We had yet another marathon Council meeting this week. I wish the work we were getting done was proportional to the amount of time spent in rhetorical argument that changes no-ones mind, but that is not the path we are on. Regardless, we did get some work done, and for technical reasons started the Agenda with the adoption of a Bylaw:
Adoption of Heritage Designation (109 Third Avenue) Bylaw No. 8381, 2023
As discussed at the January Public Hearing, this Bylaw that designates a home in Queens Park was adopted by Council. Following this, we handed out the plaques for homes in the City that are designated as Heritage Assets, including this one and a large rental building downtown. We haven’t done this is a few years in part because of the weirdness of hybrid council meetings, so we had some catching up to do.
We than had two Presentations:
Proposed Airspace Modernization Changes at Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
The Federal Agency that oversees aircraft navigation in Canada wants to change the system that manages planes coming into YVR, which means changing some of the routes. This involves some public consultation (over the last three months, with on-line and open house formats across the lower mainland), and they came to present to Council. Though some other communities are unhappy because they foresee more overhead flights (Especially North Burnaby and Port Moody, where the tracks have shifted), it does not look to me like there will be increased flights over New West, or that the planes will be lower. There were quite a few questions asked by Council, and staff will follow up with an information report.
Air Quality Permit Application from Cedar Island Forest Products Ltd
There is a small wood products manufacturer operating on industrial land in Queensborough, operating for 30 years. They create sawdust as part of their operations, and have systems they call “cyclones” to trap this sawdust so it can be recycled. These cyclones do have some “emissions”, in that some dust gets through, and that means an air quality permit is required, and Metro Vancouver is the government that issues that permit by Provincial Law.
There are two issues here. The one up for discussion is the regulation of these dust emissions. Unfortunately, the notice provided by Metro Vancouver did not include many details about the actual application, only a link to the company website that has no details. It is even unclear if this application represents an increase in emissions, a reduction, or no change, or even if there will be any monitoring requirements, or evaluation of the impact of the emissions on adjacent properties. As such, I requested that Staff ask Metro Vancouver to delay issuing the permit until these details (the complete application) is made available for the City and public review.
The second issue is proximity issues between this long-established industrial use and the adjacent residential properties – a proximity apparently approved in the 1995 Queensborough Plan with development permits issued in 2011. I do not think we would permit this proximity if this application came before us today, but that is cold comfort to the folks living there today and feeling those proximity impacts.
We then moved the following item on On Consent:
Request for Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption: 660 Quayside Drive (Bosa Development)
The Bosa site on the waterfront needs to move crane sections in, which has to happen outside of traffic hours because of the disruption caused. This means they need a Construction Noise Bylaw Variance.
We then had these items Removed from Consent for discussion:
A Year of Truth
The City is advancing along its reconciliation journey thoughtfully. This report outlines the actions the City and its various departments are planning to undertake in the year ahead, under the banner of “a Year of Truth”, in recognition that truth comes before reconciliation. There is a lot of education happening in house, and opportunities for the public to engage in learning, listening, and better understanding of our history, and why reconciliation is needed. This is hard and often uncomfortable work, but it is good work and will make us a stronger community for doing it.
Building Safer Communities Program from Public Safety Canada
The City received a $1.7M grant from Public Safety Canada under the Building Safer Communities program to deliver services to at-risk youth in the community. This report outlines how the City plans to deliver those programs. The Government of Canada approved this plan (it is their money, after all), and we have identified the many partners in the community who we will be bringing in to help support the programming, including local social service NFPs, the Canadian Mental Health Association, and the School District. This is real, proactive crime prevention that centers vulnerable people before they get into trouble, and a great example of partnership in the community.
Council also moved to strike a Working Group to guide this work, in a format similar to what worked well to bring PACT to the City.
Housing Agreement Bylaw and Development Variance Permit to Vary Residential and Visitor Parking Requirements: 311 Ash Street – Bylaw for Three Readings
This older rental apartment building in the Brow of the Hill Neighbourhood wants to convert some unused parking space into rental homes, going from 29 units to 34, and reducing their parking from 35 to 21 spots. This requires a Development Variance Permit. In exchange, they will enter into a Housing Agreement guaranteeing that the building will remain Purpose Built Rental for 60 years or the life of the building, whichever is longer. This property is across the street from my home, so I am recusing myself to avoid conflict of interest.
Notice of Motion Process
There was a request in a previous meeting (ironically, by “Notice of Motion”) that we clarify the Procedure Bylaw on Notices of Motion. This is the report back from staff on the process as it was, as it is currently, and as they suggest it should be moving forward.
Every city does this a bit different, and staff reviewed some other cities to see what worked and what didn’t. Any of our cohort communities simply don’t do Notices of Motion except in exceptional circumstances, others require Councilors who want to bring a Motion must work with staff to write a report supporting the motion. There is no “common practice”, but in New West, we have a history of being a little loose in this area. This worked when we had the average of 5 or 6 NoMs per year (as we did consistently from 2010-2021), where we now have that many per meeting. This creates a legislative logjam that threatens to prevent us from getting any priority work done, and also prevents us from giving all Motions their due consideration.
Some changes are proposed. Part 1 codifies the structure of a NoM so they are easier to manage and review, and to protect us from liability resulting from poorly worded or inaccurate recitals. Part 2 clarifies the submittal process and limits the number of NoMs per meeting, Part 3 the staff review practices. Part 4 reinforces the purpose of NoMs. After a long discussion, Council decided to workshop an approach here instead of making changes now. and I’ll hold my longer form response to this until after that workshop.
Temporary Working Space Agreement (GVSD590) for 590 Blackberry Drive
There is a big sewer pipe under Glenbrook Ravine, within which resides a big valve. That valve is old and needs to be replaced. This is a big job, being done by Metro Vancouver this summer. This means they need to close the north access to Glenbrook Ravine to pedestrians during these works, potentially for 6 months. I’m not happy about this. Glenbrook Ravine is one of the most important green spaces in our community, there are many people in the community for whom the Ravine Trail is part of their daily life, a respite of cool space and nature that is fundamental to their wellbeing, especially in the heat of summer. However, I am satisfied that all due diligence was done and there was no alternative found that could reasonably allow the important sewer work to be done while maintaining access via Glenbrook Drive.
We then read some Bylaws including these for adoption:
Community Heritage Commission Amendment Bylaw No. 8384, 2023
This Bylaw that increased the number of members on the Community Heritage Commission from nine to ten was adopted by Council.
Development Cost Charge Reserve Funds Expenditure Bylaw No. 8371 2022
This Bylaw to allow us to spend DCC money on upcoming Queensborough drainage, sewer, and parkland improvements was Adopted by Council.
We then had some Motions From Council:
Gurdwara Sahib Sukh Sagar Emergency Management Partnership Opportunities
BE IT RESOLVED that the City of New Westminster Fire Department explore Emergency Management partnership opportunities with The Gurdwara Sahib Sukh Sagar to support the emergent needs in Queensborough
This is a good idea. The Gurdwara in Queensborough has been a great informal partner with the City when emergencies happen in Queensborough, and also show up across the region when people need support. Coming out of a couple of recent events, there were some conversations with our emergency services about how we could both support this work, and assure that we are not working at cross purposes with their massive volunteer force. A more formal relationship would open up some funding opportunities for supplies, training or other supports to help the Gurdwara help the community.
Increasing safe access to the Fraser River for residents and tourists
BE IT RESOLVED that staff report back to Council regarding opportunities to provide increased direct access and connectivity to the Fraser River for our citizens and tourists;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we identify opportunities and possible funding sources to plan and develop additional userpay pleasure craft moorage on our City’s waterfront; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that staff be asked to identify possible new access points for a user-pay pleasure craft launch facility; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that staff identify the costs, challenges and opportunities of establishing a walkable link along the waterfront between Sapperton and Pier Park; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that staff prepare a key stakeholder consultation strategy to be presented to Council as part of this review; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that staff report to Council regarding the necessary budget, possible sources of funding and resources required to undertake the work as noted above.
The City developed a Riverfront Vision strategy, adopted in 2016. There were some positive moves on aspects of the vision, including the QtoQ, Front Street Mews, and the development of the public space plans for the Bosa development on the Riverfront. There are other aspects of it that are works in progress, including the connection of Pier Park to Sapperton Landing (set back seriously by COVID and the Pier Park Fire), and finding opportunities to better connect people to the River.
There was a tonne of work done a decade ago regarding private moorage along the Quay, it was one of the visions related to the original development of Pier Park under Mayor Wright. The Port made clear (and continues to assert) that the riverfront along the Quay is a working riverfront, and not a place where they would support pleasurecraft moorage, for a raft of safety and practical reasons. There *is* public moorage in New West in Queensborough where the Port supports it, and there is some potential for “touching” the river in the North Arm as we develop Poplar Landing, but that is a few years off. In the end, Council did not think this was a motion that merited support, as work under the Riverfront Vision has already been appropriately prioritized.
We also had an afternoon workshop where we worked through aspects of the City’s Capital Plan, in preparation for further budget development. That will be the focus of the next meeting, though no doubt there will be lots of opportunities for us to drift away from that focus.