Council – October 26, 2015

The longest road show in the history of City Councils continued October 26th at the Anvil Centre, and as it was the last meeting of the month, it was our customary Public Hearing night, where the public can give us their opinions on specific bylaws, as is their right under the Local Government Act.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7778, 2015
This proposal to add a Caretaker Suite to a planned industrial building below Stewardson Way adjacent to the Queensborough Bridge seemed like a completely reasonable request. It facilitated an increase in useable employment space in the City, while providing a level of security to a relatively isolated location.

There was no written correspondence on this project, and the only opposition came from Southern Railway, as they wanted to be on the record opposing any development in places that might cause their operations to disturb people, what with the noise and all. I had to bite my tongue a bit here, as Southern are great corporate partners in the City, and have worked very diligently with the City to address whistle cessation needs and enhancing safety at their crossings in the Quayside and Queensborough. However freezing from redevelopment all land that might be within some ill-defined disturbance zone of the train operations, when train whistles can clearly be heard across the City, is not a reasonable request.

Council moved to recommend this project move on for Third Reading, but are holding Adoption until the Proponent and the City can work out language around a covenant placed on the title of the property indicating that the owner (and future owners) acknowledges the presence of an active rail line adjacent to the property.

OCP Amendment Bylaw No. 7783, 2015 [97 Braid Street]
Sapperton Green is a large, long-term vision for the area around Braid station. I really expected some people from the Sapperton community to come out and speak on this plan, but this did not happen. This is still (even after 4 years of work) an early stage in the development of Sapperton Green, as this OCP amendment will lead to a Master Plan process (with public open houses and stakeholder engagement), multiple rezoning (each with a Public Hearing) and Development Permit applications, which all have to get past Council. This will not be your last chance to speak to Council and the Proponents about Sapperton Green over the couple of decades it will take to develop this site.

To me, the larger transportation problem here has not been fully addressed, though I do not expect it to be addressed at this stage (given the decades-long build-out process). The Burnette Overpass, the Braid-Brunette intersection, and Braid Street through to East Columbia are not functioning as we would like right now, and we have existing plans to work with Coquitlam, TransLink and the Provincial Ministry of Transportation to find solutions. The approval of an OCP to start the design process for Sapperton Green does not change the current situation, but it does set the context within which the longer-term solutions have to be measured.

I am very optimistic that we can work with Coquitlam and achieve our common goals around the Burnette overpass and bringing traffic relief to both historic Sapperton and Maillardville neighbourhoods, and we shouldn’t be constraining our options. In their comments, Coquitlam suggested that access to the Crane Site is something that they are concerned about long-term; perhaps that’s a place where we can work with them. I think those conversations will be positive for both cities.

I note also that Metro Vancouver and TransLink are supportive of the OCP Amendments in general terms, as they see this development as meeting the spirit and goals of the regional growth strategy, of the regional Transport 2040 plan. Both of these speak of concentrating working and living space at transit hubs, of which braid Station is definitely one. It is by developing the compact transit-oriented communities that we reduce the traffic load and growth pressures on other areas where existing neighbourhoods are most at risk.

This form of development, like Coquitlam’s great new developments adjacent to the new Burquitlam Station and Richmond and Vancouver’s projects around the Canada Line are part of the regional plan, and are part of the regional solution to making transportation more efficient in the region. Far from being part of the problem, they are fundamental to us finding regional transportation solutions.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7785, 2015
This amendment adds boarding of a small number of cats to the language of the Zoning Bylaw to permit this activity to facilitate the moving of a business to 12th Street. We had two written submissions on this project, one in support, and one opposed, but with no reason stated for the opposition. Council moved to recommend this change in wording.


Immediately after the Public Hearing, our Regular Meeting began with Council moving the recommendations from the Public Hearing that just ended:

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7778, 2015
Received Third Reading.

OCP Amendment Bylaw No. 7783, 2015 [97 Braid Street]
Received Third Reading.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7785, 2015 (800 Twelfth Street)
Received Third Reading.

We then provided an official Opportunity to be Heard on two Development Permits. This provides neighbours, or anyone else with interest in these projects, a chance to provide feedback to Council before we issue the permits.

Development Variance Permit No. 00599 for 520 Twenty First Street
This is the DVP to support the development of the Industrial site with a caretaker suite, the rezoning of which we just gave Third Reading to. The DVP takes care of some of the minor variances for the building that do not strictly fit the zoning or other regulations for the site, such as a modification of the driveway width. Hearing no opposition, and acting on the recommendation of our planning staff, Council moved to issue the Permit.

Development Permit for 26 East Royal Avenue – (Parcel E, Victoria Hill)
This Development Permit sets the rules under which the new Mixed Commercial-residential low-rise development at “Parcel E” in Victoria Hill will be built. This will be a 4-story building, which will finally bring a bit of local retail to the Victoria Hill neighbourhood. Again, hearing no opposition, and acting on the recommendation of our planning staff, Council moved to issue the Permit.

We then dealt with a few Bylaws:

Five Year Financial Plan (2015-2019) Amendment
Every time our budget estimates change, for the positive or the negative, we need to pass a Bylaw that effectively edits our Five Year Financial Plan, as the Community Charter requires us to keep that plan as updated and transparent as possible. This change makes some amendments:

• There were two changes made related to the Anvil Centre Office Tower sale. There has been some back-and-forth between the purchaser and the City over what the level of fit-out of the Tower belongs to each party. Completing this work has delayed the occupancy date (resulting in a reduction in taxes paid to the City) and some costs for the extra fit-out items the City agreed was its responsibility;

• There is a major new expense for the Electrical Utility when BC Hydro decided it was no longer going to perform maintenance on our Royal 2 substation;

• We have set a bit more money aside for anticipated land transactions;

• GVRD water main work on Ewen Ave is going to cost us $2.7M, and GVRD are going to pay us $2.7M for it, meaning New West taxpayers are not affected at all, but these two line items need to be added to the plan; and

• Changes are being made to how we pay for a portion of the renovations at City Hall, taking the money from reserves instead of accruing more debt.

Council gave this bylaws three readings.

Temporary Borrowing Bylaws No. 7788, 2015
I mentioned this Bylaw in my October 5 Meeting Report. With Council moving Adoption of this Bylaw, it is now the Law of the Land. Adjust your behaviour accordingly.

Tax Exemption and Exempt Properties Bylaw No. 7784, 2015
I also mentioned this Bylaw in my October 5 Meeting Report, and it has since been confirmed to me that I am not in conflict here, so I didn’t leave the table when Council moved Adoption, and it is now the Law of the Land. Adjust your behaviour accordingly.

Development Cost Charges Amendment Bylaw No. 7770, 2015
I mentioned this Bylaw in my September 14th Meeting Report, when we gave it three readings and sent it to the Province for approval. Clearly, it met approval, as we are now moving Adoption. It is now the Law of the Land. Adjust your behaviour accordingly.

Then we had four items that were discussed at greater length during a Council Workshop earlier in the day (which you can watch here): and we were prepared to take action upon:

City grants allocation for 2016
We have, as a Council, made a few decisions in the last year that impact how grant funding is allocated. Staff has asked Council to clarify what the Grant budget will be for next year, in light of these changes. Council agreed to increase the Grant budget consummate with these decisions, of which there were two types.

In some instances, we have taken items that were normally covered by other parts of the City’s budget, and moved them into the “grants” category. For example, there are expenses related to the transportation of the City’s parade float that have always come out of the transportation/fleet budget, and we decided this year that this should instead be included with Partnership Grants, because it represents an in-kind contribution to a partnership organization. This simply creates more transparency about how that money is spent, instead of having it buried somewhere ins a department budget.

The second instance is where council, outside of the regular granting process, has approved money for an organization. This year, that means the extra money Council approved for the Fraser River Discovery centre to support their Working River Project. The main question was whether we take that from other grants, or expand the funding envelope. Council chose the latter.

Uptown Live
Council moved to approve a grant to the Uptown BIA for the Uptown Live event next summer. This issue received a little press, and resulted in some good discussion at Council. I will write another blog post this week to discuss my position on this at more length.

Proposed 2016 Schedule of Regular Meetings
This is the formal acceptance of a schedule for Council Meetings for 2016. Adjust your social lives accordingly!

Capital Budget Amendment
As was mentioned in an earlier post, the Police station change room and washroom facilities need to be upgraded. These changes are overdue, and the plan reflects the actual gender mix of the staff (both civilian and the ones with the badges). The budget to make the changes looks reasonable, considering the age of the building and the scale of the re-construction that needs to take place (including major plumbing and HVAC changes). Council approved the budget to make the renovation happen.

And that, except for the huge media scrum (pictured above), was all for one night!

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