Ask Pat: Bridges?

Matt asks—

What’s the deal with bridges?
Why are some bridges run by MOT (Ministry of Transportation), others by Translink, and still others by municipalities? For example, why is Pattullo a Translink bridge and not an MOT bridge. You get the idea… Thanks!

This is an easy one.

Let’s start with the Major Provincial Highways. All bridges on those Highways are owned by the Province and managed by the Ministry of Transportation (or, more commonly, their contractors). Highway 1 includes the Port Mann and the Second Narrows; Highway 99 the Deas Tunnel, Oak and Lions Gate; Highway 91 the Alex Fraser (and with the qualifier 91A, the Queensborough); and Highway 7 the Pitt River.
At the other end of the scale are the bridges that were within a City and both feet land within the same municipality: the Burrard, Cambie and Granville within Vancouver and the Dinsmore, No 2 Road, and Moray/Sea Island within Richmond. These belong to the City and are maintained by the City (although through the Major Road Network, many of them get funding from TransLink to help pay for maintenance). The Granville is also part of Highway 99, so I would not be surprised if MOT pitches in some maintenance money there as well.
The Laing is the freak bridge, as it connects Vancouver to federal land on Sea Island, and is owned and operated by the Vancouver Airport Authority.
That leaves 3 bridges that connect two separate municipalities, yet do not carry a major highway: The Knight, the Pattullo, and the Golden Ears. When TransLink was formed in 1998 to manage all regional transportation in Greater Vancouver, these bridges (well, actually two of them and the Albion Ferry, which was replaced by the Golden Ears) that had no other category but huge maintenance costs were unceremoniously dumped on TransLink. The Province threw in the 100-year-old one-lane wooden Westham Island swing bridge for good measure, although it is wholly within Delta.
Make sense?

Council Meeting – June 1, 2015

Another Monday, another exciting edition of City Council.

This week we started with our annual Environmental Poster Contest, where Councillor McEvoy and I, as Co-chairs of the Environment Committee, got to present prizes to the three winners. The posters will be displayed at River Fest in September.

We then had three presentations: one from the Canadian Federation of Students, concerned about recent cuts to adult basic education funding by the provincial government; a Proclamation of Access Awareness Day coming up on June 6; and one from City Staff outlining the Priority Capital Program that the Mayor’s Transportation Taskforce has brought to Council.

This was followed by a couple of Open Delegations, then a trip down the ol’ Recommendations from Committee of the Whole lane:

Zoning Amendment Bylaw 7759 – 210 Durham
This is an application to divide a full-width lot on Durham Street in Glenbrook North into two narrower 33’ lots with a separate home on each. The designs initially  proposed were not met well by the Residents Association or the Advisory Planning Commission, for several reasons. One complaint I heard (and agreed with) was that the proposed houses addressed the street with wide driveways and two-car garage doors, which was really “out of character” with the neighbourhood. There was also a concern about the removal of the significant boulevard tree in front of the house. Both of these issues have been addressed through revision of the design.

Council gave the required Bylaw first and second reading later in the meeting (see below) and the Bylaw will go to Public Hearing on July 13, 2015. C’mon out and tell us what you think!

Zoning Amendment Bylaw 7765 – Commercial Above Grade at Brewery District
This will change the zoning at the Brewery District to allow commercial development above grade in the future buildings, which will provide more flexibility as far as work/live space combinations go, which might be really helpful as the Health Care Cluster and residential parts of the Brewery District develop.

Council gave the required Bylaw first and second reading later in the meeting (see below) and the Bylaw will go to Public Hearing on June 22, 2015. C’mon out and tell us what you think!

1258 Ewen height variance
This is the first notice that a single-family home planned for Queesnborough wishes to exceed it’s maximum allowable height by 10 inches. Council received this report, and will allow the application to go through the proper process.

BC Seniors Games
New Westminster was approached earlier in the year by the BC Seniors Games organizers, as they are looking for host cities for upcoming years. After reading the staff analysis of the requirements, commitments and timelines, Council agreed we are not really in a place right now to host these. With a series of ongoing initiatives straining for prioritization, and being a few locale/facilities short of what we would need to host these games without a partner city, it is just not a good time for this.

We have, however, taken this as an opportunity to ask staff in Economic Development to work with the other departments and our community partners like Tourism New Westminster to assess how Sports Tourism in general fits into our overall economic development plans.

302 Fifth Street Development Variance
This resident is asking for a height variance for their garage, as they wish to build one that matches the unique roofline of their house. The intent is not to build a second story on their garage as a living space, and the internal truss design is specifically made to prevent making the upper part of the garage occupiable space.

This is a preliminary report, and council voted to receive. The application for the variance will go through the usual process.

Front Street Mews consultation
The City is starting to do design work on the roadway and sidewalks along Front Street where the western half of the Parkade is soon not to be. The preliminary drawings look promising, and two separate options were shown.

I actually prefer to have all of the parking away from the sidewalk, and with a nice pavement treatment, raised intersections, there are other ways to control traffic flow. I think this creates a much better buffer between the sidewalk and the Front Street through-traffic, and maximizes the amount of sidewalk space that can be activated in front of the businesses. I also think clearly defined parking on one side makes for a safer cycling environment.

Stakeholders downtown will be looking over the designs this week, and after possible tweaking, there will be a Public Open House on June 18th, 5:00-7:00pm at the Anvil Centre. C’mon out and tell staff what you think!

Parklets Pilot Program Launch
Parklets are great ideas, and they can really improve the pedestrian and retail space in a commercial district. The City is piloting our first Parklet this summer in Sapperton, with plans to introduce another annually (at least) for the next couple of years. Staff has been given a modest budget, but a lot of flexibility to find partnership opportunities, design ideas, or creative innovations to make the Parklets fit local needs in our different neighbourhoods.

I was really happy Council endorsed this program, and that staff is not only excited to implement it but have provided a really nice design for New West Parklet #1 (see top photo).

Clear Garbage Bag Pilot program
This is an interesting idea that will support the City’s and region’s long-term targets of waste diversion – boosting recycling and diversion of organics from landfills and the incinerator, so that 70% of our waste is re-used, not tossed away.

Metro Vancouver is currently concentrating on organics diversion, such that as of January 1, 2015, it has been illegal to put food scraps in your garbage. Typical for a big, regional, lifestyle-challenging initiative like this, enforcement will be slowly implemented, ramping up over a longer period of time with extensive education programs. Enforcing this ban is a challenge, but other jurisdictions have successfully done so, and there are existing models from which to learn.

Metro Vancouver has proposed a pilot to test the idea of making clear plastic bags (or no bags at all) mandatory for garbage bound for the landfill or incinerator. This allows inspectors at the waste transfer facilities to quickly and more accurately assess the presence of organics in the waste stream, so that Metro can target education and enforcement. It has worked in other cities, but will it work here?

Participating in this pilot costs the City very little as Metro provides all of the education materials, does the data collections and reporting. They even supply to the bags for the residents and businesses involved in the pilot.

I am happy to support collecting more data and testing out an innovative system like this, and really happy that New Westminster can help out with the bigger regional goals for waste diversion – we want to continue to be regional leaders in sustainability, and this is yet another opportunity for us to do so.

We received correspondence form the Royal City Humane Society requesting that Council release some of the grant funds that had already been allocated as part of our Partnership Grants, so it could be used to expand the veterinary care types we can offer to cats in the City. Council approved this shift in the language of the grant.

Bylaws For Adoption:

Bylaw 7756, 2015
This Bylaw saw third reading last meeting, and simply expands the definition of “Commercial Schools” in our Zoning Bylaw. It was adopted, and is now the Law of the Land.

Bylaw 7741, 2015
This Bylaw saw third reading last meeting, and upon adoption, it makes our Family Friendly Housing policy the Law of the Land.

Plus we moved the two readings for both 210 Durham and Brewery District bylaws mentioned above.

Issuance of Development Permit
As discussed last meeting, we moved to approve this Development Permit on Kamloops and 13th Street.

Finally, an announcement of a community event this weekend! The Qayqayt Community Howl is both a community-gathering fun event for families, and a fundraiser for the Qayqayt playground space. They are a new organization trying to build on their exciting new community, so drop by and give them some support while entertaining your family!


Ask Pat: Change Table in Pier Park?

Someone asked—

Is it possible to ask city to put back baby change table in family washroom at pier park in downtown area? There is no change table in the park right now.

This is probably one of those questions that should go straight to the Parks Department, or even on SeeClickFix. But I asked a few questions, and here is the best I can tell (again, contact the Parks directly to get what is probably more accurate info!

The Men’s and Women’s Washrooms at Pier Park do not lock (except at night) but the Family room does, as that better reflects it’s one-at-a-time use. Apparently, this ability to lock the door empowers some undesirable activities, possibly (but not certainly) related. First, it seems that some people with limited other options have used the room to grab a few hours of secured sleep in the early morning or evening hours. There has also been quite a bit of vandalism in that room – much more than in the unlocked “gender-specific” bathrooms.

Parks is working on a bit of a strategy to address the main concerns here, but in the meantime they are reluctant to replace the change table yet again, anticipating it will be destroyed again. I’m not sure what that strategy looks like, and although spot security enforcement might get lucky catching a perp, I don’t see 24-hour security being a viable option. There are meant to be change tables in each of the Men’s and Women’s washrooms, which may be suboptimal for some families, but it might be the best we can offer in the short term. I would love to hear if anyone has a suggestion on how to make this work better.

Short note on progress.

It was such a beautiful weekend in New Westminster. I had a couple of events downtown on Saturday, and enjoyed my time wandering around between them, and something occurred to me.

The Northwest Fan Fest was occurring at the Anvil Centre. There were something like 10,000 people drawn to downtown New West on the weekend, spilling out onto the street, filling the sidewalks and Hyack Square – geeking out and having fun.


And they spilled over to Pier Park, to mix with the usual families and locals using what is coming to be seen as one of the great public spaces in the lower mainland.

Pier Park2

Yet this is the weekend when a full half of the Parkade was closed to start the repairs, which will eventually see the west side removed. Parking chaos? Hardly.

Saturday, early afternoon. Yes, every parking spot behind me was closed for construction.

And I was reminded why I ran for Council. This City is on such a positive path. We are moving forward, setting plans and reaching for a better future. There are bumps along the way, some tough decisions to make, and some difficult setting of priorities.

But during the last election, not 6 months ago, there were people running who thought this was a waste of money that no-one would ever use:

Westminster Pier Park. Saturday, May 30. Early afternoon.

Yet this was a valuable resource we cannot possibly afford to be without:

parkade empty
@HulkParkade, with all parking behind me closed and thousands of people in town for Fan Fest, Saturday, May 30, 2015, early afternoon.

I am happy to say I spent 10 hours in Council meetings today with people who see a more positive vision for the City, and we are moving ahead.