Council – January 30, 2017

We had a relatively short Council meeting this week, partly because we had a long workshop during the day, and a Public Hearing in the evening. You never know how long a Public Hearing is going to go, so the Agenda was a little short. This doesn’t mean it wasn’t exciting and full of fun stuff.

We had 4 Public Hearings, but three were on different aspects of one project:

(612 – 618 Brantford Street) Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw No. 7876, 2017; Heritage Revitalization Agreement Bylaw No. 7886, 2017; and Heritage Designation Bylaw No. 7885, 2017
This project is interesting for several reasons. It is a 6-story apartment building on a small street in uptown just north of Bent Court. The building includes a lot of 2- and 3-bedroom suites which meet our Family-Friendly Housing policy, and the ground floor apartments are designed to face the street and make for a attractive street interface. The HRA part of this is related to the 1898 house on the site, which will be preserved, move to the west (sunny) side of the lot, and restored into a three-bedroom family home.

The project was modified through discussions with the Design Panel and Advisory Planning Commission, both of which gave approval to the final plan. The Residents association was generally in favour. We received one piece of correspondence for the Public Hearing, which was in support of the project.

At the Public Hearing, we had one neighbour speak against the project. To paraphrase what I hear in her presentation, she was not convinced the restored heritage home was worthwhile, and was worried about the impact on street parking.

I did not share her opinion about the preservation of the house, and think that a project like this is an important component of how we, as a City, are going to accommodate growth and the need for housing with the desire to preserve heritage assets, especially houses more than 100 years old. I also noted the project has more parking than suites (50 parking spots for 42 suites, plus 7 guest parking spots) which is a few short of the zoning requirement, but a variance I am willing to support for family-friendly housing Uptown.

Council referred the applications to Regular Council for Third Reading.

Zoning Amendment (Housekeeping) Bylaw No. 7893, 2017
This Bylaw makes several minor changes to our Zoning Bylaws to reflect the reality of how commercial spaces are used in the City. It allows pet daycare at animal care facilities, adds Daycare to a few select commercial zones, and updates the list of Liquor Primary operators in the city.

Not surprisingly, no one sent us correspondence, and no one came to speak at the Public Hearing in regards to this amendment. Council referred the Bylaw to Regular Council for Third Reading.

We then moved into our Regular Meeting, where we discussed the aforementioned Bylaws:

Official Community Plan Amendment (612 – 618 Brantford Street) Bylaw No. 7876, 2017; Heritage Revitalization Agreement (612 – 618 Brantford Street) Bylaw No. 7885, 2017; Heritage Designation (612 – 618 Brantford Street) Bylaw No. 7886, 2017
Council gave these Bylaws Third reading, moving the project towards formal adoption.

Zoning Amendment (Housekeeping) Bylaw No. 7893, 2017
Council gave this Housekeeping Bylaw Third reading, moving it towards formal adoption.

The Following items were them moved on Consent:

Poet Laureate Emerita Award
Candice James’ terms as Poet Laureate came to an end, as the Terms of Reference for the position limit how long a person can serve. Her service as our third Poet Laureate was exemplary, and the Arts Commission recommended to Council that we officially offer her the honourary title of “Emerita” for perpetuity.

Applications for Grant Funding to the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Infrastructure Planning Program
The City is applying for a grant to help pay for some infrastructure planning work – determining where we need tot spend and when to maintain our infrastructure. This is only planning work, not actual infrastructure repairs, as $10,000 doesn’t go very far, but well take it if we can get it.

Report on Major Purchasing Transactions for the Period September 1 to December 31, 2016
Three times a year, Staff report out on major purchases, as part of our open accounting. You can look at this report and see what we are spending your money on, and how the open procurement process worked out.

Investment Report to December 31st, 2016
The City has several Reserves Funds to pay for future capital works and commitments we have made under our DCCs, along with a bit of surplus money from previous budgets. We keep some of that money in the bank so it is readily available, and we keep some in Municipal finance Authority funds that give pretty good return and are very low risk. You can read the report for more details, but very short version: it’s about $124 Million, and we budget to earn about $2 Million in interest on that money.

Bylaw Updates to Permit Amusement Arcades in the C-4 and C-8 Zones, and to Update as a Permitted use Amusement Arcades in the C-3, C-CD-2 and C-CD-3 Zone: Zoning Amendment Bylaw 7881, 2017, Business License Amendment Bylaw 7903, 2017 and Development Services Fees and Rates Amendment Bylaw 7904, 2017 – For First and Second Readings
The City is looking at taking a more open and adult approach to permitting video arcades/ pinball halls (depending on your generation), and getting rid of the current blanket prohibition.

Funny to read the regional bylaws where these types of operations are permitted with varying levels of control. It is easy to read the Moral Panic in the development of these bylaws. From Surrey’s: “No person under the age of 16 years is permitted to operate a pinball machine after 10:00pm, except Fridays and Saturdays or the night prior to a statutory or school holiday, unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian”.

Council moved to give there Bylaws two readings.

The following item was removed from the consent agenda for discussion:

Privacy Management Program Approval
Freedom of Information is an important principle in governance today, and the flip side is privacy protection. They are so intertwined that they are regulated together under the provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA). The City has implemented FOI procedures, even have a staff member whose job it is to manage FOI compliance (so Council or senior management cannot decide unilaterally when or why something is protected from public eyes).

A new, refreshed Privacy Policy is part of this. The City manages lots of information about homeowners, about users of our public facilities, about our own staff. The balance of how much of *your* information is public and how much is private, and the process to determine the difference, must comply with the provincial law. The policy being introduced here doesn’t replace or supersede the law, it provides guidance to staff on how to remain compliant, and makes clear whose job it is to assure compliance.

We wrapped our usual business, as usual, with reading of Bylaws:

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (Amusement Arcades) No. 7881, 2017
Business License Bylaw Amendment Bylaw No. 7903, 2017
Development Services Fees and Rates Amendment Bylaw No. 7904, 2017

As mentioned above, Council gave these three Bylaws that support the operation of Arcade amusements in the City two readings. We will review these Bylaws at a Public Hearing on February 20th. C’mon out and tell us what you think.

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bylaw No. 7892, 2017
As mentioned above, this Bylaw managing how the city will comply with Provincial Privacy laws, was given three readings by Council.

Development Cost Charge Reserve Funds Expenditure Bylaw No. 7900, 2017
As mentioned on January 16, this Bylaw that re-allocates some DCC funds to build some sewer infrastructure was Adopted by Council. It’s the law of the land, may the sewage be pumped to the benefit of all.

And that, excepting some somber discussion of current local, national, and international events that have us all looking for catharsis, was an evening at Council. It is a strange time with too much to get depressed or distressed about. People are good, be good to each other, and don’t let the bad out there change you, or convince you it is winning. It never has before.

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