Well, that was a heck of a summer, eh? I know what you are saying – Labour Day, Autumnal equinox, lots of summer left! But we started our Council meetings again, so if I can’t have any fun neither can you. Here is what we had on our Agenda this week.
We started with a Development Variance Permit
DVP00690 for 601 Sixth Street
This Office building in Uptown wants to do some interior renovation to increase the useable space, but then runs afoul of the parking requirements (that have notable changed since the building we built decades ago). This requires a Development Variance to forgive some minimum parking requirements. There is one thing the Uptown neighbourhood is not lacking in it is off-street parking spaces. WE had a piece of correspondence concerned about intrusions of light into adjacent residential property, but approved the Development Variance.
The following Items were Moved on Consent:
2022 Budget Process Next Steps and Engagement Workshop Results
We have started the 2022 budget process, including preliminary stakeholder workshops with City Advisory Committees. Building upon the 2021 budget consultation program, there is much more to come, including on-line consultations and a webinar for people who want to learn more about hoe municipal budgeting actually works so they can engage more meaningfully. Check out details here and stay tuned!
Recruitment 2021: Multiculturalism Advisory Committee (MAC) Appointment
We are filling a seat on the MAC.
Update on Changes to the Procedure Bylaw
The way we have been running remote Council Meetings for the last 18 months has been under an emergency provincial Ministerial Order which overrides some of the other aspects of our Procedure Bylaw that keep us compliant with the Community Charter. That Ministerial Order has been replaced by changes to the Community Charter, so now we are going to change our Procedure Bylaw to be compliant. Is that all clear?
In short, all of our Closed meetings (which we typically hold in the afternoon of council Mondays) are going to stay as remote meetings, because that works and it gives staff more flexibility in how they participate while trying to get other work done, and as there is no public face to closed meetings, there is less concern about public access and participation opportunities. Our regular meetings will by a Hybrid model, with both a meatspace meeting in Council Chambers and the option for digital participation on the part of the public and Council. There are a few technical hurdles to cross (our regular council streaming process had a couple of seconds of delay, which was no problem if people were watching, but was a challenge for on-line participation) so I expect it will be a bit bumpy in the first meeting or two, but as we have all learned in the last year, the processes we have operated under are lagging a bit behind the technology on these things, so I generally am hopeful about this transition.
Heritage Revitalization Agreement Refresh: Timeline and Work Plan
The City paused new HRA applications in the Queens Park HCA until the policy that informs these applications can be updated, citing community concerns about the existing process following the implementation of the HCA in 2017. This report outlines the work plan for that policy update. There are details in here, but in short, we hope to have a Policy Framework for Council Consideration by Spring 2022. Expect a robust community consultation through winter 2021-2022.
2021 Heritage Register Update: Addition of One Property and Removal of One Property
The City has a Heritage Register of properties that have specific legal protection (“Heritage Designation”) and those that have very high heritage value but may not specifically be designated. We are adding the 1939 Slovak Hall in Queensborough to Register (due to its recent HRA and upcoming restoration), and are removing the 1931 “Deane Block” in Downtown, which burned to the ground in May.
Metro Vancouver Sewer Inspections: Request for Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption
MetroVan is doing video inspection of a major sewer interceptor, which has to happen at night when the weather is good because that’s when the levels of…uh… stuff in sewer is low enough to provide an adequate inspection. Construction at night needs a noise exemption, here it is. The directly impacted neighbourhood (small areas of Quayside and Q’Boro) will be notified, though the work schedule is a bit dependent on a short stretch of non-rainy weather.
TransLink Pavement Rehabilitation Project – Braid Station: Request for Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption
Translink is doing pavement rehabilitation at Braid Station, and some part of that work can’t happen while there are buses and transit passengers running all over the place, so they are asking for a construction noise exemption to allow that work to extend into night. It’s relatively far from any residential areas, but will likely have some transportation impacts.
Street and Traffic Bylaw Amendments for Three Readings – Bylaw 8275, 2021
We are making some relatively minor changes to this Bylaw partly to improve Active Transportation safety, and partly just as housekeeping. We are adding to the 30km/h zones to include those commercial areas where riding a bike or using a scooter on the sidewalk is strictly forbidden, but there is no safe alternative separated from traffic. We are adding regulations about how private driveways are permitted to this bylaw (taking it out of the zoning bylaw). We are updating rules around how Street Occupancy permits are permitted, and how boulevards are regulated to help with trash collections and improve pedestrian safety. This also requires updates to the Bylaw Enforcement Bylaw and the Municipal Ticket Information Bylaw, so that the new rules can be enforced.
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
The City is going to mirror the Federal Government’s declaration of September 30th as a Statutory holiday, and follow the Province’s lead by instituting the stat holiday today, but put off until 2022 the significant work to determine how best to memorialize or mark the day, mostly because we just don’t have that much time to organize or consult in the next 3 weeks.
323 Regina Street Heritage Revitalization Agreement – Preliminary Report
This is, to me, a bit of a baffling application from a process viewpoint. A homeowner of a house deemed not worthy of heritage protection during the HCA process now wants to give it HRA protection in exchange for building a secondary house on the property. This is on the surface similar to an application across the street that was rejected by Council in November of last year before it even go to Public Hearing. This is a preliminary report, and the proposal will no doubt result in some interesting discussion in the community, and an interesting Public Hearing (if it goes that far). So I’ll hold on of further comment until then.
Reconciliation, Social Inclusion and Engagement Task Force: Final 2021- 2022 Equity Key Performance Indicator Framework
The City has a DIEAR Framework, and needs metrics to measure if we are being successful at our goals. This report outlines what those metrics (or “Key Performance Indicators” in the parlance of the times) will be.
The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:
819 Milton Street: Rezoning and Development Permit for a Duplex – Bylaw for First and Second Reading
The owner of this vacant property in the Brow neighbourhood wants to build a duplex with potential for two lock-off suites – a total of 4 residential units on 9,000 square foot lot that meets the OCP land use, but not the zoning. There have been a couple of rounds of consultation with the neighbourhood, and a bit of a revision of the design based on that feedback. We had two public delegations about the project – the proponent explaining their rationale and a neighbour concerned about the impact on their property values if a non-heritage style building is permitted. Because of the public consultation process, the alignment with existing City policies, and the relatively minor changes here relative to the existing zoning entitlement, staff have recommended waiving the Public Hearing, and Council moved to give the application two readings.
404 Salter Street (Summit Earthworks): Proposed Soil Transfer Facility and Gravel Storage Facility – Update
Two adjacent industrial properties in Queensborough are being re-purposed for soil management. One (404 Salter) will be a stockpile and trans-shipment sit where waste soils from construction around the lower mainland will be trucked in and transferred to barges for eventual relocation to deposit sites up the Fraser River. The second (404a Salter) will be a site where construction gravel will be stockpiled and shipped to construction sites around the Lower Mainland.
These sites are Federally-regulated Port of Vancouver lands, so the projects went through the Port’s Environmental Review process, in which the City is little more than another stakeholder along with concerned residents. The City did raise some concerns through the review process, and some (impacts on the dike, environmental impact) were addressed to the City’s satisfaction, and some (transportation concerns) look to be covered by the conditions on the operating certificate. The one outstanding concern is that the permitted Saturday operating hours do not match with our own Noise Bylaw, and we will request that the Port and the operator meet our Bylaws.
Recruitment 2021: Community Heritage Commission and Economic Development Advisory Committee Appointments,
We appointed some representatives to these committees.
Then we Adopted the following Bylaws:
Zoning Amendment Bylaw (Secondary Suite Requirements) No. 8154, 202
Bylaw Notice Enforcement Amendment Bylaw No. 8249, 2021 and
Municipal Ticket Information Amendment Bylaw No. 8251, 2021
This Bylaw that changes how we regulate and approve secondary suites (and the two Bylaws that make it enforceable) was given Public Hearing back on February 22nd, and are now adopted.
Delegation Amendment Bylaw No. 8270, 2021
This Bylaw that changes a few of the internal delegation authorities within City Hall, as discussed back on July 12th, has now been adopted.
Finally, we had one piece of New Business:
Urban Farming Councillor Nakagawa
WHEREAS the City of New Westminster declared a climate crisis in 2019; and
WHEREAS the climate crisis is impacting and will continue to further impact food security in our community; and
WHEREAS actions 19 and 20 of the Food Security Action Plan are aimed at encouraging community gardens on public and private lands; and
WHEREAS not all members of our community have access to space to grow their own foods, especially in higher density neighbourhoods; and
WHEREAS fostering community connections and resilience are crucial as impacts of the climate crisis continue to be felt;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED
THAT the City of New Westminster create and implement policy to support and encourage the climate crisis equivalent of victory gardens; and
THAT these gardens be understood to include forest gardens and orchards, pollinator pastures/bee hotels, compost systems, foraging opportunities, and rainwater harvesting so that we are considering complete and interconnected systems; and
THAT this work creatively considers underutilized space such as boulevards, industrial rooftops, multi-family common areas, and conversion of street space;
THAT the City create policy on and explore ways to incentivize front yard and boulevard gardens, with special consideration for condo and apartment buildings in high density neighbourhoods, where appropriate and in consideration of other needs such as accessibility and tree planting; and
THAT the City explore ways to support and incentivize container gardening in areas where it is not possible to garden at street level such as offering a starter plant sale for multi-family housing similar to the tree sale; and
THAT the City engage the community and provide learning opportunities through new and existing programs such as the hanging basket classes and Queens Park petting farm transition; and
THAT these plans incorporate Indigenous plant knowledge and principles of Indigenous land stewardship; and
THAT these plans include an equity lens.
Not sure I have much to add to this, it is a great idea, and I am glad to support it, as the rest of Council seemed to be!
And that was it for the evening. Have a good Labour Day weekend, enjoy the election season, and we’ll see you all in September!