The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and the Council meetings are getting more frequent. We have a busy month ahead, starting with a pretty meaty agenda this week, that started with a presentation:
Pattullo Bridge Replacement Project – Multi-Use Pathways
This was a report from the project team delivering the Pattullo Bridge on behalf of the Ministry of Transportation. The major touch-point here is the active transportation integration of the project. Both the project team and Council have received correspondence from the local HUB chapter and the Walkers Caucus, and I understand their points of contention.
There is a much longer back-story here and probably deserving of a stand-alone blog post (or an entire chapter in my memoir “Bike Lanes vs Motordom; repaving the road to Post-NeoLiberalism”), but in short, the project has made some great improvements to the pedestrian and cycling connections to Royal Ave and Agnes, but the Central Valley Greenway part of the project needs more work.
Later in the meeting (after Public Delegations from HUB and the Walkers Caucus), we has some discussion about this, and Council voted to support my motion:
That staff continue to engage with TiCorp and the Active Transportation advocacy community to improve the usability of the Central Valley Greenway connections through the Pattullo Bridge replacement project area, and
That Council correspond with MLA Whiteside and the Minister of State for Infrastructure to express support for the concerns raised by HUB and the Walkers Caucus in hopes that more creative solutions can be found here.
More to come here.
The following items were Moved on Consent:
515 St. George Street: Heritage Revitalization Agreement – Preliminary Report
The owner of a house in Queens Park wants to build a laneway house, and as the current zoning (RS-6, where most of Queens Park is RS-1 or RS-4) for this lot does not allow, they wish to use an HRA and permanent designation of the existing 1912 house as the tool to adjust their zoning. They need to remove one large tree and need a parking relaxation. This is a preliminary application, requiring some internal and community consultation, I’ll hold my comments until then.
97 Braid Street: Temporary Use Permit (TUP00012) Amendment for Food Truck Events
The parking lot by Braid Station has been approved for an off-site parking facility to support the RCH expansion project. There have been a number of “pop-up” drive-through food truck events held on this lot when it is not being used for the RCH workers (e.g. long weekends). Surprisingly, the previous events occurring here were in violation of the Zoning Bylaw. However, there were no real problems identified, so this will go to a request for public input and Council will consider the TUP in early May. Have an opinion? Let us know!
445 Brunette Avenue: Temporary Use Permit (TUP00024) for Off-Site Parking During Construction of 100 Braid Street
Similarly, the construction of the Purpose Built Rental building at 100 Braid will require a place where workers and staff for Urban Academy can park offsite. They would like a TUP for an… uh… currently vacant parking lot that used to be a car dealership band is zoned light industrial and therefore requires a TUP. Council will consider this one in May as well, if you have opinions, let us know.
New Westminster Arena Strategy
The City has two ice arenas, and have as part of our long-term infrastructure planning, had an external consultant do an evaluation of the community need. We are a growing City – when do we need to increase ice availability? Turns out, not as soon as we might have expected. The report is pretty detailed, and you can read it at length (attached to the agenda), but the short version is that per capita demand for ice is going down at about the same rate, or slightly faster than, population growth. The market for ice is regional (makes sense) and the need is essentially fulfilled, so there is no pressing need for us to add new sheets of ice in our current 5-year capital plan.
102/104 Eighth Avenue and 728 First Street: Official Community Plan Amendment and Rezoning for Infill Townhouses – Preliminary Report
This is a proposal to build 10 townhomes in Glenbrook North on two fairly large single family lots. It is an interesting proposal in that this was an area identified for this type of infill in an earlier draft of the OCP, but not ultimately included at this density in the final Land Use Designation, largely due to community push back from the Glenbrook North community. The City has been planning a review of the implementation of this type of infill density, but as with a few other planning projects involving our “missing middle”, they have been deprioritized to emphasize work on affordable housing and COVID response.
So the question whether we should go through this process now or wait until we do that policy review is tied up with this report. As one of a couple of members of Council who thought the more-infill model for the Land Use Plan map was a better idea in the first place (because it better matched what I heard through two years of conversations with the community during the Our City process), I am happy to have this project move forward and be developed further. It will be going to Public Consultation, etc.
The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:
Council Resolution in Support of the City of New Westminster’s Application under the COVID-19 Restart Funding for Local Governments, Strengthening Communities’ Services Program
The pandemic has resulted in disproportionate impacts on the unhoused and under-housed residents of New Westminster, with the number of people without secure housing going up. The good news is that there is increased senior government funding to help local governments and non-profits to bring resources to this challenge. City Staff have been reaching out to faith-based organizations and social service non-profits to identify resource needs, and are coordinating applications for about $400K in funding for 10 separate programs. The money is not for the City, but for those organizations with the identified need, the City’s role here is to coordinate and support the grant process, and help get the organizations some funding.
Riverside Adventure Park Playground Upgrade
After much consultation with committees and the community a preferred concept has been found for the replacement playground equipment at Riverside Adventure Park. The budget is $250K, and should be done this year!
808 Royal Avenue (Douglas College): Academic Building and Student Housing – Preliminary Report
Douglas College wants to build a new building, including for the first time, student housing! The plan is to build on land the College owns on the other side of Eighth Street (where the old firehall used to be). As proposed, it would be a smallish high-rise (18 storeys), made of a combination of concrete and Encapsulated Mass Timber, and include up to 244 student residential units.
This is a preliminary application, and there is work to do in design, details, and consultation, but the early notes are interesting. It will definitely be more of an “institutional” looking building than a typical tower-on-podium residential or mixed use look we are used to in the Vancouverism world. However, the impact of having dedicated student housing on the local rental vacancy situation is a positive. It will be interesting to see how this develops.
Finally, we had one piece of New Business:
MOTION: Designation of Alcohol -Permitted Spaces
WHEREAS recent changes to the provincial Liquor Control and Licensing Act permit local governments to designate any public place where the local government has jurisdiction as a place where alcohol may be consumed; and
WHEREAS the Cities of North Vancouver and Port Coquitlam piloted successful trials in
2020 designating parts or all of designated City parks as places where alcohol can be consumed, and both have in 2021 moved to expand these areas and make the designations permanent due to positive public response; and
WHEREAS the six park areas listed below serve their respective neighbourhoods, have adequate space for varying users, feature safe and open spaces popular for picnics and family gathering, and have public restrooms available, therefore providing ideal conditions for initial designation as alcohol-permitted spaces;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Council direct staff to immediately draft the necessary Bylaws compliant with Section 73(2) of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act to designate areas in the following 6 parks where the responsible consumption of alcohol by adults will be permitted from 11:00 a.m. to dusk, seven days a week; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT Staff review the program after the 2021 picnic season and report back to Council in early 2022 on challenges, concerns, public feedback, and/or opportunities to adapt the program; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the 6 designated areas for 2021 be:
•Port Royal Park: Crescent field and picnic shelter north of the restrooms;
•Grimston Park: Open field and picnic area north of the Wading Pool;
•Moody Park: picnic area and grass field south of the Multi-use Path;
•Hume Park: Upper Hume Park south of the dog run and forested area;
•Sapperton Park: Open field portion of the park fronting on E. Columbia Street;
•Pier Park: the grass picnic field and adjacent grass knoll.
The first thing I want people to note here is that this is a motion to ask staff for draft the necessary Bylaws to satisfy the Provincial requirements to allow public alcohol consumption. So don’t pop your (outdoor) corks just yet, as the Bylaws will no doubt need to come back to Council in a couple of weeks for us to either pass them or not. The is just a first step, but the majority of Council voted to take this first step, so I hope it will all work out in the next couple of weeks.
Other than that, I will probably write a follow up blog post to address some of the questions that have already been raised (e.g. “why not Queens Park?”), unless you prefer to watch the Council meeting video and see the questions addressed there.