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.

Council – April 11 2022

We had a real pre-COVID feeling Council meeting on Monday. Not because COVID is over (I know a few people getting hit by the new variant right now), but because most of Council was back in chambers, and we had and audience and several public delegations in person and everything. This, of course, came with masks and social distancing and the other procedures our 2019 cohorts would not understand to make the room as safe as possible for everyone. If you love reading this stuff (Hi Mom!) you should join us some Monday night. Our Agenda on Monday was not long, and it started with a report I had to leave the room for:

Rezoning and Development Permit Applications for Market Rental Building Renovation: 222 Ash Street
This is a project I recused myself from discussing, because this building is less than 50m from my home. By a strict reading, regulations say that a member of Council must recuse from topics in which they have a direct fiduciary interest, but we have a practice in New West of interpreting this very broadly. If I owned property in this building, I would clearly be in conflict. If I owned a house right next door, it is probably safe to say my property value may be impacted by changes, so I would want to recuse. In this case, I am close enough that some may argue my fiduciary interest in my own property may be impacted by changes in this property due to proximity, so it is safer for everyone (the property owner, the City, and myself as a Councillor) if I recuse myself to avoid even the perception of undue influence.

So that aside, this is a project where an existing rental building wants to expand the number of units on site by building in top of the existing building. This is a preliminary application to gauge council opinion, so public consultation and other review yet to come. If you want to know what council discussed, watch the video!


We then moved the following items On Consent:

2022 Earth Day Programs
The City is doing three things to mark Earth Day this year. We are launching an Adopt-a-Tree program to let people take a more active part in our Urban Forest Management Program, and Adopt-a-Catch-Basin Program to get folks more linked to the exciting world of storm water drainage, and a Datathon program. More details to come!

Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption Request: (81 Braid Street – Braid SkyTrain Station)
A water main upgrade project at Braid Station was delayed by some supply chain issues, so the noise bylaw exemption we previously gave them needs to be extended.

Housing Agreement Bylaw and Development Variance Permit to Vary Residential and Visitor Parking Requirements: 508 Eighth Street – Bylaw for Three Readings
This Rental apartment building in the Brow of the Hill wants to add a few studio suites at ground level, where there is currently parking spots. The existing parking on the site is underutilized (>60% unused), but this change requires a Development Variance Permit because the building will not, as envisioned, meet the existing parking guidelines for a building this size. So they are requesting a parking variance, in an exchange we will get a Housing Agreement securing rental tenure for the life of the building. And 4 new relatively affordable rental suites added ot the existing 32 in the building.

There is a bit more going on here around bicycle parking and housing agreements, but mostly we are letting the public know we are going to consider the DVP. If you have opinions, let us know!

Public Art Program Update
This report is an update on our Public Art program. But that’s right there in the title. There is some good stuff in here about our ongoing program – Public Art related to various City-owned construction projects (from təməsew̓txʷ to the Boundary Road pump station) and the Artist Roster program. This all great stuff, making our public spaces (or “Public Realm” as we like to say in Jargonworld) better!

Rezoning and Development Permit Applications for Secured Market Rental High-rise: 616-640 Sixth Street – Preliminary Report
This development project had a pretty high profile when approved by Council through a Public Hearing four years ago, and four years later there has been no breaking of ground on the project. It is now more than decade since we had a significant project adding to the tower-form housing in the Uptown area, which is pretty amazing when you think about it.

Perhaps not surprising, the economics of development changes over time, and through the City’s incentive programs, support from senior governments, and the desires of those who finance major projects, there seems to be a drift from Strata to Purpose Built Rental, which is probably a good thing as regional vacancy rates are still in the 1% range. So this project has shifted from part-Strata part-rental to 100% rental, and they are now requesting an increase in density and unit count to support a more efficient and viable all-rental building design.

This is a preliminary report, so the proposal will need to see some public consultation, and will likely have a Public Hearing, so I will hold my comments until then. If you have feelings, let us know!

Update on Mayor’s 50 Ideas Parks & Recreation Initiatives #3 & #18
This is an update on a couple of public amenity programs. One was to increase the amount of public seating in the community (we have added chairs, benches and picnic tables all around the City –and they are getting used as fast as we can put them out) and a program to provide a low-cost “try it out” option for a variety of recreational programs (slightly set back by COVID, but back on).


The following items were Removed from Consent,/u> for discussion.

Council Resolution in Support of the City of New Westminster’s Application under the COVID-19 Restart Funding for Local Governments, Strengthening Communities’ Services Program
There is a UBCM program we are applying for to get some senior government money ($624K) to help finance some programs to help those impacted the most by COVID. This funding will be spread out across a variety of programs, including sanitation trailers for the proposed 24/7 shelter at the Army & Navy (the current building does not have adequate washroom/shower facilities to fulfill the need, trailers like at movie sets will allow the shelter to operate until the more permanent shelter options already approved are ready). Another is a freestanding public toilet downtown to replace the very-much-less-than-ideal port-a-potties. This funding will also help reinforce programs from the Maida Duncan drop-in to the I’s On the Street program. We are applying, cross your fingers!

Port Authority Referral: 820 Dock Road, City of Delta, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Solutions, Annacis Auto Terminal Optimization – Information Report
The east end of Annacis Island is the biggest parking lot in the Lower Mainland, and it is going to get bigger. This is because it is the location where most of the cars arriving in Canada from Asia are unloaded from those big blocky ships, and are (mostly) loaded on to rail cars for shipment across Canada. The owner wants to expand, and are applying to the Port for permission. This is Federal land, so the Port asks nearby Municipalities what they think, but they don’t necessarily need to ask us for permission.

This is a bit unusual, because the project isn’t in New West, but is in Delta. So they pay their PILT (“Payment in Lieu of Taxes”) to Delta, not to New West, and they get their utility servicing from Delta. But we in New West get a lot of the impact of the operations – the noise and light and emission impact our residents more than Delta residents. We also have the impacts of increase rail traffic through Q’boro and (potentially) the Quayside. But such is the inter-jurisdictional reality, and we can curse the civic leaders of decades ago who decided Anncis Island should be given to Delta instead of New West.

However, if we are going to raise issues to the Port, I am suggesting we ask about increased rail traffic, and the impacts on Queensborough and Quayside neighbourhoods. The cargo capacity of the port will increase about 40%, so we may infer this means 40% more trains through Q’Boro and over the rail bridge. It would be good to know the Port is aware of local concerns and efforts towards whistle cessation in at the key crossings on Port Royal. Similarly, many of the vehicles leave the Port on trucks, and It would be good to know if we expect increased truck traffic on Derwent Way. Finally, I don’t know if the ships they use for this type of cargo are the type where shore power can reduce impacts on our local air shed related to them running their boilers, but this is the time to ask. So we will send the Port these questions and let you know what they say.

The Poet Laureate Digital Poetry Project
We have a Poet Laureate, and he has found a creative way to connect poetry with our everyday lives during National Poetry Month. And while he was at Council to talk about it, he gave us a quick reading of some new words he put together about community. I feel really honoured to have him telling the stories of our community.


We then Adopted the following Bylaws

Heritage Designation Bylaw (1324 Nanaimo Street) No. 8291,2022
Council adopted this Bylaw that officially designates this house in the West End as a protected heritage property.

Heritage Designation (102 Seventh Avenue) Bylaw No. 8313,2022
Council adopted this Bylaw that officially designates this house in Glenbrook North as a protected heritage property.

Water Shortage Response Amendment Bylaw No. 8314, 2022
Council adopted this Bylaw that updates our water shortage restrictions to bring them in alignment with Metro Vancouver’s new rules. Gold is the new green!

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (Parking Reductions for Patios) No.8317, 2022</>B
Council adopted this Bylaw that makes permanent the temporary changes we made to allow expanded patio options for restaurants and bars with parking lots.


And we had this Motion from Council:

Climate Crisis Readiness, Councillor Nakagawa

THAT staff report back to Council on city readiness for extreme climate related events this summer including, but not limited to heat waves and flooding; and
THAT this report includes communications and engagement considerations, including opportunities to facilitate dialogue and planning for a community-based response to climate emergencies; and
THAT staff report on opportunities to enhance Emergency Preparedness Week events with a specific focus on equity-based climate response measures.

It is 10 months since the Heat Dome event devastated this community. Staff have been working on how to better address the risk of this type of heat event and other imminent impacts of climate disruption, not just in New West but around the region. We have two panels at the upcoming Lower Mainland LGA conference talking about this topic, including the importance of community organizing when disasters are simply too big for local government to provide adequate response.

This reporting back will not only inform Council, it will give us another opportunity to inform the public and talk about the importance of community in addressing emergencies.


And on top of this, we had a couple of other public delegations, which are not normally things I report on here, but the range of topics were pretty interesting, so I will probably follow this up with a bit more detail about them. But that’s another blog post when I have time.

Council – March 28, 2022

The Mayor was not able to make our evening Council Meeting this week, and as I was the Acting Mayor for March, I got my first (only?) chance to sit in the Big Chair** for a Public Hearing. Much gratitude to my colleagues and the Clerk and the public delegates who attended for taking it easy on me, as there is a lot going on with a hybrid (Live!& on Zoom!) Public Hearing to pay attention to aside from the Agenda. But we got through. Let’s start with the Bylaws referred from Public Hearing:

Heritage Revitalization Agreement (1324 Nanaimo Street) Bylaw No. 8290, 2022 and
Heritage Designation (1324 Nanaimo Street) Bylaw No. 8291, 2022
This Resident wants to subdivide largish corner lot in West End, build an infill house on the subdivided lot, and permanently protect the existing 1944 house. Both houses would have a legal secondary suite (meaning 4 total units, 3 currently permitted on the lot). This application was approved by the Community Heritage Commission, is consistent with the Official Community Plan vision for the neighbourhood, but would require several zoning relaxations (Small lots, FSR exceedance, minor setbacks and a parking relaxation of one spot), which are being managed through the HRA process.

We received two written submissions on this, both in support. No-one came to address City Council in regards to this application. Council moved to give the HRA Bylaws Third Reading and Adoption, and Third Reading to the Designation Bylaw, approving the project.

Heritage Revitalization Agreement (102 Seventh Avenue) Bylaw No. 8312, 2022 and
Heritage Designation (102 Seventh Avenue) Bylaw No. 8313, 2022
This Resident wants to subdivide a largish corner lot in Glenbrook North, build a duplex of two townhouse-style (~1,000sqft) homes on the subdivided lot, and permanently protect the existing 1941 house. The heritage house would have a legal secondary suite (meaning 4 total units, 3 currently permitted on the lot). This application was approved by the Community Heritage Commission, is consistent with the Official Community Plan vision for the neighbourhood, but would require several zoning relaxations (Small lots, FSR exceedance, minor setbacks, and the duplex form), which are being managed through the HRA process.

We received 18 written submissions (66% opposed) and we had 22 people come and present to Council (66% opposed), with significant overlap between those two media. With several second-time and a few three-time speakers, the Public hearing lasted aobut 3 hours, so you will forgive if I abbreviate a bit the concerns I heard.

Opponents felt the duplex was too much density on one lot, and concerns were raised regarding the impact on traffic safety, in the alley where the parking will be and on adjacent First Street, with specific concern was related to the many pedestrians and kids walking to the nearby school and parks. There were questions about the livability of the units for families, the loss of green space, and about the impact on adjacent homes. A few people raised questions regarding the HRA process and heritage value of the existing house.

I voted to support this project, because it provides, in my mind, an important form of “missing middle” housing that meets the stated goals of the Official Community Plan for this neighbourhood. This is exactly the kind of ground-oriented modestly sized housing that young families are asking me about when we talk about New Westminster’s housing mix and variety. It seems preferable to other infill options available to the owner. This is a unique lot, as the front garden (facing Seventh Ave) is integral to the heritage form of the original house, and moving the house is not possible, which results in setback variances being needed.

I do hear concerns about traffic safety near schools, but am not able to relate those concerns to having 4 living units on this lot instead of the three currently permitted. Indeed, more modestly-sized family-friendly housing near schools and parks and greenways that connect to other amenities is part of the mitigation of increasing traffic stress.

Council moved unanimously to give the HRA Bylaws Third Reading and Adoption, and Third Reading to the Designation Bylaw, approving the project.


We then moved the following items On Consent:

2022 Spring Freshet and Snow Pack Level
We get these reports every month in the Spring to help assess the freshet flood risk, and put plans in place in the case of elevated risk. Looks like the snowpack is a little above average (105%) but nothing too worrisome yet.

Amendment to the Water Shortage Response Bylaw No. 6948, 2004 – Revision of Lawn Sprinkling Regulations
We are looking at adjusting our Bylaw that regulates water shortage measures, such as lawn watering regulations. In short, we are reducing the times when you can sprinkle your lawn to be in compliance with updated Metro Vancouver guidelines on this, as it is ultimately Metro Vancouver who provides the water and knows what is and is not sustainable use based on their system capacity.

Arts Council of New Westminster License Agreement Renewal
The Arts Council leases gallery space in Queens Park, and has an agreement with the City to program the adjacent lodge space when the City is not otherwise using it. This has been a good deal for the Arts Council (they get a stable home to do their work for a pretty nominal costs( and the for the City (we have an art gallery and Arts Council programming adding to the richness of Queens Park and the entire community). So the lease is being renewed.

Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption Request: 330 E. Columbia Street (Royal Columbian Hospital Development)
The RCH project is moving along. As is becoming common in major construction, single large concrete pours are sometimes needed, and they cannot be completed in one pour within regular construction hours, so they ask for an exception to the Bylaw to allow those pours to happen. They are going to try to do this pour on April 22, and are reserving the week after just in case the weather does not agree on the 22nd. Residents in the neighbourhood will be informed.

Designation of an Acting Chief Licence Inspector
This is a regulatory role in the City – someone has to have the authority to sign off on business licenses. Our previous Manager of Integrated Services is retiring after a great career with the City, and until we can fill that important spot, we need to designate someone else to sign off on those licenses in the interim. We are designating the Manager of Economic Development, whose staff has a good relationship with the business community.

European Chafer Management Program Update
The City had a subsidized program to provide nematodes to residents to reduce the impact of European chafer beetles on their lawns. The last few years, alternate approaches have become more common, easy to access and often cheaper than the City’s nematode program. So we are suspending the program for 2022, and staff will track any impacts of that suspension.

Local Government Act Updates (Bill 26) and Proposed Delegation of Small Development Variance Permits
The Province has made changes to the Local Government Act (LGA), and Council can now delegate small development variance permits to staff, instead of them coming to Council. There does need to be a Bylaw that sets out criteria for what is a “minor” variance, and what criteria staff will apply to evaluate whether the variance should be considered.

We deal with about 4 DVPs per year on average, plus an additional 2 Sign Bylaw variances. Not bringing these to Council makes the process simpler and cheaper for the applicant, and saves a bunch of staff time in preparing a Council report that can be better used at moving other projects along. I guess this is where somebody other than me talks about “Red Tape Reduction”.

The report lists what types of variances we are going to delegate (siting/dimensions that don’t include density variances, parking for smaller projects, some landscaping) and some conditions staff will apply. It is worth noting, if your request for a variance is turned down by Staff, you will still have the opportunity to bring the request to Council. Staff will now draft a bylaw to make this happen.

Sex Worker Safety Proposed Work Plan
This report outlines a proposed work plan an information on an upcoming workshop with Council and senior staff related to sex worker safety and how we can integrate that knowledge into the work we do as a City, following the Councillor Nakagawa motion supported by Council last June.

Temporary Use Permit Renewal: 488 Furness Street – for Presentation Centre
This development project in Q’Boro uses one of its buildings as a sales centre, which is not compliant with the end use intended, so we grant Temporary Use Permits in this case. Temporary means they expire, and this developer wishes to extend their permit to keep the presentation centre going a bit longer. We can (and are) grant one TUP extension, to April 2024.


The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

Rezoning and Development Permit Applications for a 15-unit Rental Project: 1321 Cariboo Street – For Information
This is a preliminary report on a plan to replace a derelict site on the edge of the Brow neighbourhood with a compact 5-storey building with 15 secured purpose-built rental suites. It needs a rezoning and Development Permit to deal with massing and reduced parking (both supported by the LUPC). It has shrunk a bit as it went through review from the originally-proposed 19 unit building, but still meets the Family-Friendly Housing requirements. It will go to Public Consultation and likely a Public Hearing, so I’ll hold my comments until then.

Rezoning and Special Development Permit (815 – 821 Victoria Street and 810 Agnes Street) – Project Update
This report updates us on another project that has seen some changes since the last time it was brought to Council. The new owner of the property has shifted the proposal from Strata to Purpose Built Rental. This would include an increase in height (by three stories), of FSR (7.2 to 8.8), and unit count (222 to 327). This is a pretty big change, mostly in the size of the tower floorplate. This was the project that was going to finance the development of a new downtown park space on the location of the historic Chinese Benevolent Association property, and that is still part of the plan.

This would go to Public Consultation, and likely a Public Hearing, so I’ll hold my comments until then.

Ukrainian Crisis – Government and Community Response
This is an update on many things happening locally to nationally in support of the Ukrainian community, including work being done to prepare for and support refugees escaping the violence. Much of this is concentrated on the Holy Eucharist Cathedral here in New West, and is being supported by the Welcoming and Inclusive New Westminster Local Immigration Partnership Council. More info here about how you can help, or connect people who need help to services.


We then finished up our night by adopting the following Bylaws:

Corporate Records Management Program Amendment Bylaw No. 8322, 2022
This Bylaw that changes which official signatures may be recorded digitally was adopted by Council. So, less Red Tape again?

Street and Sidewalk Patio Bylaw No. 8318 2022
This bylaw that responds to the expiration of the temporary provincial patio licensing rules by making the changes we adopted during COVID permanent was adopted by Council, just in time for the sun to come out.

** the chairs are all the same size.

Council – March 7, 2022

This is the part of my regular blogging out of what happened in Council this week where I apologize for not getting this out sooner. However, my actual-paid-work schedule was busy this week and I have a couple of other meetings related to another project in the evenings that made my week go away remarkable quickly, and I woke up Sunday  Morning after losing an hour of sleep realizing I haven’t done this yet. So here we go. The Agenda was not very long, but we had a lengthy discussion related to our guest:

Presentation: New Westminster Interceptor – Columbia Sewer Rehabilitation UpdateConstruction Noise Bylaw Exemption Extension Request: New Westminster Interceptor – Columbia Sewer Rehabilitation
The major sewer renewal project Metro Vancouver is running in Downtown has been going on longer than anyone wanted, and it is a disappointing situation. A representative from Metro Vancouver came to our meeting to outline some of the reasons why the project is still lagging on.

It is worth noting that this is a difficult piece of engineering. Slip-lining new pipes into a very old existing sewer that is in terrible condition is not without risk or challenge. However this option was chosen over a complete excavation over the entire project length, which would have been massively more disruptive to Columbia Street. The project ran into supply chain issues, Omicron apparently set them back a bit, and equipment got stuck in the Atmospheric River road closures last winter. Hopefully to worse is behind, but Council was able to express the frustration we have heard from the community, and the Downtown BIA were able to attend to express their own concerns directly to Metro.

As it stands, the strategy for the slip-lining is going to change, and instead of installing the bulk of new pipe at the current location near the foot of Eighth, they are going to move a bunch of it up to Blackwood and do a secondary install there. This means moving most of that pipe up there (which is a significantly disruptive activity, as heavy equipment is needed and traffic needs to be re-routed), waiting for an appropriate weather window, and getting the work done. Once the pipe is in the ground, there will be several weeks of follow-up work where new manhole and connections will be installed. If all goes well, they hope to be off the street completely by the May long weekend.

Hope. There is no certainty in this work, and little rending of garments will get accelerate it. Metro has added some senior oversight staff to assure the contractor is doing their upmost to get along with it, but uncertainty is the only certainty any time you dig a hole in a 150 year old city. Council granted another extension to the construction noise exemption so that they can (if needed) work through the night to get this done.

Metro also made some commitments to improved communications with the business community as the project proceeds. This is increasingly important as the Downtown BIA are already planning some summer events on Columbia Street, and Pride is starting to plan for a triumphant return to their street fest – and plans now cannot be subject to uncertain availability of space in June or July. Yelling at the pipe won’t make it install faster, but communication to stakeholders is becoming more vital as summer approaches.


We then moved the following items On Consent:

Amendment to the Corporate Records Management Program Bylaw 2022: Electronic Signature Policy
Last meeting we approved in principle these changes to allow digital signatures on some official city records. This is the Bylaw that empowers that. You can read through the report and see when a digital signature suffices, and when a wet signature (ew!) is required.

Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption Request: 81 Braid Street (Braid SkyTrain Station)
TransLink is updating the water line to the alleged Braid Station. Some of this work has to happen at night to not disrupt transit services, requiring a Construction Noise Bylaw exemption.

Covid-19 Task Forces: Update
These updates we have been getting through the pandemic response are getting shorter. There are still important supports being provided, but it is starting to look more and more like the pandemic-specific responses are morphing into the kind of supports vulnerable populations require regardless of pandemic state.

Fraser Health Authority Community Health Specialist: Proposed New Role
The City, School District and Fraser Health have a partnership through which we try to embed a “healthier community” lens into the work our planning department does. This has mostly been through a joint committee that met quarterly and brought a Fraser Health public health professional into our planning process for new policies and programs. This proposal is to take the next step and embed that Fraser Health employee into our planning department to serve as a resource for all City employees on the public health implications of policies and programs. We get a lot of examples of “downloading” public health costs to local governments, this is an example of Fraser Health investing in making the City more effective at improving Public health, which is a really positive thing to see.

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act Report for 2021
The City is subject to the Provincial FOIPPA, and must adhere to the regulation in how we address FOI requests and protect the privacy of people whose information we may store or distribute. Provincial changes to the FOIPPA this year impact how we do our compliance.

The City generally gets about 80 FOI requests a year, mostly from insurance companies or lawyers doing their due diligence on various claims or cases that may or may not include the City. This is not a huge number, but does take quite a bit of staff time to be compliant. One change to the provincial FOIPPA this year was to allow us to charge for the request. We are not going to implement a fee, as the number of requests we get is small and manageable, and the perceived barrier of the non-refundable fee outweighs any benefit in the efficiency of running the system at the current rate of requests.

Heritage Revitalization Agreement (1324 Nanaimo Street) Bylaw No. 8290, 2022 and Heritage Designation (1324 Nanaimo Street) Bylaw No. 8291, 2022 for First and Second Readings
The owner of this house in the West End wants to subdivide and build a small infill house on the new lot created, in exchange for heritage protection of the existing 1944 house on the site. This proposal will got to a Public Hearing, so I will hold my comments until then,

Patio Program Update
New West, like some other cities, created more flexible programs to facilitate patios on public land (the sidewalk or parking lot in front of a business) and private land (private parking lots adjacent to existing restaurants) as the Pandemic hit the service industries, and as Provincial legislation around permitting liquor licenses was similarly relaxed. This was mostly well received by the public and businesses, partly because the City already had a pretty flexible and inviting program, the provincial relaxations just made it work easier. The Province has noe replaced their temporary changes with a clearer long-term licensing framework, and the city is adapting its program to align with that, and to assure longer-term concerns (building standards to assure spaces remain accessible and people don’t get hurt), while keeping fees really low and the process simple and familiar. Kudos to the Engineering, Economic Development, and Planning folks for making this happen quickly and smoothly. Summer is approaching…


The following item was Removed form Consent for discussion:

Heritage Revitalization Agreement (102 Seventh Avenue) Bylaw No.8312, 2022 and Heritage Designation (102 Seventh Avenue) Bylaw No. 8313, 2022 Bylaws for First and Second Readings
The owner of this house in Glenbrook North wants to subdivide and build a small duplex on the new lot created, in exchange for heritage protection of the existing 1941 house on the site. This proposal will got to a Public Hearing, so I will hold my comments until then.


Then we had the following Bylaws for Adoption:

Local Government Elections Procedures Amendment Bylaw No. 8311, 2022
This bylaw to allow for mail ballot voting and elector registration by mail and to introduce changes to the definition of special voting, was Adopted by Council. I guess there is an election coming. Better start thinking about that…

Parks and Recreation Fees and Charges Amendment Bylaw No. 8319, 2022
This Bylaw that makes minor changes to our 2022 Parks and Rec fees was Adopted by Council. Spring outdoor pool season is starting soon!

And that was the work for Early March. Sorry it took so long to get here. Have a good Spring Break!

Council – February 28, 2022

We had pretty short Council meeting on Monday, were out of there in under an hour. All that was on the Agenda was for us to approve hundreds of affordable housing units, accelerate the process to approve more, empower the Downtown BIA, expand opportunities to vote in local elections, and a few other things. With all that, we didn’t have anyone come to delegate at open delegations.

We started by moving the following items on Consent:

Downtown New Westminster BIA – 2022 Business Promotion Scheme Budget Approvals
The BIAs are a creature of provincial regulation. They are self-organized and self-identified groups of commercial property owners with a distinct geographic boundary that charge themselves a tax and use the revenue of that tax to promote themselves though street improvement, events, promotions, etc., collectively a “Business Promotion Scheme”. The role of the City is to collect that tax on behalf of the BIA though an empowering Bylaw and give it to them. The Community Charter also says the Council must approve their business Promotion Scheme.

The Downtown New West BIA has a strong organization, and has always been a great partner to the City, and our values and vision are clearly aligned. Even as COVID set a bunch of their well-laid plans back a bit, their new Strategic Plan looks forward to a more prosperous next few years.

Renewal of Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Areas – Results from Notification of Affected Property Owners
As we just covered, the BIA is a creature of provincial regulation (the Community Charter) and our role as a City is to collect their tax and turn it over to them. As they are doing their once-every-4-years renewal of their mandate, we need to update the Bylaw that allows us to collect that tax in the manner and of the amount that the BIA members request. We are also required to assure the BIA organization is supported by the membership in this tax structure, so we mailed notice to every member and put an ad in the newspaper to request their consent. 251 Members were notified, 2 members were in opposition to the Bylaws, representing 2% of the tax assessment value. This meets the threshold for approval of the Bylaw.

Electronic Signature Policy
In the City we need to sign things sometimes to make them official. Our existing policy needs to be changed to allow digital signatures to suffice, and the policy needs to outline what constitutes a sufficient digital signature. Details, details you may say, but a City is a regulatory organization, and details like this end up with a lot of wasted time in courts if not followed through. Also, “wet signature” is such a weird expression.

Parks and Recreation Fees and Charges Bylaw Amendment for 2022
We had recent reports on filming in the City and expanded aquatic offerings in light of the failure of the Canada Games Pool. In both of those reports, we discussed and supported changes in fee structures. Those changes require an amendment of our Fees and Charges Bylaw, which are offered now.


The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

2022 Spring Freshet and Snow Pack Level
About this time of the year we start to get monthly snowpack reports to inform our flood planning. Looks like the snowpack for the wider Fraser basin is a bit above average (108%), but well within the range of normal. Freshet flood risk as complex math of snowpack and pace of melt related to spring weather, so not much to report now except nothing exceptional.

Amendments to the Election Procedures Bylaw 2022: Mail Ballot Voting and Special Voting Opportunities
When it comes to local government elections, the rules are made locally within the standards set out by the province. Soon after the last election, we asked staff to review what went well, and where we may improve voter engagement and voting opportunities. This included surveying all of the candidates in the last election who were not successful.

The idea of being able to vote by mail was raised by the public and some candidates. Recent changes in the Local Government Act related to COVID make it easier for a local government to permit Vote by Mail. Back in 2021, Council asked staff to bring a report to outline the required bylaw changes and resources to make it happen. The bylaw changes to allow mail-in ballots are actually pretty simple in comparison, but voting by mail is actually a complicated and staff-intensive process that must happen on very tight deadlines. There are security issues to deal with, it is possible we won’t know the result of the election on election day (as the mail-in ballots cannot be opened until polls close), but these are surmountable.

Staff is also suggesting changing the wording for our Special Voting Opportunities Bylaw. As it stands, we set up SVOs at seniors homes and hospitals where the residents would not reasonably have an opportunity to get to a voting booth because of their living situation. The language reframes the SVO from being limited to hospital-like settings, and opens the opportunity to anyone who has a special barrier to the regular voting process. As the elections are run by the Chief Electoral Officer and not Council (for obvious reasons) it will be interesting to see how this is operationalized.

Both of these changes I am happy to support, though there are cost and staffing implications. Democracy ain’t free.


We then Adopted the following Bylaws:

Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Area (Primary Area) Bylaw No. 8288, 2021 and
Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Area (Secondary Area) Bylaw No. 8289, 2021
As discussed above, the Bylaws that empower the continued existence of the Downtown BIA were adopted by Council.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (Miscellaneous Amendments) No. 8287, 2021
This amending Bylaw that makes a variety of small clean-up changes to our Zoning Bylaw as discussed back in November, was adopted by Council.

Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw (City-wide Crisis Response) No. 8285, 2021 and
Zoning Amendment Bylaw (City-wide Crisis Response) No. 8286, 2021
The amendments to the OCP and Zoning Bylaw to provide a more rapid response to address homelessness in the City, as given a Public Hearing on December 6th, were adopted by Council.

Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw (350-366 Fenton Street) No. 8281, 2021 and
Zoning Amendment Bylaw (350-366 Fenton Street) No. 8282, 2021
The amendments to the OCP and the Zoning Bylaw to provide for Affordable Housing on City-owned land in Queensborough, as given a Public Hearing on December 6th, were adopted by Council.

Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw (60-68 Sixth Street) No. 8283, 2021 and
Zoning Amendment Bylaw (60-68 Sixth Street) No. 8284, 2021
The amendments to the OCP and the Zoning Bylaw to provide for Affordable Housing on Provincially-owned land in Downtown, as given a Public Hearing on December 6th, were adopted by Council.


So a quick meeting with some important process made.

Council – Feb 14, 2022

Nothing makes Valentine’s Day more special than a few hours spent meeting with the loveliest City Council in the Lower Mainland. We are back to “hybrid” style meetings, with a few of us in chambers and a few on-line, and the public are able to attend in person again, so come on by some Monday. It would be good to see you. We had an Agenda that really went to the dogs (that’s a joke! Scroll down to see why!), starting with consideration of a Development Variance Permit:

DVP00691 for 520 Eighth Street
As discussed last meeting, the owner of this 56-unit rental building in the Brow of the Hill wants to add 5 suites in underused above-ground parking spaces under the existing building. They need a variance not for the density or units, but for reducing the amount of parking below the zoning requirements. In exchange for this variance, they are agreeing to a housing agreement with the City that secures rental tenure for the property for 60 years or the life of the building – whichever is longer.

My reflex reaction to this type of application is that we are in a housing crisis and need more secured market rental much more than we need more parking spaces. Looking at the details of the application, it is clear these are surplus parking spaces to what the building needs. More than half of renters in New West don’t own a car, and that is a growing trend, especially with car-sharing and other options now available for people who might sometimes need a car but don’t want the cost and hassle. This helps balance the amount of parking with the amount actually needed, and secures 61 rental units at the affable end of the market.

We received no submissions in regards to this application, and Council moved to approve the required Variance.


We then moved the following items On Consent:

Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption Request: 660 Quayside Drive (Bosa Development)
If you have been downtown, you will note the 660 Quayside project is moving along. The daycare and commercial building looks topped out, the west tower is out of the ground, and the underground by Pier Park is coming along. Much like when the West Tower was done a few months ago, the East tower needs a “monolithic foundation” pour – a lot of concrete needs to go in at once to avoid seams in the foundation, and it is likely this continuous pour will take longer than typical work hours, requiring a one-time noise bylaw exemption. The actual date is a bit weather-dependent, but notice will be sent to adjacent residents.

Local Government Election 2022: Appointment of Chief Election Officer and Deputy Chief Election Officer
I don’t know if you have heard, but there is a Local Government Election coming up in October. The way local elections work in BC, the Province sets the rules, but leaves it up to each City to run its own election as it sees fit within those rules. The first order of business is to appoint someone to be the Chief Elections Officer, and it has been practice to make the City Clerk that person, as the work is similar – managing a bunch of people who are unclear on the rules, and making sure the rules are strictly followed.

Peer Assisted Crisis Team (PACT) Pilot Project Update
The City is collaborating with the Canadian Mental Health Association on a PACT pilot project. This follows up earlier acknowledgement that people suffering from a mental health crises in our community need a new approach other than the limited options Police currently have which has traditionally been to take the person to the hospital or jail, neither necessarily equipped to address sometimes very complex issues. The PACT project would see mobile crisis intervention teams (a Mental Health Professional and a trained Peer Crisis Responder) responding to mental health calls as an auxiliary service to the Police.

This is going to take a community to be successful, so not-for-profit and faith-based service providers, police, government social service and health service agencies and First Nations will be engaged in a community planning table. We also need to hire a Coordinator to move this forward through engagement and into implementation. This is ground-breaking in BC, though there are similar programs finding success in other North American jurisdictions, and well understood best practices. I’m really proud that our Council has supported this work, and that the community partners are working with us to bring this to reality.

People, Parks & Pups: A 10-Year Strategy for Sharing Public Space
There are lots of dogs in New West, with something like 40% of households having a dog. We have several Off Leash Areas (OLAs), much less park space dedicated to dogs by area and per capita than Vancouver (for example) but more than Surrey (for example). Of course, these comparisons are difficult because of the urban nature of the City, but we have also had a bit of an ad-hoc approach to new OLAs. This strategy brings a more holistic approach. 50 recommendations covering 15 different aspects of making better spaces for dogs and their people. If you are a dog person it’s probably worth a read, as there is a lot of great goals in here: an off-leash area within 1km of most residents; a better more integrated approach to dog waste; better strategies to reduce dog-people conflicts; better design of OLAs to make them more accessible and more fun.

This is a decade-long plan, but some of the early work is already in the City’s Capital Budget and will be rolled out soon, like the accessibility audit of the existing OLAs and the first “Puppy Parklet” Downtown. Woof.

Provincial Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program Funding Approval for the Riverfront Tugger – Community Gathering and Play Space
You might have notice the three little tugboats and rubberized scramble/play area where the Exop86 Tugger used to be. This was a pretty big piece of work, as the piers and decking around Tugger needed significant repair and upgrade with the removal of old steel bulk. But the City got financial support from the province (which is why this report arrived, as we have to officially authorize spending that money we were given on the thing for which we were given it). We were also given a substantial donation from the Rotary Club of New Westminster in recognition of their late member and New Westminster doctor and humanitarian Irwin Stewart. In honour of his work on pediatric hearing care, there is a bit of an Easter-egg in the design of the play area involving those colourful pipes. Kal Tire also donated through their Kal’s Replay Fund, allowing the installation of the recycled rubber surface for the scramble area. Have fun!

Revised Public Art Policy
The City has a Public Art Policy that needed an update after a decade. This is a little bit administrative (we are clarifying roles and procedures), and a little bit foundational (we are establishing guiding principles and adjusting our Artist Selection Process). There is a good body of work in this update, worth a read if you want to know the hows, whys and whats of Public Art in the City.


The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption Extension Request: New Westminster Interceptor – Columbia Sewer Rehabilitation
The major re-piping project downtown has gone on too long. This project was supposed to be off our streets by now, and some of the important work we need to do downtown seems stalled by this project taking up space. That said, this is as important a piece of work as it is complicated, and I recognize I have no idea what the engineering challenges may be, even as my patience is running out. I walk downtown almost every day, and that pile of pipes in front of the Anvil Centre doesn’t seem to be shrinking, leading me to believe that progress is not being made, which had me concerned. But it appears the pipes are ready to get moving, as the massive amount of prep work before the actual pipe slip-lining work is now at the point where the pipes can go in.

So we are extending the Noise Bylaw exemption they need to do that slip-lining work, and the sooner it gets done, the sooner we can get them out of there and give the streetscape back to the businesses and residents of downtown.

Still, this project timeline has expanded more than we expected, and considering the high profile and impact of these works, and the concerns Council and the BIA raised as Metro Vancouver began consulting with us on this work, I thought it was timely to ask Metro Vancouver for an update on the timeline. I asked for three points of clarification: when they will be out of there, what efforts are being taken to accelerate the work to assure they finish in a timely manner, and what extra mitigation is being considered for businesses and residents of downtown considering the extended timeline.

We will be expecting a follow-up report next meeting, but the good news since the Council meeting is that slip-lining is proceeding this week, and that pile of pipes should be going away soon.

Filming Activity in 2021 and Proposed Filming Fees for 2022
The Film industry has been impacted by COVID-19 like everything else, and City revenues from film permits has gone down from the Pre-COVID average of about $800K/year to about $600K in 202. Note, these are Gross values, as film permits include providing some services to the film industry which cost the City some money to provide – though we do have net “profit” from having this activity in town. This is also aside of the spin-off economic benefits to local residents and businesses that the industry brings, which is more than $1 Million a year.

This report also includes planned fee changes based on the first review of our fees in 5 years, and comparison to industry standards around the region.


We then adopted some Bylaws:

Heritage Designation (125 Third Street) Bylaw No. 8306, 2021
This Bylaw to designate this 1905 House in Queens Park and preserve it for posterity was adopted by Council.

Heritage Revitalization Agreement (323 Regina Street) Bylaw No. 8304, 2022
Heritage Designation (323 Regina Street) Bylaw No. 8305, 2022
These Bylaw that permits the construction of an infill house along with the designation of the existing 1928 house in Queens Park to preserve it for posterity was adopted by Council.

Housing Agreement (520 Eighth Street) Bylaw No. 8273, 2022
This Bylaw that secures rental tenure for 60 years or the life of this building (whichever is longer) was adopted by Council.


Finally, we had a Motion from Council:

Support for Bill C-229 – Banning Symbols of Hate Act Mayor Cote

New Westminster City Council endorses MP Peter Julian’s Private Member’s Bill C-229 – Banning Symbols of Hate Act.

We received correspondence from MP Julian seeking endorsement for this bill recently raised at the Parliament. The recent events in Ottawa has put this issue on the front burner but I do want to mark there has been some local action by residents (perhaps most vocally, Kevin McConnell) asking for action like this based on some local events and historic sales of Nazi-themed paraphernalia in New West. Council voted to send our endorsement of this bill, with a caveat regarding the need for some cultural nuance in some of the symbolism typically related to hate in our culture, and the need to differentiate that use of the symbol from some traditional or very culturally distinct uses of the same symbols before they were appropriated by hate groups.

And that was all for the Valentines Edition of the New West Council Report. Please share with those you love the most.

Council – Jan 31, 2022

The January 31 #NewWest Council meeting was a great blend of old and new, all done virtually because this plague keeps sticking around. The agenda was fairly light, but we started with two always exciting Pubic Hearings, both on heritage houses in Queens Park:

Heritage Designation: 125 Third Street
This property owner wants to “designate” their home in Queens Park, which results in a higher level of preservation than even the Heritage Conservation Area under which this house is already protected. Designation is the highest level of protection we can do in local government in BC for property we don’t own, and for all intents and purposes prevents the building form ever being demolished. This designation does not include an HRA, in that the homeowner is not asking for compensation through a zoning relaxation or other benefit, but this designation does not preclude them applying, in the future, for some changes of the land such has the building of a laneway house or changes to the building, but it would have to align with the Heritage Conservation principles inherent in the designation.

We received three written submissions on this application and one person spoke in favour. Council moved to give the Designation Third Reading, which means we supported it.

Heritage Revitalization Agreement 8304, 2022 and Heritage Designation 8305, 2022: 323 Regina Street
The owner of this house in Queens Park wants to build a laneway house, and is asking for two variances to allow that to happen, for setbacks and to allow the laneway house to be bigger than guidelines (1420sqft instead of 958sqft), in exchange for Designation of the main 1928 house which permanently protects it. The extra square footage of the laneway house is basement, so the effective surface expression will be similar to a typical 958sqft accessory building that meets the guidelines.

This project has changed a bit since first proposed, including a reduction in the size of the laneway house, based on earlier public feedback and committee review in the City. We had 10 written submissions and about a dozen people present at the Public Hearing, with a mix of support and opposition. Some concerns were raised about the restoration that had already occurred on the house, but the Community Heritage Commission supports this project, as the work previously done on the existing house meets the Standards and Guidelines typical of heritage restoration. There was also some concern about the density on site, though it meets the guidelines for above-ground massing, though it is located on a corner lot, so the laneway house faces the main road more than the lane.

Ultimately, the variances here are reasonable in my opinion, and the opportunity for intergenerational living and added housing diversity in Queens Park is aligned with our goals in the City. Council voted to support the application and give it three readings.


In the Council meeting that followed the Public Hearing, the following items were Moved on Consent:

Covid-19 Task Forces: Update
This is our regular update on work that staff are engaged in towards supporting the community during the COVID pandemic, with an emphasis on vulnerable populations.

Heritage Review Policy Update: Buildings on the Heritage Inventory
The Community Heritage Commission made a recommendation that we shift a bit how we review the heritage merits of buildings likely to face demolition or renovation through permit applications at the City. Every building that is older than 100 years is reviewed when an application comes in, and if there is heritage merit to the building, the potential for Heritage Restoration as part of the application is reviewed. This change would add “all building on the Heritage Registry” to this list, adding about 89 registered by less than 100-year-old buildings to this review process. This may actually simplify our internal process slightly, as it takes two separate streams in city processes and amalgamates them.

Housing Agreement Bylaw and Development Variance Permit to Vary Residential and Visitor Parking Requirements: 520 Eighth Street – Bylaw for Three Readings
This existing apartment building wants to convert some parking spaces to residential units. The building will go from 56 homes to 61 homes, but the parking count will go from 62 spaces to 49 spaces. As per our existing parking policy, the 5 new units don’t need parking, but the loss of existing parking does require a development variance. In exchange, we are entering into a Housing Agreement to secure all 61 units as rental for the life of the building or 60 years.

There units will be small, with the front partially below grade, they will be at grade at the back, and will be at the affordable end of the “market rental” scale (though not, regulated “affordable housing” where rents are set below market value by regulation). We have seen a few applications like this a parking need reduces in the rental market. The only variance here we are being asked for is the parking (not the building form, FSR, or anything like that). Council moved to give notice it will consider the development variance permit.

Recruitment 2022: Appointments to Advisory Committees, Commissions, Boards, and Panels
Staff brought recommendations to our last closed meeting on applicants for the various Advisory Committees in the City. Council approved the recommendations, and this is now released to the public. The City has taken greater effort to account for diversity in life experience and neighbourhood in our committee appointments, and though it is always positive to see new people signing up to join committees, but it is also sad to see some people not returning after having contributed their time and energy. Thank you to everyone who volunteers in to helping staff and council make better decisions for the entire community.

Summer 2022 Outdoor Aquatics Plan
With the CGP out of service, staff have been looking in how much we can practically expand the outdoor pool season, and did some public engagement to test the public’s interest in an expended outdoor season. Moody Park will be opening in April, and Hume (due to ongoing maintenance of the building) in June, while both will be planned to operate until October.

There are some details to be worked out with outdoor tented or shelter areas (because many pool users, especially youth, are accompanied by parents or other supporters when they attend the pool) and area heating for change areas or spectator areas. Unfortunately, completely covering a pool with a bubble as some suggested is prohibitively expensive, as much because it would involve some complicated HVAC / air handling engineering required by building and health codes, but hopefully we can make other areas a little more comfortable in mixed weather.


And the following item was Removed from Consent for discussion:

Canada Games Pool Fitness Centre Relocation Plan
As we all know now, the Canada Games Pool had some unexpected mechanical and structural failures that make it unusable. Not just the pool, but the water management and drainage systems that make it impossible to operate the fitness areas as there are no useable bathrooms, showers, or even hot water to clean and maintain the building.

The fitness equipment in the pool, from free weights to treadmills and elliptical trainers and other gym machines, were very heavily used by the wider community, even through various COVID-related restrictions. So staff were charged with the task of finding a way to make this equipment available to the community in our limited available community spaces without interrupting existing programs (fitness programs and pickle ball for the most part) using those other spaces.

The gym at the Centennial Community Centre is one of the few spaces in the City that can accommodate the range of fitness equipment currently at the CGP, however there are programs that operate out of that gym, and after some initial investigation of this option, it was made clear by the community that those programs are valued. So Staff found creative solutions to assure all of those programs can continue to operate at the same capacity as they have for the last few years. Some will move to a separate room in the Centennial Community Centre, some to the Centennial Lodge in Queens Park, and some to Century House. Herbert Spencer School is also going to help us out to host some community Pickleball.

The closure of the CGP is unfortunate, and untimely. We really hoped to keep it running until the TAAC was opened, with its expanded gyms and activity rooms that would allow us to grow these programs. Fortunately, staff have done an exceptional job shuffling the decks, and partners from the Arts Council (who do some programming in the Centennial Lodge), the Century House Association, and the School District have helped immensely in assuring every program has a home and secure place to operate.


Then we read some Bylaws including adopting the following:

Five-Year Financial Plan (2022 – 2026) Bylaw No. 8308, 2022 290
As previously discussed, the five year financial plan was adopted by Council, formalizing our budget for the upcoming year.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw (Bicycle Parking) No. 8231, 2021 295
As discussed back in October, these amendments to modify bicycle parking requirements and bicycle facility design standards for new buildings were adopted by Council.


Finally, we had a Motion from Council:

Maternity/Parental Leave, Councillors Trentadue and Nakagawa

Whereas the Local Government Act, Community Charter, and New Westminster Council Procedure Bylaw do not provide maternity and/or parental leave rights to elected officials; and
Whereas the absence of maternity and/or parental leave for local elected officials specifically disadvantages persons considering running for office and, hence, is a systemic barrier to attracting more diverse and representative candidates to local government; and
Whereas an elected official may want to take maternal and/or parental leave from their position and it is currently unclear as to this leave availability. It is unreasonable to expect the Councillor to have to rely on Council deliberations or “hope” that their request for leave will be accepted officially;
Therefore be it resolved that staff report back on options that would include common entitlements for maternity and/or parental leave for elected officials in the City of New Westminster following the birth or adoption of a child.

In recent work with UBCM and the Lower Mainland LGA, this has increasingly been seen as an overdue change. We are not the first community to take this step, but I think when we talk about removing systemic barriers to the work of representative government, this is often an overlooked area. I very much support this, and also strongly support us having strong policy guidance on this so people considering this work are not put in a position of uncertainty, and that leave options are not something only available at the whim of a council.

Council – Jan 10 2022!

A New Year, the same old Council Meeting report blog, starting with the same old “sorry I’m late, but things are busy!” lame excuse. Our January 10 meeting had a fairly light agenda, but started with a big presentation from staff:

Budget 2022: Five-Year Financial Plan 2022 – 2026
This is the last step in our annual budgeting process, the approving of a Bylaw that sets out the five-year financial plan as required by provincial law. There are lots of details here, and I should probably pump those over to a different blog post – coming soon!

Joy and Whimsy Initiative, Director of Parks & Recreation
2021 was a hard year for community. Not just our community, but the very idea of community. Many of the organizations and institutions that pull us together were struggling with shifting Public Health concerns as we stepped out and back into pandemic response. It was also a year where many of the Climate Change cheques we have been writing for 100 years started to get cashed in unpredictable but totally predicted ways. Trust me from the correspondence I receive in this job, people are anxious, uncertain, stressed. They need reason to smile.

Fortunately, the City’s grant process to community groups pivoted to help support events and ideas that drew community together within the limits available, and the City’s own Arts and Culture and Parks and Recreation folks developed programs to add to the joy and reduce a bit of the heaviness of the year. This report form Staff outline the successes of the programs. I heard a lot of positive feedback from the community about these small programs, and thank the community partners who helped make this happen.


The following items were Moved on Consent:

Heritage Revitalization Agreement (323 Regina Street) Bylaw No. 8304
This homeowner in Queens Park wants to build a larger-than-permitted Laneway House on a largish corner lot in exchange for permanent protection of the existing house. This will go to Public Hearing, so I’ll hold my comments until then.

Rezoning Application for Duplex: 122 Eighth Avenue – Preliminary Report
This homeowner in Glenbrooke North wants ot build a largish duplex where there is currently a smaller house. This is just a preliminary report to see if Council has any red flags, and it will have to go through consultation and committee review, and possibly a Public Hearing, so I’ll hold my comments until then. Frankly, I’m wondering why a property development that requires no variances from what is permitted even has to go through this onerous process, and why the density being proposed in such a high-services neighbourhood is so low.

Rezoning Application for Infill Townhouse: 337 and 339 Keary Street – Preliminary Report to Council
A developer want to build 9 townhouse-style homes on two lots in Upper Sapperton, and this is a preliminary report to see if Council has any read flags before it goes to consultation and detailed review. This looks like a positive family-friendly “missing middle” approach, the only unfortunate part being the space and livability loss due to the need to accommodate cars. Alas.

Update regarding Downtown Livability Strategy
I brought a motion to Council back in October, asking staff to be proactive at addressing some short-term and longer-term livability issues in Downtown. This is an update report on short-term measures that have been rolled out in the last few months. Primarily the interdepartmental team (Engineering, Police, Fire, Bylaws, Planning) have been emphasizing tactics (things we can and need to do now) over strategies (things we think we might want to do). These include ramped up outreach to people living unhoused, have worked to connect with and support the businesses operating downtown, worked with partners to respond to the impacts of mental health and addiction on residents, and have worked to improve cleanliness and improve access to public toilets. Staff have been re-assigned and had hours adjusted to make these things happen, and there is a constant effort to evaluate and shift how things are done to get better results. There is also some medium-term work being addressed, such as better coordination with TransLink on the station areas and looking towards more permanent public toilet options.

There is a lot here in this report, but I’m really proud of how all the departments of the City are working together to best support the entire community here, and how partner agencies from the BIA to BC housing are engaging. It is ongoing work, but we are already seeing results. Now if Metro can get that damn sewer project out of the way…

Uptown Active Transportation Improvements Projects: Design and Engagement Update
After a *lot* of public engagement, we are at a place where staff are comfortable moving forward with some concrete changes to the Crosstown Greenway and connecting this to the High School – a key Active Transportation connection. There has been a monumental amount of engagement here with alternate models demonstrated, it is time to get to work.

Some of the work is going to be done using less expensive material and a relatively rapid response (similar to the Agnes Street Greenway) that nonetheless provides protection for active transportation users. There will also be some loss of parking, which will no doubt disappoint some folks, but these corridors are vital for pedestrians, for transit users, and for cyclists (the transportation modes prioritized in our Master Transportation Plan), and displacing a few parking spaces is consistent not only with the MTP, but with our OCP and the City’s Bold Steps on climate action. If we are not willing to give up a block or two of reduced parking to achieve safe, protected, accessible active transportation, then we will never get there with any of those plans.


The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

Alcohol in Parks Program: 2021 Review
This report outlines the public feedback received on the alcohol in parks program last year. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive (more than 80% or respondents approve the program – a higher proportion of respondents than even told us they took advantage of it!) There is a slight bias towards expanding the program vs. shrinking it. Staff also did not note any increased workload, enforcement, or other problems. They are recommending keeping the program where it is, and looking to improve litter and recycling opportunities related to the areas of parks where the program is offered.

Amendments to the 2022 Schedule of Council Meetings
Staff have recommended a slight shift in Public Hearing dates, and I did not agree with this change, preferring we keep with the original schedule. With these changes we would have 7 ½ months without a Public Hearing. I don’t know what projects – affordable housing, rezonings, new developments – are on the queue for that period, but I am not comfortable with the risk of creating a backlog at a time when we are still facing a housing crisis, an affordability crisis, etc. The city needs to keep working and moving this important work forward.

BC Superweek Pro-Cycling Series: New West Grand Prix
There is a *lot* of uncertainty in regards to whether the Grand Prix can happen in 2022. As this race is part of BC Superweek, which is a professional event relying on Continental-level talent coming to BC to compete, we just don’t know what Public Health and travel restrictions will be in place in July. That said, it is unlikely that an event in Downtown New West can happen in 2022 as a couple of construction sites are in the way and the schedule for the Pattullo Bridge road closures in not yet certain.

So we have asked Staff to not yet give up on the race, but to continue to engage with the Superweek team to determine what a timeline to certainty is, and when we would have to commit time and resources if we chose to go forward in 2022. At the same time, Staff are asked to evaluate alternate locations for 2022 if the (epic, hilly, and unique) Downtown course is not viable. As talked about above, I want us to not shrink away from events if they can happen safely, as I think people need a reason to get together and celebrate their City.

So we are not committing to do it yet, but we are not yet committing to not doing it.


We then read some Bylaws, including adopting the following:

Development Cost Charge Reserve Funds Expenditure Bylaw No. 8307, 2021
As discussed on December 13, we need a Bylaw to authorize expenditures from the City’s Development Cost Charge reserves – the money developers give the city to pay for the infrastructure needs related to growth. This is that Bylaw, and it is adopted by Council.


Finally we had a Motion from Council:

Smoking Bylaws Review Mayor Cote

THAT Council request staff to conduct a review and scan of smoking bylaws in municipalities in British Columbia and report back to Council with a preliminary assessment and options to enhance New Westminster smoking bylaws.

We made a few changes to our smoking bylaws around when the federal government legalized recreational cannabis, but these bylaws are a bit complex, here and in every other jurisdiction. We get quite a few complaints about nuisance smoke, so it is definitely timely for us to have a review and compare our Bylaws to what is happening around the region, and to see if there is anything further we can do to reduce these conflicts.

And that was it for the first meeting of 2022. Happy New Year everyone.