Council – October 3, 2016

Back from the week in Victoria for UBCM, we were back at our regular Council meetings. Our agenda was not too lengthy, but there were some interesting Public Delegations you will need to watch the video to enjoy.

Council moved the following items on Consent:

Investment Report to August 31st, 2016
The City has money in the bank, almost $150 Million. This arises from several well-regulated situations, and more details are available in our Financial Statements. We collect DCCs from development to pay for the increased cost of servicing those developments with things like water, sewer, and roads, however, we don’t spend that money until actually works need replacing, so they sit in various reserve funds earmarked for specific projects. Those add up to just under $20 Million right now. We also have a bunch of other reserve funds, set up to pay for projected capital costs like the Canada Games Pool, or the public art program, some for specific future utility needs that you have been paying for through your utility bill, which combined together total over $100Million.

This report simply updates Council on how our investments are doing. We made about $1.6 Million in interest in the first half of the year, but are expecting to earn a little less than budgeted by the end of the year.

Amendment to the Parks and Recreation Fees and Charges Bylaw
This is the annual adjustment of our Parks and Recreation fees, for everything from swim lessons to renting Queens Park Arena. Increases this year range from 0% to 5%, with almost all increases below 2.8%. Appendix C of the report is worthwhile noting, as that is where we compare our rates to those in our neighboring cities. New West ice rentals are the lowest cost in the region; our gym and pool fees are on or below average across the region. Getting and keeping fit in New West is (relative) bargain!

1209 Hamilton Street: Proposed Rezoning to Allow 20 Child Care Spaces – Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7832, 2016 for First and Second Readings
Daycare spaces are a rare commodity in the Royal City. The current economics of running a daycare and the restrictive rules for their operation (important to preserve quality of spaces and protect the well-being of children) mean setting up facilities is sometimes an arduous process. The City, through its Child Care Strategy, is trying to facilitate the opening of more childcare spaces to fill this recognized need through a variety of policy and supports.

This application is for a daycare in a current duplex house, immediately adjacent to commercial areas, close to family neighbourhoods and transportation options. Current policy would allow 20 childcare spaces in a duplex such as this, and the applicant is requesting expansion to 20 spaces, 12 of which will be for toddlers (an identified need in the community).

This proposal will go to a Public Hearing on October 24th. C’mon out and tell us what you think!

1004 Salter Street: Development Variance Permit 00602 for 18 Lot Subdivision with Park Dedication – Consideration of Issuance
This development project in Queensborough requires a variance because of the shape of the lots. All of the lots are larger than the minimum required by the Zoning Bylaw, but they are deeper than typical, meaning that their frontages are less than 10% of their perimeter (following me here?). The proposed lots are 141 feet deep by 31 feet wide, where the 10% formula would require 34 foot frontages. They are not asking for bigger houses than permitted or reduced spacing between buildings, only frontages reduced by 3 feet. Doing it this way would allow better laneway and park dedication to make for a better designed family neighbourhood.

There is some public consultation and committee review to be done yet, but council expressed general support for this model being moved forward to those steps.

Recommendation from Advisory Committee for Transit, Bicycles and Pedestrians (ActBiPed): Public Seating Strategy to Encourage Walking & Neighbourhood Livability
This recommendation came from the ACTBiPed, who advise council on active transportation issues (transit, bicycles, and pedestrians). Perhaps counter-intuitively, ACTBiPed is advocating for more public seating. Just as parking is an important part of planning for car use, and bike racks are required to encourage bike use, adequate and attractive public seating is vital for pedestrians and transit users. In a City like New West, with hills that present challenges to a portion of the community, adequate places where they can be made comfortable to stop and rest for a few minutes can be the difference between taking a walk, or taking the car. It also creates opportunity for eyes on the street, for social interaction, and for making people more connected to their neighborhood, just ask Jane Jacobs.

ACTBiPed asked that the City create a strategy to support adequate and comfortable public seating, and have recommended several policies and measures to support that strategy. Council moved this recommendation.

Recommendation from Access Ability Advisory Committee: Proposal to change the Terms of Reference of the Committee
This recommendation came from the committee charged with advising council on issues of accessibility with the goal of assuring the public realm is accessible to all people in our community, regardless of physical or other barriers. The recommendation is to change the terms of reference a bit to encourage participation from youth in the city, and organizations in the City that no not necessarily have accessibility as part of their mandate, but are interested in taking steps to improve accessibility in their organization, or in the broader community. Council approved this recommendation.

The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

718 Twelfth Street: Temporary Use Permit for Islamic Society
This organization has been trying to find a home in New Westminster for some time, and is requesting a temporary use permit for the Heritage Hall on 12th Street. There are some significant land-use concerns with permanently converting street-front commercial space to church religious assembly use. However, this is a temporary use to support a burgeoning organization that serves an underrepresented part of our community, so this temporary request is worthy of consideration. There will be some public consultation and an Opportunity to be Heard. Watch this space.

We also addressed some correspondence:

Uptown Business Association of New Westminster letter dated
September 21, 2016 regarding Belmont Street Parklet

The merchants of and commercial property owners of Uptown have written the City to express support for the temporary Uptown Parklet that has invaded part of Belmont Street for the last few months. I think our Parks and Planning staff did a really god job turning a very small amount of money into a really friendly place that people seem to enjoy. There have been a few complaints, and a lot of kudos. Some early concerns about potential behavior issues on the site turned out to be a pretty minor issue, although some residents have been concerned about noise at night (seemingly more related to the nearby bar than the parklet). However, during the day it is apparent that citizens have started to occupy the space and make it their own.

As a trial, our second Parklet (remember, we installed one in Sapperton last year) can be called a success, and it is time to have a discussion about how the future of Belmont Street may be reshaped, and about where else in the City Parklets may work.

Letter received via email dated September 22, 2016 from Michelle Cunningham regarding Electrical Vehicle Incentive and Zoning Bylaws
The topic of this letter was referred to Staff. There are many opportunities to incentivize the installation of electrical charging stations for vehicles, and it is better to be in front of this trend than behind it. New West has some natural advantages: our own Electrical Utility, our central location, and our large number of people living in multi-family dwellings. At the Municipal Climate Leadership Council meetings at UBCM, I heard a lot about the programs that organizations like the Community Energy Association of BC are doing to promote initiatives like this, and senior government help that is available.

We then addressed some Bylaws:

New Westminster Civic Infrastructure Temporary Borrowing Bylaw No. 7843, 2016
This Bylaw that provides the City some borrowing authority for various civic infrastructure projects, which passed the Alternate Approval Process (ugh) a few months ago, was adopted, and is now the law of the land.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (1209 Hamilton Street) No. 7832, 2016
This Bylaw addressing the daycare space off of 12th Street (discussed above) was given two readings.

Parks and Recreation Fees Amendment Bylaw No. 7865, 2016
This Bylaw formalizing the new Parks and Rec fees (discussed above) was given three readings.

There were then a series of interesting Public Delegations, worth your time and energy to watch. It will be interesting to see what arises out of a few of those discussions….

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