On 616 & 640 Sixth Street, New Westminster

616 & 640 Sixth Street in New Westminster are two buildings next to each other that are looking to get rezoned. The developer wants to replace the two two-storey commercial buildings with a building that will have over 12,000 square feet of street level commercial, 142 market strata residential units, and 95 secured market rental residential units. It will also have a 1700 square foot public plaza at the corner of Sixth Street and Seventh Avenue.

The building will be located along the Crosstown Greenway, which runs along Seventh Avenue. It’s also situated directly on the Frequent Transit Network (106 between New West and Edmonds), is two blocks from a second bus route on the FTN (123 between New West and Brentwood), and is a block from four other bus routes, all of which connect to seven SkyTrain stations. It’s located in New Westminster’s Uptown neighbourhood, which is an incredibly walkable location that includes grocery stores, doctors, dollar stores, restaurants, dentists, local and small businesses, and a wide range of other shops and services.

In short, it’s a perfect location for more homes for more neighbours.

But unfortunately one of the business owners who would be displaced (but would receive reduced rent, financial assistance for relocation costs, and relocation assistance through the developer’s network of commercial brokers) has started an anti-housing pro-“build nothing” group that likes to say NO to everything on Facebook, and he’s trying to rally his troops to go to the public hearing on June 24 to say NO to more homes for more neighbours. One of the things they’ve latched onto is the separate entrances for the rental and strata units in the proposed building, and they’re going to use this (and probably the typical arguments about traffic or views or noise) to try to convince Council to put a halt to this development.

My views? Here’s the letter I’m sending to Council outlining my views.

Dear Mayor and Council,

My name is Brad Cavanagh, and I am a resident of New Westminster. I am writing to you in support of Zoning Bylaw Amendment No. 7997, 2019 regarding 616 and 640 Sixth Street.

New Westminster, like the rest of Metro Vancouver, is in a housing crisis. The recent minor dip in housing prices has in no way alleviated this. Housing prices are still unaffordable for everybody but the rich. Rental vacancy rates are at historic lows. Rental housing is largely unstable and a source of concern and stress for a huge number of our neighbours. We need to build more secure rental housing, and the proposed development at 616 and 640 Sixth Street will help deliver this.

With 95 secured market rental units, 41 of which are 2-bedrooms and larger, this development will provide stable housing for more families and, more importantly, help reduce some of the competition for similar, older units in our city. 142 market strata units will invite 142 more families to our neighbourhoods and city, where they can enrich our urban landscape. How many of the 237 families will open new shops in our city? How many will open new restaurants? How many will bring new cultures and new experiences? How many will volunteer in our festivals, or start new non-profits? Our city is enriched with each new person and family who moves here, and this development will continue that enrichment.

The proposed development is in the Uptown neighbourhood, one of New Westminster’s most vibrant and walkable. It boasts restaurants, small and local businesses, doctors, grocery stores, dentists, and a wide range of other shops and services. The location is directly on the Frequent Transit Network linking residents to two SkyTrain stations, and with five other bus routes within two blocks, residents can get to any one of seven different SkyTrain stations. It is also located on the Crosstown Greenway, which allows for easy bicycle access to four elementary schools and one middle school. There will also be four car share parking spots for families in the neighbourhood who decide to go car-free or car-light. Transportation is not a problem with this proposal.

The only sticking point with this proposed development is the separate entrances for strata and rental units. It must be noted that in the proposed development there are essentially two buildings within the same envelope. If the proposal had two separate buildings, there would be nearly no controversy over the separate entrances, and this was exactly the case for the development at 813 Carnarvon Street, where two buildings were built for different residential tenures with separate entrances, yet there was little discussion about this, if any.

Now is not the time to stop sorely needed housing to address this issue. City Staff has already begun researching the topic of separation of common areas between different residential tenures, and I would ask that City Council make this formal and ask City Staff to continue to research the topic with the intention of writing clear policy in this area for future developments. Staff should continue to look to Vancouver and neighbouring cities, along with others across British Columbia and Canada, and learn from their experiences to develop a policy that treats all residents respectfully and fairly, regardless of how they live.

I ask that you approve Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 7997 and also direct City Staff to continue to develop policy surrounding separate entrances, amenities, and common areas for different residential tenures in future developments.

Brad Cavanagh.

If you would like to write a letter about this proposed rezoning, you can do so by emailing clerks@newwestcity.ca. Make sure to mention Zoning Bylaw Amendment No. 7997! And please do read the material as well, there’s a lot of interesting information in there that I didn’t even touch upon, like how the commercial spaces are going to be flexible and resizable, or how electric vehicle charging infrastructure will be built for every residential parking spot, or how there will be a total of 316 bicycle parking spots!

On SD40 and their Child Care Space funding request

Recently New Westminster’s school district (SD40) took a look at asking the provincial government for funding to supply some child care spaces at their schools. This is great! Child care is lacking in New Westminster and we need more.

What isn’t great is that the school district plans to ask for funding for 136 spaces for children that aren’t attending New Westminster schools. I don’t think that this is acceptable, so I wrote a letter to the New West Board of Education to ask them to fund school age child care spaces. Here’s the letter!

Dear SD40 Board of Education,

My name is Brad Cavanagh, I am a New Westminster resident and parent of a child at Qayqayt Elementary. I am writing to you regarding the proposed request for provincial funding for addition of child care spaces at four New Westminster schools. The proposed plan would request funding for 136 spaces for infants, toddlers, and children from ages of 3 to 5.

In my opinion, this plan is inadequate and contrary to what the school district should be requesting.

There is a need for child care spaces for children of all ages in New Westminster; this is not in question. However, infant, toddler, and preschool age child care spaces are relatively easier to open by third parties than school age spaces are. Logistics alone make school age child care spaces difficult, as getting children to and from school is challenging. Finding employees who can work split shifts across eleven hours of the day can be difficult. Leasing a space that remains empty for nearly seven hours a day is expensive, or requires complicated sharing arrangements. This all leads to a lack of child care spaces for school aged children. Having funding provided by the provincial government for child care spaces at schools these spaces will help with some of these logistical difficulties.

Further, the role of the school district is to provide education and services for school age children. The school district already provides services for this age group, and providing before and after school spaces for this age group slots in well with those services and aligns with the school district’s purpose.

The report states that the District recognizes the importance of child care on site at its schools to support families, enrolment and welcoming future students to school communities. Shouldn’t the District’s current students be a priority?

Anecdotally, I recently asked my daughter’s before and after school care provider (Westminster Children’s After School Society at Qayqayt Elementary) if they had any open spaces, as a friend’s before and after school care provider will be closing in May. They told me that not only do they not have any openings, they have a waitlist of nearly 180 children. Their other centres have huge waitlists as well; this is not a number that’s out of the ordinary for this school age child care provider.

I urge you to consider modifying the request for child care funding to drastically increase the number of school age child care spaces, as it aligns with the school district’s purpose and better serves children that currently attend New Westminster’s schools.

Brad Cavanagh.

My 2018 Running Year

For 2018 I had one running goal: run a total of 1000 kilometers. I started out the year strong, putting in 116.7 km in January. On November 19 I ran 9.37 kilometers through New West to hit that 1000 kilometers mark. Goal achieved!

Along the way I ran five races:

So what are my running goals for 2019?

  1. Run a total of 1000 km. Obviously achievable, and it keeps me motivated to go out for those 5:30am runs.
  2. PB in the BMO Vancouver Marathon 8k. This is one of my favourite races of the year, with a nice flat course through Stanley Park. This year’s race was an 8k PB, and then I crushed that by nearly a minute and a half at the AWS re:Invent 8k in Las Vegas at the end of the year. A 33:39 at the BMO 8k would put me solidly in the top three for my age category, which I’ve done the past two years.
  3. Complete 60% of New Westminster’s streets on CityStrides. I’m currently at 46%, and increasing this to 60% would mean stretching runs out to the West End, Connaught Heights, Sapperton, and Massey Victory Heights. And 60% means I don’t have to do super-long runs to get out to Queensborough.

If you want to follow me on my goals, follow me on Strava!

How Did New Westminster’s Neighbourhoods Vote? Part 2: Individual Polling Stations

In my last post I looked at how the different candidates (and teams) gained and lost votes from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. In this post I’m going to look at who won each polling station (but only those used on election day, I’m not looking at advance voting). This is different from the previous look because Team Cote won the overall election by a wide margin (the difference between Chuck Puchmayr in 6th and Daniel Fontaine in 7th was 1300 votes), so even if the New West Progressives did manage to swing a polling station by 50 votes, it may not have made much of a difference in that polling station’s end numbers.

And that’s pretty much the case. For council, Team Cote swept thirteen out of the sixteen polling stations. At Herbert Spencer Daniel Fontaine beat out Chuck Puchmayr by 12 votes (396 to 384) to take sixth place. Fontaine won F.W. Howay, and Ellen Vaillancourt tied with Jaimie McEvoy for the sixth position with 141 votes. Queen Elizabeth saw all four New West Progressive council candidates in the top six, with Nadine Nakagawa in fourth and Chuck Puchmayr in sixth.

If we put this another way, Nadine Nakagawa was in the top six at every polling station. Patrick Johnstone, Mary Trentadue, Chinu Das, and Jaimie McEvoy were in the top six at fifteen out of sixteen, Chuck Puchmayr was in the top six at fourteen out of sixteen, Daniel Fontaine was in the top six at three out of sixteen, Ellen Vaillancourt was in the top six at two out of sixteen, and Paul McNamara and Bryn Ward were in the top six at one polling station.

The school trustee election was a little more wide open, which isn’t surprising as neither team fielded an entire slate of candidates. Of the candidates that did not get elected, Alejandro Diaz was in the top seven at five out of sixteen polling stations (his top result was at Herbert Spencer, tying for second with Dee Beattie with 406 votes), Cyrus Sy at four (fifth at F.W. Howay and Queen Elizabeth), Lisa Falbo at three (third at Queen Elizabeth), and Lisa Graham at two (third at F.W. Howay).

Of those who were elected, Anita Ansari, Dee Beattie, and Danielle Connelly were in the top seven at every polling station. Gurveen Dhaliwal, and Mark Gifford made it to the top seven at fourteen of sixteen, Maya Russell at thirteen, and Mary Lalji at nine.

If I were to provide analysis on this, I would say that New West city council has a city-wide mandate for their platform, excepting Queensborough. Even though they did worse than their city-wide average in other neighbourhoods such as Massey Victory Heights (which is where F.W. Howay pulls its voters from) they still have enough support that they would have easily had a strong majority on council from votes in those neighbourhoods.

The school board is a little murkier, but still shows a strong support for Team Cote’s candidates. Danielle Connelly, despite ending up sixth in the overall count, shows support from every neighbourhood in the city. This is in sharp contrast to her fellow New West Progressive candidates who showed varying and spiky support from a handful of neighbourhoods. My belief is that this is because Danielle Connelly is a strong candidate who has strong support in the community because of her involvement in the wider community for some time.

Here’s a question to chew on: Was Danielle Connelly helped or hindered by running with the New West Progressives?

Of the independent school trustee candidates, I was surprised at how well Alejandro Diaz did. I was not at all expecting him to place second at a polling station, even the one that’s essentially his “home” station (he lives in the Queens Park neighbourhood, and Herbert Spencer is usually seen as “Queens Park’s polling station”), and finishing in the top seven at five of the polling stations is a strong showing for a new independent candidate. I’m not surprised that Lisa Graham did well at F.W. Howay, as that’s her “home” station and she has some name recognition from her previous time on the school board.

Here are the top results from each of the polling stations:

Century House
585 Chuck Puchmayr
579 Nadine Nakagawa
575 Jaimie McEvoy
553 Patrick Johnstone
552 Mary Trentadue
489 Chinu Das

535 Mark Gifford
508 Anita Ansari
482 Dee Beattie
443 Danielle Connelly
437 Maya Russell
427 Gurveen Dhaliwal
362 Lisa Falbo
Connaught Heights
292 Nadine Nakagawa
279 Patrick Johnstone
278 Chinu Das
277 Chuck Puchmayr
274 Mary Trentadue
248 Jaimie McEvoy

293 Anita Ansari
272 Gurveen Dhaliwal
263 Mark Gifford
240 Dee Beattie
222 Maya Russell
214 Danielle Connelly
209 Mary Lalji
Fraser River Middle School
392 Nadine Nakagawa
335 Patrick Johnstone
333 Jaimie McEvoy
325 Chinu Das
324 Mary Trentadue
292 Chuck Puchmayr

312 Anita Ansari
295 Dee Beattie
286 Mark Gifford
284 Gurveen Dhaliwal
274 Maya Russell
188 Danielle Connelly
187 Alejandro Diaz
F.W. Howay
169 Daniel Fontaine
164 Mary Trentadue
157 Patrick Johnstone
147 Chinu Das
146 Nadine Nakagawa
141 (tie) Jaimie McEvoy
141 (tie) Ellen Vaillancourt

173 Mary Lalji
169 Danielle Connelly
164 Lisa Graham
159 Dee Beattie
142 Cyrus Sy
138 Anita Ansari
135 Lisa Falbo
Glenbrook Middle School
331 Nadine Nakagawa
324 Patrick Johnstone
318 Chuck Puchmayr
311 Mary Trentadue
296 (tie) Chinu Das
296 (tie) Jaimie McEvoy

322 Dee Beattie
295 Anita Ansari
283 (tie) Gurveen Dhaliwal
283 (tie) Mark Gifford
265 Maya Russell
259 Danielle Connelly
243 Mary Lalji
Glenbrook Park Amenities Centre
368 Nadine Nakagawa
365 Patrick Johnstone
356 Jaimie McEvoy
347 Mary Trentadue
336 Chuck Puchmayr
312 Chinu Das

363 Dee Beattie
322 Anita Ansari
310 Mark Gifford
275 Gurveen Dhaliwal
274 Maya Russell
232 Danielle Connelly
228 Cyrus Sy
Herbert Spencer
486 Mary Trentadue
484 Patrick Johnstone
468 Nadine Nakagawa
420 Jaimie McEvoy
417 Chinu Das
396 Daniel Fontaine

423 Mary Lalji
406 (tie) Dee Beattie
406 (tie) Alejandro Diaz
405 Gurveen Dhaliwal
397 Mark Gifford
385 Danielle Connelly
372 Anita Ansari
Lord Kelvin
279 Nadine Nakagawa
263 Mary Trentadue
249 Chinu Das
235 Patrick Johnstone
232 Chuck Puchmayr
213 Jaimie McEvoy

240 Anita Ansari
224 Mark Gifford
216 Dee Beattie
205 Gurveen Dhaliwal
199 Maya Russell
159 Danielle Connelly
158 Mary Lalji
279 Nadine Nakagawa
273 Chinu Das
260 Mary Trentadue
259 (tie) Patrick Johnstone
259 (tie) Jaimie McEvoy
224 Chuck Puchmayr

271 Anita Ansari
246 Dee Beattie
227 Gurveen Dhaliwal
221 Maya Russell
215 Mark Gifford
159 Danielle Connelly
153 Alejandro Diaz
Queen Elizabeth
658 Daniel Fontaine
622 Paul McNamara
585 Bryn Ward
581 Nadine Nakagawa
567 Ellen Vaillancourt
509 Chuck Puchmayr

668 Gurveen Dhaliwal
615 Danielle Connelly
605 Lisa Falbo
599 Anita Ansari
555 Cyrus Sy
469 Mary Lalji
458 Dee Beattie
Richard McBride
359 Patrick Johnstone
340 Nadine Nakagawa
335 Mary Trentadue
305 Chinu Das
288 Jaimie McEvoy
259 Chuck Puchmayr

291 Anita Ansari
290 Danielle Connelly
288 Maya Russell
282 Dee Beattie
277 Mary Lalji
272 Mark Gifford
248 Cyrus Sy
Riverbend Housing Co-op
510 Nadine Nakagawa
481 Patrick Johnstone
466 Mary Trentadue
465 Jaimie McEvoy
443 Chinu Das
440 Chuck Puchmayr

437 Anita Ansari
389 Dee Beattie
384 Mark Gifford
370 Gurveen Dhaliwal
354 Maya Russell
294 Danielle Connelly
255 Alejandro Diaz
Royal Westminster Armoury
476 Nadine Nakagawa
422 Mary Trentadue
419 Patrick Johnstone
418 Jaimie McEvoy
376 Chuck Puchmayr
365 Chinu Das

362 Anita Ansari
359 Dee Beattie
351 Mark Gifford
327 Danielle Connelly
323 Gurveen Dhaliwal
304 Maya Russell
300 Alejandro Diaz
St. Aidan’s
325 Nadine Nakagawa
298 Patrick Johnstone
294 Mary Trentadue
275 Chinu Das
272 Chuck Puchmayr
249 Jaimie McEvoy

285 Anita Ansari
268 Gurveen Dhaliwal
250 Mark Gifford
236 Dee Beattie
230 Mary Lalji
220 Maya Russell
217 Danielle Connelly
St. Barnabas
310 Nadine Nakagawa
273 Jaimie McEvoy
261 Mary Trentadue
248 Chuck Puchmayr
239 Patrick Johnstone
234 Chinu Das

251 Anita Ansari
249 Dee Beattie
232 Mark Gifford
228 Maya Russell
213 Gurveen Dhaliwal
191 Danielle Connelly
170 Lisa Graham
Sapperton Pensioners Hall
438 Nadine Nakagawa
420 Patrick Johnstone
399 Mary Trentadue
390 Chinu Das
375 Jaimie McEvoy
349 Chuck Puchmayr

442 Dee Beattie
413 Anita Ansari
335 Maya Russell
326 Gurveen Dhaliwal
325 Danielle Connelly
312 Mark Gifford
252 Mary Lalji

How Did New West’s Neighbourhoods Vote?

The voting results are out for each polling station for the 2018 Municipal Election in New Westminter, and I created a spreadsheet to take a look at how the different neighbourhoods voted. I calculated a “Votes Gained/Lost” value for each candidate for each polling station which compares the actual votes they got with the number they should have got had that polling station voted exactly how the city-wide numbers went. For example, Jonathan Cote was voted for on 71.56% of the ballots across the city, but in the Advance City Hall polling station he received 76.58%. Out of the 1059 total votes cast at Advance City Hall he “should have” received 758 votes but actually received 811, so he over-performed by 53 votes.

There are some interesting patterns to look at. The most obvious one is…


Team Cote got destroyed in Queensborough at both the Advance Voting and the Queen Elizabeth polling station. Maybe “destroyed” is too strong a word, so let’s just say they didn’t do well. If you group the Advance voting and the election day voting, the average Team Cote council candidate under-performed by 136 votes. Jonathan Cote underperformed by 158 votes. The New West Progressives over-performed by an average of 209 votes. If you took only the election-day Queensborough votes as representative for the whole city, council would have all four NWP candidates on it, along with Nadine Nakagawa and Chuck Puchmayr.

In the Mayor’s race, Jonathan Cote’s votes (-158) went largely to Jimmie Bell (+69) and Nikki Binns (+41). Harm Woldring only picked up 10 votes in Queensborough.

I have a theory about why this happened: Temporary Modular Housing. The New West Progressives were largely silent about how they would have voted for the controversial subject, and one of the people who spear-headed the anti-TMH movement was heavily involved in volunteering for the NWP in Queensborough. This leads me to believe that the NWP were pushing the “yes to the project but not in this location” (which was Bryn Ward’s answer when asked how she would have voted) which played well to the voters in that neighbourhood.

Also, the NWP campaigned heavily in Queensborough, even targeting the neighbourhood with a special part of their platform.

As for school trustee candidates, Gurveen Dhaliwal bucked the trend, over-performing in Queensborough by 169 votes. This isn’t surprising given Ms. Dhaliwal was born and raised in Queensborough, and has extensive ties to the community there. Anita Ansari also did well, over-performing by 9 votes. The NWP school trustees also rode the orange wave, especially Lisa Falbo, who over-performed by 231 votes.

Advance Voting

Team Cote really promoted advance voting, especially at the Lawn Bowling Club, and their efforts paid off (except at Queensborough), with an average over-performance of 46 votes, compared to the NWP under-performing by 19 votes. They also did well at City Hall, with every Team Cote candidate doing better than their city-wide performance.

Other Patterns

Century House was a bit of a puzzle for me. I was expecting Chinu Das to do better there, given her extensive volunteering and connections with seniors. She underperformed by 45 votes there, while fellow Team Cote council candidates Jaimie McEvoy (+34) and Chuck Puchmayr (+60) did well. It wasn’t an incumbent bump either, as Patrick Johnstone (-25) and Mary Trentadue (-21) did worse. And it wasn’t an NWP stronghold either, as every council candidate underperformed except for Bryn Ward, who got the expected number of votes.

Team Cote did well at Fraser River Middle School, overperforming by 31 votes for council candidates and 20 for school trustee candidates. Compare these numbers with the NWP’s: -51 for council candidates and -46 for school trustee candidates.

F.W.Howay looks a lot like Queensborough. NWP council candidates over-performed by 26 votes and school trustee candidates by 25 votes, while Team Cote had -30 and -25, respectively. F.W.Howay was Lisa Graham’s best result, where she over-performed by 71 votes. Mary Lalji also did well, picking up 50 votes.

At Herbert Spencer the New West Progressives did well, picking up 33 votes for council and 13 for school trustee candidates, despite Lisa Falbo under-performing by 18 votes. School trustee candidate Alejandro Diaz did best here, picking up a whopping 129 votes. Mary Lalji also over-performed by 98 votes.

Qayqayt Elementary and Riverbend Housing Co-op can be considered to be the two downtown polling stations, and in each location Team Cote over-performed and the New West Progressives underperformed.

Richard McBride was a mixed bag. NWP school trustee candidate Danielle Connelly and Team Cote school trustee candidate Maya Russell are both involved with that school, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that both candidates did better there than their city-wide vote. They both also over-performed at Sapperton Pensioners Hall just down the street. Also doing well at SPH was Team Cote school trustee candidate Dee Beattie, who lives in Sapperton and is very involved in that community.

Glenbrook Middle School is the polling station that most closely matches the city’s overall voting (although strictly speaking I didn’t do the calculation correctly, I should use the standard deviation in the percentage difference and not the standard deviation in the “votes changed/lost”, but it’s close enough for government work).

Metro Vancouver’s Street Network Orientations – Updated!

🎉🎉🎉 Hey! If you’ve seen this post in the last couple of days, I have some updates for you at the end! 🎉🎉🎉

A couple of months ago, Geoff Boeing released a paper titled Urban Spatial Order: Street Network Orientation, Configuration, and Entropy. Basically, he looked at the directions that a city’s street network runs, and developed plots that display those orientations in a very clear and easy-to-understand format.

And because Dr. Boeing is awesome, he made the package (OSMnx) that makes all this happen open source, and better yet, put out a great set of examples, including the code that made the street network orientation graphs!

So of course I had to adapt it for some Metro Vancouver municipalities!

Metro Vancouver street network orientations

What you’re seeing here is basically counts of each street’s direction lumped into a plot. Take Port Coquitlam as an example. Most of its streets run north-south or east-west, but there are a few that run northwest-southeast.

There are a few obvious takeaways:

  1. Almost everybody is on a tight north-south/east-west grid.
  2. Belcarra is special because it’s small and its street network is super curvy.
  3. Welcome to New West, where everything is off by 45 degrees.
  4. A little bit of New West’s skew bleeds into Burnaby.
  5. Port Moody and West Vancouver both have sections that aren’t on a grid.

I didn’t get North Vancouver (either of them) in there because I couldn’t figure out how to get results for North Vancouver, and I’m not entirely sure if that’s actually Langley City or both Langleys lumped together. See below, I fixed all this (and it’s Langley City)!

The notebook is in my Azure Notebooks OSMnx Library (notebooks/17-street-network-orientations.ipynb), but at the time I wrote this blog post there was something hinky going on with Azure Notebooks so you might not be able to access it I was having issues with cookies that I’ve since resolved so you can probably get to them.

🎉🎉 Here’s the update! 🎉🎉

I figured out how to get the North Vancouvers and Langley Township into the analysis, and I also added Bowen Island and Lions Bay. Here are the updated plots, one for every municipality in Metro Vancouver:

Street Network Orientations for Metro Vancouver

I also got a few questions when I posted this page on Reddit:

Where did Kingsway go? The algorithm looks at every street in a city, and weights them equally. Kingsway is just one street, so it gets completely overwhelmed by every other N-S/E-W street in Vancouver or Burnaby.

Does this include lanes? I answered on Reddit that I didn’t know, but a comment from Jens von Bergman suggests that it does.

Do non-contiguous streets get counted twice? Yes, although not for the reason you might think. The algorithm looks at street segments, which are pieces of street between intersections and street ends, and not just at the total length of a street.

Does this factor in street length? Not this one, no! It counts each street segment the same, so if you had a street segment (remember, it’s the distance between intersections) that was a kilometer long, it would count the same as a street segment that’s only ten meters long. But the algorithm does have an option to weight street segments by length, so that kilometer-long segment would count 100 times as much as the ten meter long one. Here’s what the graphs look like for Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey, and Vancouver for that scenario:

Street Network Orientations calculated using street segment length weighting

On Reddit I actually got the analysis of this wrong! This actually highlights the difference in block lengths between the different grid systems and has less to do with the physical dimensions of the city. In Surrey, the grid is very square. In Burnaby and Vancouver, blocks are longer along the E-W streets than they are on the N-S streets, and this is what shows up in the charts.

How come the Downtown core of Vancouver doesn’t contribute to a clockwise rotation? Because Vancouver’s Downtown (and West End) are a relatively small fraction of the total size of Vancouver! The tilted section of Vancouver on the downtown peninsula is roughly six square kilometers. The whole city of Vancouver is 115 square kilometers, so that downtown-ish area is about 5% of the whole city. If you zoom into the Vancouver graphs, the small tilted blip is about 5% the height of the major E-W/N-S spikes, so it all lines up as it should!

ACTBiPed Meeting Report for September 19, 2018

I’ve really been dropping the ball on these ACTBiPed reports. After missing out on reporting on two, I’m a month late for the September 19, 2018 meeting. Sorry! Here’s the agenda package for the meeting so you can follow along at home.

We started off discussing a pedestrian-controlled crossing that will be installed near the corner of Royal Avenue and 11th Street. There’s a lot going on here to unpack. First, it’ll be crossing Royal Avenue, part of TransLink’s Major Road Network and a truck route through New Westminster. It’s at the bottom of a hill, which means that vehicles are moving quickly (67.5 km/h on average in a 50 km/h zone). The vehicles are often heavy trucks which require more distance to stop. All of this means that New Westminster can’t just throw up a traffic light and call it done, there’s coordination with TransLink that needs to happen.

That coordination is happening, and TransLink requires an Advance Warning Flasher be installed on the eastbound direction of Royal Avenue. The city is also going to extend the median along Royal Avenue from Columbia Street towards the crossing, and install fencing along the median so pedestrians cannot cross the street except at the crosswalk. Discussion around the table seemed to focus on the fencing as a bunch of people feel that it’s hostile to pedestrians (I’m not included in that group, because I feel that this location is a good spot for such a fence — other locations I’d be resistant to it). There was also talk about controlling some of the turns from driveways or 11th Street there, as drivers may be looking one way while pedestrians are crossing where they’re not looking.

Construction should be starting soon with projected completion in early 2019.

Next up: bus shelters! New Westminster is going to get (at least) four new bus shelters by the end of 2018:

  • Agnes Street eastbound at Elliot Street (stop is serviced by the 103 and 105)
  • 6th Avenue eastbound at 6th Street (stop is serviced by the 155)
  • 8th Street northbound at 3rd Avenue (stop is serviced by the 123)
  • 8th Street southbound at 3rd Avenue (stop is serviced by the 123)

We then received a report from staff concerning transit stop accessibility. New Westminster’s goal is to have 100% of the bus stops in the city be accessible, where feasible and where bus ramps are deployable. Because of New Westminster’s topography, 98% of the bus stops in the city have the potential to be accessible.

In 2006 52% of the city’s bus stops were accessible, and in 2017 that percentage has risen to 94%, which is the highest percentage of all the cities in Metro Vancouver. But it’s not good enough! There are still 9 bus stops in New Westminster that have the potential to be made accessible. Coast Mountain Bus Company has approved funding of $11,250 to go towards the city’s 2018 Accessible Transit Stop program, which means four more transit stops can be made accessible in 2018. There are two along Ewen Avenue, one on 6th Street (stop 52421 at 5th Avenue, serviced by the 106) and one on Richmond Street (stop 53616 at the graveyard, serviced by the 155).

These four will bring New Westminster’s bus stop accessibility up to 96% with five stops remaining.

There was a report about spot improvements to the Brunette Fraser Regional Greenway, particularly in the industrial section east of Sapperton. Go check it out in the agenda for all the details!

Then came a report and discussion about the overpass going in over Stewardson Way near Grimston Park, a long-standing issue for nearby residents since the Queensborough Bridge connections were “improved” for vehicles. The new multi-use bridge should be started soon with the completion in March 2019.

The bridge spurred discussion about the BC Parkway, which this bridge will tie into and potentially cause more foot and bicycle traffic on. There’s a section of the BC Parkway along Stewardson Way that’s incomplete between 5th Avenue and 14th Street. There used to be a gravel path on property owned by Southern Rail Yards but they fenced it off due to liability concerns, forcing pedestrians and cyclists to share a sidewalk directly adjacent to Stewardson Way. City staff has been in discussions with SRY to re-open the gravel path by offering various concessions (assuming liability, using city funds to pave it, etc) but SRY is very resistant to these improvements.

ACTBiPed passed a motion to advise council to direct staff to keep up the pressure on SRY and hopefully come to an agreement that will make pedestrians and cyclists safer along this stretch of the BC Parkway.

And that was our September 19th meeting!

The Official 2018 New Westminster Election Playlist!

I admit, I had an ulterior motive behind my questions, and that was gathering enough answers for the “what is your entrance music” question to make this post! Without further ado, here is the Official 2018 New Westminster Election Playlist!

  1. Jimi Hendrix – Little Wing (Nadine Nakagawa)
  2. Foreigner – Jukebox Hero (Troy Hunter)
  3. Louis Armstrong – What A Wonderful World (Chinu Das and Angela Sealy)
  4. Radiohead – The National Anthem (Patrick Johnstone)
  5. Guns N’ Roses – Welcome To The Jungle (Chuck Puchmayr)
  6. Michael Jackson – Man In The Mirror (Bryn Ward)
  7. Supertramp – Cannonball (Michael Ireland)
  8. Aretha Franklin – Respect (Mary Trentadue)
  9. Bob Dylan – The Times They Are a-Changin’ (Harm Woldring)
  10. Theme Song to Rocky (Jonathan X. Cote)
  11. Béla Bartók – Violin Concerto No. 2, BB 117 (Jaimie McEvoy)
  12. Alice Cooper – Elected (Benny Ogden)

And as a bonus track for those who didn’t reply:

  1. Simon & Garfunkel – The Sound of Silence (Daniel Fontaine, Paul McNamara, Ellen Vaillancourt, Nikki Binns, and Jimmie Bell)

Unanswered questions for the New West Progressives

I’ll start this post off with one of the items in the New West Progressives’ platform:

Connecting our citizens to various city programs and services is vital if we are to build a strong sense of community and public engagement. As a team, we commit to facilitating more submissions and feedback to council via social media channels such as YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Over the past month or so I have asked a number of questions about the New West Progressives’ platform (and some additional random questions) by email, Twitter and Facebook. A group I’m affiliated with, Yes in New West, also emailed a question to the New West Progressives city council candidates and invited them to an all-candidates meeting.

Over that time I have received one response from Bryn Ward for my questions, and instead of answering them directly she sent me a link to a podcast interview she’d done. After I listened to it and asked for clarification, for the Temporary Modular Housing question she answered “I am in favour of the project for women at risk however not the location it is in” (which wasn’t the motion to vote on) and her entrance music would be would be “Man in the Mirror“. Ms. Ward was also the only one to reply by email to the YiNW all-candidates invite, although Ellen Vaillancourt also attended.

For a team that’s committing to building public engagement through social media channels, the New West Progressives aren’t doing a good job of building public engagement through social media channels.

For the record, here are the questions I asked:

  • Speaking of 311, when it was brought in in Vancouver (thanks in part to Daniel Fontaine) they had to raid other departments to pay for its expensive implementation, like park improvements and street safety measures. Which departments would Daniel Fontaine and the New West Progressives cut?

    Child care and seniors services are conspicuously missing from your platform, would you cut those to bring in your expensive 311 service?

  • Hi David [Halkett, President of the New West Progressives], would you be able to find out why the NWP council candidates aren’t answering any questions that they’re being asked on social media or by email?
  • What can the New West Progressives do about whistle cessation that current council isn’t?
  • Why doesn’t Paul McNamara have an email address? Why do questions to his Twitter account and through his website go unanswered?
  • How would Paul McNamara have voted for the final motion on Queensborough’s temporary modular housing?
  • What is Lisa Falbo’s stance on SOGI 1 2 3?
  • What is J.P. Leberg’s stance on SOGI 1 2 3?
  • How would Ellen Vaillancourt have voted on the final motion for Queensborough’s temporary modular housing?
  • How would Daniel Fontaine have voted on the final motion for Queensborough’s temporary modular housing?
  • What are the New West Progressives’ views on New West residents spending too much on housing?
  • What red tape would the New West Progressives candidates target for elimination?
  • How will the Short Term Rental fee work?
  • What are your nomination criteria? Who selects who gets to run? How do they choose?
  • The NWP proposes going to the UBCM to push for provincial legislation changes to allow absentee voting, yet your platform proposes cutting UBCM’s effectiveness in half by only meeting every two years. How do you square this circle?

If any of the New West Progressives council candidates read this, feel free to leave your answers below.

Astute readers will note that I didn’t list a question for Danielle Connelly or Cyrus Sy about SOGI 1 2 3. That’s because they answered the question: they both fully support it, and have suggestions on making parents more informed. My utmost thanks to both of them for being responsive to questions!

Jaimie McEvoy answered my questions!

Jaimie McEvoy is running for New Westminster City Council, and he answered my questions!

1. There are two types of people in the world: people who like simple pop-culture “what type of cheese are you” quizzes that they can then share on Facebook, and people who don’t. Sadly, I don’t have a quiz for you but this is close enough: are you an order muppet or a chaos muppet? Which muppet are you?

Jaimie: According to a quiz I took, I am Scooter.  Order muppet, I believe.

2. When was the last time you visited City Hall? What changes would you propose to make City Hall more welcoming? When was the last time you attended a City Council meeting? What changes would you propose to make City Council meetings more welcoming? Sorry, I guess that was kind of four questions.

Yesterday.  Coffee.  Right up front, when you come in, and a place to sit and chat with it.

3. Buy Low Foods recently shut its store in Uptown, leaving a hole in the market for grocery stores. What will you do to ensure that there is proper competition among grocery stores and a Save-On Foods opens in that location, restoring the competitive marketplace that the Competition Bureau foisted upon us in 2014?

I was pretty happy when the Safeway monopoly (and one expensive IGA) was broken.  Food prices in New West had been weirdly more expensive for years.  I actually campaigned in favour of a Save-On proposal at the foot of 12th Street for that reason when I was, um, President of Brow of the Hill.
Now we have that, we need to get out of that dichotomy, go more diverse, local.  Buy Low, like Save On, also a Jim Pattison company, part of a gambit to take over the territory from Safeway.  They largely succeeded, and consolidated.
So, I go for the smaller and more independents in place of another major corp.  Meat shop on Belmont, Kin’s farm market, the Ukrainian bakery, Denny’s Farm Market (which participates in a local program that gives food vouchers to some of the less incomed), and the often overlooked Uptown Market, which is like a classic small grocery store, behind all those flowers in the front.

4. New Westminster has a number of advisory committees, task forces, and working groups. Upon being elected, which one would you like to chair the most and why? No need to restrict yourself to an existing one either, if you feel strongly that a new one needs to be formed (that you’d obviously chair) feel free to answer that!

Affordable housing, which I deal with as Chair of Community and Social Issues, and as a member of the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing.  But with more focus on that issue, from renewing our efforts to end homelessness, to more rental, to a greater range of types of housing, lots more townhouses, that’s really where I would like to be working – if I picked one!  Hard to choose one for a housing/anti-poverty/environmental/transportation/heritage/community economic development activist!

5. What is your favourite neighbourhood, and why is it Brow of the Hill?

First, and for a very long time, the only neighbourhood I lived in.  Friendly, affordable, so convenient with everything from coffee shops to drugs (I mean prescriptions) to groceries.  And maple ice cream.  There was so much housing choice, so easy to live there.  I do have a bias, I was active there in the Residents Association and, incredibly, the first ever renter to be its President.  I should say I love all my neighbourhoods equally.  (But I do have a favourite, just don’t tell the other kids….).

6. The process leading up to and including the public hearing for the temporary modular housing in Queensborough was… challenging, to say the least. This question is only for the non-incumbent candidates: on the final motion to amend the OCP and rezone the property to allow the temporary modular housing, how would you have voted? Please note that you may describe why you would have voted a particular way, but you must say whether you would have voted in favour of or against the motion on the table.

Note: Jaimie is an incumbent and thus didn’t have to answer this question. He voted in favour of the motion on the table.

7. Who would be on your sasquatch hunting team?

Obviously Troy, once he wins the effort to create the Sasquatch Conservation Area.  Patrick because he’s the most competently woodsy one.  My Mom, who would always be pointing at things and asking if that was a sasquatch, and then we would all turn around and look.  Rob Lowe.  You have to see his show, The Lowe Files, to understand.  He finds things that no one else can, no matter how hard they try….

8. How do you propose engaging with renters, new immigrants, and youth?

We need to go into apartment buildings, actually go there, and not wait for people to come to us.  And places where people already choose to gather, such as the Library, supermarkets, transit stations.  50% of New Westminster youth live within a short walk of the Youth Centre, so the Brow would be a good place to start.

9. With absolutely no apologies to Chris Campbell, what would your entrance music be? Please note that if you dare pick We Built This City by Starship you are hereby banned from ever running for public office ever again.

Concerto for Violin in B Minor, by Bartok. (note: sure hope I got the right video there!) Preferably as played by Viktoria Mullova. Now you know. Maybe since that’s hard to find, and if the love goes cold, Garth Brooks.