We had a Thursday Council Meeting. One of the half dozen times in my time on Council where we had more work to do than staff figured we could comfortable fit on a Monday night. In this case, we had two Public Hearing topics to cover:
Official Community Plan Amendment (514 Carnarvon Street – Holy Trinity Cathedral) Bylaw No. 8088, 2022,
Heritage Revitalization Agreement (514 Carnarvon Street – Holy Trinity Cathedral) Bylaw No. 8089, 2022, and
Heritage Designation (514 Carnarvon Street – Holy Trinity Cathedral) Bylaw No. 8090, 2022
This project is to build a 30 storey tower with 271 market condo homes and 14 secured rental homes on the space where the current Holy Trinity Cathedral parish hall stands. The building will include a replacement (and improvement) of the parish hall and accessory rooms as part of the base of the residential tower. The project will include a massive restoration and seismic upgrade of the historic cathedral, and a re-imagining of the space around the cathedral, with an expanded public plaza, a fully accessible (with public elevator to address the grade) public promenade connecting Carnarvon and Church streets.
This project has been on the books for several years, and has been though a few different iterations over that time, and there have been a half dozen public meetings to take comments on the plans. At one point, there was non-market housing component, but neither CMHC or BCHousing were able to fund this project, as the first did not have a category that fit, and the second was simply oversubscribed in the current funding year.
The project is aligned with the Downtown Community Plan, and was supported by the Community Heritage Commission, the New Westminster Design Panel, and the Advisory Planning Commission. We had six pieces of written correspondence, mostly in favour, but a couple opposed over density concerns and lack of affordable/subsidized units. We also had correspondence from a series of public service agencies in New Westminster, who spoke to the value of the services and space provided by HTC to the community. We also had about a dozen presentations to the Public Hearing, almost all in favour, though a couple of people expressed caution about some aspects of the project while not opposing it outright.
To be honest, I’ve been on the fence about this project since I first saw and earlier iteration a few years ago. My record shows me about as pro-housing as a Councilor can be, but this seemed like a lit of density in a tight spot in a neighbourhood that is feeling a lot of pressure from recent growth. I reached out to some neighbours I knew, and though they didn’t specifically oppose the project, there is a feeling of construction fatigue in that area, and that block of Carnarvon especially has some quirky public realm issues.
That said, housing of this scale – 128 family friendly units, 285 new homes, in a car-light design virtually on top of a Sky Train Station with frequent service in three directions is aligned with the City’s Transit Oriented Development strategy, and with the region’s larger strategies around more sustainable development. I also believe the ground expression of this site – the public plaza and more accessible connection through the site – will be a huge improvement for the neighbourhood, and when TransLink gets around to making Columbia Station accessible, this project will add to that accessibility.
I’m not a religious person, but I was nonetheless compelled by so many delegates coming to the Public Hearing to talk about the Heritage of Service to the community that HTC and the importance of the parish hall to the community. There is no doubt the existing building is at end of life, and the loss of it would be a real harm to many service providers, and it is hard to fit this type of community benefit into the Pro Forma evaluation of amenity value we do with new significant projects.
In the end, I voted along with the rest of Council to approve the project.
Zoning Amendment (1321 Cariboo Street) Bylaw No. 8345, 2022
This project would see a 5 storey building with 15 units of secured market rental housing in the lower slopes of the Brow of the Hill neighbourhood. The current site has been vacant for a significant amount of time. The project is consistent with the Official Community Plan, had general support during public consultation, and was approved by the New Westminster Design Panel.
We had two pieces of written correspondence for neighbours – both in favour of the project, and we had three delegates, two related to the project, and one expressing that they would prefer affordable subsidized housing on the site. Council voted unanimously to support the project.
And in the Regular Meeting following the Public Hearing, we moved the above projects along and read a few Bylaws, including the following Bylaws for Adoption:
Housing Agreement (1321 Cariboo Street) Bylaw No. 8346, 2022
This is a bylaw that secures market rental tenure for all 15 homes in the above-discussed development project in the Brow of the Hill . This agreement was adopted by Council.
Housing Agreement (514 Carnarvon Street – Holy Trinity Cathedral) Bylaw No. 8338, 2022
This is a bylaw that secures market rental tenure for 15 homes in the above-discussed development project in the Downtown. This agreement was adopted by Council.
Housing Agreement (823-841 Sixth Street) Bylaw No. 8316, 2022
This is a bylaw that secures non-market (subsidized) rental tenure for 96 homes in this project already approved in the Uptown.
Road Closure and Dedication Removal (Queensborough Eastern Neighbourhood Node) Bylaw No. 8347, 2022 and Zoning Amendment (Blackley Street) Bylaw No. 8351, 2022
As discussed at our previous Public Hearing, these Bylaws that officially close and rezone two road allotments in the Eastern Node area of Queensborough were adopted by Council.
Elections Procedures Amendment Bylaw No. 8355, 2022
This Bylaw that officially codifies the Special Voting Opportunities and mail-in-ballot voting for the October elected was adopted by Council.
Climate Action Reserve Fund Bylaw No. 8321, 2022
This Bylaw that sets up a reserve fund for Climate Action (mitigation and adaptation) in the City was adopted by Council.
And that was the end of Public Hearings for this Council Term! Happy Summer everyone!