Council – September 18, 2017

The September 18 meeting of Council was an all-caps-worthy BIG ONE, and I pretty much am going to not talk about the BIG topic, which was the Public Hearing, for reasons below. But before that started, we went through a few Agenda items.

The following items were Moved on Consent:

Recruitment 2017 Committee Appointments
We have had a couple of changes in representatives to City Committees, both in the persons representing another group on the City Committee. This happens once in a while, but Council officially has to approve, which we did.

Investment Report to August 31, 2017
The City has about $160 Million in the bank, mostly with the Municipal Finance Authority. Note, most of this is restricted money (that is, we have already committed it to a specific purpose, such as future sewer upgrades or road projects). This is our regular reporting on how the investments are doing, which I would characterize as “pretty good”.

The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

Fire Escape Stairs at 642 Columbia Street – Review of Alternative Options and Appearance Mitigation Approaches
I’ve already opined about this fire escape. I recognize the need for it to exist, and can see the engineering rationale for it, but am frustrated about how some siloed thinking in City Hall resulted in a design that was incongruous with the great planning and design work being done on the Front Street Mews. I feel a solution that fit the bigger vision could have been found through a more collaborative design approach.

This report outlines a better approach moving forward, and we can hopefully use this experience to enhance how we develop our public spaces.

Sale of Tanaka Court Properties
There is a piece of surplus City land in Queensborough with an adjacent unopened road portion that only makes sense to develop in concert with the commercial properties. The Community Plan designates this property for commercial use, which is not something the City is likely to do. This report outlines the negotiations that have taken place to sell the lands so that they can be developed and start contributing to the community through retail opportunities, jobs and taxes.

BCIT Smart Microgrid Applied Research Project for Street Level Electric Vehicle Charging in New Westminster
This is a pretty exciting pilot project the City is proposing to undertake in collaboration with BCIT and their Smart Grid Microgrid Applied Research Team. They are researching the implementation of curbside charging electric vehicles, and want to testbed some technologies that would connect EV chargers to existing City electrical infrastructure like streetlights, in order to develop reliable engineering specifications and systems for wider adoption of the idea.

This could, in the short term, result in up to a dozen more Level 2 public charging station in the City, and contribute engineering designs and data to the seemingly inevitable transition towards a fully electrical transportation system towards the middle of the Century.

The following item was a late addition to the Agenda:

647 Ewen Avenue: Temporary Protection Order
The oldest extant building in Queensborough is privately owned, and threatened with demolition as the landowner wishes to redevelop the property. The City is limited in what we can do to prevent this, but we can develop incentives to make it easier for the developer to maintain the building or portions of it through a Heritage Restoration Agreement. This temporary order protects the building from destruction while staff work with the proponent to find if these opportunities exist.

This work out of the way, we started our Public Hearing, which had three items, eliciting (in order), one, fourteen, and one delegations. All three items were referred to the resumed Council Meeting following the Public Hearing, and all three were given Third Reading. They were not, however, Adopted, because there needs to be some procedural work done by staff between Third Reading and Adoption. Because of the quasi-judicial nature of the Public Hearing process, I don’t want to get into a discussion about the items between now and formal Adoption. For that reason, I am only describing the items at a high level here and will reserve longer discussion of them until after (and if) they are Adopted by Council.

Zoning Amendment (43 Hastings Street Affordable Housing Project) Bylaw No. 7923, 2017
This Bylaw changes the zoning for a piece of land at the east end of Downtown New West to allow its use for a housing project that will combine housing adapted for people with disabilities with family-friendly townhouses, all operated by a not-for-profit to keep them affordable (through a separate housing agreement with the City).

Official Community Plan Adoption Bylaw No. 7925, 2017
This Bylaw would make Our City 2041 the Official Community Plan for the City, after more than three years of public consultation, Council wrangling, and staff work. Council moved to give the Bylaw Third Reading.

I added an amendment to the referral, which is not a change to the OCP in any way, but provides some direction to staff about measuring the success of one of the most significant aspects of the plan: the rapid introduction of Missing Middle housing forms. The motion read as:

THAT Council direct staff to explore additional locations that could be designated Residential – Infill Townhouse as part of a two year Townhouse and Rowhouse Monitoring Program, and include the outcome in a proposed Land Use Designation Map update at the conclusion of the Program, should the OCP be adopted.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (Infill Housing) No. 7936, 2017
This Bylaw would make changes to our Zoning Bylaw to facilitate many of the changes discussed in the Official Community Plan, including setting parameters around which laneway and carriage houses will be introduced ot our existing Single Family Neighbourhoods. Council moved to give the Bylaw Third Reading.

We followed the Public Hearing with an Opportunity to be Heard on a Sign Bylaw Variance:

Development Variance Permit No. DVP00634 to vary Sign Bylaw requirements at 610 Sixth Street (Royal City Centre)
This Sign Bylaw Variance would allow a new anchor tenant at the Royal City Centre to affix signage to the outside of the building that is congruent with the exiting signage. Even with our new and refreshed sign bylaw, there are exceptions, including one of only two indoor malls in New Westminster, and a variance is best way to manage this type of application. There was no correspondence and no-one came to speak on this item, and Council approved the variance.

Finally, we had a single Bylaw adoption:

Local Area Service Bylaw No. 7942, 2017
This Bylaw formalizes a cost sharing agreement between a group of property owners in Queensborough and the City for some streetscape improvements on their block. It was adopted by Council, making it the Law of the Land.

Council – September 11, 2017

As has become tradition, the first Council Meeting of September was held in the Queensborough Community Centre, and we had a Queensborough-heavy agenda, though not a particularly long one. We started with an update on the largest road-improvement project in the City’s history:

Ewen Avenue Streetscape Improvement Project Update
The third phase of this project (the easternmost westernmost part, from Hampton to Boundary) is currently being tendered. A bunch of the in-ground work around sewer main replacement and tie-ins has already been done, but the re-configuring of the roadway and installation of major sewer works is coming up over the next year.

Somewhat concerning, the first Request For Proposals for the project had no responses. That no road construction company in British Columbia put in a bid for the project is a sign of how challenging the construction business is in BC right now. There’s too much work and not enough people to do the work, and projects on tight timelines create too much risk for many companies. We have put out another, more flexible tender, and will see what happens.

Delays are expensive, and this project has had a number of challenges along the entire length, from coordinating with Metro Vancouver’s sewer work to geotechnical and environmental issues with the soils under the roadbed. There are many residents frustrated by the lengthy timelines, and I am not happy about the inability to find cost savings when it became clear that soils issues were going to blow the budget. However, I’m confident the end result will be a great asset for the Queensborough neighbourhood,

The following items were Moved on Consent:

Status of 2015-2018 Strategic Initiatives – Update for First Half of 2017
This report (more, it’s appendix) is a great update on what the City has been doing over the last three years on the Strategic Priorities set out by Council. Aside from the day-to-day running of the City, and the amazing number of new things that pop up, either by happenstance, or sudden Council whim, our strategic plan is coming along at what I would call a moderate pace. Some projects (e.g. Front Street Mews) are complete; some are still in early phases (e.g. City Hall renovations). As there is often a bunch of lower-visibility work that needs to be done before (for example) we break the ground on a new Affordable Housing project, these reports help keep Council and the public abreast of the progress that isn’t always obvious in following Council reports.

Life comes at you fast. When we put these Strategic Priorities forward, the housing crisis was only starting to percolate (a Million-dollar house in New West was still an anomaly), the scourge of fentanyl had not taken hold in our community, and we had Federal and Provincial governments with different spending priorities. So like all strategies, adjustments need to be made to achieve the long-term goals they underpin. I am pretty satisfied that we are moving in the right direction, even if progress on some fronts is slower than I might like.

232 Lawrence Street (Day Care)
One of those strategic things moving forward a little under most people’s radar (despite several public reports and a Public Hearing) is a Day Care facility to be built with Provincial Gov’t support on City lands in Queensborough. This report outlines the next steps in the senior government grant process, and the expected commitment that City will make to building the modular structure for the daycare.

The City’s $156K contribution represents a likely 24% of the budget, and the City’s contribution will come from the General Amenity Reserve, which is money we collect from developers when they increase density of the City.

131 Eleventh Street: Temporary Use Permit – Renewal
The area around Lower 12th Street is an area in transition, considered a “Special Study Area” in our community plans. Council recognized the land is not being used to its full value, and although the long-term plan is unclear (the City is reluctant to shift “job generating lands” to fully residential lands – short term gain may result in long-term pain) we want to accommodate the most sensible current use of the lands, to support local businesses. This retail use doesn’t fit the language of the current zoning, so we are using a Temporary Use Permit to allow it, such that we don’t undermine any future long-term planning.

Local Area Service Bylaw to Underground Existing Overhead Utilities
on the East Side of 200 Block of Howes Street

As mentioned back in June, a Local Area Service is like a “special assessment” where a neighbourhood wants a land improvement done that isn’t necessarily the highest priority for the City. When a majority of neighbours agree that these works are desired, the City works out a shared-cost agreement ,and the residents have the option of writing the City a cheque for their share, or adding a special charge to their taxes for as long as 20 years.

The majority of homeowners have agreed on street improvements along 200 Block of Howes Street, and through a complicated negotiation with several utility companies, the LSA Bylaw is now able to move forward.

The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

420 Boyne Street (Animal Shelter): Proposed Amendment to the Heavy Industrial Districts (M-2) Zone to Allow Municipal Uses and Zone the Former Lane to the Rear of the Property to (M-2)
The City also needs to amend the zoning language around the Industrial zones property where we are building our new Animal Shelter and the accessory space for our proposed tow yard. The site preparation for this site is finally underway, and the City’s long-outdated Animal Care Facility will be starting construction soon. So far: on time and on budget.

BC Hydro Pest Management Plan
Coming after public notice by BC Hydro of pesticide use on their properties in New West last year, Council asked for better reporting of the types of pesticides used and where. BC Hydro responded, indicating they use “mechanical methods“ (weed whacking) in the publically-accessible areas in their Connaught Heights right-of-way, and they use several different pesticides in their substation lands.

A Councillor raised a concern about the use of Glyphosate (“Roundup”) in the City, and asked that a letter be written asking BC Hydro to switch to different products (such as iron- and acetic acid-based pesticides). I am less fussed about small, spot use of Glyphosate when part of an Integrated Pest Management System, and I understand there are some seriously impactful invasive species (such as Japanese Knotweed) where chemical treatment are the only approach demonstrated to work, but am happy to forward the letter and ask BC Hydro to monitor and control its use, and demonstrate the City’s preference for the most sustainable solutions.

We then did the Bylaw shuffle:

Zoning Amendment (420 Boyne Street Animal Shelter) Bylaw No.7944, 2017
As discussed above, the Zoning Amendment Bylaw to support the development of the Animal Shelter on City-owned Industrial Lands was given two readings.

Local Area Service Bylaw No. 7942, 2017
As discussed above, the LAS Bylaw for Howes Street was given three readings.

Wood-Boyne Street Road Closure Bylaw No. 7935, 2017
As discussed at the July 10th meeting, this Bylaw to officially close an unopened part of Wood Street to support the City’s Animal Care facility was Adopted.

Housing Agreement (630 Ewen Avenue) Bylaw No. 7927, 2017
Zoning Amendment (630 Ewen Avenue) Bylaw No. 7920, 2017

As addressed at the Public Hearing on June 26th, and discussed at the August 28th meeting, these Bylaws to support the Affordable Housing project in Queensborough was Adopted.

Ask Pat: The Q’boro edition

Yes, I am a bad blogger. I have Ask Pats in the queue, and run the risk of looking like I just don’t care. But summer is over, which traditionally means time to get back to work, so I’ll try to knock off a couple together here, with a Q’boro theme:

Shaji asks—

Hello Pat
Do you know what is the story behind Frankie G’s Boilerhouse Pub on 305 Ewen Avenue in Queensborough? It seems like it has been under renovations for a long time.

I don’t know much, except that there was a fire, and the owner is doing a major renovation to coincide with the repairs required due to flames/smoke/water. That said, nothing has come across the Council table about it, and I am not aware of any other plans for the site. It is a bit of a shame that they were not open this summer, as it would have made a nice walkable destination during the QtoQ Ferry demonstration, and I know that Port Royal residents are missing having a local community pub. Hope it’s open soon!

Dan asks—

Why did you guys wait so long in the process to figure out building a Q2Q bridge was going to be expensive? How many tens of thousands of dollars did you waste in meetings discussing nonsense with other bureaucrats? You say you have us in your mind, but your thoughts and prayers are piss in the wind. Queensborough is one of the least thought out communities I have had the misfortune of living in. It seems not a single person on the council even thought about basic amenities like a grocery store or how people will get in and out or find parking. You saw a quick way to make cash, promised people a solution and future, and produced nothing. There are thousands of new homes coming up, and little to no forethought into how this will make the already existing problem of access even worse.

To answer your first question, the money to build the proposed Q2Q bridge was not going to be available until around 2015, based on the original timeline of the DAC funding model, when it was put together back in 2007 or so. The higher-priority projects (Queensborough Parks and the Queensborough Community Centre, the MUCF/Anvil Centre) were to be funded and completed first, and were. I wrote a longer piece here about the evolution and challenges of the Q2Q bridge, and a follow-up piece on the decisions made since my time on Council, which may answer some of your questions about how a project originally (in 2008) thought to be in the order of $10Million became a project estimated at $40Million.

I’m not sure how to square the idea that Queensborough is ignored by the City when I look at the Queensborough Community Plan, the investments in the QBB and surrounding parks, the largest road improvement project in the City’s history, and the City investing in childcare and affordable housing initiatives in that neighbourhood as priorities over the rest of the City. Queensborough is growing fast, and the City is investing in making it a livable, working community.

The Community Plan does include the building of neighbourhood-serving retail in a new node near Mercer and Ewen, but the reality is that the City doesn’t build retail developments; that is the job of the private sector. There is a frustrating chicken-and-egg situation where retail developers need to see a large population (=potential customer) base before they will invest and build, but in the meantime, we want local retail to support a growing population (it is kind of like the transit conundrum that sees Port Royal still under-served by Transit as it exceeds the density of many better-served neighbourhoods). The mostly-empty strip mall just over the border in Hamilton is an example of what happens if you try to build small neighbourhood-serving retail in a neighbourhood not ready for it, especially in the shadow of WalMart, but that’s an entire other discussion.

So, yeah, Queensborough is a work in progress, just as every other neighbourhood in the City is. It has an abundance of relatively affordable family-friendly housing options near a bunch of great community amenities, if one is willing to suffer from a lack of retail variety and rush hour traffic challenges. I think the community plan shows some longer-term relief from those challenges, but the solutions aren’t instant, and aren’t for a lack of forethought. Communities often shape themselves, regardless of the best laid plans.

And, as a side note, Council will be doing our annual Meeting in Queensborough on September 11, starting at 6:00pm. If you have a specific Q’boro concern, complaint, kudo or claim, Public Delegations start at 7:00! C’mon out and tell us what you think!

Council – Aug 28, 2017.

No surer sign that summer is over than spending a Monday in Council Meetings. The evening Regular Meeting was mercifully very short, although the Agenda included a large number of items passed on Consent.

We started with an Opportunity to be Heard, that gets a little complicated…

Wood/Boyne Street Road Closure Bylaw No. 7935 – Animal Services Facility – Rescind Third Reading
There was a clerical error in the diagram that went with the earlier reading of the Bylaw. The intent was (in my opinion) clear, but Staff decided there was some ambiguity in how the road closure diagram could be interpreted, so decided to roll it back and go through the process again to make sure everything is on the up and up. So first we rescinded the Third Reading from July 10 Meeting.

Wood-Boyne Street Road Closure Bylaw No. 7935, 2017
Third Reading of the adapted Bylaw required another Opportunity to be Heard. The required notice was completed, and we received no written responses, nor did anyone from the public exercise their opportunity to speak. Council moved to refer the amended Bylaw for Third Reading.

We than had this Report for Action.

41 and 175 Duncan Street: Official Community Plan and Rezoning – Preliminary Report
This is a preliminary report for a medium-sized development adjacent adjacency to industrial area that will be industrial for perpetuity (creating potential interface issues), however, it appears of offer an interesting mix of family- friendly housing forms that Queensborough is becoming famous for. This is a preliminary report, as the project needs to go through various levels of approval and public consultation, including a Public Hearing, so I’ll hold off on further comments until then.

The following items were then Moved on Consent:

Deaccessioning (removal) of Heritage materials from New Westminster Museum and Archives
Our Museum and Archives has to occasionally cull their inventory of items deemed to have little heritage or collection value. There is a process established for this, including a report to Council to make sure the process is transparent and accountable.

Solid Waste and Recycling Artist in Residence Program
Yes, it sounds funny, but hear this out. The City has a lot of waste management equipment and infrastructure. It is omnipresent, but often disregarded in how it impacts the aesthetics of our public spaces. I love the idea of finding an artistic canvas in the everyday and mundane. This project will provide a small amount of funding from our Arts Services budget (not our waste management budget), and creates an interesting opportunity to improve our public spaces. I’m happy council moved to support this.

Initial Operation of Q to Q Demonstration Ferry Service
The QtoQ Ferry has been (and continues to be) an interesting learning experience. 3,600 fare-paying trips on the first full operational weekend, and well over 2,000 per weekend since is definitely more than anticipated. There were, however, significant challenges also identified, along with a few we knew were going to be a problem from day one. I think it was the right decision to do this shake-down trial and learn about how to address these challenges.

These initial numbers show high interest in extended service, however this demonstration is not continuing beyond September 25th, simply because the contracts and agreements that empower it are not easy to extend. We will have some time over the winter to have the bigger discussion about where to go from here, be it extending and expanding the service in 2018, or a better look at partnerships with senior government agencies to find a permanent solution to connecting our Qs.

Procedure for Offensive Correspondence Received as part of a Legislated Public Process
This seems painfully procedural, but City Council has some legislated responsibility to receive public comment on issues of public interest such as Public Hearings. When we receive correspondence, it is forwarded to Council for us to read and consider as part of the process, then we officially “receive” this correspondence, and it is entered into the public record. However, we had some pretty offensive (racist, bigoted, hateful) correspondence with a recent application that I questioned whether we need to receive and enter in to the public record.

Short version (and I will write a follow-up blog post about this) is that we need to receive the correspondence, but we can avoid putting it into the public record if it is considered offensive. This report outlines the process recommended by the City’s legal counsel.

Official Community Plan Infill Housing Implementation: Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7936, 2017 and Related Procedures Bylaws – For Consideration of Readings
The OCP update is inching towards completion, and along with it some changes to our Zoning Bylaw are required to make it possible for us to allow Laneway- and Carriage-House in the residential zones where the new Land Use Plan map indicates is appropriate. This also includes formalizing some procedures around how the approvals will be managed.

I am generally happy with what is outlined here, but worry a little about creating a complicated processing issue that slows the development of these housing types after we finally approve them. This will be an area of continued work once the OCP is approved, and a new challenge for our Planning Department. If you look through this report, you can get a sense of the iterative process Staff and Council went through to get to the point where we have a Bylaw that can move to Three readings (a couple of 5-2 and 4-3 votes on major procedural concepts here). There was a round of stakeholder consultation here (the APC voted in favour), and the zoning Amendment Bylaw will go to Public Hearing in September.

610 Sixth Street: Development Variance Permit to Vary Sign Bylaw No. 7867, 2017 to Permit the Installation of Two Signs – Notice of Opportunity to be Heard
It looks like the Royal City Centre has a new anchor tenant, and advertising such requires variance of our Sign Bylaw. This will go to an Opportunity to be Heard on September 18. C’mon out and tell us what you think.

630 Ewen Avenue (Affordable Housing Project): Housing Agreement Bylaw – Bylaw for Three Readings
The City is proposing to enter into an agreement with a not-for-profit (WINGS) to operate a supportive/affordable housing project on City land in Queensborough. It is a relatively small project, but will provide units to families that would otherwise have a difficult time finding housing in the City. This report outlines the Housing Agreement terms, and Council moved to refer the resultant Bylaw for three readings.

43 Hastings Street (Affordable Housing Project): Rezoning Application from Single Detached Dwelling Districts (RS-2) to Comprehensive Dwelling Districts (CD-73) – Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7923, 2017 for First and Second Readings
This is another supportive/affordable housing project the City is supporting in the Downtown, including providing permanent access to City lands. This project will require a Zoning Amendment, which will go to Public Hearing on September 18. C’mon out and tell us what you think!

988 Quayside Drive (Bosa RiverSky Project): Construction Noise Bylaw No. 6063, 1992 – Request for Exemption
The River Sky project (the one currently under construction next to the River Market) needs to do a single big concrete pour next week. For structural engineering reasons, it has to happen as a single pour, and will take more than the time allotted by our construction noise bylaw allows in a single day. For this reason, Council moved to permit a one-day exemption to the Construction Noise Bylaw to allow an early start to the pour. The constructors are required to provide public notice to the neighbours.

900 Carnarvon St (Tower 4): Construction Noise Bylaw No. 6063, 1992 – Request for Exemption
This exemption of the Construction Noise Bylaw is required to permit the installation of a noise canopy over the SkyTrain Tracks at the only time TransLink will allow it: when the trains are not running. This extension is required because the work has been delayed for various reasons. Short term pain for long-term gain seems to be the theme downtown these days…

OUR CITY 2041: Updated Official Community Plan Adoption Bylaw No. 7925, 2017
This is another procedural thing, with a few edits to the OCP Bylaw that was given two readings back in June. The changes are as simple as a few spelling mistakes corrected to some important clean-ups of the Land Use Map to properly reflect the spirt of the plan and previous plans. These edits don’t change our timeline for Public Hearing or Third Reading, which is still scheduled for September 18.

Queen’s Park Traffic Calming Plan
The first round of consultations around updating the traffic management plan in Queens Park raised what are (seemingly) some pretty minor complaints compared to issues identified in other neighbourhoods like Sapperton, Downtown, and Connaught Heights. The biggest issues seem to be around “rat-running” to the Pattullo Bridge during the evening rush hour, which may see some temporary relief with the removal of tolls from the Port Mann, but there are also a few opportunities to improve pedestrian safety in Queens Park, which will take some more exploration.

Internet Service Provider Agreement with CIK Telecommunications
A seventh (!) provider is signing up to provide service though our dark fibre network. The opportunities aside from the “big three” for internet and related services in New West are definitely increasing, especially for those living and working in Uptown and Downtown. You might want to look here if your internet service is letting you down.

Mann Cup Luncheon and Press Conference Hosting Opportunity
It’s not often you get to host the Mann Cup. The City will be hosting whomever wins the MSL at Queens Park Arena, thanks to the great season and remarkable playoff performance of the Salmonbellies. Follow along here to get your tickets and schedule your September!

We then went through our regular Bylaws routine:

Official Community Plan Adoption Bylaw No. 7925, 2017
As discussed above, second reading of this Bylaw back in June was rescinded, and the edited Bylaw was given Second Reading. There will be a Public Hearing on this September 18; C’mon out and tell us what you think.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (Infill Housing) No. 7936, 2017
This zoning amendment to permit the process for approving Laneway and Carriage houses in the City as per the OCP proposal and the lengthy discussions back in July was also given two readings.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (43 Hastings Street) No. 7923, 2017
As discussed above, this Bylaw amending the zoning bylaw to allow for an affordable housing project on City land in Downtown was given two readings.

Development Approval Procedures Amendment Bylaw No. 7939, 2017 & Development Services Fees and Rates Amendment Bylaw No. 7940, 2017
These bylaws that support the OCP update for infill housing as discussed above and at length in Council back in July, were given three readings.

630 Ewen Avenue (Affordable Housing Project): Housing Agreement Bylaw
As discussed above, this Bylaw empowering the Housing Agreement for this affordable housing project in Queensborough was given three readings.

‘Housekeeping’ Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7893, 2017
This zoning amendment bylaw to permit animal daycare in businesses that were already permitted to have animal grooming, as given a Public Hearing back on January 30th, was adopted. It’s the Law of the Land, may your pets rest soundly while you work.

Zoning Amendment (1102, 1110, 1116 and 1122 Salter Street) Bylaw No. 7917, 2017
This zoning amendment bylaw to permit a development in Queensborough, which was given a Public Hearing back on May 29th, was adopted. It’s the Law of the Land, adjust your behavior accordingly.

Finally, we had one piece of New Business:

Motion on Notice (Councillor Puchmayr): Setting a target for 100% renewable energy in the City by 2050.
This is an interesting initiative, that I ended up sounding more negative about than I intended. I think it is a good aspirational goal (and supported the motion), but am a little concerned about resourcing the work necessary for us to put together a comprehensive adaptation plan, and how we fit that in with the number of significant strategic priorities we have going right now. Perhaps I’ll write a little more on this as I develop my thoughts a little more.

And that was the end of our summer session meeting. Enjoy Labour Day, and we will see you all in September when the real works resumes!


As I noted a little earlier, this summer has been pretty active in New West. This last weekend the trend continued with the annual Pride Street Party. There were community groups booths, three stages with entertainment, an active kid’s area, beer gardens, food trucks, and local restaurants and beer gardens were filled to overflowing. While other parts of the City and the world were having confrontations about inclusiveness and diversity, thousands of people filled Columbia Street to celebrate victories won for inclusion and understanding, and had fun on a sunny afternoon.

It was a great day in New West, and one that would not have been possible without an army of volunteers.

New West Pride Society is a volunteer-run society that organizes and executes the entire event. The City helps with a grant through our festival grant program, and many sponsors step up to pay for everything from volunteer t-shirts to stage rental and advertising. However all of the actual work, the organization, the year of planning, the hundreds of tasks on event day, everything is done by volunteers.

It isn’t just Pride. The New West Farmers Market, the New West Cultural Crawl, The New West Grand Prix, the Hyack International Parade,  Pecha Kucha NW, the New West Film Fest, the events that make the City come alive, are run largely on the backs of volunteer labour. Lots of Volunteer labour.

No surprising point to this, just a short post to give an extra “Thanks” to the volunteers that make this City so full of great activity – from the Presidents of Societies that work all year long, to the folks who show up on game day to sell tickets or pick up litter. I hope that everyone who enjoyed an event this year will think about volunteering for next year’s version of whatever event they enjoyed (and it doesn’t have to be just one). It doesn’t take much time (many hands make light work), you might get a T-shirt (see banner), and it makes the event even more enjoyable for you. You can say “I helped make this happen”, you will help create more opportunities to enjoy the summer with your friends, and you will more likely than not make new friends.

Ask Pat: Q2Q Ferry

I am a little behind on my Ask Pats, I apologize. there are a few in the queue, but work, life, and an amazing array of community events have kept me away from the computer keyboard. I’ll try to catch up.

BoatRidesAreFun asks—

Hi Pat,

Any updates on the Q2Q ferry that was supposed to open July 1? I haven’t seen anything happening at either of the docks.

The ferry has been a challenge. This is one of those times I am glad I am an Elected Type setting unreasonable expectations for staff, and not City Staff trying to meet the unreasonable expectations of the elected types!

The good news is the the trial is ready to go, and will be starting this weekend. The Ferry will run on weekends and holiday Mondays in August and September from 9:00am to 7:00pm, and from 5:00pm to 9:00pm every Friday in August. It will run every 20 minutes, and will cost a Loonie or a Twoonie. The route will be from the Quay (near the Inn) to the public dock on the south side of Port Royal. The bad news is that the limitations of the project as a “pilot” will mean it falls short of some expectations, and that could benefit from some background explanation, so I am glad you asked.

Running a passenger ferry turns out to be a much more complicated process than you may think. You need a boat and operator, you need (at least) two places for it to dock, and you need permission from several different agencies responsible for keeping people from drowning as a result of poor planning.

The first issue was surprisingly hard to solve. The Fraser River is a dynamic, working waterway. There are tides reaching 9 feet in range, and tidal and river currents that flow in different directions up to 10 knots. These currents shift lots of hazardous debris like large logs. There are also tugs, barges, and large ships moving around the river. The little tubs used to shuffle tourists around the relatively safe tidewater of False Creek were not going to work on the Fraser. Something more skookum (to use the nautical term) was required. The more requirements the City put on a boat (number of passengers, weather protection, accessibility, room for bicycles, operating cost), the more limited the number of available boats just sitting round BC waiting for hire.

Then we need two places to dock the boat. Installing a new dock facility in tidewater in Canada is not a simple process, as it activates everyone from the local Port Authority to the Marine Carriers and environmental agencies including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. For a short-term trial, the City really needed to find already-existing docks.


The public dock at Port Royal was there and available, but designed for small pleasure craft, not to accommodate a passenger ferry. Significant changes would intrude into water lots owned by Port Metro Vancouver, who were helpful and accommodating, but had their own safety and operational concerns that had to be addressed. On the Quay side, the only functional docks are operated by the Inn at the Quay (where the paddlewheeler tours launch from) and the industrial dock operated my Smit. Again, both had challenges with accommodating their established operations with a new every-20-minutes group of passengers, many of whom are not that accustomed to walking around industrial marine operations, and who will create no end of hassles if they fall into the drink and get dragged downstream. Again, a deal was worked out and operational concerns managed.

At this point, City Staff need to be acknowledged for managing a significant number of potential game-stoppers here, but in the compromises required to make this work are the inherent flaws in the final plan. During this summer, we are going to have the trial ferry service that was possible, not necessarily the one we want.

When I think about connecting the Quay to Queensborough, I am not thinking of it as a tourist draw or a piece of recreation programming, I am thinking of it as a vital transportation link. To be such a link, it need to be reliable, available for daily users, and fully accessible. The trial ferry is going to fall short of this. The high tide range and reliance on existing dock infrastructure means it will not be fully accessible to those with some mobility challenges at all tide stages. Running the ferry only on weekends with limited hours means it will not be useful for work commuters wanting to get from Port Royal to Downtown or Skytrain. The limited hours will further cause people crossing the river for diner and a drink to look closely at their watches while waiting for the bill to arrive. The City recognizes these limitations, but also recognizes the value of getting this project running to see how the public reacts.

In the end, I hope people will appreciate this is a test-of-concept trial, and not the ultimate solution to connecting Queensborough to the Quay. Its successes may be limited, but there has already been a lot learned by the City just in setting up the service, and there will be much learned during its limited run, both in it’s success and where it falls short of expectations. I hope that people on both sides of the North Arm will come out to support this pilot, and provide your constructive feedback to the City, so that we have useful info to inform planning for a more permanent solution.

…on the Stairway

“A Stairway to Nowhere”. Literally the second paragraph of the story undermines the headline, but Global never lets a good lede go to waste, reality be damned.

The alleged “Stairway to Nowhere” is a fire exit, required by the building code because the ~100-year-old heritage buildings adjacent do not have internal staircases to facilitate fire egress in the event a fire or other emergency blocks the front entrance. The connections between the staircase and the building have not been completed yet, because the ~100-year-old heritage electrical connections to the ~100-year-old heritage buildings are going to be moved to make the Front Street Mews look and work better, and life will be better for everyone if the lines are moved before the fire escape connections are made.

The fire escape needed to be built because the Parkade was removed. The ~100-year-old heritage building used to have gangways that connected to the Parkade to facilitate fire egress. Those were part of the “railings, lights, stairs, wheelguards, and other ‘jewellery’ [that were] past their service life and [fell] far short of modern safety codes” that I talk about in that blog post from 2015. Until the new connections are made, there is a lighter-duty and even more temporary fire escape on Columbia Street which is (arguably) as intrusive as this one. The owner of the ~100-year-old heritage building, naturally, has some say in how these connections are made, and is apparently quite satisfied with the stairway on Front Street.


The cost of installing this stairway or otherwise providing alternate egress for the ~100-year-old heritage building is not an unexpected expense, but part of the (budgeted) $11 Million cost of the Parkade half-repair, Parkade half-removal, Front Street re-engineering and general gussying-up project that was approved by Council a couple of years ago. At last report, this project is still on budget, although its finish was delayed for a bunch of reasons that were reasonably unanticipated. There were some changes to the design over the couple of years since first proposed, not the least being that all of the electrical services were undergrounded, which is a significant improvement to the aesthetic of the Mews, and will make the pedestrian realm more friendly.

All of this doesn’t mean I am happy with the staircase (**insert part where I say this is my opinion, not official position of the City, Council, or anyone else**). I was actually pretty (excuse me, Mom) pissed off when I first looked at this temporary solution for the fire escape and it was explained to me that “temporary” meant “for the foreseeable future”. Looking back at the many renderings for the Front Street Mews used for public consultation over the years, the stairs were never depicted, and to me the structure is oversized, obtrusive, and at odds with what vision we are trying to create on the Mews. With our Open Space planning staff doing so much good work to make Front Street a comfortable, human-scaled, and functional space, this looks like something designed by (I’m sorry) an engineer.

vision-2My first reaction was to think that a fire escape, by its very nature, would be used by a half-dozen people only once, if at all. This structure looks like it was engineered to facilitate the boarding of troops onto naval vessels. However, I am told that modern fire access standards for commercial buildings expect that well-equipped firefighters will use the stairs, and carry large things up and down them with some significant urgency. The stairs are also expected to remain standing after a seismic event that no ~100-year-old heritage building was built to sustain. So it is bigger, stronger, and with a much more substantial foundation than the stairs going (for example) up to the back deck in my house. It is also a modular design that can be picked up and moved, as it was recognized at the time as a “temporary” structure, which can be utilized elsewhere if ever major renovations to the ~100-year-old heritage building make the stairway’s presence on Front Street no longer necessary. Put these factors together, and the design, fabrication and installation costs are more than my aforementioned deck stairs.

Other options were explored by staff and the owner of the building. Maintaining access above Columbia Street was suboptimal, building an access on the McKenzie Street side simply didn’t work with the internal layout of the ~100-year-old heritage building. No-one was excited about the potential engineering challenges of hanging something that met modern standards off the side of a ~100-year-old heritage building. So in the end, they are ugly and look overbuilt, but represent the best of several bad options given the circumstances. I don’t like the way the stairway looks, but have no viable alternatives to offer.

Nor, I note, do the armchair engineers or outrage-mongers at Global.

The Grand Prix

The New West Grand Prix happened last week. Our City joined Vancouver, White Rock, Delta, Port Coquitlam, and Burnaby in hosting a BC Superweek professional bike race. And what a show it was. You can read the good news stories here, here, and (especially) here. But this is my Blog, so I’m going to take my time to (space?) to thank the many people who need to be thanked for making this project work. At least, I will try to thank as many of them as I can think of. An event like this is a partnership between many groups, and I’m going to risk missing a few important people here…


First and foremost, we had an army of volunteers making this happen, some who gave a few hours on the day, some who spent month ahead of time putting vital pieces in place. Community member Ron Cann provided great leadership and savvy guidance as the Chair of our organizing committee, Diane Perry organized the kids’ races and events, Bill DeGroot shook the bushes of the community for volunteers, and he and Jennifer Wolowic made sure the volunteer efforts were as organized as could be. Jennifer was also a star on Race Day, bringing her knowledge of high-level cycle racing to do any of a thousand small tasks that needed to be done. Mario Bartel helped put the Grand Prix on the social- and traditional-media map, and did what he does best by capturing stories through his camera lens. Ross “Mr. Jen” Arbo helped find a bunch of places for visiting racers to billet here in New West. This was the command structure of a volunteer army.

Add to this core group more than 100 volunteers who did everything from set up and tear down fences to standing at crosswalks for hours keeping people safe and many other tasks you didn’t even see being done. Here is where the greater New West community stepped up. We had teams from the local HUB Cycling chapter, The Queens Park Running Club, and from the Fraser River Fuggitivi road riding group. We had corporate teams, Youth Ambassadors, and a team from Last Door who were particularly adept at large-fence-panel moving, and scores f individuals who just wanted to help out. I don’t know where Bill found all of these people, but the first time I felt confident about this event working was the day of the Volunteer Dinner, a week before the event, when more than 100 people showed up eager to help make race day work. Thank you to everyone!

I want to thank some City staff who really stood up, but I don’t want to name them (I am, in some weird sense, their employer, and privacy rights and all…) I think they know who they are, and I’ve tried to thank them personally. An event like this pushes them past what is normally “just their job” and takes a passion and effort that is out of scale with their everyday, and so much of this work occurs of the side of the desk along with their everyday busy schedules. Council put a little extra stress on our staff because we (frankly) started a little late on this project. This meant we had to rush some parts of the program, it also meant we weren’t able to do a few of the things that would have made the program bigger or more exciting (many learnings in the can for next year!). However, staff coordinated with the volunteers and those running the bigger BC Superweek program and answered a thousand phone calls and e-mails about every aspect of the event, then showed up on event day to do a thousand tasks, big and small. Kudos all around.

This event relies on sponsors to pay a huge portion of the bills. Again, we were a little late to get started in 2017, but it is incredible how many sponsors stepped up to contribute. Bosa Developments, Domus Homes, I4 Property Group, and Skyllen Pacific were all major partners with the City on this community-building adventure. Strongside Conditioning and Billard Architecture were two local businesses that had their front door access impacted by the event, but turned that into a reason to get involved as major sponsors.

Of course Gordon from Cap’s Original Bike Shop got involved, providing prizes for the kids race, a great draw prize for the volunteers, and the professional “pit services” for the race. Boston Pizza made sure VIPs and volunteers got fed, S&O partnered to keep folks otherwise refreshed, and the Record and Global BC helped get the word out. Champion Systems, Gateway Casinos and Alpine Credits also pitched in, and Old Crow Coffee hosted our volunteer corral. Next time you visit one of these sponsors, thank them for taking part and helping to bring this event to New West. We really couldn’t do it without them, and they are making your City more fun to live in.

Similarly, we got a lot of support from downtown New Westminster. Both the Downtown BIA and Tourism New West came on board with support, but the merchants and residents of downtown also made adjustments to their day to allow us to have one of the large road closures in recent New West history. Can’t have a road bike race without a road.

Finally*, the fans and racers. The show was great, a kicking of butt by the Woman’s winner, and a late break almost caught by the sprint in the Men’s race… there were no spills but many thrills, and a marriage proposal to cap it off. The crowd was above expectations for our first year, and seemed really enthused by the event. It was a good evening. So whether you volunteered, sponsored, raced, spectated, were inconvenienced by the traffic, or just wandered by and asked “What tha heck?”, then decided to watch for a bit – thanks! I love when this town shows up!

*postscript: Thanks to Councillor Trentadue for invoking Rule #5 at the best possible time. You were right.

Council – July 10, 2017

The final Council meeting before the summer break occurred on July 10. We don’t meet again until the end of August, which is a bit of a relief as there is so much going on in New West this summer, it will be nice to be able to enjoy my annual summer stay-cation. But first, the work. Our Agenda started with a presentation on progress on a big development project:

Sapperton Green (97 Braid Street): Master Plan Update
Sapperton Green is a big project. A 38-acre site sitting right on a Skytrain Station adjacent to Highway 1. The Official Community Plan for the property includes 3,700 homes for something like 7,500 residents, 150,000sq.ft. of retail commercial space, and up to 1,500,000sq.ft. of office commercial space. There will be a mix of building types, including about a dozen towers up to 35 stories.

A project this size (the first of this scale since Victoria Hill) takes a lot of planning and development work. The Official Community Plan Amendment, adopted in 2015, was the first high-level step, where the numbers above around square feet and land use types were determined. The next step is to perform a Master Planning process, which is where the project is now. This is the step where big decisions are made about the layout of the site, where buildings will be and where greenspace will be, what type of community amenity will be provided, and where those amenities will be located. This is also the stage where high-level details about how the ground level of the development will work, with transportation connections and parks.

There is a lot of work to do yet before we start seeing shovels in the ground here ,and there will be more public consultation, however today’s report was mostly for staff to get endorsement from Council on some of the “big principles” defining the shape and form of the development (listed in part 6 of the report).

This project differs from Victoria Hill in two ways: it is a mixed use community instead of a predominantly residential neighbourhood, and it needs to be a permeable site for pedestrians especially, because it will be located between Sapperton and a SkyTrain station, and will become a commercial centre and will have amenities servicing Sapperton as much as its own residents. In that sense, we need to think of how its connections integrate with the surrounding community in a different way than Victoria Hill.

There are some concerns about what this project means to the district’s school capital development plans, especially at the Elementary and Middle School stages, but there is some time for the School District and the Province to manage those long-term plans. The population growth anticipated here is completely consistent with the Official Community Plans back to the late 1990s, and with the Regional Growth Strategy, so it should be no surprise to anyone involved in long-term regional planning. The population is coming, what we need to provide now is some more certainty about timing and distribution of new residential development.

The following items were Moved on Consent:

Proposed Derwent Way Soil Transfer Facility
This project on Port Metro Vancouver land in Queensborough is going through a similar type of Port-driven environmental review as the Fraser Surrey Docks coal terminal project. As such, the City being asked to opine on the project as it will have impacts on City roads, drainage, and land use.

The basics of the project is that a company wants to use a piece of Port land adjacent to the Derwent bridge to transfer soils from trucks to barges so it can be shipped upriver to a storage/processing facility. These soils will include contaminated soils from development, but not soils deemed as “hazardous waste”. This is a bit technical (and within my area of professional practice) so maybe I will explore it a bit more in a future blog post.

The neighbourhood is going to have a reaction to contaminated soils being stored next door, but our staff have appropriately identified impacts we should be concerned about – how the increase in trucks impacts neighbourhood livability, how dust and vapours will be managed on site, and how site drainage will be managed. If you are a concerned citizen with opinions, you can take part in the review by following this link.

914 Thirteenth Street: Heritage Alteration Permit No. 106 for Work on Designated Heritage Property – Request for Issuance
This heritage house in the West End is Designated, meaning it is a protected heritage asset. The owners wish to make some changes to the house to improve livability, and because it is Designated, require a Heritage Alteration Permit to assure the heritage values of the house are protected. Council moved to approve this permit.

Walk New West Initiative – Update
This was an information report, following up on this spring’s walking advocacy initiative. It was a good program, and relied heavily on the support of a burgeoning Pedestrian Advocacy group that had formed in the City (The Walkers Caucus). The “challenge” part of the program was perhaps a little long and a little complicated, but most participants enjoyed it, and for a first year, it was a great launch. I look forward to 2018, and to more activity by the Walkers Caucus speaking up for the needs of pedestrians in our City and the region.

Latecomer Agreement for Extended Servicing Costs Related to the Subdivision of 1004 Salter Street
This may be a little too “inside baseball” for some, but let me try to summarize, because understanding this is a pathway to understanding how growing cities get developers to pay for utilities.

When a developer wants to build a neighbourhood that significantly increases density, it means the City’s utilities need to increase capacity by building new or larger water and sewer lines. The City gets the Developer (and, ultimately, the purchaser and user of the utilities) to pay for these, either by the developer building them, or by collecting Development Cost Charges which hare set aside by the City and are specifically and legally earmarked to pay for the cost of those capital works.

However, sometimes these density increases occur adjacent to other areas where future growth is planned, and the City wants the utilities to be upsized now not just for the current development, but for future development. Why build twice when you can build once? One way to make this happen is to get the developer to build bigger than they currently need, and then recover those extra costs from the next developer who comes along to develop that next adjacent property. To do this, the City sets up a “latecomer” agreement, allowing the City to collect money form that latter developer (when it happens) and give it to the current developer who is paying for the increased utility works installed now.

This report outlines the principles of a proposed Latecomer agreement for a development in Queensborough.

Street Closure Bylaw No. 7935, 2017 – Wood/Boyne Street Animal Services Facility
The City is building a new Animal Services Facility in Queensborough on land we already own, however part of that land is currently designated as a road (although it is forested, and the road doesn’t connect to anything). So by law, we need to officially close the road so it can be repurposed.

Temporary Relocation of Queen’s Park Arenex Gymnastics and Trampoline Programs Update
Our Parks and Recreation staff have been working hard to manage the various aspects of the post-Arenex-collapse plan. We are finalizing work on a short-term replacement structure and integration of some programming with the proposed Canada Games Pool replacement, but there has also been a lot of work finding solutions to the programs that have been displaced by the Arenex collapse so they can maintain continuity. This information report provides a bit of detail about the hardest-to-house programs, as the trampoline programs especially require pretty specific spaces. This is an ongoing work in progress, and will be until the temporary replacement is brought on line. Hopefully, there will be more news on that shortly.

800 Columbia Street (CPR Station Site): Rezoning to Allow Liquor Primary Licensed Premise – Preliminary Report
The cat is out of the bag about the restaurant operators who plan to open up this Fall in the old CP Station / Keg Building at the foot of Eighth Street. This rezoning application will allow the proponents to operate both a “food primary” restaurant and a “liquor Primary” pub in the same building. As this is a rezoning, it will go to public consultation, including a Public Hearing, so I’ll hold off my comments until then.

The following items were Removed form Consent for discussion:

232 Lawrence Street (Child Care Facility): Official Community Plan Amendment Section 475 and 476 – Consultation Report
232 Lawrence Street (Child Care Facility): Grant Funding Update
There are two things going on here, both related to the re-purposing a piece of City land in Queensborough to host a critically needed child care facility in that community. The first is a report on consultation for the required OCP amendment and zoning changes (local government sausage-making), and the second is about the City’s budget for this project.

There was quite a bit of discussion about the second point. The City is planning to tap into some Provincial Grants available to fund the capital investment required to build the space, and will use a not-for-profit to operate the facility. However, we need ot dedicate some capital budget to make both of these things happen. The extra money the City is putting up comes from the General Amenity Reserve – money collected from developers to increase density in order to provide exactly these kinds of amenities, and I am satisfied that this is an appropriate use of those finds, especially in light of the opportunity to leverage 4x the amount we invest from senior governments, and that child care is the #1 amenity priority for the Queensborough neighbourhood.

701 Sixth Street (Glenbrooke Daycare Society): Request for Financial Assistance
This is the other side of the coin. There are several child care facilities in the City struggling to pay the bills and keep services affordable, and capital costs for expansion are a challenge for them all. The City has a reserve fund for childcare, and a staff committee who determines the best use of these funds. It hurts to not be able to say Yes to every request, but I respect staff’s recommendation about how to best use limited funds to have the bidggest impact, and this application doesn’t seem to meet that test.

Construction Noise Bylaw: Proposed Changes to Permitted Hours and Pile Driving Technologies – For Consideration
This update to our construction Noise Bylaw will reducing pile driving hours on Saturdays, and look towards methods to encourage quieter and less disruptive pile technology. The first is something some other Lower Mainland communities do, and this brings us more in line with regional standards. The second is something other Cities don’t currently do, so New West is once again launching off into uncharted territory in the livability front.

The pile technology used for River Sky downtown was pretty traditional: diesel impact. It is also the noisiest. Essentially using an un-muffled diesel explosion to drive the hammer. Other technologies have strengths and weaknesses: vibratory hammers are much quieter, but may not be appropriate near heritage structures because there is some potential the vibrations can weaken older adjacent foundations. Drilled piles and rotary techniques are also quieter, but are more expensive, and may not work reliably depending on the type of geology you are drilling into.

The request to staff here was to bring back a more detailed report on strengths and weaknesses of the technologies, and to give us some guidance on what our abilities are as a local government to either demand a certain technology use (or, more likely, a desired outcome as far as noise and intrusion), or to incentivize less impactful techonology. Are we limited by building codes or higher government standards? What is our negotiating ability here with larger developments? Or do we need to rely on the neighbourliness of Developers (like the approach Bosa Developments have taken for the new development on the waterfront). More to come…

Passive Design Exclusions for Low-Rise Residential Zones
We want to encourage people to build more efficient homes, or upgrade the efficiency of their existing homes, but however unintentionally some zoning rules act against this. More efficient homes to the PassivHaus level often have much thicker walls, floors and ceilings. If we count square footage by the outside walls, then wall thickness comes at expense of floor space. Similarly when we limit the peak height of houses. Staff has some creative suggestions to fix this mixed message. Council agreed. Staff will work on the Bylaw amendments.

Public Water Station Installations
Public fountains are coming back into vogue as we build a more walkable city with more active public spaces. Can public bathrooms be far behind?

Centennial Lodge Renovations
Some suggested changes to the Centennial Lodge are being put on the back burner due to some shift in the operations on site resulting in less use conflict. Good news is we save a bit of money from our Capital budget. By the way, the Art Gallery at Centennial has a refreshed look – new floors and paint, and it looks nice. You should drop by an see what they have going on.

New Westminster Urban Solar Garden Pilot Project Update
This is a pretty cool program that New Westminster is uniquely able to operate, partly because we own our own electrical utility. Following the lead of equally-advantaged Nelson, BC, we are launching a Solar Garden program where you can purchase a share in a solar panel array, then receive the benefit of the electricity it produces.

A challenge to installing your own photovoltaics at home is beyond the cost of the panels, but the cost of installation engineering, electrical converters, meters, wiring, and maintenance of the above. If a bunch of panels are installed together, those costs are shared and the entire operation is more efficient. Through a Solar Garden, you can buy a panel at our Public Works Yard, and our electrical utility operates it. You pay a buy-in cost, then the power your panel produces is subtracted from your monthly electricity bill.

There will be a public Open House to outline the idea next week. Show up and see if a Solar Array is right for you!

Advisory Committee for Transit, Bicycles and Pedestrians (ACTBiPed): Implications of New Westminster Hosting a Walk21 Conference
I was unfortunately unable to attend the ACTBIPed meeting from which this arose, but am intrigued about the Walk21 Conference. It was held in Vancouver a few years ago and member of this Council and some other sustainable transportation advocates in the community attended and found it an inspiring and education experience.

I support this motion from ACTBiPed that we should explore hosting the conference in future year, but added to it that we ask staff to also consider partnering with an adjacent community in hosting. This may be an opportunity for New West and Burnaby or Surrey to work together on some of our common sustainable transportation goals.

These items were Late Additions, to the Agenda:

Arenex Facility Investigation Report
This report by independent structural engineers reviewed the likely causes of the Arenex roof collapse. It is an interesting read, but the short version is that there is no single cause that could be identified. The roof snow load was not as big as in some previous years, and there were no signs ahead of time of structural problems. Potentially, repeated stress cycles over 80 years exacerbated an undetected flaw in the ceiling beam that failed, and the final snow load was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Ultimately, it was unanticipated, and most likely impossible to predict until the night it started to creak and the building was evacuated.

Status of tree Bylaw Amendments
The Tree Bylaw introduced back in 2016 is not without its teething problems. In the year after adoption, there were 295 applications processed under the Bylaw, 466 trees authorized for removal and 653 replacement trees planted. 47 hazardous trees were removed by permit and more than 300 trees that may have been lost were retained (including 46 “specimen trees”). So as far as protection and increasing the number of trees in the City, the Bylaw is working. As far as smooth and timely execution of the permitting process, we still have a bit to go. At this point, there is a real process backlog which means we are not hitting reasonable standards for customer service.

That said, we did make a commitment to review the Bylaw within the first two years to look at improvements or necessary changes. Staff are working on bringing a full report to Council, and I hope we will see something in the Fall. In the meantime, we are working on staff resourcing to fix the backlog problem.

We then wrapped out meeting, as per usual, by rolling through our Bylaws:

Wood-Boyne Street Road Closure Bylaw No. 7935, 2017
As described above, this Bylaw that results in the official closure of a portion of Wood street in Queensborough so the Animal Shelter can be built upon was given three readings.

Cultural Services Fees and Charges Amendment Bylaw No. 7931, 2017
As discussed at the May 15 Meeting, this Bylaw that adjusts the rates for studio space at the Anvil Centre was adopted. It’s the law of the land, adjust your dance card appropriately.

Sign Bylaw No. 7867, 2017
Bylaw Notice Enforcement Amendment Bylaw No. 7921, 2017
As also discussed at the May 15 Meeting, this update to our Sign Bylaw was adopted by Council. Long-haired Freaky People need not apply.

Zoning Amendment (602 Ewen Avenue) No. 7840, 2016
This Bylaw amendment supporting the 16-unit townhouse development in Queensborough was Adopted by Council.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (430 Duncan Street) No. 7796, 2015
The Bylaw that came to Public Hearing back in November of 2015 is finally ready to be adopted by Council, which we did.

And except for a few announcements, that was the end of the TV run for New Westminster Council. Have a good summer.

Friday on Front

Yikes. That was a crowd.

I had a slight sense that our little Grand Opening on the Front Street Mews was going to have a big turnout. It had all the elements – a new public space, nice weather, music, and a Beer Truck. Still, I think the turnout was about 5x planning estimates. Which is a good problem to have, I guess, although I was among those who spent a lot of time in the beer line up…

Fortunately, most people were happy to see the crowd and the space, the open liquor licence model didn’t seem to cause any problems, and the spill-over meant it was hard to find an empty restaurant or pub seat in Downtown. Which I guess is the ultimate goal.

Again, there are many people to thank for making this event happen – Kendra and her Downtown BIA team, City staff who helped organize, the Arts Council and NW Farmers Market for the boothy goodness, and all the Happy New Westies who showed, once again, that we can have fun outside, show up in numbers, and not create problems.

I cannot believe this used to be three levels of parking.
I cannot believe this used to be three levels of parking.