Council – Oct 30, 2017

Our Council Monday was a long one that ended fairly early, with Task Force meetings in the morning and a mid-day workshop that included some pretty comprehensive debates for people alleged to be accused of group think (alas).

Our evening Agenda started with a Public Hearing:

Zoning Amendment (420 Boyne Street Animal Shelter) Bylaw No.7944, 2017
The proposed replacement Animal Shelter requires that the lands upon it is proposed be rezoned to allow that use. This requires a Public Hearing. We received no correspondence on this, and no-one showed up to speak to the matter. Council moved to refer this to the regular council meeting immediately to follow. At the beginning of that meeting, Council moved to give the bylaw Third Reading.

Our regular meeting then offered an Opportunity to be Heard:

Commercial Vehicle Amendment Bylaw (Increase Taxi Permits) No. 7943, 2017
Once again, one of the taxi companies in New Westminster recognized their felt was inadequate to meet the needs and expectations of their customers, and applied to the Passenger Transportation Board for the right to add move vehicles to their fleet.

And once again, the PTB permitted them a number of licenses inadequate to meet customer demand. What is even more disturbing to me is that Royal City Taxi were refused the number of Wheelchair Accessible Taxis they applied for. I cannot dream of a rational reason why the province would deny a taxi company the ability to provide more accessible service. It is irrational and offensive. The system is broken.

Here we are again. With one hand the Province is suggesting misnomered “ride sharing” services should be brought in to provide customer service while their own archaic regulations and bureaucracy prevent the established companies from providing the service the community demands. It is enraging.

Anyway, one step in the process is that council needs to approve the allotted increases through a Bylaw. One person came to speak during this Opportunity (neither for nor against, but asking a question), and council moved to approve the application through adoption of the Bylaw.

The following items on the Agenda were Moved on Consent:

Recruitment 2018: YAC Appointments
Absolutely the most fun and most inspiring Council Advisory Committee, the youth of this City have great ideas and have no problem speaking up for what they believe in. This is the second tranche of appointees for 2017-2018.

City Sponsorship for Miscellaneous Residents’ Association Expenses
The 10 Residents’ Associations and one Community Board in town play a really important role in the City – we specifically ask them to provide a forum for discussion of development projects, and as a conduit for communications between City /hall and neighbourhoods: not the only conduit, but an important one in that they are self-organizing and arms-length.

As such, it is important that they are seen as impartial and accountable to their community, but they can also be more effective if given a bit of help for minor expenses like photocopying and room rental. This is not a lot of money, and we need to find a balance between not wasting time and money on a bureaucratic process, and still providing accountability for public money.

I think this request is modest ($200 per organization per year maximum), and a good investment in community involvement.

User Fees and Rates Review
Every year, staff review users fees for the various services that the City does on a cost-recovery basis or as partial cost recovery, like permit approvals for new developments. There generally increase on rate with the consumer Price index (“inflation”, which is about 1.5% this year), though some increase more to reflect either new costs or industry trends when the City is competing with the public sector (like electrical hook-ups).

Council moved to approve these rate changes in principle, and staff will now go and draft the appropriate bylaw changes.

306 Gilley Street: Heritage Revitalization Agreement – Preliminary Report for Information
This is a preliminary report for an infill density project in the Brow of the hill Neighbourhood that includes permanent protection of a heritage house. This will go through several layers of review, including a Public Hearing, so I’ll hold my comments.

The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

Recommended Riverfront Connection Concept and Next Steps
This is another important link in the Riverfront vision, separate from, but connected to the Q2Q connection (see below). Creating a low-level connection between Sapperton Downtown has long be thought to be impossible, mostly because the railways will not allow any public use within a buffer zone of their rail lines, and in places the rail line is right on the shore. Staff identified an option that was used in Portland along the Willamette River where similar freeway development created a barrier to sustainable transportation connections, and a floating walkway has provided a stable connection for more than decade.

This could become an iconic project not just for the City, but for the region’s relationship with the Fraser River. We are moving to Partner with TransLink to do some more detailed engineering and design work. Early days yet, as this connection will not be done for at least 5 years with the current Pattullo project timeline, but a promising idea.

Q to Q Demonstration Ferry Service Outcomes and Next Steps
This is staff reporting out on the Q2Q Q to Q Ferry demonstration project that occurred over the summer. By pretty much any measure, the demonstration showed there is a desire to have a connection here among a large number of residents and business owners, and they paying a little for it didn’t seem to hurt that desire. There is a lot of data in the report, our task now is to figure what this means moving forward.

To my (not unbiased) thinking, we have demonstrated that there is a need for a pedestrian link between the Quay and Queensborough, and I am still of the opinion that a bridge is better link than a ferry. That said, I am not ready to promise things without a plan to pay for them, and the bridge is proving to be more expensive than our community can pay for with other capital expenditures more pending. Again, the fixed link idea needs to continue to be developed, but a ferry is likely much more feasible in the shorter term.

So we are looking at another phase of ferry trials to figure out how to solve a few of the problems highlighted by the demonstration project. We don’t own adequate docking infrastructure at either end, we need to secure some water rights and agreement with the Port, and we learned the challenges involved in making a ferry accessible with 10 foot tide ranges. I’m not convinced we will ever be able to provide “100% full accessibility” in a service like this – every barrier we remove for one user group creates another barrier for others – but we can make it more accessible, akin to the work being done in False Creek to make their smaller ferries accessible.

More to come here, but I expect we will have another trial service next spring.

Street and Traffic Bylaw 7664, 2015 – Housekeeping Amendments
Council moved to support these three “housekeeping” changes to our Bylaw in order to better support car sharing services in the City, in order to codify our parking fee exemption for those with Veterans plates, and to provide stronger enforcement of sidewalk clearing in the event of snow. Unfortunately, this will not be in place in time for tomorrow’s snow!

We then moved on to Bylaws:

Street & Traffic Bylaw Amendment Bylaw No. 7957, 2017
As discussed above, housekeeping changes to our Street & Traffic Bylaw were given three readings.

Parks and Recreation Fees and Charges Amendment Bylaw No. 7955, 2017
As discussed at our October 16 meeting, this Bylaw to support changes in the City’s Parks and Recreation fees was adopted. It is now the Law of the Land.

We then followed up our usually-meeting-ending Bylaws summary with the Issuance of a Development Permit:

Issuance of Development Permit DPQ00179 for 630 Ewen Avenue
This is the final development permitting step for the Affordable Housing project on City lands that had a Public Hearing back in June. On to building permits!

Finally, as a late piece of New Business, we received a report on our activities at the 2017 UBCM. I have already reported out on this here, here, here and here. It was a good event, and I hold lots of hope for us working collaboratively with the provincial government!

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