Community Update – June 29

I spent most of last week doing what the rest of you were doing: sweating. I worked, I rode my bike, I attended several community events as outlined below, but mostly I sweated.

QB meeting

On Wednesday, I stopped off at the Queensborough Community Centre after work to see what the conversation was around the Eastern Queensborough Neighbourhood Node plan. Both City Planners and the Developer were on site to talk to Q’boro residents and answer questions about the plan we discussed in Council a few days earlier. The room was full (which is great to see in any Open House!) and seemed generally positive. The most frequent comments I heard from residents were concerns related to traffic (no surprise there) and a general feeling that local retail couldn’t come to eastern Q’Boro soon enough!

On Thursday, I was able to attend the NWSS graduation ceremony. I serve on the City’s Youth Advisory Committee and have spent some time meeting Youth Ambassadors and other volunteers in the school community, so there were a few familiar faces walking across the stage. Or, in a few cases, strutting across… GradI was only a little chagrined to see that mine was the only bike in the rack, amongst the couple of thousand students, parents, siblings, supporters and dignitaries at Queens Park Arena that night! Well, I guess it was kind of a fancy-dress occasion.

The second place where my bike was the only one in the rack that night was at the Annual General Meeting of the Royal City Curling Club. I’m not on the Board anymore, but the new team is doing a great job. We had a very successful season: our ice is basically sold out, our leagues are nearly full, our Junior and Little Rocks programs are as successful as they have ever been, and revenues were stable enough that we were able to retire the last of our debt after a few years of solid financial work. I sure am proud of the volunteers and staff of the Club – the best curling facility in the Lower Mainland by far.

Saturday a few members of Council and the New Westminster Youth Ambassadors attended a fundraiser at the New Westminster Lawn Bowling Club. Council was challenged by the Ambassadors to a mini-tournament in the hot afternoon sun. The team of Trentadue and Johnstone showed their rookie status by being outscored by about 13-1 over two games. However, the Mayor and Councillor Harper showed their experience and guile by taking a tight final game, and securing the Challenge Cup for City Hall:Bowles

In there defense, the second place Ambassador team had graduated High School two days previously, and were working on a combined 4 hours of sleep.

Saturday was such a nice evening, that @MsNWimby and I spent the evening on a long walk along the River, enjoying two exceptional New Westminster lounging activities, one at the Urban Beach at Pier Park:recline

Another at the far western end of the Boardwalk, where the first Biennale piece provides a unique lounging / river watching / selfie / breath-holding-contest / being-a-goof experience:


On Sunday, Council joined several thousand people at Ryall Park in Queensborough to celebrate the 9th annual Nagar Kirtan and celebration honouring the 5th Sikh Guru , Guru Arjan Dev Ji organized by the Gurdwara Sahib Sukh Sagar. As always with the Sikh community, the crowds were huge, the music engrossing, the organization remarkable and efficient, and the food plentiful, delicious, and free. It is an amazing event the entire community is welcome to, and Council was honoured to be invited to the stage to address the assembly. If you get a chance to attend a Nagar Kirtan (Sikh Parade), do so!

Finally, the weekend ended with the celebration of the first birthday of one of New Westminster’s best new businesses. Steel and Oak Brewing has had a remarkable first year, and has clearly found a winning formula: exceptional product, a talented and adventurous brewmaster, an eye for design, social media savvy, and a gregarious and professional staff. Happy Birthday S&O and congratulations to Jorden and James. It’s been fun watching you guys succeed after all of the hard work and stress of the previous year! Sand) bday

Council Report – June 22, 2015

Last council meeting of the Month, which means we had a Public Hearing on some of the pent-up Bylaws from the last month or so.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7758, 2015 (646 Ewen Ave)

This is a proposal to build a largish single family home on a vacant property that previously had a single family home, but is zoned for commercial use. It is in a neighborhood dominated by largish single family homes, and although the lot coverage is higher than ideal, the proponent is building a green roof on their accessory building, and is maximizing the infiltration of the remaining permeable surfaces. The Residents’ Association and the APC were OK with the development, no-one showed up to oppose it at the Open House, and no-one came to the Public Hearing.

I had no reason to oppose this development.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No 7760, 2015 (328 Holmes Street)

This is a proposal to split a largish residential lot on the steep part of Holmes Street (ed: Is there any part of Holmes that isn’t steep?) and build two homes where there is currently one. The resultant homes are similar to others in the area and around town being built on RS-5 zones, and with an accessible back alley, it makes the street presence nicer. The Residents’ Association did not oppose the idea, and the only neighbours who provided opinions at the Open House were in favour. We received two pieces of correspondence opposing the subdivision, including one from a property that had previously been similarly subdivided. The primary concern appeared to be laneway traffic increases.

I had no reason to oppose this subdivision, as it is completely in character with what has been happening in the neighbourhood over the last decade. It is a pretty sensitive infill of density in a single family neighbourhood. There will be at least one very large tree lost in this development, which irritates me, but until we get a Tree Bylaw implemented in New Westminster, there is not much I can do about that without being unfairly punitive to particular owners. So no opposition here.

HRA Bylaw No 7736, 2015 and HD Bylaw 7737, 2015 (420 St. George St.)

This proposal is to restore and protect the 1890 Burton Taylor house (no, not that Burton-Taylor). The lot would be subdivided, with a second infill house built on the slightly-non-conforming second lot. The Community Heritage Commission, Advisory Planning Commission, and neighbourhood have all expressed approval for the plan, and the one initially-opposing neighbor was satisfied by a change made by the proponent to protect building separation between the neighbouring lots.

It does make Council life easier when neighbouring property owners write short letters of support for projects like this. It is just human nature that we are quick to write letters of opposition, but slow to write letters of support (an old axiom from election turnout math: people rarely line up to say “good job”), so the support letter carry a lot of weight.

No-one showed up to oppose at Public Hearing, and I have no reason to oppose this application.

HRA Bylaw No. 7712, 2015 and HD Bylaw 7713, 2015 (327 Fourth Street)

This proposal is to restore the 1913 Bell Residence in Queens Park, and to divide the large lot upon which it is located to facilitate the building of a second home on the back. The second home would face Pine Street, making it similar to the majority (6 of 8) of houses on that block of Pine. The restoration itself will be an extensive one, bringing some of the former glory to a house you might look at no and wonder if it is really a “heritage asset”.

The project was generally favoured by the Advisory Planning Commission, the Community Heritage Commission or the Residents’ Association, and plans were adjusted to respond to some of the more specific concerns raised by those groups. I am glad to see the plan for the new building has been voluntarily changed to protect a mature evergreen on the site. Some issues raised on correspondence (“we want no new homes built in our neighbourhood”) cannot meaningfully be addressed, while others (concern that restoration will not be completed in a timely manner) are addressed in the Agreement. There were interesting “design” issues raised that are worthy of discussion in the Queens Park Heritage Study context, but as the Local Government Act reads, we are really limited on being able to dictate “design” of single family houses.

We received one letter in opposition against all subdivision of single family lots, and no presentations at Public Hearing other than the Architect. I have no reason to oppose this application.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw 7765, 2015 (Commercial above grade at Brewery District)

This change would provide Wesgroup more flexibility in how they meet market demands while developing the last three high rise buildings on the Brewery District. Currently, the new buildings could be residential with commercial (retail or office) permitted only on the ground floor. This change would allow them to build more than one floor of commercial within the new buildings, if the market exists.

This does not come with increased building heights or overall density for the development, and the shift to commercial from residential would have to include providing parking and traffic management changes concomitant with commercial development.

There was a concern raised at Public Hearing that this might mean the three buildings will be 18 story office towers. I don’t think that is likely, and I’m not sure it would be a terrible thing, but providing for more flexibility towards employment generating space around a SkyTrain Station is something I’m happy to support.

After the Public Hearing, we dropped immediately into our Regular Meeting, where (after doing the Third Reading of the Bylaws from Public Hearing) which actually continued the public participation theme with Opportunities to be Heard on 4 Development Variance Permits and Development Permits in Queensborough:

DVP 00595 / DPQ 00056 (620 Salter Street);
DVP 00584 / DPQ 00057 (188 Wood Street);
DVP 00592 / DPQ 00049 (240 Jardine Street);
DVP 00594 / DPQ 00054 (843 Ewen Avenue):

Only the last of the four had anyone come to address Council. There were two concerns raised, that the separation between buildings was not sufficient for safety, and that tandem parking did not work. The first was well addressed in the report (the space was not a concern for engineering or fire, and the separations in the order of 30 feet were not a concern). The second was interesting, but I note that the developer was only relying on 13 tandem spots to make the “required number” by the zoning, but were also providing an excess of 25 more tandem spots – about 20% more parking was being planned for than the development required.

As we met in Committee last week, but did not have an evening meeting, we had Committee of the Whole Recommendations to address from June 15.

2015 Community Grant Request

The Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame asked for a grant to help with facility costs for their annual fundraiser.

Generally, I am reluctant to approve these grants outside of the normal grant process – there needs to be a case made that there is an exceptional reason. Something like a narrow matching grant window that must be met, or a change in programming outside of the control of the applicant. There is a reason we have a formal application process and deadlines – so that all organizations looking to partner with the City have equal access and opportunity, and the external grant committee exists to provide arms-length evaluation of the merit of the many applications we receive.

In this case, I think it is an exceptional year for the CLHF, with the move to the anvil representing probably the biggest event to happen to the Hall since its inception. I hope they have a successful fundraiser and continue to contribute to the unique and historic culture of New Westminster.

I also recommended that staff develop a system where a meeting of the Granting Committee could be called on an ad-hoc basis to evaluate these requests that occur outside of the regular grant cycle. I don’t want to encourage this type of application, where organizations come to Council with hat in hand in place of the relatively rigid and accountable process we have developed. It is better that these types of applications go through the same scrutiny as our other grant applications, even if they are out of the regular timing cycle.

Request for Reduction in Property Taxes.

A proponent building a Secured Market Rental Housing project asked the City to add property tax relief to the incentive package for building these types of development. On looking over the incentives provided by the City, I think they are generous, and we are seeing applications for these types of developments, suggesting we are achieving the goals of the incentive program as is. I don’t think one-off property tax reductions are a good policy for the City to start creating.

Statement of Financial Information Report

This is the simplified financial information report provided to the province every year. The City’s finances are in good stead, with solid (but not excessive) reserves, and a very manageable debt load overall in comparison to our assets. The completion of the Anvil Centre and sale of the Office Tower both create interesting shift in numbers this year, just because their value is so high relative to our usual revenue flows, but nothing in this report concerns me in the long term when looking at the 5-year financial plan.

Investment Report

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, the City has about $80Million in various reserves. This report tells us where they are an how the investments are doing. This leads me directly to my Motion under New Business below, as I think we need to talk about where we invest, and start putting our money where our policy is.

Gateway to Downtown Public Art

We are getting another piece of Public Art installed on Columbia Street at the east end of Downtown. I’m not an Art Critic, but I like this piece called “Rorshach/Sentinel”, as it is hard to tell what it is supposed to be at first glance, but once you see it, you just can’t miss it. This installation was chosen from several submissions by our Public Art Advisory Committee and paid for out of our Public art Reserve fund.


Then we also received some correspondence.

On to June 22 Committee of the Whole Meeting, where we moved the following Recommendations:

Queensborough Special Study Area

This proposal for the development of the triangle bounded by Ewen, Stanley, and Duncan Streets in Queensborough will be a pretty big change in how the east part of QB operates. Instead of the Animal Shelter, tow yard, and a few dispersed homes, this area will see about 175 new family-friendly residences and (this is the good part) about 50,000 square feet of retail anchored by a neighbourhood grocery store. This will do a lot to make the Port Royal neighbourhood more convenient for a lot of people.

The plan is more than houses and stores, though, with Mercer being re-imagined as a pedestrian-friendly “high Street”, and lots of greenways that will preserve the habitat along some of the valuable watercourses (yes, I know we call them “ditches”, but they are actually important habitat for vertebrates). The retail treatment is not your typical strip mal, but will address the streets around in a very pedestrian-friendly way. I am pretty happy with the preliminary layouts.

My remaining concern is on the transportation realm. The intersection of Furness where it links Ewen to Duncan is going to be really sensitive –a pinch point and the only access to home for a great many Port Royal residents. Also, the ingress/egress around the medium-density residential area also looks limited – the left turn onto Duncan from Stanley being a challenge, and with Ewen and Duncan already seeing a lot of traffic-related complaints with adjacent industrial traffic and Furness and Ewen being a pinch point for a lot of Port Royal Residents.

There is some work to do here, on part of City staff and the main developer, and there will be a lot of public consultation involved in the near future. People of Queensborough, keep your ears to the ground!

Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability

One of 4 task forces set up by the Mayor at the beginning of his new term, this one is addressing what might be the highest-profile urban issue in the Lower Mainland today (sorry transit referendum).

The Task force has already made progress on leading a housing needs assessment for the City, identified an inventory of City-owned lands where an affordable housing project may be piloted, and has laid the groundwork for hiring a Housing Consultant to help with program delivery and created recommendations to council for new forms of affordable housing in the City. Which brings us to…

RFP for the Development of Affordable Housing

The Task Force has identified two City-owned lots in residential areas that might be appropriate for small-scale affordable housing projects, be they rental or ownership. This Request for Proposals will go out to developers (including not-for-profits) to make best use of these two lots so that housing for low-to-moderate income individuals can be developed.

The City is not providing a lot of guidance here towards how these homes will be built, sold or rented, and how the affordability aspect will be preserved for perpetuity. The thought being that the developer or not-for-profit can exercise their experience and judgement to create a solution that meets all of the criteria, and the City can facilitate that through providing land and any administrative/logistical support as is appropriate.

I look forward to seeing what types of approaches are presented when the real experts in this field are given the ability to flex their creative muscles. I’m also happy to live in a City where we attack these issues head-on.

This report is worth reading if only for the amazing table of statistics at the end of the RFP about New Westminster’s current housing situation. I think I’ll need to write another blog post just about that.

Bylaw Notice Enforcement Amendment Bylaw No 7768, 2015 (to amend Bylaw No. 7318, 2009)

We amended this Bylaw back in May, but a clerical error slipped through, and so we need to do it again. I read it this time, I swear (the fine for having a campfire in your back yard is, apparently, $200 for a first offence, which is twice the fine for golfing. Who knew?) We moved consideration of Three Readings.

Zoning Bylaw No. 7767, 2015:

This is a “Housekeeping” Bylaw to fix a few issues with our existing Zoning Bylaw. Nothing too earth-shattering here. We moved consideration for two readings, and recommended it go to Publci Hearing at the next Opportunity, July 13, 2015.

Sale of City Land (327 Fenton Street)

This is a single-family lot in Queensborough that is surplus to City needs and is being sold to the highest bidder, who offered us a fair price. We don’t really have a comprehensive strategy for managing City-owned lands like this, but we have policy that sets out principles that need to be met before we will sell off any City lands. This sale meets those principles. No worries here.

Major Purchases Report

On the other side of the coin, the City bought a bunch of stuff in the first quarter of 2015. All purchases about $100,000 are reported to Council ($50,000 if they are “sole source” contracts). If you’re wondering what kind of things you tax money buys, this is a good report to look at. Amazingly enough, a bunch of it goes right back into the local economy, and not down a black hole.

Bylaw No 7757, 2015: Amendment of the 5-year Financial Plan

Now that we have received audited statements for the end of last year, we need to integrate the accounting adjustments into our 5-year Plan. Of course, we are already adopted the subsequent 5-year financial plan back in May, so…

In defense of the presenter at the earlier Public Hearing on this, without a red-line comparison, it is hard to tell exactly what the changes are here. I was able to compare to earlier financial reporting I had a copies of and which are available on-line (and the changes are not huge), but really, the staff report should include a red-line side-by side comparison, for our benefit, and the for the benefit of the public who might read the report. Hopefully, through our review of Public Engagement, we can make this process clearer in subsequent years.

We recommended the Bylaw that is the 5-year Plan for three readings.

Proposed Budget Process for 2016.

This is an outline of how we prepare the budget over the year, and where the opportunities for Public and stakeholder input is. I like the idea being explored of doing of doing a biennial budget cycle, with only minor adjustments in the off-year. With the new 4-year Council terms, this is completely viable, will free up finance staff and Council to get more involved in longer-term planning, and would open up the timelines as bit to allow for a more open public consultation process.

Stay tuned, as the Public Engagement Taskforce is going to look over this, and there are a couple of citizens on that committee that have a real eye for budgeting process and making it even more transparent.

License Agreement Renewals

There are various not-for-profits that lease City space at non-market value, as is allowed under the Community Charter if they provide unique or valued services to the community. Of course, we need legal agreements and insurance and indemnity and such. This report is just to provide a bit of guidance to the Staff as they work to renew and update the agreements with 6 community organizations.

Heritage Alteration Permit No. 066 (1010B Third Ave)

The heritage homes at 1010 and 1012 Third Ave were part of a Heritage Revitalization Agreement last year, where the two houses were protected in exchange for the creation of a new lot between them, upon which a new house would be built. Part of that HRA was that the new house would reflect the style of the Craftsman 1010 Third Ave.

The owner has now decided to build the new house following Passive House principles, very likely making this the most energy-efficient house ever built in New Westminster. To meet these requirements, a few design changes are proposed, mostly in the shape of the roofline and the windows (which are both rather important to energy efficiency design). As the design of the infill house is part of the HRA, these changes require a change of that agreement.

The Community Heritage Commission was not in favour of these changes, which is a bit of a concern. However, this is an infill house (not one of the two heritage homes), and the changes are subtle enough that the new house will not be radically different than the two adjacent homes. The goals of energy efficiency through leading-edge building techniques meets a lot of the City’s objectives through our CEEP and EnergySave New West.

Interesting to see how our Zoning Bylaw can be shifted to accommodate, or even encourage, the building of supper-efficient homes.

Pattullo Bridge Rehab Work

The Pattullo is going to be undergoing repairs in 2016. People keep asking me why TransLink is spending millions of dollars fixing a bridge that will soon be replaced, and the simple answer is within the definition of the word “soon”. In a best-case scenario (A YES on the referendum, stakeholders quickly agree on design and operation principles, senior governments quickly step in with funding, no unexpected Environmental Assessment delays, etc.), we will not have a new Pattullo Bridge for at least 6 years. More likely, we are looking at 10 years before the new bridge comes on line. In the meantime, the old bridge has to stay standing and safe, and its delaminating desk and failing structural components need to be dealt with.

The City is working with Surrey, TransLink, and the Ministry of Transportation to create a strategy to manage the traffic impacts of reduced lanes and partial closures during this work. We don’t know what those strategies look like yet, but we hope to see a report back in the Fall with ideas about changes we can make in our municipal streets to help keep the impacts from hurting the livability of our neighbourhoods. I am also curious about how TransLink is going to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists during the year-and-a-half closure of the sidewalk.

Stay tuned.


The City of Burnaby sent us a letter informing us of their concerns with the Uber model of “Car Sharing”. We have asked staff to report back to us with comments.

Someone wise (I think it was Umair Haque) once said “If you can pay by Credit Card, it isn’t sharing”. The business model of Uber is to compete with a highly regulated industry by providing an unregulated alternative. That sounds great, except when we realize that regulations often exist for a reason. Would you fly on an unregulated airline or buy dinner at an unregulated restaurant?

There is a fair argument that the Taxi Industry in BC is way over regulated. A market where the license to operate a cab is sold for an order of magnitude more money than the value of the car, and where the business applies to the Province for 16 new licenses to fill a need, and is only awarded two (as happened this year in New Westminster), is clearly a dysfunctional one, but I’m not sure an unregulated market is the best alternative. We live in interesting times.

Appointment to Committee

The representative from Fraser Health to our Community and Social Issues Committee has changed.

We then did a bunch of readings to a bunch of Bylaws, all discussed earlier in public hearing or the Meetings:

Bylaw Notice Enforcement Amendment Bylaw No 7768, 2015 (to amend Bylaw No. 7318, 2009): Received three readings.

Zoning Bylaw No. 7767, 2015: Received two readings and will go to Public Hearing on July 13, 2015. C’mon out and tell us what you think.

Bylaw No 7757, 2015: Amendment of the 5-year Financial Plan: Received three readings.

And, finally, my New Business item:

WHEREAS: The City of New Westminster’s financial assets are invested with the Municipal Finance Authority, which includes pooled funds and direct investment in hydrocarbon extraction and pipeline operation companies;

WHEREAS: The City of New Westminster recognizes the global concern and risks of Anthropogenic Climate Change and has taken efforts to reduce the greenhouse gas impacts of its internal operations and in the community in general, and

WHEREAS: Investments in fossil fuel extraction carry numerous risks, including economic risk to market value of fossil fuel companies based on stranded assets through increased worldwide transition to renewable energy sources, including Canada’s own commitment to moving towards reduced GHG emissions and the G7 commitment to a carbon-free economy by the end of the Century;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That New Westminster support ongoing efforts by communities and public institutions across Canada and North America to divest public investments from fossil-fuel related assets by calling upon the MFA to develop a plan to divest from these assets.

I think the resolution (passed unanimously by Council) speaks for itself, and I will talk more about this in an upcoming Blog Post, but if you are interesting in learning about the case for Divestment and the Divestment Movement, you can start here:

“The argument for divesting from fossil fuels is becoming overwhelming”

This is the beginning of an interesting journey, I’m sure.

Community Update – June 22

Here is my update on activity of the last week.

We didn’t have an evening Council Meeting last Monday, but we did meet. There was a closed meeting and an open Committee of the Whole meeting. I’ll report on the CotW items when they come to a regular meeting and are on our regular agenda.

On Wednesday evening, I was honoured to visit the Van Dop Gallery where the New Westminster Youth Ambassadors were holding an event to thank their sponsors for a great season before they go and do things like graduate and get summer jobs and such.


I say honoured, because it has been really great getting to know there kids young adults adults over the last year or so. They have been at so many community events, helping out and being great ambassadors for their City, their School, and their generation. Recognizing that I am now an old person, I can even say I have seen some real development of the confidence and presentation of individual members. This is a great program that Lynn Radbourne has put together, with a small group of volunteers, a great group of local sponsors, and a fine selection of youth representatives.

Thursday evening the New Westminster chapter of Rotary International had their annual Installation of Officers meeting. I am not a Rotarian, but I have been to a few of their meetings for different reasons, and am always impressed by the impact this group has locally and internationally. The stories of their ongoing effort to eradicate polio (Africa is almost polio-free, and the entire world should be in this generation!) is just one example. I was happy to represent Council at their dinner, and thank them for the good work they do.

20150620120601On Saturday, the Children’s Festival in Ryall Park in was a happening place. Being held at the Queensborough Community Centre, it was not only a great festival with music (including a funk-and-horn laden set by Dysfunktional, as pictured), booths, games, face painting, etc. etc., but the Spray Park was running, so hyperthermia was not on the menu. Even after burning up the funk.

Also Saturday, there was some sort of political thing, which you might be able to figure out by looking at this map on the wall:


As I said a few days ago, never too early to start planning.

Saturday was also Derby Day at the Royal City Curling Club. This was my first full-on Derby experience at the Club (I had seen practices over the years), and although the Main Event of the evening was a bit of a one-sided affair, it was a pretty entertaining night. The sport has it’s strangeness, and an abundance of tongue-in-cheek attitude, but you can recognize some incredible athletes and can really get engaged in the competition. Good times were had by all. The season is coming to an end, with the Championships on July 4th. You should check this stuff out.


On Sunday there was a Pop-up gallery at the New West Arts Council in Queens Park, where the paintings created in a rush by 100+ participants in Quest New West 2015 were on display. There were a wide variety of interpretations of the Pattullo Bridge on display, none more embarrassing than that presented by your team of elected officials:


Aside from these, there were some pretty amazing pieces as well, done by people who understand shape, form, colour, and which end of the paintbrush goes into the paint, so I suspect here will be another showing of this pop-up coming to New Westminster soon.

But with a huge package to review this week (seriously,  there were 1,189 pages of documents delivered to my inbox on Friday afternoon for discussion on Monday), that was all I got to on Sunday. There are fewer council meetings over the summer, so hopefully this is an anomaly, because I really wanted to sit around Queens Park in the sun and listen to bands playing tunes…


See you next week.

Ask Pat: 4th street elevator.

D-Ro asks—

#1 With summer fast approaching will the elevator, on 4th St, be working by the Spring 2015 deadline.


Donovan R.

Ugh. That damn elevator. No it will not be completed by the original deadline (a few months ago), nor will it be completed by the updated deadline (June 1st). However, I have been assured it will be ready by the first week of July, which makes it “summer”, not “spring”. Note, however, that this assurance came from the same people who provided earlier assurances, so I request a little wiggle room.

All I can say about this project is that the problems are not structural, not specific to the site, and not a sign of long-term issues. There were some initial delays due to concrete pouring timing around a cold snap over the winter, then a second delay was (as is my understanding) related to some parts that were ordered and installed that were found to be incompatible with other installed parts, requiring their removal and new orders for replacement parts. This third delay is relatively minor, but the replacement parts require a bit of re-jigging of the framing, mostly for aesthetic reasons.  The time delay is unfortunate, but the extra costs are the responsibility of the contractor, so the issues should not cost the City any extra.

Community Update – June 15

I have been loosely using the “Community” category of posts to make a brief mention of the things I have been doing around the community outside of Council Meetings. However, I am doing so many things these days that I never find the time to post a photo and write a short blurb, so I am going to try to create a fixed schedule. Every Monday or so I will try to post a brief summary of the previous week.

Last weekend was so busy with a celebration of Andree St. Martin’s retirement, the Qayqayt Howl, the EcoFest, and of course Quest New West that I had to dial life back a bit for the beginning of the week.

Wednesday I pinched-hit for Councillor McEvoy and chaired the Neighborhood Traffic Advisory Committee, and Thursday was Access Ability Advisory Committee. Minutes for these meetings will eventually hit the City Web Page.

Friday I swang by the Connaught Heights annual carnival after work. Not having any children, and therefore not having kids in the New West school system, it is cool to see the carnivals the PACs throw together (the Howl Last weekend, and not less than three this weekend!).


Saturday was the Season Closer and summer kick-off for New West Baseball (see pic above). It was a great spring season for NWB: the first ever (according to Coach and NWB Big Cheese Ron Sufferon) to not have a single game rained out! Yes, it has been that kind of spring. But no-one could prepare for Oh Canada sung by three City Councillors. That’s twice in two weeks I have been forced to sing into a microphone. I hope it will stop soon.

Sunday was Sapperton Day. This has always been one of my favourite one-day Street Fairs in New West. The weather was (as usual) perfect, and everything from the Pancake Breakfast to the stage performances were great. I really have to thank the Sapperton Merchants, Guy Ciprian, and all the volunteers for putting on a great show.

mugging with Antonia, the City’s TDM Coordinator and Andrew, a volunteer with HUB, at Sapperton Day.

The highlight was, of course, the Red Tape Race, where 4-time (or is it 5-time?) champion Jonathan Cote was racing with the added weight of a new job title, and two new competitors (Councillor Mary Trentadue and Yours Truly) were not going to let him own the track. In the end, it was all elbows and suspicious line shifting that allowed the rookie Trentadue to take her first ever Red Tape Race, with the former champ in second and myself a distant third.


Ask Pat: Carnarvon

jenarbo asks—

Carnarvon between 8th and 10th is a mess for pedestrians and stressful for drivers. What solutions have been considered, and has anything been decided? Any timeline?

Ugh. It is a mess. I see several problems:

The exit from the Shops at New West Station is wide and friendly, then hits a relatively narrow sidewalk, with a strangely-conceived planter as one tries to get to the crossing at 8th. The other direction takes you past one parking entrance, then the gaping maw of the “breezeway” where drivers, busses and pedestrians all routinely ignore their respective and confusing red lights, until the least-functional three-way stop I have ever seen (one that is completely overwhelmed by the number of pedestrians the crosswalk accommodates) leads to a roundabout the functioning of which seems to confound the common sense of BC drivers which provides bad sightlines to another crosswalk on 10th. The sidewalk is congested with waiting bus passengers and street furniture, made less appealing by the looming (almost overhanging) 60 foot sheer grey sun-blocking wall that rises straight up over the entire 500 feet, while crossing to the sunny side of the street is perilous what with traffic back-ups, confused turns at those aforementioned driveways or three-way stops attempting to get through any opening that may occur in the line of cars and busses only to get to a sidewalk that is more driveway that crosswalk for most of its extent…

From an urban planning perspective, the Plaza 88 complex was a bold and brilliant idea, but from an urban design perspective, the result is close to a disaster. And I really don’t know how to fix it.

I have heard a few radical suggestions: make the road one-way eastbound (although it is generally thought that one-way streets make situations worse if pedestrian safety is your goal, which is why many urban centres are now removing them). Closing the street to traffic between McInnes and the Parkade exit has been suggested (which would only help with a few of the many issues, some locals would complain loudly, and I don’t think our traffic engineers would take it seriously).  Removing street parking would impact a few local businesses, although there is always parking available in the public lots in Plaza88, and would allow a better traffic-calmed street profile with wider sidewalks and better sightlines (but the back-ups would continue).

But no, I have not heard any serious plans, or timelines to implement them.

One thing I don’t want to do right now is make it worse. During recent discussions at Council about the “4th tower” at Plaza 88, this topic was raised numerous times. With another parking entrance on Carnarvon between the roundabout and the three-way stop, with another 6-story podium rising straight up from the sidewalk, with worsened sightlines and more pressure on the street – this is going to be a much harder building to approve until we recognize that Carnarvon is not working well now, and the addition of a stop light at McInnes is not going to solve the problems.

I am open to suggestion.

Ask Pat: Sapperton Park

J.H. asked—

Are there any plans with Sapperton park?

Not that I know of. The playing fields are well used, the spray park and playgrounds appear to operate, if a little long-in-tooth. There was talk in the 2008 Parks Comprehensive Plan of replacing the field with artificial turf and replacing the lights, but that appears to have not taken place (while an artificial-turf field was added to Queens Park).

With the Brewery District development, the expansion of RCH, and (likely) subsequent increased business and residential density along East Columbia, one of the City’s most historic parks will definitely be seeing more use and more demands on it. I presume you are a neighbor, so I guess I’ll throw this question back at you: What would you like to see at Sapperton Park?

Quest NewWest 2015

This was my third year racing in Quest New West, and once again I was on a team of bridesmaids. Anna, Tig, Andrew and I finished 2nd in our category in the inaugural event; Andrew, Tig ,Reena and I finished in the same spot last year; for this year, I joined a Committee for Questing: Mayor Cote, Councillor Trentadue and Trustee Slade-Kerr. We finished safely second in our category, which isn’t too bad for a bunch of paper-pushing policy wonks!

This is an incredibly fun event. Tej Kainth from Tourism New Westminster and her platoon of volunteers put on a great show. Two dozen businesses around town opened their doors to something like 120 sweaty Questers, and major sponsors like Douglas College, Wild Rice, Wesgroup, Tien Sher Group, and the Record helped make it all happen. From a participant point of view, it was a flawless organization.

We sweated, we cycled, we ran, and we laughed. Mostly we laughed. Crossing the finish line, we were too tired to stand for the group shot. Thanks New West!

Ask Pat: Airborne Contaminants

Wes asks—

Hi Pat, I’ve been concerned about the airborne contaminants coming off the property that Harvest power urban wood waste recycling occupies in the Brunette industrial area. I remember hearing at a MSRA meeting that the city had told them quite some time ago that they had to move the operation indoors, but have not heard anything in quite some time. My real concern is that they are handling asbestos contaminated demolished products, and have been cited by worksafe in the past for not adequately protecting their employees. Are we as residents in lower Sapperton at risk for the same issue ?

To start off, I probably shouldn’t comment too much on the 2013 fine issued by WorkSafe, because all I know about it is what I read in the newspaper, and I assume that a serious fine like this comes with significant follow-up from WorkSafe BC to assure whatever was going wrong won’t go wrong again. I have (in my work life) dealt with illegal asbestos storage and transportation, and the Province (through the Hazardous Waste Regulation) and Metro Vancouver (through their job managing solid waste and recycling in the region) take asbestos pretty seriously. Businesses like Urban Woodwaste deal with demolition waste all the time, and have pretty strict protocols about how any asbestos they receive is managed.

That aside, air quality protection in the Lower Mainland is regulated by Metro Vancouver. They deal with odours, smoke, dust or any air quality concern. Generally, they require an air quality permit if a business has any point-source emissions. That includes traditional pollutants like sulphur dioxide from an oil refinery to odours from coffee roasting companies or dust from aggregate companies or sawmills. You can see a list of all of the companies that have permits and the conditions attached to those permits at this website. As you can see, Harvest/Urban Wood Waste in New Westminster does not have a permit, which tells me that Metro Vancouver does not consider their operation likely to cause air pollution or nuisance. They have a permit from Metro to operate a wood waste recycling facility (you can see a list of all of those permits here), which means they are on Metro Vancouver’s radar and are subject to regular inspection. I know enough of the Regulation & Enforcement folks at Metro to suggest they wouldn’t ignore the need for an air quality permit if they saw a problem.

If you have questions about Air Quality (and it sounds like you do), you shouldn’t ask random know-it-all bloggers like me, you should contact Metro Vancouver directly. They even have a 24-hour reporting line and on-line complaint form in case you observe (or smell, or suspect) an air quality concern.