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Local New Westminster

What’s Coming to New West Council on March 1, 2021

The New Westminster Council meeting on March 1, 2021 is a doozy! Highlights: Komagata Maru, protecting a 1907 pre-fab house, a misleading petition, and a noise bylaw exemption!

New Westminster City Council is holding a Regular Meeting on March 1, 2021, and here’s some of what’s on the agenda. Be warned, it’s a long one!

Design Variance Permit for 34 South Dyke Road

This one came up on February 1, 2021, where the applicant wants to put tandem parking spaces into their development in Queensborough. This item is to have Council to approve the DVP.

Development Variance Permit for 805 Boyd Street

This one came up on February 1, 2021, where the applicant (Walmart) wants to put in some signs that are above the maximum number allowed so they can show people where to pick up their online purchases. This item is to have Council approve the DVP.

Police Reform Framework – Input from the Reconciliation, Inclusion and Engagement Task Force

New West has a task force that focuses on reconciliation, inclusion and engagement, and they’ve issued a report to Council that:

  1. asks Council to establish a new “Police Reform Working Group” that consists of a small group of Councillors, City staff, and industry experts,
  2. requests Council to provide direction on community representation on the proposed Police Reform Working Group, and
  3. include the research identified in their report to form part of the mandate of the proposed Police Reform Working Group.
Naming of City Asset in Commemoration of the Komagata Maru

In 1914 the Komagata Maru, a ship from Hong Kong carrying 376 passengers, all of whom were British subjects, was denied docking in Vancouver because they came from India. After two months the Komagata Maru was escorted out of the harbour by the Canadian military and forced to sail back to India. Upon disembarking, 19 of the passengers were killed by gunfire and many others were imprisoned.

New Westminster holds some dark ties to this terrible history. Council at the time passed this motion just after the Komagata Maru arrived:

That this Council go on record as being opposed to this immigration, and that the Clerk be instructed to urge upon the Premier and the Minister of the Interior at Ottawa to use every effort to prevent admission of these people into the Country.

The Mayor of New Westminster, A.W. Gray, presided over a community meeting assembled to organize against South Asian and Asian immigration.

That this mass meeting here do assembled do most heartily endorse the action of the immigration officials in preventing the landing of the Hindus from the Komagata Maru, and call on the Federal authorities at Ottawa to invoke the full power of the present statutes and, if necessary, enact new laws, to effectively deal with the total exclusion of Asiatics from this country.

The Premier of British Columbia at the time was Richard McBride, who Richard McBride Elementary School is (currently) named after, as well as McBride Boulevard. During his time as Premier he passed multiple immigration acts designed to keep Asian immigrants out of B.C.

To admit Orientals in large numbers would mean the end, the extinction of the white people. And we always have in mind the necessity of keeping this a white man’s country.

Richard McBride, May 23, 1914

City staff are recommending that Council consider naming the two QtoQ Ferry docks in Queensborough and Downtown in commemoration of the Komagata Maru incident.

Proposed Retail Strategy Workplan

City staff have been working to develop a retail strategy to help support a diverse retail sector. This report asks Council to direct staff to proceed with the proposed workplan.

COVID-19 Pandemic Response – Update and Progress from the Five Task Forces

City task forces are working on pandemic-related responses, which have included:

  • increasing the number of extreme weather response program mats during the recent cold weather
  • a shower program at the Canada Games Pool is being established
  • a health contact centre is being established downtown to include an overdose prevention site and other harm reduction services
  • calls to the COVID compliance hotline are down from January (2.2 calls per day down to 1.8 calls per day)
Local Government Election Candidates: Access to Multifamily Dwellings during the Campaign Period

Election candidates have no problems accessing single-family homes, as they can just knock on the front door, but they have issues accessing multifamily homes. City staff believe that this has caused people living in multifamily homes to be slightly less engaged in the election than those in single-family homes — turnout was roughly 4% lower in areas with predominantly multifamily housing types than in areas that are predominantly single family.

The only multifamily buildings election candidates are allowed access to are rental buildings, as access is allowed under the Residential Tenancy Act. All other types — co-operative housing, co-share housing, strata buildings — do not have legislation that allows reasonable access to election candidates.

Staff has looked at other jurisdictions and have three recommendations:

  1. Council direct staff to figure out how candidates and appointed agents can have identification forms so they can more easily access residential rental buildings as allowed by the Residential Tenancy Act,
  2. Council direct staff to draft a letter to send to landlords, property management companies, and LandlordBC reminding them that the Residential Tenancy Act exists and allows candidates and their agents reasonable access to multifamily residential buildings, and
  3. Council direct staff to send a resolution to the Lower Mainland Local Government Association and the Union of BC Municipalities to ask the Province to enact legislation that allows access to all multifamily buildings and not just multifamily rental buildings.
Preliminary Report for Heritage Revitalization Agreement and Special Development Permit Application for 108-118 Royal Avenue and 74-82 First Street

This one encompasses six properties between Qayqayt Elementary and First Street along Royal Avenue, proposing tearing four houses down, moving one to another location entirely, and moving one on the property, and building a six to eight storey building, widening the sidewalk along Royal Avenue, and adding a multi-use path next to the school grounds.

First and Second Readings for Heritage Revitalization Agreement Bylaw for 221 Townsend Place

The home at 221 Townsend Place in Queens Park was built in 1907 and the owners are applying for an HRA to allow them to subdivide the lot and legally protect the existing 1907 house.

In this case this is the first time I’ve ever seen the heritage house as having “scientific value”, as it is one of seven (or eight) examples in New Westminster of a British Columbia Mills Timber and Trading Company Ready-Made house system. That’s right, this house was essentially an affordable pre-made house where the lumber was pre-cut, panels were labelled, insulated, and pre-painted, and everything was assembled on-site. Not only that, it’s likely the only surviving example of the “Design H” cottage in the Lower Mainland.

Historically speaking, this house is a legitimate rarity and should be protected.

Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption for 330 East Columbia Street

EllisDon Design Build is leading the charge on the Royal Columbian Hospital redevelopment, and under the existing Construction Noise Bylaw they are restricted from doing construction outside of the hours of 7AM to 8PM on weekdays, and 9AM to 6PM on Saturdays.

They’re requesting an exemption that would allow them to start construction at 7AM on Saturdays for the next four years. Reasons for this ask include:

  • concrete pours are challenging, and are often delayed by weather. Starting earlier allows workers to finish their work before the end of the permitted construction noise bylaw times,
  • dump sites often close as early as 3PM, so getting an early start on construction and excavation is important,
  • COVID-19 has created labour challenges, leading to difficulties in finding skilled workers. Allowing a couple of extra hours on Saturdays allows the contractor to make up schedule slippage that happened during the week, and
  • worker absenteeism is higher if the start time is 9AM rather than 7AM as construction workers want to get their work done and still have some time in the evening with their families.
Misleading Petition from Rich Landowners to Stop Affordable Housing

Oh, Fifth Street, when will you ever stop being stereotypical NIMBYs? Whenever that day is, today is not that day, as a small group of rich landowners with too much time on their hands has littered the city with a petition that’s full of misdirection, missing information, and misinformation and tricked over a thousand people to sign it, all in a bald-faced attempt to stop lower-income people from moving into their neighbourhood.

Motions from Councillors

Councillor Puchmayr put forth a motion in support for farmers in India, where the federal government has issued repressive laws against farmers there.

Councillor McEvoy and Councillor Nakagawa put forth a motion calling upon the Government of Canada to declare the overdose crisis a national public health emergency and actually fund it appropriately to people can get the help they desperately need.

Councillor Johnstone put forth a motion calling upon the Government of British Columbia and the Public Health Officer to allow non-food vendors to sell at farmers markets in B.C.

Councillor Nakagawa put forth a motion in support of laid-off hotel and tourism industry workers.