Council – October 24, 2016

We had a mercifully short Council Agenda this week, as there is so much else going on in New West these days that it was good to get a bit of a reprieve from all the new business. Regardless, it was a Public Hearing meeting, as all last-meetings-of-the-month are, and there was one item on the PH agenda.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7832, 2016 for 1209 Hamilton Street (718 Twelfth Street)
This was a public hearing on a zoning amendment that would allow a residential duplex on Hamilton Street to operate as a daycare for 20 children, and perhaps most importantly, 12 of those spaces will be infant/toddlers, which is a desperate need in the City.

This duplex actually sits on a large lot that faces 12th Street, sharing the lot with a commercial building and assembly hall. There will be no external changes to the size, siting, or height of the building, and the amount of parking available on site meets the zoning requirements. The project was supported by the Advisory Planning Commission and Moody Park Residents’ Association; there was a Public Open house held, and a presentation to the West End Residents’ Association.

We received no correspondence in response to the call for Public Hearing, but did receive correspondence on this issue earlier. A neighbour wrote us (and collected several signatures from their neighbours) in opposition. There were several concerns that I did not think were relevant to this specific application (Daycares are rarely the cause of, nor the solution to, litter), but the main thrust appeared to be a lack of parking for the facility. We also had one person present to Council who was not strictly opposed to the project, but was also concerned about the parking issue.

I need to comment on the parking issue. The Child Care facility will have on-site parking for their workers, but will need the street for pick-up and drop-off. This block of Hamilton Street is faced by 7 houses (other than the Child Care applicant). A quick Google Earth survey of the block finds that those houses have a combined 11 covered parking spots (garages or carports) and 8 more off-street parking pads. A total of 19 private parking places for 7 houses. Child Care spaces are a desperate need in our community, arguably more than car parking spaces. I cannot rectify denying a permit to an established and trusted operator because a few minutes of parking inconvenience on a street where the off-street parking is so ample.

Council moved to refer this item to the Regular Council Meeting, which followed immediately after:

The Regular Council Agenda began with a review of the above Zoning Amendment Bylaw:

Bylaw 7832, 2016 for 1209 Hamilton Street (alias of 718 Twelfth Street)
Council voted to give the Bylaw Third reading.

We then had two Opportunities to be Heard on Development Variance Permits:

DVP 00614 for 1016-1022 Fourth Avenue
The DVP here is for a project that has already been approved, but needs a couple of changes to the design. One change was the result of a minor mistakes in the drawing discovered when the project reached the Building Permit stage. The second is to shift one of the houses backwards on the lot slightly so that a mature Deodar Cedar tree on the site can be preserved.

No-one appeared to speak to the DVP, and Council moved to approve the issuance of the Development Variance Permit

DVP 00602 for 1004 Salter Street
This DVP is to allow for some of the lots in a Queensborough development to not meet the zoning rule that the lot frontage must be greater than 10% of the lot perimeter. The proposed 31 foot lots miss the 10% rule by about 4 feet, because the lot depth is a slightly-longer-than-usual 141 feet. The upside for the neighbourhood if we allow the frontages to be under 10% is more dedicated park space and better operating laneway.

No-one appeared to speak to this DVP, and Council moved to approve issuance of the Development Variance Permit

The following item was moved on Consent:

2016 Santa Parade and Tree Lighting
Set your calendar for Saturday, December 3rd. There will be an always-sunny Santa Parade on Columbia, with events downtown beginning at 11:00am. The always-exciting tree lighting ceremony at Hyack Square will be the night before, December 2 at 7:00pm . Ho ho ho.

The following Item was removed from Consent for discussion:

User Fees and Rates Review
This is our annual review of fees for various City services. The Parks and Recreation Fees were dealt with back in early October, so this covers Engineering and other fees like towing and parking.

Fees are not taxes, they are not meant to fill City coffers, but to cover the cost of the service the City is providing. For some services, this is relatively easy (a replacement trash bin costs about $40), sometimes it is part of a larger cost-recovery and capital investment model ($1.50 per hour represents a small portion of the total cost of operating the Parkade), and sometimes it is really difficult to pull out exactly how much City staff time and resources a service takes (does it really cost $2,450 to process a subdivision application, with all the public process? I’m sure some take much less, and a few complicated ones take a lot more!).

Cost recovery is the ideal, and in reality we need to measure our fees against what other Cities charge, and make sure we are remaining within a ballpark. Staff have provided us a report of a variety of “typical” planning scenarios like rezonings, and show where New West ranks compared to other Cities in the region.

If anything looks out of whack to you, the Bylaw that institutes these fees with be coming to Council on November 7th. You might want to let Mayor and Council know of your concerns before then!

We then moved on to Bylaws:

Engineering Fees and Rates Amendment (Secondary Suites) Bylaw No.7861, 2016
This Bylaw we talked about last week that formalizes how we manage utility fees for secondary suites was adopted by Council. Adjust your water usage appropriately. Or don’t, because it won’t make any difference. (see last week’s rant on this same blog)

Taxation Exemption and Exempt Properties Bylaw No. 7870, 2016
This Bylaw that we also talked about last week and lists the properties to which the City provides an exemption from property taxation was also Adopted. Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, etc.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (Twelfth Street & Fifth Avenue) No. 7818, 2016
This Zoning Amendment to allow a development a t 12th Street and Fifth Ave finally gets adopted, after seeing Public Hearing back on the 30th of May. I noticed they are sold out when I rode my bike by on Sunday, so they better get building!

And that finished the meeting!

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