Most last-Council-meetings-of-the-month are Public Hearings, where Bylaws that require a Public Hearing as per the Local Government Act are opened for Public Comment. We had 16 Public Hearings on 10 projects, and that part of the meeting went on for almost 4 hours (you can see the videos here) . However, I am going to blog here first about the rest of the business we did at Council (as most of the Crowd had left by then), and blog about the Public Hearings in a follow-up post.
After we finished the Third Readings of the Bylaws discussed at Public Hearing, we got onto the rest of the Agenda, which started with moving the following items On Consent:
2018 Tax Rates Bylaw No. 8014, 2018
As we are reaching the end of our annual budget program, the next step is to pass a Bylaw that supports the tax levels we approved in our earlier discussions about operational and capital budgets. The amount of revenue we will collect from property tax will go up 2.95%, and we are adding on a 1% Capital Levy to better support our Capital Plan, most notably the Canada Games Pool project. Though the average tax increase is a total of 3.95% over last year, your result may vary.
Downtown BIA Parcel Tax Bylaws and
Uptown New Westminster Business Improvement Area Parcel Tax Bylaw No. 8017, 2018
These are the Bylaws that allow the City to collect a parcel tax from the members of our City’s three BIAs (one Uptown, two Downtown). Remember, all of this money is collected by the City from the businesses in the BIA areas, and then returned directly to the BIAs so they can run their business area improvement programs, as their own elected boards figure is the wisest way.
Recruitment 2018: Economic Development Advisory Committee Appointment
Staff changes in a company that has participated in our Economic Development Advisory Committee has resulted in them asking us to shift their representative to the Committee, which we did.
Recruitment 2018: Environment Advisory Committee (EnAC) Appointment
A representative of the local business community has been appointed to the Environment Advisory Committee.
Recruitment 2018: Emergency Advisory Committee (EAC) Appointment
A representative of St Johns Ambulance has been appointed to the Emergency Advisory Committee.
Appointment of the City Clerk
The City is replacing our City Clerk – the person who sits at the Mayor’s right hand during Council Meetings, and whose job it is (among other things) to make sure everything we do is legal by the language of the Law and close enough to Roberts Rules. This is one of the few staff positions that has a regulatory role, defined in the Community Charter, so a Council Resolution is required to put the new Clerk in office.
Appointment of the Chief Election Officer and Deputy Chief Election Officer for the 2018 General Local Election
The City is also required to appoint a Chief Election Officer for the upcoming Municipal Election. Under the Local Government Act, these are staff positions that are required to be defined by Council Resolution. This resolution does that. Election on!
Front Street Metro Vancouver Sewer Upgrade: Request for Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption
The disruptive sewer work on Front street is the gift that never stops giving. Some underground sewer works on operating sewers need to be done in the middle of the night when sewer loads are lowest, because when you dealing with liquid shit, you want to deal with as little as possible. So the city is providing a Noise Bylaw exemption the works that have to happen at night can happen at night.
The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:
Innovation Week 2018 Review and 2019 Request
Innovation week has been a very successful business development initiative in the City, and an important part of our Intelligent City strategy. It has put the City on the regional map when it comes to bringing new industries together and in touch with public and private support networks. It also is a forum for sharing ideas that will push our community forward. But it isn’t free, and there were some identified areas for improvement for next year.
This report outlines a plan for 2019 Innovation Week, and provides a preliminary budget. Council had a bit of a discussion about the budget, but in the end agreed (in a split vote) to approve a modest increase in the budget, but we did request some more info about what parts of the budget can be covered by existing staff in similar staff roles (ie. where we can find efficiencies with internal staff).
I do want to call attention to Councillor Puchmayr’s point during our deliberations. At the CivX conference in Vancouver this year, there were elected officials and staff from several Cities around BC who were jealous of the cooperative model we have in New West – where Council supports staff and community leaders to work together to develop innovative approaches in our own operations, and to reach out to innovative businesses to grow in the City. This is a great program, recognized outside of New West, and an important part of our Economic Development Plan and our ongoing pursuit of a better-run City.
2018 Spring Freshet and Snow Pack Level
This is an update report on how the snowpack and weather forecast impacts our flood and water restriction planning.
There is a lot of snowpack in the interior this year, and a lot arrived late. It is well above average in the Columbia/Okanagan watershed (where there is a pretty high risk of flooding right now), but we also have higher than average snowpack in much of the Fraser River drainage basin. Higher snowpack doesn’t necessarily mean flood, but it does increase the risk of flood, and the risk of larger floods. A lot now depends on how the weather shifts and how quickly that snowpack melts. A cycle like we had last week (Really hot for several days followed by protracted rain) is the kind of thing that causes flooding, as it heats the snow up to melting point then provides a quick boost of water to flush it out. We are not panicking yet in the lower Fraser, but are paying close attention, ready to react if the risk goes up.
The snowpack in our watersheds is also above average, and we should hope for some cool spring weather to slow the melt, so we won’t have to deal with Stage 2 or Stage 3 restrictions this year.
After these Agenda Items were managed, we wrapped a long night with our regular reading of Bylaws:
2018 Tax Rates Bylaw No. 8014, 2018
As discussed above, the Bylaw that codifies our tax rates for 2018 was given three readings.
Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Area (Primary Area) Parcel Tax Bylaw No. 8015, 2018 and
Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Area (Secondary Area) Parcel Tax Bylaw No. 8016, 2018 and
Uptown New Westminster Business Improvement Area Parcel Tax Bylaw No.8017, 2018
As discussed above, these Bylaws that empower us to collect taxes from BIA area businesses in order to fund the operations of the three City BIAs were all given three readings.
Development Services Fees and Rates Amendment Bylaw No. 8009, 2018
As given third reading on April 9th, this Bylaw that sets the rates for Queens Park homeowners to take part in the “special Limited Category” group property assessment program was adopted. It is now the Law of the Land.
Bylaw Notice Enforcement Housekeeping Amendment Bylaw No. 8012, 2018
As given third reading on April 9th, this Bylaw that adjusts our Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw to comply with changes in the local and regional Water Restrictions was adopted. Just in time, too, as 2018 Watering Restrictions started today!
And that was all the business of the day. Again, I’ll get into the Public Hearing discussions in a follow-up Bog Post, when I get time to write it!