Council – Aug 29, 2022

Summer is not over. Another week until kids go back to school, and the Autumnal Equinox is still weeks away, but the summer hiatus at City Council and staff is over, and we were back in business with a full Council Agenda. This week’s Council meeting began with a special Presentation:

2022 Planning Institute of BC Excellence in Policy Planning Award: Seven Bold Steps for Climate Action
The City’s Planning department won this award last month at the annual PIBC conference. But this presentation was about thanking the people who helped make it happen. When the Council was elected, and told staff we were serious about Climate Action, that we were ready to be challenged to approve a really bold climate action plan for the City, staff responded with this really great piece of work. We knew at the time (a notion reinforced now by the award) that it was region-leading, as bold as anything happening at the Municipal level in Canada.

When I ran for Council, when the current Council ran in the election in 2018, we all talked about Climate Change, and about the need for us to take action to address our corporate and community emissions to meet the challenge of the Paris Agreement. And we got elected making that promise. But even six months after election, the mandate delivered is questioned, which is why it is important that the community continue to call on the Council to do this work. When the Bold Step plan came to Council, several groups came to support Council, imploring us to say “yes” to bold action. So we wanted to take this chance ot share the Award given to Council with a couple of those community groups who came to Council back in 2019 to push us forward –to tell us this work mattered to the community. Who made it easier for us to say “yes” to climate action.


We then moved the following item On Consent:

Amendments to the 2022 Schedule of Council Meetings
We are making some changes to the Council Schedule in light of the upcoming UBCM conference, the election, and the anticipated need for a Finance Workshop in November to get the new Council up to speed. That means this is the semi-penultimate Council meeting of the term.

Appointment of City Officers:
There is a bit of staffing change going on in the City, like every organization on earth right now. Several positions in the City have very specific legislated duties, job positions that come with specific responsibility and delegated duties under the legislation that empowers the Municipality to be a Municipality. These are two positions where Council must approve the appointments so the staff can act under those responsibilities.

Budget 2023: Fees and Rates Review:
The budget process at the City is a long one. In order for staff to project forward to next year’s budget, they need to know the fees and rates that make up about 1/3 of our revenue. So an early step in every budget year is updating the applicable Bylaw to codify and change in fees or rates for everything from swim lessons to parking passes to building inspections.

Every department reviews their rates annually, and try to balance three things: Inflationary increases so rate increases are gradual and we don’t get behind on CPI; Reviewing the cost of delivering the service so (ideally – not always) fees cover those costs; and a comparison to fees charged in adjacent communities to make sure the City is not out of touch with what is charged elsewhere. This year staff are recommending most rates and fees go up about 2.4%, to reflect CPI, though some fees are not going up (QtoQ Ferry, Inter Municipal Business Licences, EV charging costs) and some are going up more than 2.4% based on previous policy decisions (e.g. Parking fees are mostly going up to align with the 5-year plan for Parking rates approved by Council after much discussion back in October of 2018). You can read the reports for all the juicy details!

Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption Request – New Westminster Interceptor – Columbia Sewer Rehabilitation
That sewer work on Columbia Street is not over. They got out of the way to give our downtown retailers a break during the all-important summer festival season, but the tying in of the sewer lines is still a necessary project for the long-term viability of the sewer system. There will be some disruption between now and December.

Delegation Bylaw Update to facilitate Acting Director Roles
More about some of the re-organization happening with retirements and other staff changes at City Hall, This to update who is delegated to do delegated duties when the delegate is off duty. And we codify it by Bylaw, as required by Legislation. This seems kind of bureaucratic, and it is, but legislative function requires clear responsibility and chains of delegation so everyone is accountable.

Electronic Message Centre for Ryall Park / Queensborough Community Centre
The Queensborough Community Centre used to have a “static” sign on Ewen Ave, and a few members of the Q’boro community have been asking for a digital sign that can highlight events and share other City info. Staff looked into whether a partnership with a third party provider was viable, and it turns out the traffic counts there are just not enough to make this attractive to advertisers. We already have money in the Capital Budget to install a digital reader board sign, so we are moving ahead.

Official Community Plan Amendment and Rezoning Applications for Infill Townhouse: 102/104 Eighth Avenue and 728 First Street – Preliminary Report
This is a preliminary report on a townhouse development in Glenbrook North that would see 10 townhouses where there are currently two houses (one a duplex). This one needs an OCP amendment along with a rezoning, so it is going to consultation, and will end up at a Public Hearing, so I’ll hold my comments until then.

Recruitment 2022: Appointment to the Social and Cultural Vibrancy Grant Committee
We have community members serve on volunteer committees to help us evaluate applications for Grants. We put out a public call for applications due to a vacancy, and Staff have recommended a person for the SCV Grant Committee, who we now official appoint.

Temporary Use Permit: 97 Braid Street (Royal Columbian Hospital Parking) Phase 2 – Consideration of Notice of Issuance
That big parking lot for RCH construction workers by the Braid Skytrain Station operates on a Temporary Use Permit, which is expiring. They need a few more years to complete Phase 2 of the RCH Project, so we are issuing another TUP.

Temporary Use Permit for Group Living Facility: 311 Louellen Street – Consideration of Notice of Issuance
The owner of this large house in the Brow of the Hill would like to operate a residential support facility, which would require a Temporary Use Permit for three years. This is within the OCP use, but would need a TUP to address zoning issues. This report is just notice that Council will consider the TUP in a future meeting. If you have feedback, let us know!


The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

Fall 2022 Outdoor Pools Operating Schedule Update
With the closure of the Canada Games Pool and the Edmonds Pool in Burnaby, we are extending out Outdoor pool season well into October. This is an update on the schedule, and a reminder of a few operational constraints. Staff limitations is part of the equation, but there are also operational constraints at Hume (lack of lighting, an older boiler that probably can’t keep the pool warm as the weather changes) that may limit the usefulness of the pool. And, of course, the use will likely be impacted by weather, and we just can’t predict that.

We have also heard a few concerns about the booking system that changed during COVID, with parts of it still being used to manage capacity more fairly as we emerge out of the worst of the pandemic. To be truthful, I have heard very positive reviews and some negative reviews. Staff is going to take some time in the off-season to engage a bit with the user group and do a review of the system and report back to Council with some potential changes or improvements.

Massey Theatre Renovation Update
The City made a significant commitment to the Arts community when it committed to saving the Massey Theatre from demolition along with the old NWSS. The Land Transfer from the School District was a bit of a challenging negotiation (as it was a complex three-way conversation with us, the province, and the School Board about current and future land needs), but we now have the land secured and a long-term partnership with the Massey Theatre Society for operating the space. They have been doing incredible work already in expanding into the programmed space of the “Little Gym” and old music room spaces. This is a partnership that will serve the local arts community for decades.

But now comes the tough part. The Massey is an old building, and as it was not part of the School District’s long-term planning, it was hard for them to justify spending their limited capital finding on upgrades or updates. Now that the City has taken ownership and has been able to do some more comprehensive evaluation of the building, we need to prioritize capital costs to assure the building remains viable, safe, and functional.

The planning now is to look forward to where the building needs to be in 25 years, and what we can do to bring the building up to Building Code compliance, operational efficiency, and modern accessibility standards. The current budget (~$14 Million) is likely not enough to complete this work, and the business case and building evaluation do not support maintaining the “Big Gym” and cafeteria space on the north side of the building, so it will be demolished as was the original plan (though we took a bit of extra time to do detailed studies to assure demolition was the best option).

That said, we also need to be thoughtful in taking a phased approach to renovation and upgrades. Doing it all at once might be cheaper and quicker, but supporting the ongoing operation of the MTS means any closure of the Theatre needs to be short and predictable to allow ongoing and consistent programming. We also need to be mindful of the external presentation of the space (the accessibility, the greenspaces and parking around, etc.) as this work is ongoing. We have great partners in the MTS, and this partnership will help guide us through the next 5 (or more) years while we keep our commitment to preserving the Theatre. But ultimately, these decisions will be made by the next Council, as there are budget implications of all of these decisions. For today, we are just approving the steps to get us to a final project scope decision in January of 2023.

Master Transportation Plan Amendment and Monitoring Report
Our Master Transportation Plan is seven years old. The principles are still strong, but there are a couple of areas where it needs an update. The first part of the report is an update on the 123 policies and actions from the plan (61% ongoing actions that are the new normal, 11% completed actions, 21% underway but not yet complete, 11% either not started or abandoned) and an update on the 12 measurable “Key Performance Indicators” about how the MTP is going (6 are on track, 5 are behind pace, one is waiting for updated data).

New Mobility is a catch-all phrase for new technology like e-bikes, e-scooters, automated vehicles and electric cars. Our 2015 MTP does not speak to these, and we are adopting some updated policies to address them. Some of this is engineering changes to make micromobility safer, part is advocacy to senior governments to address the gaps in current legislation, along few other policy direction like addressing end-of-trip facilities and storage. And, yeah, we are looking for opportunities to bring an electric bike share program to New West.

Curbside Management is another area where we need an update. Changes in how retail and service industries work (exacerbated during COVID), and more demands for accessible curb space and providing space and comfort for vulnerable road users mean the priorities for the curb have changed, we need a set of priorities established to help make decisions around curbspace allocation.

Finally, we are asking staff to bring back a report on potential MTP updates to introduce Vision Zero principles. This will be a decision for the next Council, and I will be talking a lot about this in the future, as I have a lot to say about the need to take a more comprehensive approach to road safety in the City.

We than had a bunch of Bylaw Readings, with the following Bylaws for Adoption,/u>:

Zoning Amendment Bylaws Repeal Bylaw No. 8353, 2022
This Bylaw repeals the two Bylaws that received previous adoption but, due to an administrative error, were given public call for comment prior to the Third Reading instead of prior to the First Reading as is required with the recent changes to the Local Government Act, as has been discussed at some length. Once Repealed, we can adopt them again.

Zoning Amendment (1321 Cariboo Street) Bylaw No. 8345,2022
This Bylaw changes the zoning language to permit the construction of a 15 unit Purpose Built Rental building in the Brow of the Hill, as was discussed in a Public Hearing on June 30, 2002. It was adopted unanimously.

Development Cost Charges Bylaw No. 8327, 2022
This Bylaw updates our DCC rates to catch up to changes in the cost of necessary infrastructure upgrades related to growth in the City, as discussed back in May. It was adopted unanimously by Council.


Finally, we had two Motions from Council:

Advocacy for Inclusion of Sexualized Violence Prevention as part of the Serving It Right program, Councillor Trentadue
That Council request the mayor write to Minister Farnworth and Parliamentary Secretary Lore advocating for the inclusion of ‘sexualized violence prevention training’ within the Serving It Right curriculum to provide foundational education to people with the front-line opportunity to take action to prevent sexualized violence and respond appropriately and with care when incidents occur.

This is in support of good work happening in Victoria to call for more protection of service industry staff.

Low Carbon Energy Systems Councillor Nakagawa

THAT the City of New Westminster recognize both the significant difference in the lifecycle emissions associated with different gaseous fuels including RNG, blue and green hydrogen and biomass, and the limited supply of truly low-carbon RNG; and
THAT the City of New Westminster direct staff to prioritize electrification over gas when proceeding with work on acceleration of the Energy Step Code, and in particular explore ways to exclude RNG from future Low Carbon Energy Systems; and
THAT the City of New Westminster consider electric heat pumps systems the preferred option for space and water heating in buildings and intend to encourage the use of limited RNG resources for their highest and best use and not for residential or commercial heating; and
THAT the City of New Westminster include the above in our Community Energy and Emission Plan (CEEP) and our Corporate Energy and Emissions Reduction Strategy (CEERS); and
THAT the City of New Westminster write a letter to the BC Minister of Environment encouraging that this definition be adopted provincially, and encouraging the Province to evaluate the highest and best use of RNG considering its limited availability.

The City is already working to incent the move from fossil fuel to low-carbon energy systems for new buildings in the City, through leveraging the Step Code and our updated Community Energy and Emissions Plan. However, there is a “fuzzy” bit in most legislation around “Renewable Natural Gas” as a transition between fossil fuels and full electrification. This is, of course, heavily promoted by the legacy gas industry. This motion moves the city in our internal policies and in our senior government advocacy toward rapid electrification in place of this stopgap that doesn’t actually reduce emissions.

And that was a meeting! Back to the door knocking!

Police Numbers (update!)

The topic of policing is coming up across the region in various forms, most of them related to elections. Last week, two non-incumbent people running for Mayor in the two largest Metro Vancouver municipalities are promising to increase the number of police officers to address a perception of increased crime. I have also heard some discussion recently about New West not increasing its police force to keep up with population growth. So I thought it would be good to write a blog that looks at the data, as a precursor to what is likely to be a deeper discussion in the community about policing.

When I say “the data”, I mean the information provided by police themselves and reported to the Province of BC. The Province has a page dedicated to collecting and reporting out all kinds of police information from across the province that you can find here. The part I am most interested in is report linked at the bottom of the page entitled “Police resources in British Columbia, 2020“. It is the most recent and comprehensive comparison of police forces across the province, and though I’ll add data caveats below, it seems like as definitive a source as one can find.

In comparing Metro Vancouver policing, there is one thing that needs to be addressed up front: of the 17 municipalities with more than 5,000 residents, 12 are served by municipal RCMP forces, and 5 are served by Municipal Police. When you dig into details, the service model is actually much more complicated than this, as there are Regional Task Forces that are shared between multiple jurisdictions and may include Muni and RCMP staff, and every city receives some services from some task forces while most also lend staff to these task forces. There are also other forces such as Transit Police and Federal RCMP detachments operating in the region. The overlaps are complex, and the report itself has a lot of text explaining these complications. Read that report if you want those kind of details.

A commonly heard point is that Municipal police cost more, but provide better service and better local accountability. This is the concept behind Mayor McCallum’s argument for establishing a Municipal force in Surrey. There are a couple of ways to look at policing cost, but these two make sense:

The orange points are Municipal forces, the blue are RCMP. You can see the policing cost per capita does tend support the notion that local cops cost a bit more. You also see there is a wide range of per capita costs regardless of the provider – Vancouver and Langley City residents pay almost twice as much as North Vancouver District residents do for police. You can see New West has the lowest costs of any Municipal force, but is still more costly than most RCMP forces. The cost per officer to run the police force does not vary quite as much, and you can see New West is middling-to-high compared to our cohort, but not completely out of scale with the regional average.

This brings us to the number of officers per capita, or (the easier wat to count it) the number of residents per police officer. I think the most interesting way to look at this number is compared to the Case Load. That stat is the number of criminal offences per officer, which is an imperfect but useful proxy for “how busy is the average cop?”

You can see here that New West is about smack dab in the middle of the region in both of these counts. Our numbers are remarkably close to Surrey, which is a very different city with an RCMP force (these stats were collected before the Surrey Municipal police force was set up). You also note that Municipal forces general have fewer people per police (more police per capita) and lower caseloads than RCMP forces, with New West again leaning towards RCMP levels more than fitting in with the Municipal Force cluster.

Of course, this discussion leads to a discussion about growth, and whether the police forces are keeping up with regional population growth. The data here is a again from the BC Government report, including the 2020 population data. I gathered the 2011 population data from another BC Government dataset you can find here if you want check my numbers.

You can see that by percentage of growth over the decade, very few police forces have added members at the rate that population has grown (the dots on or below the blue diagonal lines being the few that did), and two North Shore municipalities have fewer police now than they did in 2011. You will also note that there isn’t a clear divide between RCMP and Muni forces here. It is clear that the increase in Police in New West (going from 108 to 113) has not kept up with the 22% population increase. It is also interesting that Surrey and New West are so far apart in this graph, when they were overlapping in the last – the relationships between officer count, case count, and growth are obviously complex.

So those are the numbers (table form below for those who wish to nit-pick), and I am sure that this kind of data will lead to principled and well informed discussions in the community. I just want to make the point that is often missed in these discussions: City Councils generally do not determine police officer counts. In RCMP-serviced communities, I have no idea how those decisions are made. For a City with a Municipal force, that is the job of the Police Board working with senior policing staff, backed by provincial service standards and based on the unique needs of the community. If you are interested in leading the discussion on police officer counts in New Westminster, your opportunity is now, as the province is currently receiving applications for Police Board members right here in New Westminster. Apply here, the closing date is September 9th.

Finally, it is important to note some data caveats. These are 2020 numbers, the most recent the province has available. The actual number of sworn officers in your community is likely lower than the numbers here, because these stats are “Authorized Force” and assume that all funded positions in the police force are filled. This is rarely true in the best of times, but in the last few years we have had events that made it less true, such as the regional shifts related to Surrey ramping up its Municipal Force and the COVID-related Great Resignation affecting many sectors of the economy. Also, there was a dip in crime in 2020 related to COVID (this is discussed in the report), and though we might presume this dip was systemic and equal across the region, this data neither confirms nor refutes that.

Raw numbers used in the charts above. Sources listed and linked to in the text above.

BONUS CONTENT!

In the comments, a reader suggested comparing Case Loads between 2011 and 2020 would be interesting. The table I downloaded from the province didn’t have case load data from 2011, but you can find CC Case counts in the “Jurisdiction Crime Trends” table on the same page. From that and the Authorized Strength already reported, you can calculate Case Loads from 2011 an 2020. The results are interesting, if a bit unclear. And again, I want to emphasize the 2020 data is likely anomalous due to COVID, so I also did the math comparing 2011 to 2019, which might be the most recent “representative” year. Sorry, the best you get is a table:

So Case Loads are generally down, but there are some municipalities where they went up, some by quite a bit – West Van and Maple ridge share a strange similarity here. You can also see an almost universal drop in 2020, except in White Rock. My first impression is probably that the majority of cases are likely more complex now than they were a decade ago, but once again, you can read form the numbers what you will! I’m just reporting here.

Council – July 11, 2022

The Summeriest of all our Summer Council meetings was a longer meeting with a lot of important and foundational work on the agenda. We also had several delegations and a weird procedural thing where we had to fix a administrative error made earlier in the year, but it started with a pretty significant Report to Council:

New Westminster Homelessness Action Strategy
The City has been working on an updated strategy to both reduce homelessness and address the impacts of homelessness, and has done this work in partnership with the New Westminster Homelessness Coalition, the Community Action Network, and UBC to bring both lived experience and academic experience to the issue. The 46 recommendations in the strategy are based on a thorough review of policies developed in other Canadian and American jurisdictions facing similar issues, based on what worked previously in New West and where new gaps have appeared, and engaged stakeholders across the community in its development. This is work that began just before COVID hit. The previous strategy was demonstrably effective for the time it was established, but new housing cost pressures and vacancy pressures were causing an upswing in unsheltered residents in New West and around the region. When COVID hit, it impacted many vital support systems and made them less effective, at the same time housing and employment uncertainty caused a spike in unhoused people across the region. This was the context that went into developing this strategy.

The first step after this new 5-year strategy is adopted is to put together a working group to action those 46 recommendations. There will be follow-up reports as some of these actions are going to require funding and staffing (decisions that need to be addressed by Council as they come along) and the plan includes structuring work around annual action plans for both budgeting and accountability.

The report is a good read, and the CAN presentation at Council was inspiring, reflecting the work a Municipality can do that is both meaningful and effective, even when we don’t have the funding to build the thousands of new homes we need in the community (see report below). Our role is to facilitate their being built when the senior government funding does arrive, support the social supports in the community that keep people in their current housing and provide basic care to those who are unhoused, and never stop advocating to senior governments to bring their massive resources to bear on this most pressing of problems.


We then moved the following items On Consent:

Draft Community Energy and Emissions Plan
Talking about most pressing of problems, when the City Declared a Climate Emergency in 2019, staff brought us and aggressive action plan based on 7 Bold Steps to get the City to 2030 and 2050 targets that meet the commitments made by Canada at COP21. Like most municipalities, New West divides up its Climate Action work in to two parts. Corporate Emissions are those created by the City doing city stuff – running fire trucks and swimming pools. The City has a “Corporate Energy and Emissions Reduction Strategy” (“CEERS”) to address these. Community Emissions are those made by the residents and the businesses in the city doing their stuff – heating their homes and driving their cars. This CEEP addresses this latter category.

Where the CEERS is direct action by the City, the CEEP is more about the behavior we incent through our policies, our bylaws, and our infrastructure investment. At the most basic level, we want to make it easier and cheaper for people to make decisions that reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. As this is very public-facing work, there is more public engagement required to develop a viable plan – one that works for the community. There has already been a phase of public and subject matter expert outreach, and in this report, staff outline the framework of the CEEP that arose from those meetings, to be taken out for another round of public engagement. I hope to be talking more about this in the months ahead, but for now it is over to you, New West. See you at BeHeardNewWest.

Manufacturer’s Patio Application (Steel and Oak) for 1319 Third Avenue
Steel & Oak wants to expand their patio, and this requires that the City clearly and expressly tell the province that this expansion of their liquor license is good with us. So we are making that clear definitive statement that the City supports the liquor license change.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – September 30, 2022
September 30th is now known as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, by federal mandate. It is a statutory holiday for federal employees, and the Province is still working on making it a permanent stat holiday (I honestly don’t understand the jurisdictional things here, but I’ll let it pass). In the meantime, the Province suggests it be a Stat holiday in 2022, so the City will designate it a Stat holiday for our operations this year, in anticipation that it will be a Provincial Stat holiday starting in 2023. This shouldn’t be so complicated.

Recruitment 2022: Grant Committee Appointments
The City has grants we award to groups in the community who do work to build the sustainability, social equity, and culture of the community. There are always more applicants than grant funds available, and we have a committee of volunteer community members who we task with evaluating the applications and making a recommendation to Council on where the funds should go. This report is where we appoint those committee members.

Submission to the Department of Canadian Heritage Museum Assistance Program under the Recovery Fund For Heritage Organizations
There is funding Museums and Archives from the federal Government. We are applying for it.


The following items were then Removed from Consent for discussion:

2022 Heat Response Planning Update
The City’s Emergency Operations folks have developed an updated Extreme Heat Response Plan. This dovetails with the Provincial alert process that triggers a “Level 1” Heat Warning for those more typical heat waves, and “Level 2” Extreme Heat Warning for events like last year’s Heat Dome. The plan details what types of supports the City can activate, including outdoor cooling areas, misting stations, indoor cooling shelters, distribution of water, managing increased staff needs to cover the emergency actions, and some communications strategies to better get the word out to vulnerable people and those who care for vulnerable people. The communication part is an ongoing effort, and something Emergency Management staff are going to continue to develop over the summer working with community stakeholder groups.

Not the full answer yet, more to do in how we communicate, and more work to do in exploring what regulatory powers we can apply to assure building management is responsible for the safety of their buildings and their residents.

Affordable Housing Project Update
The City’s Housing Needs Report indicates we need to build 230 units of affordable or supportive housing every year for the next decade to meet the anticipated need. That means at least two buildings of the scale of the Aboriginal Trust building approved on Eighth Street need to be brought on line every year. This is not a target we are currently on pace to meet, and we are ahead of almost every municipality in the Lower Mainland. The situation is dire.

Every government has a role in helping us get there, and with the fewest financial resources of the three orders of Government, out role is not to finance the building of it, but to facilitate it getting built when a proposal comes to the City, and incent more proposals to come to the City. This means streamlining approval processes (which we are doing), providing land if we have appropriate land available (we have done), and provide targeted support for capital costs through our Homlessness Reserve Fund (currently over-subscribed). The City has $8.9 Million in its 2022-2026 Capital Plan to support these projects, but how these are realized is dependent on a lot of factors. The City is also looking at hiring a Project Manager whose job will be to coordinate between these overlapping factors.

This report is mostly an update on the progress of Affordable Housing support programs the City is running. The 24/7 Emergency Response Shelter at 502 Front will provide 50 beds and is currently going through building improvements involving a BC Housing Code Consultant and Lower Mainland Purpose Society. This will “bridge the gap” until permanent shelter can be built at 68 Sixth Street. BC Housing has determined that a permanent wood-frame building works better than TMH at that location, which adds to the timeline. The City has approved the project, but they are waiting for BC Housing funding approval for those 52 beds. The proposed 58-unit family-friendly project on City lands on Fenton Street was not successful at its first funding request from BC Housing, but an application is going to CMHC. The proposal for housing on the combined City and Metro Vancouver lands at 1400 Quayside is stalled because the high cost of development on those lands pushes it down the priority list for funders.

So the update is positive, but not nearly the numbers we need. On paper here we have fewer than 200 permanent affordable housing units in the pipeline, along with a few dozen more that are being built right now but are not covered in this report (such as the PALS building on Carnarvon), which is less than half of what we need in the next couple of years.

Business License Bylaw Modernization
The City’s Business License Bylaw includes 160 different types of businesses, trades, and professions. I don’t know what the right number is, but 160 seems like a lot. I suspect this is a result of an old bylaw (1986!) that keeps getting updated in piecemeal ways over the years as the regulatory environment evolves, but less time has been taken to comprehensively review and simplify the regulations.

So we are going to modernize this by removing obsolete requirements and streamlining the language and structure of the Bylaw. This will help staff serve the community better, make things easier for businesses and staff, and we can make sure we are applying our energy in effective regulating the higher-risk businesses while not overregulating the low risk ones.

This work will take some stakeholder consultation with the business community and community at large, which will start up this summer.

Council Maternity and Parental Leave Draft Policy
Serving in City Council is a weird job. Though some are reluctant to call it a “job”, preferring to think of it as public service or a volunteer gig, the reality is that working on Council takes away from a person’s ability to do other jobs. It would be the epitome of privilege to only allow the independently wealthy dedicate the hours every week it takes to do this work.

The Council/Career balance is hard, but there are other challenges that serve as unequal barriers to participation. Trying to balance family responsibility at the same time as all of the above means that a cohort of younger candidates, disproportionally women, are disincentivized from serving on Council. This is reflected in the regional imbalance in gender and age of people who serve on Councils.

Many Cities, from Coquitlam to Whistler, are recognizing this barrier, and are bringing in a parental leave policy that aligns with what municipalities offer their non-elected staff, but structured to support the unique employment conditions of Councillors and Mayors. New Westminster is introducing a similar program to reduce barriers to participation for young adults who are thinking of starting or growing their families.

Proposed Energy Step Code Acceleration for Single Detached Dwellings
The City is subject to enforcing the BC Building Code. In recent years, the province has been rolling out an energy efficiency standard as part of the Building Code called the “Step Code”. Recognizing that it will take time for the building industry to shift from what they build now to the highest efficiency buildings we want in the near future, the “Step Code” is designed with multiple “steps” that local governments can choose to require as the industry catches up to these shifts – where Step 1 is a traditional building and Step 5 is so efficient as to approach Passive House standard. New West now requires new single family homes to meet Step 3.

The Step Code is agnostic towards energy sources, so if a City wants to incentivize moving away from GHG-producing energy sources and the use of low-carbon electricity, we need something on top of the Step Code. Following the lead of a few different jurisdictions in BC, we can increase our default requirement to Step 5, but allow a builder to only hit Step 3 if they agree to not use natural gas appliances in the new build. That way builders and homeowners have some choice, can manage their costs appropriately, and we are creating an incentive to get people off GHG.

This report outlines the process we will take to make this change, a bylaw will come when staff work out the details.


We then Adopted the following Bylaws:

Development Approval Procedures Amendment Bylaw No.8342, 2022
Delegation Amendment Bylaw No. 8344, 2022
These bylaws that streamlines some building approvals processes by allowing the delegation of minor variances to staff were adopted by Council.


Then we had some Motions from Council:

Re-Branding the City of New Westminster Mayor Cote
After some Whereases:

Be it resolved that the City of New Westminster begin the process to update the City’s logo and phase-out the use of “Royal City” moniker in our branding.

Be it further resolved that the City develop a plan to engage with the community in the development of a new brand identity that is inclusive and allows for collective pride in our city.

Launching what is sure to be an interesting conversation in the community, this motion starts a process where the City will update its branding, something the City has not done in something like 15 years (when the current gold crown was adopted). Surely not the only point of discussion, but probably a timely one, is the role of the crown itself in our marketing and branding materials.

There will be more to say here, as this will surely be a months-long consultation process, and a conversation we should not shy away from. I’m sure there will be much more to say here, but I’ll hold that for future blog posts.

Mandatory Health Warning on Alcohol Products Councillor Puchmayr
After some Whereases:

Therefore be it resolved that the City of New Westminster write to the Federal and Provincial Governments and ask them to introduces policies requiring warning labels on all alcohol containers and that the governments expand the education of our citizens, young and old, on the dangers attributed to the harmful use of alcohol.

There is a national movement to promote this idea of mandatory labelling for alcohol, and New West is joining the call for senior governments to take action on this issue.


Finally, we had a raft of On Table resolutions related to a recent administrative error made by staff and caught by a vigilant council watcher:

Public Hearing Process – Correcting an Administrative Error
There were five recent Zoning Amendment Bylaws that got procedurally caught up in recent changes to the Local Government Act, and due to those changes the City provided public notice for comment at the wrong step in the process. Three of those Bylaws were adopted by Council, two had not yet been adopted, but had passed three readings.

It is important to note that the notifications were appropriate in how they went out, and there is no material difference in people’s opportunity to be heard on the issue excepting that the opportunity was granted at third reading, when it should have been granted at first reading according to the new system. The number of reports, decision points, and notifications was appropriate, as was the time available to opine, it is just supposed to happen at a different period in the process.

So, in the interest of us meeting the letter of the law, not just the spirit, we are going to go through a process where these Bylaws are rescinded, and readings and notice are done in a way consistent with the new regulations. It’s a bit of a hassle, but the right thing to do. We started the process this meeting, and there will be some subsequent readings of Bylaws in the couple of meetings ahead.


That was an evening’s work, along with some public delegations that I usually don’t address in these reports. This was our last meeting until the end of August, and there are many events going on in the City this summer – have fun and stay safe. I’ll probably be generating less content here over that summer break as the Campaign is starting to ramp up, and I hate mixing the streams. You can pop over to pjnewwest.ca to see how that develops now that Council is on break. Cheers!

Council – June 30, 2022.

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!

Council – June 27, 2022.

Its summer time in New West Council, and things get a little more casual in the chambers, but we had a long Agenda and a decent crowd show up to enjoy the air conditioned spaces and to hear the presentation of the Annual Report. I will put off blogging about the report for a later post, because there is a lot of good stuff in there, and we had three Public Hearing items to get to:

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 8341, 2022 for 735 Eighth Avenue (Massey Theatre)
The Massey Theatre Society wants to change their license to get more flexibility and less hassle at the times they want to serve alcohol as part of their events schedule. This is not going to change how they operate much, or any aspect of the building, but it will make it easier for them to operate For the Province to give them that license, it must be permitted in the zoning language, which means if the City supports it, we need to add this language to the zoning, which requires a Public hearing. Here we are.

We received 23 written submissions on this request, all on favour. We had no-one come to address the Public Hearing. The MTS has been operating with event licences for years with no problems, so no surprise. Council voted to adopt the bylaw.

Heritage Revitalization Agreement Bylaw No. 8339, 2022, Heritage Designation Bylaw No. 8340, 2022, and Road Closure Bylaw No.8350, 2022 for 108-118 Royal Avenue and 74-82 First Street
This project has taken a couple of years to evolve from a smaller iteration to where it is now. This will see 189 new strata apartments on Royal Ave in the Downtown, the preservation of a heritage house, and a pretty significant upgrade in the surrounding active transportation network. This includes a long-sought moderate-grade connection from Agnes to Royal via Cunningham and adjacent improvements that addresses some “gaps in the map” for active transportation in the downtown and safe routes to QayQayt.

Every project bring different benefits, this is decent density that will fill a need in the market, homes for 189 families, really important transportation connections, preservation of a couple of historic homes, and though there is maybe more parking than we might need in 2022, they will be 100% pre-wired for EV charging..

We had two written submissions and 6 speakers. Most speakers were in favor, but there was a discussion about the loss of trees on the site. It is very green right now with a variety of trees and almost completely surrounded by hedges, but the arborist report indicated most trees on site were in poor health due to a variety of issues (ivy infestation, historic pruning issues, root concerns, etc.). As per the City’s Urban Forest Management Strategy and Tree Protection Bylaw, the trees will be replaced on a 2-for-1 basis, with 56 new trees on site and another 64 planted around the neighbourhood to add to the citywide tree canopy.

In the end, Council voted to give the project and the Bylaws Third Reading.

Zoning Amendment (Blackley Street) Bylaw No. 8351, 2022 and Road Closure and Dedication Removal (Queensborough Eastern Neighbourhood Node) Bylaw No. 8347, 2022
This is a part of the larger Eastern Node project in Queensborough, which will (eventually, because it is taking some time) provide mixed use housing and some retail commercial to the border of the Port Royal neighbourhood. The Public Hearing today is only in regards to closing, selling off, and rezoning two undeveloped road portions to permit the re-planning of the neighbourhood to facilitate the Eastern Node concept. We had no written submissions or speakers to this issue at Public Hearing, and voted to approve.


Council then moved the following items On Consent:

2021 Statement of Financial Information
Every year we do the SOFI – this is the simplified but formal part of our financial reporting, along with the reporting out on salaries, benefits, and the Audit Report. Short news: The City collected about $244 Million in revenue and spent about $211 Million, meaning we put about $33 Million into reserves (which is there now to apply to our significant Capital Plan). The City has about $103 Million in investments with the Municipal Finance Authority, about $61 Million in long-term debt, and almost $700 Million in tangible capital assets.

My remuneration as a Councillor (which rises a bit every year with CPI) was just under $54,000, and I had $700 in expenses, which were registrations for on-line conferences like Lower Mainland LGA and UBCM.

Amendments to the Elections Procedures Bylaw No. 7985, 2018
The Bylaw required to set out voting procedures in the October election needs to be adopted by July 5. Staff have made some changes to the Bylaw to allow mail-in voting, and to set the dates for the advance voting opportunities. We approved in principle a few meetings ago, but they were run through external counsel, and a few minor edits in language to improve clarity were recommended. So here we are approving as amended. Get ready to get your vote on!

Approval of Climate Action Reserve Fund Bylaw No. 8321, 2022
The City has a bold plan for Climate Action, with aggressive but attainable targets for 2030. These are more important (in my mind) than the 2050 targets, because the shorter-term ones reflect action we need to do now, and cannot rely on some future hopeful technology. If we want to make 2030 targets, it’s gotta be in our budget and operation plans today. It is the Decade of Climate Action according to my friends at the CEA, which means there is some capital investment we need to make today, recognizing in the longer term it will save us money overall ,and that there is significant funding from senior government and other sources to do this work today.

I often make the point to people who will listen that Climate Action is not as much an environmental concern anymore, it is an economic concern. Getting to 2050 with a climate that supports human prosperity will require re-structuring major parts of our economy, and local governments are where the real action needs to occur. The winners in this transition will be those who go into it with their eyes open, their ducks in a row, and (enter third “getting your shit together” metaphor here).

One way we do this in the City is set up dedicated Reserve Funds, like we have for other priority areas. Council can dedicate a portion of annual surpluses to this fund, or can determine other funding sources, such as selling low carbon fuel credits, money received through the CleanBC Local Government Climate Action Program and other senior government supports. This is a mechanism that gives Council oversight (and transparency to the public) to assure money being invested in Climate Action is going towards Climate Action, because it requires Council resolution to draw from this Reserve Fund.

Development Approval Procedures Amendment Bylaw No. 8342, 2022 and Delegation Amendment Bylaw No. 8344, 2022
One of the ways the City is accelerating the development approval process is by delegating some minor development variances to senior staff. If the variances meet established criteria, set out in the Schedules to the Bylaw, then Staff can approve without writing a council report, waiting for a slot in our Council schedule, and asking us to grant the variance. This is not only more efficient and saves everyone time, it is more transparent to applicants and provides more predictability for them, which saves everyone money.

Komagata Maru Dock water lot lease agreement renewal – Amending Agreement No. NEW326-10551F-002
The Dock where the QtoQ lands on the Queensborough side is on a water lot leased from the Port, with a 5-year renewal term. And it’s been 5 years. So we are renewing.


We then addressed the following items, which were Removed from Consent for discussion:

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism (DEIAR) Framework
This has been a big piece of internal work in the City that has perhaps not been as visible outside of City Hall, but has been ongoing for more than a year. A DEIAR Framework is both a strategy and a workplan to assure we have a workplace and a workforce that reflects the diversity and values of the community. The report is worthwhile read to understand how and why the way we serve our community needs to be viewed through a lens of equity and justice – from the way we recruit new staff to the way we support employees of the City to the way we engage the public and deliver programs. There is a bit implementation piece to come here, but at this point we are just receiving the report for information. More to come!

eMobility Strategy: Adoption
Another big piece of work over the last year has been doing the strategic groundwork on how the City will adapt to the e-mobility transformation happening. The technology and public expectations are changing fast in this space, and how we adapt to this change will impact our ability to meet our Climate Action goals, as transportation represents about half of our community GHGs.

There are 10 goals and 36 actions in this plan, some we can start right away, some will dip into that Climate Action Reserve Fund we approved today, some are longer-term. There are infrastructure changes proposed, policy changes, and areas for advocacy to senior governments. I could probably write another blog post about this topic (actually there is an Ask Pat in the queue that applies!), so I’ll write more on this under that heading.

Proposed Redistribution of Federal Electoral Districts 2022
The Feds want to change federal electoral districts, and it means New Westminster is once again getting diced as the Feds try to balance population growth in urban areas with vast spaces where the population is just not increasing. This time is a little weirder yet, because after losing part of Coquitlam last redistricting, New West looks to be gaining part of Surrey while Queensborough is separated off. The last time the feds did this 10 years ago, I wrote this blog (My god, I’ve been doing this for that long?!) about how My New Westminster includes Queensborough. I still feel that way.

But there is another issue here in how a solid local-serving MP like Peter Julian does his work, and how this proposal hurts that. A big part of the work at a constituency office is connecting residents with supports they need, be they federal, provincial, or local. An MP’s constituency staff needs to know what services are available in the community they serve, and many of those services are municipal-based. Asking an MP to serve three major Municipal areas with varying supports, like Burnaby, New West, and Surrey, strains their networks, making those supports less accessible to people. I note the proposed MP for the new Richmond East riding would also be asked to represent parts of New West, Richmond, and Delta. It is untenable. An MP does not have the budget to provide a constituency office in every community, or the staff to expand their work across three major urban municipal jurisdictions. MPs are also expected to understand issues impacting local municipalities, and attend events in all of them – spreading an MP across three major urban municipalities just makes them less accessible.

So the City being asked for feedback on this proposal, and we are sending it: We want Q’Boro in the New West riding, and we don’t think our MP should be asked to also serve Surrey.

Temporary Working Space Agreement (GVSD590) for 590 Blackberry Drive to seek Council’s authorization to enter into a Temporary Working Space Agreement with Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District and Onni Development (Victoria Hill) Corp. (the “Onni”).
There is a big stinking valve in the ground under the top part of the Glenbrook Ravine. Stinking because it directs where combined sewer flow goes. And stinkin because it needs to be replaced. It is located in a part of the ravine that still technically belongs to Onni as part of the Victoria Hill development but is slated to be turned over to the City as Park. So Metro Vancouver needs to enter into a Working Space Agreement – kind of like a short-term lease – to work on the space that doesn’t belong to them. They hope to do the work during “dry season” next summer.

We don’t know the impacts on the trial at this time, but I suggested this needs to come back to Council with more detail on that. The language in the agreement makes reference to reducing inconvenience, but closing that trail for an extended period during the summer will be much more than that. The Glenbrook Ravine is a vitally important park space in the City, and access needs to be secured for residents of the Victoria Hill, Ginger Drive and Sapperton community. So I am asking that we get clarity on maintaining trail access during these works prior to singing the agreement. Perhaps a little stung by another recent Metro Vancouver sewer project, I am sensitive to getting commitments and understanding in writing here. So we will hear back (hopefully) next meeting.


And we read a bunch of Bylaws, with the following Bylaw for Adoption:

Parks and Recreation Fees Amendment Bylaw No. 8343, 2022
This bylaw to adjust our fees to address annual inflation and keep our costs in line with regional comparators was Adopted by Council.

This rapped out first meeting of the week. Yes, you read that right, we are back at it on Thursday for a special crossover episode of New Westminster Public Hearing!

Council – June 13, 2022

The Council meeting on June 13th had something a little rare these days – a full Council chamber! We had some folks there to speak to resolutions, a few other delegations, and others just there to watch the excitement of representative democracy in Local Government, and it was nice to see people out and engaged. Our Agenda started with a couple of Reports to Council:

Development Variance Permit No. DVP00699 for 823-841 Sixth Street
As I mentioned last meeting, The Province of BC (whom we afford is not going to fold up shop in the next couple of years) is indemnifying this Affordable Housing project in Uptown so they don’t have to provide financial security for offsite works, saving everyone money and hassle, but requiring a DVP because it changes the language of the existing Development Permit. We received no correspondence after giving notice of the variance, and Council moved to grant the DVP.

Library Board Letter
We had a presentation from the Library Board about mice, stick insects, and libraries, requesting we take a resolution on increased Library funding to UBCM and back it up with correspondence to the Provincial Government. We will not be the only city calling on the Province to do this, and I could get into a long diatribe about the UBCM resolution process and how this is a repeated resolution that seems to go unheard, but maybe I’ll find a less busy time to push those particular buttons. I support the Call, as did Council.


We then moved the following items On Consent:

Bylaw Text Amendment for Secured Market Rental Housing: 616-640 Sixth Street – Bylaw for First and Second Readings
There are 4 things going on here, rescinding two Housing Agreements, amending a zoning, and waiving a Public Hearing, but the short version is that the owner of this property in Uptown is requesting a change in their development plan. As approved, it was a 29 storey building with 237 secured rental units. The request before us now is to boost the number of units to 338, and accommodate the extra density by adding a storey to the podium (without an overall increase in building height) and a 9% increase in tower floorplate. This will also allow a small number of developer-funded below-market rental apartments, and a below-market commercial space.

This being one of the few applications for new housing in the Uptown we have seen in my 8 years on Council (the other being the 6-storey building on Bent Court completed in 2020), and it being so well aligned with OCP goals, staff are recommending we waive the Public Hearing. This building has been through a Public Hearing regarding the DVP issued in 2020 when it went 100% rental, Design Panel supported the change, and the public engagement on this change has resulted in mostly neutral feedback and several supportive pieces of correspondence. My main interest right now is in getting the housing built. Council agreed to waive.

2021 Annual Water Quality Monitoring Report
We get an annual reporting to Council (and the public) on our water sampling program to assure our potable water system is safe, high quality, ad within senior government health standards. We have 15 sampling stations in the City from which 1,215 individual samples were collected and analyzed for bacteria, but also for residual chlorine, turbidity, metals, and other parameters. Despite a couple of recent turbidity events related to Metro line breaks, the water is safe and meets all health standards.

Heritage Revitalization Agreement, Heritage Designation, Road Closure and Land Sale: 108 – 118 Royal Avenue and 74 – 82 First Street – Bylaws for Consideration of Readings
This is an interesting project to build 189 market strata units on Royal Ave, just east of Qayqayt School. It would preserve an historic house on the site, and would provide new active transportation links around the building where currently there are some sub-optimal pedestrian and bike routes. These connections would include us selling some land to the developer where there is currently a seldom-used laneway, and in exchange their dedication of some surrounding land for refreshed Active Transportation routes.

The request here is to support two readings and sending the project to Public Hearing, so I will hold comments on the overall merits of the project until then. However, this is an important location in regards to active transportation between downtown and uptown, and between the surrounding neighbourhood and Qayqayt, so the efforts to make the routes around the proposed housing accessible and safe, and as comfortable as possible, is a huge potential win for the City.

Housing Agreement Bylaw No. 8316, 2022 for 823 – 841 Sixth Street (Affordable Rental Housing) – Bylaw for Three Readings
The City sometimes approve Affordable Housing projects, like this one in Glenbrooke North, and a “Housing Agreement” is the legal agreement between the owner of the property and the City to guarantee it will remain subsidized/affordable housing for the “life of the building”, which in this case is 60 years. The agreement is secured with a Section 219 Covenant, which is a reference to Section 219 of the Land Title Act – securing that this commitment not only legally binds the current owner. But all future owners of the property. As the details of the Housing Agreement have been worked out, and now needs to be read into a Bylaw.

Official Community Plan Amendment Application, Heritage Revitalization Agreement, Heritage Designation Bylaw, and Housing Agreement: 514 Carnarvon Street – Bylaws for Consideration of Readings
This project would see a 30-storey residential tower built downtown adjacent to the Holy Trinity Cathedral. It would mostly be a market strata building, but would also include 14 market rental units. The proponent was not able to secure BC Housing support to include an affordable housing component in the plan. The main amenities offered to the City are a new plaza to connect Church Street (and The Columbia SkyTrain Station) to Carnarvon though the site with a fully accessible (via public elevator) breezeway and some Indigenous-themed and sources Public Art. The significant investment here in the seismic and energy efficiency remediation of the historic Cathedral means there simply isn’t enough money on the table to leverage more community amenity out of this site. Arguably, the provision of 285 homes immediately adjacent to a Skytrain station is in itself an amenity to Transit-Oriented Development.

This is a significant change in land use for the site that will require an OCP amendment, and will go to a Public Hearing, so I will hold my further comments until then. If you have opinions, let us know!

Parks and Recreation 2023 Fees and Charges Bylaw Amendment
Annually we adjust our recreation fees for things like room or ice rentals. We have put off a few increases over the last few years due to COVID, but like everything else inflation is starting to be more noticeable, so fees are being adjusted in line with CPI, on average about 4% across the board. New West still has some of the lowest rental rates in the Lower Mainland, and waives or reduces many fees for youth and not-for-profit organizations.

Q1 2022 Capital Budget Adjustments
The City’s 2022 Capital Budget is $170Million. We are building a *lot* of stuff, from a big new pool and rec centre to a new electrical substation to sewers and water mains throughout the west end, active transportation improvements Uptown and improved greenspaces in Queensborough. In part because of the number of capital items we have going on, and in part because we often have capital projects the stretch beyond a single budget year (we had $56M in carry-over from 2021 as part of that $170M) the Finance Department is now giving us quarterly updates on progress with the plan, and we are going to start doing adjustments on a more frequent basis, as is better budgeting practice. We are also putting more budget room in the contingency for təməsew̓ txʷ and increasing the sewer separation budget, moving our 2022 Capital Budget to $189M.

Rezoning and Housing Agreement: 1321 Cariboo Street – Bylaws for Consideration of Readings
This proposal would see a 5-storey Purpose Built Rental apartment constructed on an abandoned lot on the western edge of the Brow of the Hill. 15 rental units, secured for the life of the building. This project will go to a Public Hearing, so I’ll hold my comments until then.

Road Closure and Disposition Bylaw and Zoning Bylaw Amendment: Surplus Road Allowances Queensborough Eastern Neighbourhood Node – Bylaws for First and Second Readings
The oft-discussed but slow-to-develop Eastern Node in Queensborough would bring mixed use development, and (finally!) some local-serving commercial buildings, to the edge of the Port Royal neighbourhood. The redevelopment will also re-align the road and drainage of the triangle of land where the development occurs, and this means “closing” some City roads. The roads in this case were never really developed, but were pieces of land being held aside with the intent of putting roads on them. So “closing” means changing the lot designation from road allowance to fee simple, and selling them. The City needs to do a Public Hearing to dispose of surplus roads, if you have opinions, c’mon out and let us know.


The following item was Removed from Consent for discussion:

Council Resolution in Support of the City of New Westminster’s Application under the Age-Friendly Communities Grant Program
The BC Government has a new grant program to support “Age-Friendly Communities”, which sounds weird (we don’t have height-friendly or width-friendly grants) but relates to efforts to support older people aging in place and achieving better health outcomes. As the City already has an “Age Friendly Community Strategy”, this grant is designed to fund some of the efforts described in that, and we are paying for some money. The emphasis here is connecting seniors to make the community more resilient in the face of events like last year’s heat emergency.


We then had a grand total of 32 Readings of Bylaws, not including the following Adoptions of Bylaws:

Heritage Designation Bylaw (328 Second Street) No. 8310, 2022
To designate the 1889 house at 328 Second Street as a protected heritage property.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (122 Eighth Avenue) No. 8325, 2022
To enable construction of a duplex at 122 Eighth Avenue.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (817 St. Andrews Street) No. 8323, 2022
To enable construction of a triplex at 817 St. Andrews Street.


…and we closed with this Motion from Council:

Advocacy for Legislation to Protect Biological Diversity and Ecosystem Health, Councillor Nakagawa

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the City of New Westminster calls on the Province of British Columbia, in partnership with Indigenous leadership, to develop and communicate in a timely way the process and timelines through which they will develop new legislation to protect and restore biological diversity and ecosystem health, in a manner consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and with the involvement of local governments, civil society groups, Indigenous and western scientific experts, and the concerned public.

We had a presentation from West Coast Environmental Law during Public Delegations to speak in favour of this resolution, and you should watch the video</>A, because they frame this much better than I can.

Council – May 30, 2022

The last Council meeting of the month is often a Public Hearing meeting, and May 30th was no exception. We had a single Public Hearing this month:

Heritage Revitalization Agreement (328 Second Street) Bylaw No. 8309, 2022 and Heritage Designation (328 Second Street) Bylaw No. 8310, 2022
The owner of this 1889 house in Queens Park wants to extensively restore and permanently protect the house, subdivide the lot, and build a second infill house on the property. No secondary suites are being permitted meaning two housing units where three would ostensibly be allowed. Application is consistent with OCP, and was approved by the Community Heritage Commission. Relaxations being sought are mostly the lot size (both resultant lots will be smaller than 6,000 sqft), and the “panhandle” shape of the new lot that allows a narrow frontage to a front/back subdivision to allows the heritage house to stay where it is unmoved. The two properties would share a common driveway with an easement securing this.

There was a high response rate to the public consultation, weighed heavily in support. We also received 20 pieces of correspondence, mostly in support. The Public Hearing brought some concerns from neighbours about the density increase being too much, potential tree removal (turns out most will be protected), and some confusion about the easement for a shared driveway, which is not really that uncommon a process. I think, in hearing the arguments for and against, and reading the correspondence, this proposal balances well two differing opinions in the neighbourhood about preserving the heritage houses in the neighbourhood and the need for more housing options. The majority of council voted to support the project.


We also had three projects that went to third reading with a waiving of the need for a Public Hearing because they met the OCP and City policy:

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 8325, 2022 for 122 Eighth Avenue
This proposal is to build a duplex on a large lot on Eighth Ave in Glenbrook North where an older house current sits. Again, no secondary suites here, so two homes where three may be permitted. We received a couple of pieces of correspondence from neighbours concerned about the loss of a mature faux-cherry tree, but the tree was assessed by the City arborist as near-end-of-life, and replacements will be planted. Council voted later in the meeting to approve Third Reading.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 8324, 2022 for 337 and 339 Keary Street
This proposal would see nine ground oriented and family-friendly row-home style townhomes in Sapperton where there are currently two houses. It generally fits RT zoning, complies with the OCP for that block and design Panel approved it. Again, we received correspondence in favour and opposed. Council voted later in the meeting to give it Third Reading.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 8323, 2022 for 817 St. Andrews Street
This project would replace a pretty run-down 1926 house in the Brow of the hill with a Passive House standard (very high energy efficiency) triplex. The density (FSR 0.785) takes advantage of the bonus the City provides for building to Passive house. This fits well in to the slightly funny spot, nestled between other older SFD and a three-story apartment building with a taller tower right across the street. FSR 0.785 (includes allowance for Passive House). We received some correspondence, ranging support to calling this triplex a “monstrosity”. Nonetheless, Council voted later in the meeting to give it Third Reading.


Flipping over to the Regular Meeting Agenda, we started by moving the following item On Consent:

British Columbia Electoral Boundaries Commission Reform Submission – May 2022
The Provincial Electoral Boundaries Commission is looking at adding seats to the provincial legislature to keep up with population growth, potentially adding up to 6 new seats province wide. We are sending the commissioners a letter to make sure they are aware that New West is growing fast – much faster than the provincial average – and if we are looking at increased representation, we have a claim on some of that.

Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption Request: New Westminster Interceptor – Columbia Sewer Rehabilitation
The ongoing and disruptive sewer rehab project has mostly left Columbia Street downtown, but the project is not done, and more work needs to happen both downtown (work that will be suspended until the fall) and in the more eastern parts of the project towards the Albert Crescent Park. This eastern part is where the current noise exemption is being requested as they may need to do some of this work at night a day or two a week to get the slip-lining done when the water level in the sewers is low enough.

Development Variance Permit for Works & Services Security (823-841Sixth Street Affordable Housing Project) – Notice of Consideration of Issuance
This might be a bit more of the detailed sausage-making of development governance than people want to read, but I’ll try to keep this short. When developers build new buildings, the City makes them do stuff on City land to support the integration of the development with the community – sewer tie-ins, road and sidewalk improvements, street trees, boulevard restoration, etc. To make sure this work gets done, the City asks for security – we ask the developer to give us money or a secured letter of credit for 120% of the estimated value of the work. We give that money back when the work is done, or (potentially) we use the money to do the thing the developer didn’t do if they fail to do it. It’s not that we don’t trust the developer, it’s just that the nature of development finance is that sometimes things go wrong, and if the developer goes broke or folds, we don’t want the taxpayers holding the bag, or wasting money in court trying to recover this money. So we get security.

This Affordable Housing project Uptown is backed by BC Housing (The Province of British Columbia) and they have provided us an Indemnification Agreement instead of security. Essentially, the Province agrees to cover the cost of this work if things go south. We are confident BC won’t go broke, so we don’t need extra security and there is no reason for the non-profit housing provide to tie up that capital, so Council is agreeing to waive the security based on this Agreement. Waiving that security changes the terms of the Development Permit, so we need this variance to get that done.

Downtown Livability Strategy – Update
This is an information report on the ongoing downtown support program. It outlines some of the challenges with making public toilet facilities more available, and some of the successes in improving street cleanliness and in securing senior government support for addressing homelessness, our ongoing on-staffing of more Bylaw officers and our participation in the provincial pilot PACT program.

Regional Growth Strategy Update: Metro 2050 Acceptance
The City is a “member jurisdiction” of Metro Vancouver, and are therefore party to the Regional Growth Strategy that defines the regional planning goals. The once-a-decade update in the RGS is called Metro 2050, as it looks forward to what the region will look like in three decades. This long-look is important, because multi-Billion-dollar infrastructure like sewer treatment plants and water reservoirs and the pipes that connect neighbourhoods to them, take decades to plan and finance. So we need to know about where the buildings are going to be, and how many of them there are going to be. The way the City’s planning intersects with the Regional Growth Strategy is through a “context statement” in our Official Community Plan, stating that our OCP is aligned with the RGS. This Context statement will now be prepared by staff.

We are also sending Metro Van a letter telling them we agree with the RGS, and reminding them that our Council would prefer that “projections” for new housing in a city-by-city basis be re-framed as “targets”, which puts a bit more onus on each member municipality to do their part to address the regional housing crises. Alas, it is going to look like the consensus of member municipalities is to be less accountable in the face of the crises, which is disappointing, but not surprising. I hope this is a conversation in every municipality during the fall elections.

Rezoning and Development Permit for Infill Townhouses: 102 – 128 East Eighth Avenue and 721 Cumberland Street – Preliminary Report
This is a preliminary report to Council to get a check-in before this project moves to committee and public consultation. The project would see 10 single family homes on East Eighth Ave replaced with a 55 townhouse-form homes. It’s an interesting location as it is on a significant slope, so the built form will be pretty unique. The block is designated for this type of building in the Official Community Plan, and the project does not exceed RT zoning for FSR, ground coverage, height, offsets, or parking, but this application will still require a rezoning. As this would likely end up at a Public Hearing, I’ll hold my comments until then.

Zoning Bylaw Text Amendment and Event-Driven Liquor Primary Licence: 735 Eighth Avenue (Massey Theatre) – Bylaw for First and Second Readings
The new Arts Hub at Massey Theatre wants to change their liquor license to better suit their operations. This type of Liquor Primary license requires a Public Hearing, so I’ll hold my comments until then. If you have opinions, let us know!


And the following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

Budget 2023: Proposed Framework and Timelines 101
Just as 2022 Property tax bills are being delivered, we are already working on Budget 2023. A major focus of this council term has been to open up the budgeting process and engage the public early in our very open budget deliberations. That means starting the conversation earlier, but it also means running the conversation through an October election, so Staff are making some recommendations about the decisions that need to be made before the election period to give staff enough guidance about their budgets and ability to deliver their services, while also giving staff a chance to onboard the new Council so they can make informed decisions in early 2023 on approval of the final budget. The balance is between doing the work we need to do without unnecessarily tying the hands of the new Council.

The proposal staff put forward is to approve User Fee changes and the 2023 Capital Budget before the election, and defer the Utility Rates and Operation Budget (and therefore, any tax rate changes) until after the election.

Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption Request: 330 East Columbia Street
The company building the new RCH are asking for an exemption from the Construction Noise Bylaw for up to six nights a month to complete the refinishing of concrete floor pours. The concrete pour work will be done within permitted times, but the sometimes need to go past 8pm with those power-trowel things to assure a smooth concrete surface. This means a humming noise that may be heard by neighbours after 8pm.

We received correspondence from the Residents Association, and it appears the construction company has been responsive to the RA on ongoing construction impact concerns, so there were some more restrictions added to this Exemption based on the discussions with the RA.

Staffing Resource Challenges and Implications on Departments’ Service Delivery Work Plans
You no doubt have read about the labour shortage facing the region. I can go on at length about potential causes (the “great resignation”, local cost of living, shift in demographics), but you see the results all around: BC Ferries is cancelling sailings for lack of crews, restaurants are reducing hours, shortages in medical services, delays in construction projects, etc. Cities are not immune to this, and in some ways are on the leading edge, exacerbated by decades-long austerity-driven gaps in hiring and shifts in the labour market where “secure job with a good pension” is not the motivator it once was. This was one of the main side-bar conversations at the recent Lower Mainland Local Government Association conference – “How is your city dealing with the labour shortage?” Turns out the smaller the local government, the more critical the situation right now – we aren’t the worst off, but we are definitely feeling it.

Unlike a construction company or restaurant, a City can’t just reduce operating hours or bid on fewer jobs, but with short staff we need to re-set our priorities and choose what things don’t get done or are delayed because our staff simply don’t have capacity. The HR process in this super-tight market adds to the challenge of back-filling and training up new people, so the solutions are not quick.

So this is more of a for-information report about the issue, to let the public know what is going on, and to let staff know that Council is aware of the challenges staff are facing. There is some work going on in the background to address the shortage (some HR and staffing discussion happens in closed, because of Community Charter Section 90(1)(c)), but it is going to take a bit of time to get over this hump because there is a lot of it going around, and because even with on-boarding new staff, training is real thing in the City, so new folks will need a bit of time to get up to speed. Things you may notice: some lawns in parks are going to be mowed less often (good for the pollinators, I guess), permits for smaller building projects are going to take a bit longer, and some engineering projects will be delayed not for lack of capital funds committed, but for lack of project management staff to coordinate the work.


And on that note, and after reading a few Bylaws, Council adjourned while it was still a little sunny outside, which is a bonus.

Yes, I’m running.

I really love New Westminster, and am really proud of the work that Council and staff have done in the (almost) 8 years since I was first elected. The last two have been especially challenging, but also the most important. We’ve weathered the worst of the pandemic, and it tested the resiliency of our community, residents and businesses alike. But it also showed us the strength of our community. We made it through together by learning new ways to support each other. Now that we are getting back to the momentum we had pre-pandemic, we need to be guided by the lessons we learned  – the importance of teamwork, the value of public services, and the need for listening and compassion.

I think the City is at a critical time, as is the region, and we need a positive, hopeful, vision for where we go as a community.

As a City, we are working through an aggressive capital plan, replacing aging infrastructure like never before. At the same time, we are leading the region on addressing the housing crises (plural) and are taking bold action on climate. We are supporting the arts and renewing our urban forest. We are opening a new page on reconciliation, and creating new forms of public engagement. I don’t want us to lose that momentum, we can’t afford to stop short or turn back.

With my experience on Council, my knowledge of the City, my commitment to listening and opening up government, and with the support of Council incumbents and so many people in the community, I think I am the right person to lead New Westminster during this time.

So I am seeking the Community First New West nomination for Mayor of New Westminster.

If you read this blog, you already know who I am, what I stand for, and how seriously I take this work. During my 8 years on Council, I put so much time and energy into being an accountable and transparent elected official – every vote, every decision, every challenge we faced on Council, I wrote about here, and spoke about publicly. And I have learned from hearing your feedback, from listening to the residents, business owners, service providers and volunteers of this great community. You never stop learning in this job, and you can never stop listening.

So, things may get a little weird around here in the next few weeks, but I am not going to be using this blog site as a campaign site – campaign comms need a copy editor. There will no doubt be some references to elections and platforms and events and such, but my plan is for this to remain my place for writing about the City and the work of Council, at least until the voters make a decision on October 15th. In the meantime, I will have a campaign website here: PJNewwest.ca (just getting started!) and there will be other social media handles and such, but that kind of work will appear after the nomination meeting later this month. And as always, you can e-mail me or hit the Ask Pat button above or stop me on the street and ask me questions. I’d love to chat.

I encourage you to support and follow the website of Community First New West. There looks to be a great slate of School Board and Council candidates seeking nomination with Community First – people with positive visions for New Westminster and track records of work building this community. But those are their stories to tell, not mine.

Off to the races.

Council – May 9 2022

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.

Council – April 25 2022

Our Council Monday this week included an afternoon workshop where Council and staff dug in to the details of the Retail Strategy and the Hume Park Master Plan. These are two projects that have been moving along slowly in the background, even if delayed somewhat due to COVID as both involved staff time that was re-allocated to pandemic response and public and stakeholder engagement that was challenged by pandemic restrictions. So watch the afternoon videos to see where those are at, and I’ll write more on them when the final products get to Council proper.

Our Agenda started with an issuance of a Development Variance Permit:

DVP-00692 for 508 Eighth Street
The owner of this older rental building in the Brow wants to add a few suites to the ground floor where there is currently underutilized surface parking. They need a variance, because this will mean they have less parking that required by the language of the zoning bylaw. In exchange for this variance, they will secure rental use for 60 years or the live of the building, whichever is longer, through a housing agreement. It’s a modest decrease in parking that they have already found to be more than they practically require, and this will provide a bit more lower-cost secure rental housing without displacing any current residents. We received two pieces of correspondence on this application, and Council moved to approve it.


We then had a Report for discussion:

Biodiversity and Natural Area Strategy
This is a strategy that arose out of our 2018 Environmental Action Plan. New West is a pretty built-out urban area, but we do have some interesting and potentially-productive ecological hubs, as human-impacted as they may be. Some very biologically active parts of the riverfront (especially in Queensborough), the Brunette River corridor, Glenbrook Ravine, and some of our more naturalized park areas. This provides habitat for native plants, species at risk (like the Nooksack Dace) and many bugs, birds, and the occasional bear. These habitat areas are loosely connected by tree canopies along some roads and urban back yards, all of wildly varying habitat quality. This strategy will help coordinate many things the City is doing to improve the ecological value of our greenspaces, from riparian area protection to invasive species removal, tree planting, and pollinator pastures, all in an effort to better connect and protect the value of the natural habitats in the community, so the birds and the bees can more successfully do the things they are noted for doing. 29 actions are outlined here, and some are within current budget, while others may result in future enhancement requests as we enter budget discussions in future years. But for now, Council endorsed the plan, because it is a good one!


We then moved the following items On Consent:

2022 Tax Rates Bylaw No. 8326, 2022
Our annual budget work was completed last month, and a budget approved by Council. Now that we know the projected revenue need, and the Province has provided assessment information for the City, we can calculate the tax rates, or “Mill rates”, and approve a Bylaw that formalizes them. The residential Mill Rate (before homeowner grant or deferrals) will be 2.61084, which compares to last year’s rate of 2.82922. Yes, you read that right, the tax rate is going down 7%. Though the amount of property tax we plan to collect is set to up by 4.4%, the average value of residential property went up much more than that (about 13%). As long as housing inflation rises faster than property taxation, the rates will continue to go down. And if you need more of an explanation of this, read here, an oldy but a goody.

Committee Remuneration Policy – Indigenous Members
The City asks for members of the public to take part in advisory committees to Council. We have been looking at ways to make participation more equitable, as having a few hours mid-week to take off from work, school, and family responsibilities is a privilege that is not equitably distributed in the community. So we are seeking ways to remove that barrier, and one is to compensate people for that time, so they can take time off work, pay for childcare, and cover expenses related to participation.

This is the first of two initiatives towards that goal, as we are starting by assuring indigenous people asked to participate in these committees receive an honorarium, in recognition of the distinct relationship between rights and title holders and the municipal government. There are a few complications here that our staff have to work out (including Revenue Canada implications for the recipient), but this report asks Council to support the idea in principle, which Council did.

Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption Extension Request: 330 East Columbia Street Royal Columbian Hospital Redevelopment Project)
The RCH renewal is the biggest construction project in the City, and a year ago we granted them a small variance in the construction Noise Bylaw so they could start work earlier on Saturdays. There have been a few complaints from the public about construction noise, but none of them appear to be directly related to this earlier-Saturday schedule, and Fraser Health has been responsive to complaints received. So we are going to extend this Exemption for the rest of the construction period to get the hospital up and built as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Task Forces: Update
This is our semi-regular report of the task forces set up to support vulnerable populations during the Pandemic. Most of these programs are into operations now, and there are not a lot of updates, but it is good to get caught up on where the programs are. As we emerge from health restrictions (we are certainly NOT out of the pandemic yet) expect less reporting here, and imminent disbanding of these task forces.

Municipal Security Issuing Resolutions
We are borrowing money as part of our 5-year capital plan. If you remember back when we talked about the Capital budget, I mentioned that part of it is paid out of reserves (our “savings account”), some of it from DCCs, Grants and Contributions (“other people’s money”), and some of it from long term Debt (“a “Mortgage”), and even put those on a pie chart. Well, this is the “Long Term Debt” part.

In order for the City to borrow for more than 5 years, we need permission from the taxpayer. We got permission to borrow up to $93.6M for the aquatic centre back in 2019, to borrow up to $30M for the Queensborough substation in 2018, and for up to $28M for various infrastructure upgrades in 2016. Note, this is borrowing already built into our 5-year financial plan, not new expenditure. What we are doing now is formally passing the resolution in Council required to meet MFA requirements to borrow from them.

Public Art Plan
The City has a budget for Public Art, raised largely from development contributions and things like the digital road signs. However, a robust policy to drive the public art program and assure it aligns with other City policies is an identified gap in our overall art strategy. The work to develop this strategy got started before the Pandemic, then stalled, and staff are now getting it back on their work plan. This lays out the timeline and budget for that planning work.

Rezoning Application for Infill Townhouse: 1032 and 1036 St. Andrews Street – Preliminary Report to Council
This is a preliminary report on a townhouse infill project in the Brow of the Hill. The proposal would see 12 family-friendly townhouses, and meets the OCP vision for the neighbourhood, but would need a rezoning. This is preliminary and will go to Public Consultation, and (possibly) a Public Hearing, so I will hold my comments for now.

Zoning Bylaw Text Amendment and Event-Driven Liquor Primary Licence: 735 Eighth Avenue (Massey Theatre) – Preliminary Report
The Massey Theatre is quickly re-visioning its space and its role as a culture and arts hub in the City. The breadth of events they plan to hold is expanding, and this is a good thing. This means the current way of managing liquor licenses for events (apply for a special event license at each event) is getting cumbersome. So they would like to shift to a new format of licensing, where they hold a license all the time, and activate it based on event needs. This is not a building that lends itself well to provincial LCRB liquor license categories, what with different rooms, hallways, and mixed uses, but the MTS have worked out a license regime that works for them.

But liquor licensing is still not easy, even for a City-owned building. We need a zoning text amendment to assure the zoning language meets what the province LCRB wants, and staff are recommending the City bypass the public consultation part of the zoning language amendment, letting the LCRB public consultation process cover that for us, tough we will reach out to the School District, recognizing their proximity and some remaining SD use of the Massey Theatre space.

This is preliminary, but Bylaws will be brought to Council for readings. If you have opinions, let us know!


The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

2022 Heat Response Plans and Emergency Preparedness Week
After the Heat Dome event last year, the City is taking several measures to better prepare for this type of extreme heat event, and lessen its impact on vulnerable people in the community. One part of this is updating our Heat Emergency response plans. A major focus of this is to increase the outreach to people most likely to be impacted by a heat wave, and those who may be able to support them during the event. The City can (and does) provide cooling centers, but they do no good if people are not aware of them or unable to get to them. The outreach plan this spring will endeavor to bridge this gap during Emergency Preparedness Week (May 1-7) and over the entire month of May.

There is also a good report in there about the City’s Hey Neighbour Collective initiative piloted last year to better connect seniors and vulnerable people living in relatively disconnected apartment buildings, and the learnings that may inform our emergency preparedness in upcoming heat seasons. I encourage folks to tune into Emergency Preparedness Week programming both locally and provincially, and to meet your neighbours.

Development Cost Charge (DCC) Bylaw Major Update Project – Stakeholder Feedback.
Development Cost Charges are fees we charge to developments that increase the density of the City – and by “density”, we mean number of household units or residential square footage per lot. DCCs are tightly regulated by the Local Government Act, and must be set by Bylaw. The funds collected must be directly linked to specific projects required to support that increased density – like building larger water and sewer connections, expanding transportation infrastructure, or expanding or improving parks space. They can’t be spent on other things, like expanding schools (the School District has its own DCC) or operating funds. So projects must be identified based on OCP growth projections, their costs estimated, the proportion of the need related to growth (as opposed to existing homeowners) estimated, and a rate calculated based on the fair proportion of a (say) new sewer line is owed by the builder of a new (say) 3-bedroom townhouse.

Every once in a while the City need to update its DCC Bylaw, as growth patterns change and project costs change. Ideally, we do this every 5 years, but it is a bit of a complicated piece of work, and the last time we made a major amendment to out Bylaw was 2015. The new Bylaw has been developed by staff, and consultation with stakeholders occurred. The development community would like the increase delayed a bit, but there is no compelling case to do so, noting that projects “in stream” are already locked into the former rates, assuming they get their building permit within a year of the Bylaw change. We are also looking at implementing Institutional DCCs for the first time, and the School District is looking for some flexibility here.

There are some good comparison charts in this report to show that New Westminster’s DCC rates are low (on the mainland) to moderate (in Queensborough- where road, sewer, and drainage DCCs are higher because of the increased cost of providing those services there) compared to our cohort communities, even after these increases.

Official Community Plan Amendment and Heritage Revitalization Agreement: 501 Fourth Avenue and 408 Fifth Street (Holy Eucharist Cathedral) – Preliminary Report
The Holy Eucharist Cathedral has been working on a plan to build housing and a mixed use building with expanded childcare space on their lot next to the church Uptown, consolidating lots and purchasing a thin unused City laneway. This will require not just an HRA, but also an OCP Amendment. This is a preliminary report, and Council was asked to raise concerns and whether we were OK sending it to public and external consultation. If you have opinions, drop us a note and let us know! And because of that OCP amendment part, we are required to send the project out to external consultation with potentially impacted stakeholders outside of the community, from First Nations to various Metro Vancouver committees. This report lists who the project is being sent out to for this external review.


Finally, we adopted the following Bylaw:

Housing Agreement (508 Eighth Street) Bylaw No. 8279, 2022
This is the Housing Agreement that secures rental tenure for the Brow of the Hill building mentioned above that is adding 4 new suites. It was adopted by Council.


We also had some public delegations about the Day of Mourning (upcoming at Pier Park on April 28), about Youth Week (coming up next week at the Youth Centre) and the New West Farmers Market (every Thursday afternoon at City Hall/Tipperary Park). It is good to see people getting together in person again, but please exercise caution as the long tail of this COVID thing is still here. Vaccines and masks are still good bets to reduce transmission and severity, and best as you can please recognize other people’s anxiety and risk tolerances may be different than yours; be a good neighbour by giving folks space, and not begrudging them if they ask it. It was community that got us through this, it is community that will pull us back together as we transition out of the pandemic period.