There was an extra breath of New West normalcy in Council this week, as we had people in plaid jackets in the Chambers for the first time since the Pandemic lock-down started a little more than two years ago. This is because representatives of the Hyack Festival Association were there to talk about the return to the Hyack International Parade and Hyack Festival, May 28. It should be fun!
But it wasn’t all anticipatory celebration, we had business to do, and the first thing on the Agenda was moving the following items On Consent:
Downtown Livability Strategy Update
The Downtown has faced some challenges trough the Pandemic differently than other parts of the community at the same time as it is seeing significant residential growth. Last year, Council asked staff for some short- medium- and long-term tactics to address a suite of concerns raised by residents and the downtown business community. This report is only an update on some of those tactics – what is working and what is not.
Our Engineering “beat team” is working to address general cleanliness and litter, and some of the nuisance related to these. The Hyack Square portable toilet has been a target for vandalism, and this is an important learning point as we work towards a more permanent solution for public bathroom access downtown. The business support programs are going well, and are being well received, though we are all looking forward to the Metro Vancouver sewer project going away. The Downtown BIA, Pride, and Hyack Festival Association are planning a summer of events downtown (supported in part by City’s grant program), which is also a great piece of news.
Heritage Revitalization Agreement (328 Second Street) Bylaw No. 8309, 2022 and Heritage Designation (328 Second Street) Bylaw No. 8310, 2022
The owner of this house in Queens Park wants to subdivide the lot and build and infill house, in exchange for restoration and permanent protection of the existing 1889 house. The City is working through new HRA policy guidance for the Queens Park HCA, but this application was in the queue before that policy review began, so this project is not subject to that pause.
A previous proposal for this lot to demolish the heritage house and build a larger home on the lot was “discouraged” by Council back in 2017, the proponent looked at carriage house model, but it was not economically viable. This is a third attempt at re-imagining the site, where the house has some historical significance but is in need of significant restoration.
This project will go to Public Hearing, so I’ll hold further comments until then. If you have opinions, let us know!
Memorandum: Release of Closed Resolution re Utility Commission Reappointments
The City has an Electrical Utility Commission to provide executive oversight of the operation of the Electric Utility. We are updating some appointments to the Commission.
Official Community Plan Amendment, Rezoning, Development Variance Permit, and Development Permit: 1135 Salter Street – Preliminary Report
This project would see 45 townhomes built on a large lot in Queensborough. This is an area in the Official Community Plan currently designated as residential low density (Essentially, single family detached homes, though there could be more than one living unit per home), and the townhouse form and density here (FSR 0.75) do not meet the OCP designation, so this will require an OCP amendment. This is a preliminary report, letting Council know about the application and proposal details that are going out to public consultation, internal committee review, and stakeholder consultation required for OCP amendment.
Period Promise Pilot Initiative
The City piloted this project last year to make menstrual products available in City washroom facilities. At the time, we asked for a report back after some time to see how it is working, as there were some concerns raised regarding excessive cost and potential for vandalism and theft. Short version of the report: no vandalism or theft problems, and the operational cost is well within existing operational budgets. So, success.
Phase One Infill Housing Program: Comprehensive Review Work Plan
When the City adopted its OCP in 2017, there was significant interesting the City opening up for more infill housing options like laneway and carriage houses to bring more “missing middle” options and ground-based rental options for families in the City. Some of the review work related to this got delayed by other priorities in the City (like many other things) in the last two years, but it is good to see the conversation re-started.
There is going to be quite a bit of public outreach and consultation on this, and I look forward to hearing from the community, but one thing I think a lot about is how the market for housing has shifted since we did the bulk of our OCP consultation in 2016. The million-dollar-line (for the “benchmark” single family house) swept east through New Westminster in 2016, and both land prices and construction cost make “missing middle” forms increasingly out of touch for many potential homebuyers. We are getting more applications now for townhouse and rowhouse forms, but laneways and coach houses are still a bit niche, and may only be serving to add value to the lowest density lands in the City, creating a barrier to more attainable densities. So it will be an interesting conversation in the community, and timely with our OCP reaching mid-life.
Rezoning Application for Duplex: 122 Eighth Avenue – Bylaw for First and Second Readings
This homeowner in Glenbrook North hopes to build a duplex where there is currently a single family home. The proposal meets the OCP designation for the neighbourhood, is within the permitted density (0.61FSR), height, and site coverage, however as it is duplex with two front doors (and not a house with a basement suite which would be permitted automatically) it requires a rezoning. Due to the consistency with the OCP and other lack of variances, Council agreed to waive the Public Hearing, though we have received a few public comments through the applicant-led consultation, and will continue to do so before the Third Reading. If you have opinions, please let us know.
Rezoning Application for Infill Townhouse: 337 and 339 Keary Street –Bylaw for First and Second Readings
The owners of these properties in Sapperton are proposing to build two buildings totaling 9 townhouse-style family-friendly homes. This proposal meets the OCP designation for the location, but needs a rezoning. It is on a lot between some larger single family lots and some newer narrow-lot SFD houses, with an apartment building behind, and a pretty high walk-score part of Sapperton. Again, due to OCP compliance and density and mass generally consistent with the zoning, Council has agreed to waive the Public Hearing. We can still receive public feedback prior to Third Reading, so if you have opinions, let us know!
Rezoning Application for Triplex: 817 St. Andrews Street – Bylaw for First and Second Readings
The owners of this property in the Brow of the Hill is proposing to build a triplex to Passive House standard (the highest energy efficiency rating known to Christendom), bringing three family-friendly ground-oriented homes. This again meets the OCP designation for the location, but needs a rezoning. It is located next to a three-story apartment building and across the street from a high rise, but is a transition area in the neighbourhood. Council agreed to waive the Public Hearing in light of the alignment with the OCP. We can still receive public feedback prior to Third Reading, so if you have opinions, let us know!
The following items were then Removed from Consent for discussion:
Development Cost Charges Bylaw No. 8327, 2022
We provided approval in principle for these changes last meeting, this is the drafted Bylaw to support the changes. Development Cost Charges are one of the ways that municipalities assure that development pays its way – that the cost of new development falls on the developer, not on residents already here (who, at least in theory, had similar costs applied to them when their home was built). DCCs are tightly regulated by the province, are typically charged based on unit count (number of new housing units) or square footage/meterage of new living space, and the money collected is directly applied to pre-approved projects (new sewer lines, new water lines, road improvements, parks improvements). The Bylaw sets the rates and formalizes the projects toward which the DCCs will be applied, giving us the power to collect these DCCs.
Because projects and growth rates change, our DCC Bylaw is periodically updated to reflect new costs. This update significantly increases our DCCs, as the last comprehensive update was more than a decade ago. The projected value of DCCs in the Bylaw is $87.7M for the mainland and $79.4M for Queensborough (who have a separate DCC calculation because of differing sewerage and drainage costs, and differing age of the existing infrastructure). This increase is significant, but New West is still moderate compared to our cohort communities, and a bit below average for commercial and industrial DCCs.
We had a bit of debate on Council about the application of DCCs to Institutional property, you can watch the video if you are intrigued by this debate. In the end, Council voted in a split vote to approve the new DCC rates and application to Institutional properties as recommended by staff.
Hume Park Master Plan: A 20-Year Vision
This is a project that has been delayed a bit as staff resources were re-directed to pandemic support and public consultation processes were re-designed to address health restrictions. We talked a bit about it in Workshop a couple of weeks ago, but this is the final “council approval”.
Hume Park serves multiple functions in Sapperton, and parts of the park clearly need some re-fresh. Many of the physical assets are past their useful service life, and there is a bunch of money in the Capital Budget for renewal (about $3Million in the current 5-year plan), so it is good to have this Master Plan process so we know works being done to update the assets meet bigger goals, instead of being ad-hoc. We heard *a lot* from the community about why and how they value Hume (there are 300 pages of public and stakeholder feedback – plus a detailed environmental assessment and independent transportation study), and I think the plan put together here by staff reflects very well the overall tone of those consultations.
The plan kind of envisions two Hume Parks: Upper Hume will continue (with new investment) to function much as it does, with programmed and active spaces to support organized sport (soccer, rugby, softball, lacrosse, pickleball, tennis) along with an aquatic area, spray park and picnic, playground, and dog run areas. At the same time, there is a desire to re-imagine Lower Hume as more of a passive use and ecological space. You can still picnic and touch nature, but it will connect better to the floodplain of the Brunette River, with restored forests of the bluffs, and a balance of accessibility through trails with preservation of high-quality habitat.
I was happy to move endorsement of the plan as it, but also moved that Council refer the plan to Social Inclusion, Engagement and Reconciliation Advisory Committee (SIERAC) to open up a discussion about Indigenous place-making opportunities along the Brunette River portions of the park, so we can better reflect the ecology and the pre-colonial history of the Brunette, and the importance of the floodplain of the River
Temporary Use Permit Extension: 30 Capilano Way (Amusement Arcade)
The operator of a video/pinball arcade in the Braid Industrial Area has been operating under a Temporary Use Permit for two years with no problems, and is asking for a two-year extension. I am happy to support this business operating in a way that works for them and their customers, and think they have demonstrated that this activity is appropriate for their land use. As such, I’d like us to explore how we can better support these types of “accessory uses” in Industrial land, and make things easier for flexible uses like this operator has made work.
This was also an interesting discussion at Council, because I can see both arguments. This might be an interesting part of the video to watch, because the answers are not cut-and dried. Industrial Land is at a premium, region-wide, with Industrial land increasingly encroaching on green spaces at the urban boundary. The Port and the Business Community love to remind us how Industrial land is rapidly running out. So, re-purposing Industrial land is a bad idea – commercial businesses should be encouraged to set up in appropriate commercial areas, not take up limited Industrial space. On the other side of the coin, there are many new business models that mix industrial activity with a commercial storefront. Breweries and distilleries are a good example, but there are crafters of all sorts, and even a unique business like this that does the industrial work of repairing and refurbishing amusement equipment at the same location where they make a customer experience of using the equipment. They don’t fit tightly in either commercial or industrial land use boxes, and zoning is really a process to assure things are in the right box. So we are asking staff to provide us a bit more guidance about how we can better support accessory uses while not threatening the valuable resource that is Industrial Land.
Finally, we read a few bylaws including the following Bylaw for Adoption:
Tax Rates Bylaw No. 8326, 2022
This Bylaw that established the 2022 Mill Rates for property taxes was adopted by Council. Budget 2022 done. Time to start budget 2023.