Council – May 30, 2016 (Part 1)

Monday was a long day. I arrived at City Hall for my 9:00am Mayors Transportation Task Force Meeting, and left at 11:30pm after a long Public Hearing and regular meeting. But a lot of good things happened, I feel like we accomplished some things, and summer will arrive with a more relaxed schedule, so I’m not complaining.

As the day was so long, there was a lot of business, and I don’t have a lot of blogging time now, I thought I would break up this report into two (three?) posts. This is the first one, just outlining what happened at the Public Hearing. As is typical for the last meeting of the month, the evening meeting began with a Public Hearing on various pending projects. This was an aggressive agenda – 11 Public Hearings on 7 separate projects, some small, some very much not small. The link to the agenda is here, but be careful before you hit that link on your dial-up; it is 175MB of .pdf wonder.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7839, 2016 for 129 Tenth Street
This is an interesting project in the Brow if the Hill Neighbourhood that fills a large empty lot between a residential high-rise and some older single family detached homes. It is on a significant hill and has two frontages, on 10th Street and McInnes Street.

The development approach is a bit of a hybrid of townhouse and cluster homes, with two large-ish 4-unit three-story townhomes on top of underground parking. I like this development in general, as it represents a bit of that “missing middle” we are lacking on the mainland of New Westminster – ground-based, larger than an apartment, but more affordable than new single family detached home. This is a creative way to find sensitive infill density that works in this location (not to say it would work in every neighbourhood in New West).

We had no written submissions on this application, and had three presentations at the Public Hearing (not counting the architect), with no-one speaking in opposition. The Advisory Planning Commission and Design Panel supported the project, as did the Brow of the Hill Residents’ Association. I had no reason to oppose the project.

Council moved to refer this to the regular Council meeting to follow.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7840, 2016 for 602 and 620 Ewen Avenue and  257 Boyne Street
Again, more relatively compact family-friendly units, which we don’t necessarily lack of in the Queensborough neighbourhood. This would be 16 “townhouses”, but they are separate buildings so you may think of them more as detached “skinny homes”.

We had no written submissions on this application, and had three presentations at the Public Hearing (plus the architect). Two presenters were related to a direct neighbour and were worried about the use of the alley and the proximity of the new homes in the project to her established home. Looking at the plans, the offset from her home (which is built on the side of her property most adjacent to the lane) is separated from the nearest home by 20 feet of laneway, then another 22 feet of yard/patio, and these offsets are not outside of what would be permitted if the lot was subdivided and built as 4 very large single family homes under the existing zoning. It is more than what you would typically see in a side-separation in an established neighbourhood like Queens Park or Glenbrooke North.

The project was supported by the Advisory Planning Commission and the Design Panel, after some design changes were made to the site. I have no reason to oppose the project, and think it will be a good development of relatively affordable family homes.

Council moved to refer this to the regular Council meeting to follow.

HRA Bylaw No. 7834, 2016 and Heritage Designation Bylaw No. 7835, 2016 for 313 Queen’s Avenue
This application is for a renovation to a heritage home in Queens Park to expand the living space at the rear of the home, in concert with permanent protection and addition to the City’s Heritage Register.

We had no correspondence on this project, and one presenter came to express support on behalf of the Queens Park Residents’ Association. The Heritage Commission and Advisory Planning Commission both support the project. I have no reason to oppose this project.

Council moved to refer these to the regular Council meeting to follow.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7818, 2016 for 501-505 Twelfth Street
This project is for a 5 story residential development on the northeast corner of 12th Street and Fifth Avenue. The buildings on this site had been demolished several years ago, so the lot is currently vacant, although there is a three-story apartment building neighbouring along the 12th street, and a single family home along Fifth. The design features full underground parking, and a “city homes” approach to the suites facing 12th, which are like multi-level townhouses that address the street in a much better way than a typical apartment building.

We received 3 pieces of correspondence on this project, one opposed on the concern of the impact it will have on their viewscape. The neighbour in the adjacent single family home came to present to Council. She did not seem “opposed”, more concerned about some proximity and drainage issues, which I think can be worked out with engineering. The building design was adapted to reduce the intrusion into her property, and as her relatively tall home is on a hill quite a bit above the grade of the bottom of this new building, the rooflines will not be that separate, although she will be losing much of the winter afternoon sun she currently enjoys with a vacant lot next door. There was also engineering consideration and extraordinary measures taken to protect the roots of the large trees she has along the property line during excavation and construction.

The Advisory Planning Commission and Design Panel supported the project, as did the Brow of the Hill Residents’ Association. I had no reason to oppose the project.

Council moved to refer this to the regular Council meeting to follow.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7811, 2016 for 325 and 329 Ewen Avenue
This is a bit of a strange one, for the uninitiated, and maybe a lesson in how complicated cities are. These two adjacent properties in Queensborough are residential, but are on land zoned for Industrial use. They are “legally non-conforming” with their zoning. Although they are perfectly legal to use the land as they are, this quirk sometimes leads to issues with mortgages and insurance, and limits their ability to expand or re-build their homes.

They are also deeper lots than their neighbours, creating a gap in the east-west right-of-way the City owns. The City wants that right-of-way to allow the installation of storm sewer service (yes, several properties around here still have septic fields) and a larger water line to the properties and adjacent properties, not the least being the large development planned by Platform (see below). The City would like a lane as well, but that would sever the properties, and the owners are no so into that idea, so that was taken off the table.

The owners want to live on their lots, and a rezoning will make that easier and provide them more flexibility. The City wants that right-of-way, so we tie one to the other, and everyone is happy. The Advisory Planning Commission is also happy, so who am I to stand in the way of all of those happy people?

Council moved to refer this to the regular Council meeting to follow.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7841, 2016 for Brewery District (200 and 228  Nelson’s Crescent, 258 and 268 Nelson’s Court, 230 Keary Street and 290 E.  Columbia Street)
This is another revamp of the zoning for the Brewery District site. There are several changes here, mostly an increase in residential density to accommodate 84,000 square feet of Market Rental, which is a piece missing not just from the Brewery District, but from the entire Sapperton neighbourhood. There is also some change in zoning language around permitted commercial uses.

The consultation for this step of rezoning has been pretty comprehensive, and there was much discussion about width-vs-height for the buildings and their relative impact on view corridors. I think Wesgroup got to a place where the neighbourhood was some combination of satisfied or resigned – I can only hope it is more of the former. There were not a lot of public feedback in correspondence (2 opposed, one supportive), or in the Public Hearing (one in favour, two with concerns but not necessarily opposed). The last residential building is going to be another 20 feet higher, pushing to 320 feet, but this should be the last of the size changes we see on this project!

Ultimately, these changes will make the building and use mix in the Brewery District fit better in the context of the Economic Health Care Cluster approach to Sapperton. The Advisory Planning Commission and Design Panel have supported the zoning, and the McBride-Sapperton Residents Association was consulted, without supporting or opposing the project.

I’m going to say it again – the Keary Street access for the parking garage of the future buildings is a great idea, but it needs to be oriented towards Brunette, and not towards East Columbia. Wesgroup and Fraser Health need to work together to develop a plan to make Keary work better, as both will be using it as their access, and neither should be expected to rely on access to East Columbia from those garages. It simply will not work for the neighbourhood. I see a signaled intersection on Brunette in all of our future.

Council voted to refer this to the Council meeting later in the evening.

Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw No. 7836, 2016 and Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7837, 2016 for 101 Braid Street
This was the big project of the night, with the most Public Hearing time, and the most passionate support and opposition. This is a follow-up to last year’s application from Urban Academy to expand their school space at their Queens Park location. And you all remember how that went down.

The plan is to build a school for 450 students on the location of the current Lazer Tag/Bullpen building, then follow up with residential development of the rest of the 100 Braid Street lot with a moderate-sized residential tower on a podium with townhouses and some public art space. The timing of that second phase is uncertain, but it will include the demolition of the building that currently houses 100 Braid Street studios and two other businesses.

This project is the result of months of work by the City staff, the Developer, and the School to adapt the project to address various concerns that were raised through the public consultation period. Many came to speak in favour of the School, its programs, and its value to the community. An equal number came to speak about the two primary concern with the plan: the fate of the existing building on site and (wait for it) the traffic impacts.

I voted in favour of approving this project, as did the rest of Council (Councillor McEvoy was out of town at a conference, and he reported to me that watching the meeting on video while he could not take part was killing him!). There are a lot of details and considerations that went into that decision, so I am going to put those off to a subsequent Blog post, as this one is already too long. So, I suppose this Council report will be 3(!) Blog posts long. Guess those Ask Pats will have to wait a bit longer…

Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw No. 7822, 2016 and Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7823, 2016 for Queensborough Special Study Area
This project is a complex one, and has been in the works for a long time, since well before I was elected to Council. The eastern part of Queensborough really needs some retail space, as the large number of relatively affordable family-friendly building at Port Royal and area is somewhat constrained from quick connections to other parts of the City. This is part of why it is affordable, and the quiet neighbourhood with ample greenspace and dike trails are part of what makes it appealing to so many people. However, having to cross a bridge to purchase non-WalMart groceries is a persistent beef, and one this project should help alleviate.

The development is complex, however, as it will involve installing new roads, services (water, sewer, drainage, and electricity) to a relatively large underserviced area. The proponent does not own every piece of land in the project area, and will both have to phase and adjust their development plan as they either acquire land or do not.

This is still relatively early in the development of these lands. This rezoning sets the basic parameters of what will be on the site – commercial and residential mix, with potential densities, traffic circulation patterns, etc. However, development permits will need to be developed for each phase, so there is work to be done here. I wish I could tell the residents of Port Royal that the retail is coming soon, but I can’t give a timeline other than to say it is coming eventually.

Council moved to refer this zoning to the regular Council meeting.

And with that, we adjourned our Public Hearing, and went on to our regular Council Meeting, which will be reported here soon!

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