Council – Nov 27, 2017

I got so busy reviewing the December 4th Council reports and ranting about roads, I totally forgot I haven’t yet blogged about the last Council meeting! It’s been a busy week…

The following seven (7!) items came to Public Hearing:

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (Density Bonus Rates) No. 7947, 2017
Density Bonusing is one way that the City can legally (under the Local Government Act) raise revenue through development. There are varying rates based on the different market rates for development in Queensborough as on the Mainland, and depending on whether townhouses, low-rise apartments or high-rise apartments are being built.

New Westminster has done density bonusing since 2010, and did an update of the policy in 2014. Market conditions have, of course, shifted in the last few years, so it was time for an update in bonus rates based on current market conditions and increases in market value of new construction. Essentially, the City (and by proxy the residents who will benefit from this infrastructure investment) want to get their share of the profits.

This is one of the ways we, as a City, get developers and future residents to pay for amenities in the City, as all of the money collected from developers through this process is (by Council Policy) put into reserves with 30% going towards our Affordable Housing fund, 10% towards providing capital grants for childcare, 10% to fund our Public Art program, and the remaining 50% towards general amenity fund that goes into improving civic facilities and parks (via our 5-year capital plan).

We received no correspondence on this item, and no-one came to speak to Council on the topic. In the Council meeting immediately following the Public Hearing, we gave this Bylaw Third Reading and Adoption

Heritage Designation Bylaw (220 Carnarvon Street) No. 7958, 2017 and
Zoning Amendment Bylaw (220 Carnarvon Street) No. 7959, 2017
The property at 220 Carnarvon is a Romanian Orthodox church, but is listed in the City’s heritage registry as the Nidarose Lutheran Church, built in 1924. This proposal would add a heritage-sensitive addition to the church to put in a caretaker residence and meeting room space. This requires a rezoning and a Heritage Conservation Agreement.

This is a modest change to the building, essentially building over an existing parking area, and allowing for expanded programming by the Church. This project was supported by the Advisory Planning Commission and the Design Panel, and there were no concerns raised by the neighbourhood. Only the Proponent came to speak to the matter. In the Council meeting immediately following the Public Hearing, we gave these Bylaws Third Reading.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (800 Columbia Street Liquor Primary Licensed Premises) No. 7946, 2017
The CPR Station / Keg Building has been undergoing significant renovation, and a new restaurant/bar is planning to open in time for the Christmas Season. The owner’s plan is to have a restaurant (“food primary”) on the main floor, with a smaller pub (“liquor primary”) above. The second use is not compliant with the language of the current zoning, so this zoning amendment is required prior to the Owner going to the Liquor Licensing Board for a change to their license.

The Heritage Commission and the Advisory Planning Commission supported this application. We did not receive any correspondence on the topic, but there were two pieces of correspondence (one in favour, one opposed) earlier in the process that are part of the public record. No-one came to speak to Council on the matter.

In the Council meeting immediately following the Public Hearing, we gave this Bylaw Third Reading and Adoption. We then Moved the Resolution recommending the issuance of a Liquor Primary license.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (Accommodation for Youth in Foster Care and Youth Aging out of Foster Care) No. 7937, 2017
This change in the language of our Zoning law reflects a bit of a shift in how foster care and youth aging out of care are supported in our community. The current law creates a “two tier” system where a family can have as many kids in their house as fit, but if those youth are “in care” or have access to social supports through the Ministry in their residence, no more than 4 can live in a house. The proposed change would bring the zoning in line with other types of supportive housing, where the limit is on number of residents total, which would be limited to 12. That can include adults and youth, those in care and those not in care.

There is a value to levelling this paying field. Youth aging out of care have the highest risk of homeless, and organizations trying to address this issue need to be supported if we are going to make any headway on our regional homelessness crisis. The accommodation here is reasonable, not out of line with current City practice.

This topic was raised by a member of the Youth Advisory Committee at their meeting last week. After a considerable discussion, that committee’s moved the following unanimously (which was entered as correspondence, since it was moved too late to formally be addressed to Council):

“THAT the Youth Advisory Committee endorses the proposed changes to the Zoning Bylaw which would allow for a higher number of youth in foster care.”

We had one other piece of correspondence in favour of this change, and no-one came to Council to address the change. In the Council meeting immediately following the Public Hearing, we gave this Bylaw Third Reading.

232 Lawrence Street – Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw No. 7956, 2017 and
232 Lawrence Street – Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7948, 2017
This project would help increase the number of childcare spaces in Queensborough, where there is an acute need, by offering a City-owned parcel near the Queensborough Community Centre for a not-for-profit to set up a childcare facility in a modular building. We need an OCP amendment and a zoning amendment since the lot is currently residential.

There are fewer than half the child care spaces per capita in Queensborough as in the other neighbourhoods of the City, and this is the place where so much of the new and relatively affordable family-friendly housing is being built in the City. It is great that our staff identified this need, and developed this strategy to help address the need.

(And, to point, this is an example of how the kind of amenity funds raised through Density bonuses mentioned above is used).

This project was supported by the Community Social Issues Committee, and the Advisory Planning Commission. We received no correspondence on the issue, and no-one came to address Council on the item. In the Council meeting immediately following the Public Hearing, we gave these Bylaws Third Reading.

In the Regular Council meeting immediately following, Council moved the following items on Consent:

Renewal of Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Areas – Results from Notification of Affected Property Owners
The City supports BIAs by providing them the process through which they support themselves. The BIA members democratically agree as a community to raise some collective money through a local tax on themselves, and spend that promoting the interests of the business community. The City collects the tax and hands it over to the BIA.

So much of the great things happening in our downtown are supported by this BIA assessment – the summer festivals, the work with Tourism to promote our downtown, and all forms of local business support. They have also recently completed a Strategic Plan which charts their growth into the years ahead.

The existing BIA agreement expires at the end of 2017 (it is 10 years old) and the BIA started the process to renew the agreement. At the same time, they are asking to increase their footprint to include retail spaces in the new developments on the waterfront, and to increase their rates a little bit to keep up with inflation.

The members of the BIA are asked to opine on this and of a total of 207 businesses, 4 expressed opposition.

Recruitment 2018: Appointment of Chairs to 2018 Advisory Bodies and External Organizations
Going in to the last year of our term, we are not making any major shifts of internal committee roles, although my year as alternate at Metro Vancouver is coming to an end.

Recruitment 2017: Economic Development Advisory Committee
We have a bit of a shift on this Council Advisory, as we have had a retirement. We will, however, replace that person as part of our regular recruitment process.

DCC Expenditure Bylaw No. 7970, 2017
Development Cost Charges are another way the City is able to get developers and new residents to pay for the cost of accommodating the growth that comes with development. These are charged based on square footage of new density, and are set aside to specific reserve funds to pay for specific capital needs resulting from the resultant growth.

This Bylaw allows us to release $5.4 Million in DCC money from their respective reserve funds towards specific projects outlined in our 5-year capital plan.

The following item was removed from Consent for a bit of discussion (and mugging to the camera, clearly):

Downtown Dog Relief Station
It appears the community is supportive of the little blue doggy bathrooms on Columbia Street, and it appears to have had some effect reducing the number of doggie bombs dropped on Columbia Street.

I wonder about the bright blue fence – as the vast majority of users are locals living nearby, and everyone with a dog by now knows it is there, can we look at a fence that better matches the surrounding street furniture?

Finally, we discharged with these Bylaws:

Development Cost Charge Reserve Funds Expenditure Bylaw No. 7970, 2017
As discussed above, this bylaw that allows release of DCC funds for capital projects was given third reading.

Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Area (Primary Area) Bylaw No. 7951, 2017 and
Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Area (Secondary Area) Bylaw No. 7952, 2017
As discussed above, these bylaws that expand the BIA area and set new rates for the BIA were adopted. This now being the Law of the Land. please adapt your behavior accordingly, and support the BIA business that support your community!

Engineering User Fees and Rates Amendment Bylaw No. 7968, 2017
As discussed on November 20th, this bylaw that sets rates for our various engineering fees for the year ahead was adopted. It’s now law of the land, at least until next year.

And aside from us formally adopting a request that the Mayor challenge the Mayor of Port Coquitlam to a poetry contest riding on the results of the Hyacks’ Championship game… we were done for the week.

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