Council – March 6, 2017

We had quite a long agenda on the March 6th Council Meeting, although a large number of items on that agenda went by on Consent. It is worth looking at least at the table of contents to see all the things we *didn’t* talk about.

The evening began with two very made-in-New Westminster events: the selection of the 2017 May Queen and Royal Suite, then a discussion of design guidelines for the proposed Queens Park Heritage Conservation Area, which will be going to public consultation, so I won’t go through them here.

The following items were moved on Consent:

City of New Westminster Public Art Plan Development
The City has a nascent Public Art program, funded through a reserve fund, overseen by a Public Art Advisory Committee, and has become more sophisticated in how it manages the role of introducing art to our public spaces. However, we don’t have a well-developed plan or strategy to look at the program holistically, which limits us to ad-hoc decision making when it comes to installing pieces.

Council approved the plan to develop a Public Art Plan for the City to synchronize it with the broader Art Strategy for the City.

Request from Hyack Festival Association to re-allocate 2017 Festival Grant funding awarded for Hyack Grand Prix to 2017 Parade Float
The Hyack Festival Association is working through some of the details of their evolving festival in May, and have come up with some interesting events to bolster their work on the Hyack Parade and all of Hyack Week. As they are pushing their envelope a little bit to make the week better for the community, I am happy to give them the flexibility to adjust how they use the funds granted to them under the Festival Grants to make everything work better. Notably, they expect to save some money on a slightly stripped-down Hyack Grand Prix event, and re-allocate it to the Parade and Float program. This is not an expansion of their Grant or an exceedance of the Festival Grant budget, but a shifting between events.

Community Heritage Commission Resignation and Appointment
The CHC changed meeting schedules, and as a result one member was no longer able to serve due to conflicts. Another applicant from the 2016 call has therefore been asked to step in. Council moved to appoint Lynn (2015 New Westminster Citizen of the Year) Radbourne to the CHC.

Moody Park Residents’ Association Representative on the Neighbourhood Traffic Advisory Committee
The NTAC is a different kind of Council Advisory Committee, as it is comprised of appointees from the City’s 10 Residents’ Associations and the Quayside Community Board. Council does, however, need to approve the appointee offered by the RA, which we just did for the Moody Park RA representative.

Restorative Justice Committee Amendment to Terms of Reference
DoneThe Terms of this Council Advisory committee was amended to include a space for a representative of the New Westminster Victim Assistance Association
Board. Makes sense.

1319 Third Avenue (Steel and Oak): Increase of Seating Capacity
This is part of a long process Steel & Oak has gone through to expand their business plan within the strange, new world of Craft Brewing in BC. The industry is exciting, although it does tend to run up against archaic rules and bureaucracy at every level of government – City not exempted. Part of this is puritan laws around alcohol production and sales, part of it is inflexible ideas in City Planning about separating “manufacturing” and “industry” from commercial and retail areas. Council moved to allow an expansion in their permit to allow 30 seats in their current space. I may have a whole lot more to say about this in a future blog post, if I find time to write it.

700 Royal Avenue (Douglas College): Development Variance Permit No. DVP00623 to vary Sign Bylaw requirements – Consideration of Issuance
Proposed new signage at Douglas College is completely in scale and compatible with their building, but does not meet the strict guidelines of our Sign Bylaw. Council therefore granted them a variance, recognizing they are not a “typical” building, and that their sign will not be obtrusive and is within the intent of the Bylaw, if not the strict letter.

100 Braid Street (466 Rousseau Street) Urban Academy: Development Permit – Consideration of Issuance
Urban Academy continues on its long journey to design a new building to provide long-term sustainability to their school.

As far as zoning and land use requirements, the proposed building meets all of the permitted uses, density, height, etc., which may not be surprising as those limits were developed as part of the OCP amendment and Rezoning specifically for this plan. It is good to know that the detailed design is worked out, and the Public Consultation was generally supportive of the project, at least through a well-attended Residents’ Association meeting. Perhaps surprisingly, the Public Open House, which was advertised with two ads in the newspaper, on the City website, at the school site, through the RA mailing list, and through mailing our advisory flyers to 850 residences in Sapperton, attracted exactly one resident.

Council moved to issue the Development Permit application.

425 Columbia Street (Columbia SkyTrain Station): Construction Noise Bylaw No. 6063, 1992 – Request for Exemption
The good news: you may soon have cellular access in Columbia SkyTrain Station and the tunnel parts of the SkyTrain through New West. The bad news: the bulk of the installation work will need to happen at night while trains are not running, meaning a bit of night-time construction noise.

Council moved to approve a Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption to facilitate these works between March 8 and 24, on the condition that notices are posted at the adjacent residential buildings with contact numbers.

295 Francis Way (Parcel O): Housing Agreement (295 Francis Way) Bylaw No. 7909, 2017 and 
Housing Agreement (295 Francis Way) Amendment Bylaw No. 7910, 2017
The project at 294 Francis Way in Victoria Hill is a 5-story residential building where the developer has agreed to build dedicated and permanently protected rental. Aside from the 85 “Market Rental” suites in the building (where rents are rented for whatever value the market will bear), there are 100 suites that are “Non-Market” Rental – housing offered at below –market rates to protect an affordable housing stock. The two housing agreements that would secure these statuses were approved for third reading by Council.

East Tenth Avenue at Cumberland and Coquitlam Street Intersections (Metro Vancouver Regional District Watermain Project): Construction Noise Bylaw No. 6063, 1992 – Request for Exemption
The good news: we are connecting our new Tenth Ave water main into the Douglas Road water main, meaning you will continue to receive clean, fresh, and safe water in New West through updated infrastructure. Bad News: there is a chance some of the work will stretch into the weekend of March 19th, meaning a bit of construction noise outside of permitted times. And yeah, there will be some traffic disruption as well.

Council moved to approve a Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption to facilitate these works on March 19th in case the work extends that long, on the condition that notices are provided to local residents.

Update on Improvements to the Rotary Crosstown Greenway (5th – 8th Street) for Walking and Cycling
This report is just to inform Council of some work that our Transportation staff have been doing in consultation with the ACTBiPed to improve an underwhelming stretch of the Crosstown Greenway. The part between Moody Park and an Fifth Street could be made a lot better, as there is a wide expanse of pavement, and very little car traffic other than access to local driveways for several buildings. The plan is to put in true separated bike lanes, which is actually the easy part. There is a bunch of complicated detail about how driveways will cross and what to do at intersections and with the problematic power poles that are actually in the street along part of the route.

The design that has been put together seems to balance many needs very well, and was generally supported by the ACTBiPed, however, the residents of the area are also going to be consulted. This report let Council know about the consultation.

Update on the Sapperton Transportation Plan
This is a big planning project the residents of Sapperton have been (mostly) patiently waiting for. Sapperton has required a comprehensive look at their various traffic and parking issues for a few years. With the RCH expansion project planned, initial stages of the Brewery District coming on line, the “temporary” diversion at Alberta Street, a significant collection of data, and the MOTI Brunette interchange project proposal, it is a good time to take a look at this. Early stakeholder and a first community meeting on the issues and concerns went great, with a “throw spaghetti at the wall” idea session, but the real work starts now. There will be another meeting on or around April 8 – keep an eye out.

Pedestrian Crossing Improvement Program
This report lists the priority pedestrian crossing program for 2017 and gives some idea of priority projects for 2018. One thing I am really proud of in my term on Council is the work our Engineering staff have done, led by our Transportation Manager and the Mayor’s Transportation Taskforce to *prioritize* transportation capital spending and to roll out rational improvement plans like this, based on the guidance of the Master Transportation Plan. $250,000 in 2017 to design and build tangible improvements to the pedestrian realm in our residential neighbourhoods, that’s a big deal for a small city like New West.

Hopefully your pet peeve crosswalk is on the list. If not, let us know, and we can add yours to the evaluation list for next year.

Temporary Relocation of Queen’s Park Arenex Programs and Services Update
The loss of the Arenex has been disruptive for the many programs it hosted, and our staff are working hard to find alternative arrangements for the users. This just brings an update on further programs that have found homes, and a few that have not.

This is probably also a good time to ask you to answer a quick survey question about the Arenex replacement. Go here, click., it literally takes 30 seconds to complete this simple survey.

260 Twelfth Street (Calvary Worship Centre and John Knox Christian School): Rezoning from Public and Institutional Districts (Medium Rise) (P-2) to Comprehensive Development Districts (260 Twelfth Street) (CD-68) – Bylaw for First and Second Readings
This is a report on a planned private school to be built on the current Calvary Worship Centre property on the corner of 3rd Ave and Twelfth Street. It is a pretty significant project for that neighbourhood, so you might want to take a look at this proposal. The project will go to Public Hearing on March 27, so I will hold my comments until then.

350 Johnston Street: Development Variance Permit No. DVP00621 for Frontage – Notice of Opportunity to be Heard
This is a relatively simple request to provide a Development Variance to allow the subdivision of a lot on Johnstone Street (no relation) in Queensborough. The lot here (like many in Queensborough) is longer than average, so subdivision means the front of the subdivided properties will not be the required 10% of circumference of the lots, necessitating the DVP. It will go to an Opportunity to be Heard on March 27th. C’mon out and tell us what you think.

408 – 412 East Columbia Street: Rezoning and Development Permit for Proposed Six-Storey Mixed-Use Retail, Office and Residential Rental Building – Preliminary Report
This project is for a 6-story building on a long-vacant lot on East Columbia in Sapperton, with a mix of commercial, office and residential space. This project is very early in the process, as this is the first time it has been in front of all of Council. There will be panel reviews, committee reviews, and full public consultation with the Residents’ Association and the entire community. Council moved to send it out for these various reviews. I am interested to see the community reaction to this proposal.

The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion at Council:

2017 Pavement Management Update
This winter was tough on our roads. No secret there, and there is a lot of that going around the lower mainland. New West has 227km of roads, and asset worth about $160 Million. This report provides some idea of what the medium-term maintenance costs are for maintenance and improvement of our roads. It isn’t pretty.

Up until about 2006, the City was underfunding its pavement maintenance program, allowing the roads to age and eventually degrade to a point that serious catch-up was required. Steady increases in the amount of road repair done in the intervening decade has seen some improvement (although it is the major roads where much of this work has been concentrated, the small residential streets have seen less improvement). Then a winter like this comes along, boosting the need for repairs to prevent further degradation of the substructure road base – like most things in life, a little repair now delays the need for expensive bottom-up replacement in upcoming years.

This is a good time to remind people that New Westminster has a disproportionately large amount of its land covered with roads when comparted to our municipal neighbours. Roads don’t pay taxes, and it takes a lot of your local tax dollars to repair them. Quick back-of the envelope estimate is that this plan means $65 per person in New West per year (or $170 per household) goes towards putting asphalt down and keeping it repaired.

This report was just for information, but the clear message is that the budget for road repairs is likely to be going up.

Amendment to Subdivision Control Bylaw Schedule “B” Design
Criteria Section 6 Lighting and Traffic Signals

This Bylaw regulates how lights are installed in the City when they are being installed by someone other than the City. When larger developments build in the City, we generally ask them to make the street and lighting improvements in front of their building as part of the project. With new technologies – notably the ubiquity of LED lights – some changes to our standards were needed. This Bylaw amendment will facilitate that update.

Access Ability Advisory Committee: Inclusion & Promotion of Accessibility Information at Public Events
This comes from work that the New West Pride Society did last year to assure the accessibility of their week-long festival and street fest. They did some amazing work as a group of community volunteers, performing accessibility audits of all two dozen or so of their event locations, trying to make them as accessible as possible, and more importantly – adding comprehensive accessibility information on all of their locations to all advertising and promotions for their event – so people who may have barriers know what to expect.

They really raised the bar on accessibility at their event, and hope that other organizations can use their database of location audits to also promote accessibility at their events. Actually, they are asking that the City make inclusion and promotion of accessibility a part of all public events the City either promotes or financially supports.

The recommendation from the Access Ability Advisory Committee (which I Chair – full disclosure) asked that Council support “encouraging” groups to include this information in their programming, I added to the motion by adding a referral to staff and the Festivals Committee to work on developing a policy supporting these principles, and bring those policy recommendations back to Council. I want to see accessibility part of our evaluation process for events we support as a City.

Proposed Energy Step Code for Building Energy Efficiency: Scope and Next Steps for Implementation
The province has been working on a new building code for building energy efficiency, formerly called the “Stretch Code”, now the “Step Code”. They are looking at allowing Cities to “opt in” to applying the code for new builds in the City. I am in support of New West opting into an enhanced energy efficiency code when this program is better developed and the Province provides that opportunity, but this report is just outlining the potential steps ahead.

It is amazing what can get done when Local governments and the province work collaboratively and carefully towards better governance.

We then had a ton of Presentations and Delegations – Two and a half hours worth! There was lots of good stuff there, and many interesting conversations, but I’m afraid I can’t explain them all here. Watch the video!

We then went through our usual Bylaws,/b> shuffle, which someone really should set to music one day.

Zoning Amendment (260 Twelfth Street) Bylaw No. 7905, 2017
The zoning amendment to support the John Know Private School was given two readings. A Public Hearing will be held March 27th. C’mon out and tell us what you think!

Housing Agreement (295 Francis Way – Affordable Non-Market) Amendment Bylaw No. 7910, 2017
Housing Agreement (295 Francis Way – Market Rental) Bylaw No. 7909, 2017
These Bylaws that create the housing agreements securing rentals for the new building in Victoria Hill were given three readings each.

Subdivision Control Amendment Bylaw No. 7908, 2017
This Bylaw update that regulates lighting design standards for the City was given three readings.

Five-Year Financial Plan (2017-2021) Bylaw No. 7906, 2017
Electrical Utility Amendment Bylaw No. 7901, 2017

These Bylaws that formalize our 5-year Financial Plan and set our Electrical Rates for another year were each adopted. They are the Law of the Land – please adjust your behavior accordingly.

And except for a few announcements, that was the evening. We got out just at 10, which was early enough for me to catch up at the pub after with these folks! Still love them, although they are Easterners now.

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