road water main, meaning you will continue to receive clean, fresh, and safe water in New West through updated infrastructure. Bad News: there is a chance some of the work will stretch into the weekend of March 19th, meaning a bit of construction noise outside of permitted times. And yeah, there will be some traffic disruption as well.

Council moved to approve a Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption to facilitate these works on March 19th in case the work extends that long, on the condition that notices are provided to local residents.

Update on Improvements to the Rotary Crosstown Greenway (5th – 8th Street) for Walking and Cycling
This report is just to inform Council of some work that our Transportation staff have been doing in consultation with the ACTBiPed to improve an underwhelming stretch of the Crosstown Greenway. The part between Moody Park and an Fifth Street could be made a lot better, as there is a wide expanse of pavement, and very little car traffic other than access to local driveways for several buildings. The plan is to put in true separated bike lanes, which is actually the easy part. There is a bunch of complicated detail about how driveways will cross and what to do at intersections and with the problematic power poles that are actually in the street along part of the route.

The design that has been put together seems to balance many needs very well, and was generally supported by the ACTBiPed, however, the residents of the area are also going to be consulted. This report let Council know about the consultation.

Update on the Sapperton Transportation Plan
This is a big planning project the residents of Sapperton have been (mostly) patiently waiting for. Sapperton has required a comprehensive look at their various traffic and parking issues for a few years. With the RCH expansion project planned, initial stages of the Brewery District coming on line, the “temporary” diversion at Alberta Street, a significant collection of data, and the MOTI Brunette interchange project proposal, it is a good time to take a look at this. Early stakeholder and a first community meeting on the issues and concerns went great, with a “throw spaghetti at the wall” idea session, but the real work starts now. There will be another meeting on or around April 8 – keep an eye out.

Pedestrian Crossing Improvement Program
This report lists the priority pedestrian crossing program for 2017 and gives some idea of priority projects for 2018. One thing I am really proud of in my term on Council is the work our Engineering staff have done, led by our Transportation Manager and the Mayor’s Transportation Taskforce to *prioritize* transportation capital spending and to roll out rational improvement plans like this, based on the guidance of the Master Transportation Plan. $250,000 in 2017 to design and build tangible improvements to the pedestrian realm in our residential neighbourhoods, that’s a big deal for a small city like New West.

Hopefully your pet peeve crosswalk is on the list. If not, let us know, and we can add yours to the evaluation list for next year.

Temporary Relocation of Queen’s Park Arenex Programs and Services Update
The loss of the Arenex has been disruptive for the many programs it hosted, and our staff are working hard to find alternative arrangements for the users. This just brings an update on further programs that have found homes, and a few that have not.

This is probably also a good time to ask you to answer a quick survey question about the Arenex replacement. Go here, click., it literally takes 30 seconds to complete this simple survey.

260 Twelfth Street (Calvary Worship Centre and John Knox Christian School): Rezoning from Public and Institutional Districts (Medium Rise) (P-2) to Comprehensive Development Districts (260 Twelfth Street) (CD-68) – Bylaw for First and Second Readings
This is a report on a planned private school to be built on the current Calvary Worship Centre property on the corner of 3rd Ave and Twelfth Street. It is a pretty significant project for that neighbourhood, so you might want to take a look at this proposal. The project will go to Public Hearing on March 27, so I will hold my comments until then.

350 Johnston Street: Development Variance Permit No. DVP00621 for Frontage – Notice of Opportunity to be Heard
This is a relatively simple request to provide a Development Variance to allow the subdivision of a lot on Johnstone Street (no relation) in Queensborough. The lot here (like many in Queensborough) is longer than average, so subdivision means the front of the subdivided properties will not be the required 10% of circumference of the lots, necessitating the DVP. It will go to an Opportunity to be Heard on March 27th. C’mon out and tell us what you think.

408 – 412 East Columbia Street: Rezoning and Development Permit for Proposed Six-Storey Mixed-Use Retail, Office and Residential Rental Building – Preliminary Report
This project is for a 6-story building on a long-vacant lot on East Columbia in Sapperton, with a mix of commercial, office and residential space. This project is very early in the process, as this is the first time it has been in front of all of Council. There will be panel reviews, committee reviews, and full public consultation with the Residents’ Association and the entire community. Council moved to send it out for these various reviews. I am interested to see the community reaction to this proposal.

The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion at Council:

2017 Pavement Management Update
This winter was tough on our roads. No secret there, and there is a lot of that going around the lower mainland. New West has 227km of roads, and asset worth about $160 Million. This report provides some idea of what the medium-term maintenance costs are for maintenance and improvement of our roads. It isn’t pretty.

Up until about 2006, the City was underfunding its pavement maintenance program, allowing the roads to age and eventually degrade to a point that serious catch-up was required. Steady increases in the amount of road repair done in the intervening decade has seen some improvement (although it is the major roads where much of this work has been concentrated, the small residential streets have seen less improvement). Then a winter like this comes along, boosting the need for repairs to prevent further degradation of the substructure road base – like most things in life, a little repair now delays the need for expensive bottom-up replacement in upcoming years.

This is a good time to remind people that New Westminster has a disproportionately large amount of its land covered with roads when comparted to our municipal neighbours. Roads don’t pay taxes, and it takes a lot of your local tax dollars to repair them. Quick back-of the envelope estimate is that this plan means $65 per person in New West per year (or $170 per household) goes towards putting asphalt down and keeping it repaired.

This report was just for information, but the clear message is that the budget for road repairs is likely to be going up.

Amendment to Subdivision Control Bylaw Schedule “B” Design
Criteria Section 6 Lighting and Traffic Signals

This Bylaw regulates how lights are installed in the City when they are being installed by someone other than the City. When larger developments build in the City, we generally ask them to make the street and lighting improvements in front of their building as part of the project. With new technologies – notably the ubiquity of LED lights – some changes to our standards were needed. This Bylaw amendment will facilitate that update.

Access Ability Advisory Committee: Inclusion & Promotion of Accessibility Information at Public Events
This comes from work that the New West Pride Society did last year to assure the accessibility of their week-long festival and street fest. They did some amazing work as a group of community volunteers, performing accessibility audits of all two dozen or so of their event locations, trying to make them as accessible as possible, and more importantly – adding comprehensive accessibility information on all of their locations to all advertising and promotions for their event – so people who may have barriers know what to expect.

They really raised the bar on accessibility at their event, and hope that other organizations can use their database of location audits to also promote accessibility at their events. Actually, they are asking that the City make inclusion and promotion of accessibility a part of all public events the City either promotes or financially supports.

The recommendation from the Access Ability Advisory Committee (which I Chair – full disclosure) asked that Council support “encouraging” groups to include this information in their programming, I added to the motion by adding a referral to staff and the Festivals Committee to work on developing a policy supporting these principles, and bring those policy recommendations back to Council. I want to see accessibility part of our evaluation process for events we support as a City.

Proposed Energy Step Code for Building Energy Efficiency: Scope and Next Steps for Implementation
The province has been working on a new building code for building energy efficiency, formerly called the “Stretch Code”, now the “Step Code”. They are looking at allowing Cities to “opt in” to applying the code for new builds in the City. I am in support of New West opting into an enhanced energy efficiency code when this program is better developed and the Province provides that opportunity, but this report is just outlining the potential steps ahead.

It is amazing what can get done when Local governments and the province work collaboratively and carefully towards better governance.

We then had a ton of Presentations and Delegations – Two and a half hours worth! There was lots of good stuff there, and many interesting conversations, but I’m afraid I can’t explain them all here. Watch the video!

We then went through our usual Bylaws,/b> shuffle, which someone really should set to music one day.

Zoning Amendment (260 Twelfth Street) Bylaw No. 7905, 2017
The zoning amendment to support the John Know Private School was given two readings. A Public Hearing will be held March 27th. C’mon out and tell us what you think!

Housing Agreement (295 Francis Way – Affordable Non-Market) Amendment Bylaw No. 7910, 2017
Housing Agreement (295 Francis Way – Market Rental) Bylaw No. 7909, 2017
These Bylaws that create the housing agreements securing rentals for the new building in Victoria Hill were given three readings each.

Subdivision Control Amendment Bylaw No. 7908, 2017
This Bylaw update that regulates lighting design standards for the City was given three readings.

Five-Year Financial Plan (2017-2021) Bylaw No. 7906, 2017
Electrical Utility Amendment Bylaw No. 7901, 2017

These Bylaws that formalize our 5-year Financial Plan and set our Electrical Rates for another year were each adopted. They are the Law of the Land – please adjust your behavior accordingly.

And except for a few announcements, that was the evening. We got out just at 10, which was early enough for me to catch up at the pub after with these folks! Still love them, although they are Easterners now.