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What’s Coming to New West Council on June 7, 2021

Here’s what’s coming to New West Council on June 7, 2021: turning car storage into homes, a new Poet Laureate, COVID-19 updates, construction noise, and climate change!

New Westminster City Council is having a Regular Meeting on June 7, 2021, and here’s what’s on the agenda.

Housing Agreement Bylaw & Development Variance Permit for 322 Seventh Street

This is a two-for-one for 322 Seventh Street, a rental apartment building in Brow of the Hill. The Housing Agreement Bylaw would require that all of the residential units would be secured as market rental for the next 60 years or the life of the building, whichever is longer. In exchange for this, the property owner wants to convert nine of the parking spaces in the underground parkade into five studio residential units between 352 and 388 square feet.

This proposal highlights an interesting dynamic between public and private parking. Parking stalls in this building are going for $50 per month, whereas to park on the street costs $28 per year. That’s one heck of a subsidy that the city is giving people for car storage, and it’s no wonder that half the parking spots in this building are being used. It’s also no wonder that the owner of the building wants to make more money, which they can do very easily by converting parking spots into tiny apartments. Nine parking spots would get them $450 a month, and five micro-studio apartments will get them much more than this.

I’m all for turning car storage into homes, but this particular proposal just rubs me the wrong way.

Appointment of Poet Laureate 2021-2024

New Westminster is appointing Elliott Slinn as the next Poet Laureate.

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

New Westminster’s Task Forces continue to do work to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  • work to improve conditions for people facing homelessness and other social issues
  • working with BC Housing to identify suitable locations for a new emergency response shelter
  • operating the Friendly Caller Program for seniors seeking social interaction
Engagement for the 2022 Budget Process

Staff is planning the public engagement process for the 2022 Budget, and they’re proposing holding workshop series with advisory committees and other established groups in Spring/Summer 2021, along with a community-wide check-in survey in Fall 2021. Watch for more information from the City on how you can give feedback on the proposed budget!

22nd Street SkyTrain Station – Request for Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption

TransLink’s going to be replacing the escalator at 22nd Street SkyTrain Station, and they need to do it at night when the station is closed to passengers. They’re asking for an exemption to the Construction Noise Bylaw from June 11 to June 26 to allow this work to proceed.

Action Planning the Implementation of the Green Fleet Roadmap

One of New Westminster’s Seven Bold Steps for Climate Action is to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030 (less than nine years away!) and one of the ways they’re going to do that is to switch vehicles from fossil fuel to zero emission vehicles. The City’s vehicle fleet makes up 41% of its total emissions, so this would make the biggest impact towards realizing that zero emission goal.

This report outlines the steps that the City will be taking in figuring out what the infrastructure requirements will be to be able to switch to an EV fleet.

416 Tenth Street: Development Variance Permit to Vary Side Yard Projection

416 Tenth Street and 1002 St. Andrews Street are neighbouring properties. The house at 416 Tenth is right up against the property line, and there’s an easement on 1002 St. Andrews to allow driveway access. In 1992 the easement was amended to allow a deck to be built off of 416 Tenth, over the driveway and onto the property at 1002 St. Andrews.

416 Tenth is looking to rebuild the deck, which requires a development variance permit to be issued.

230 Princess Street: Development Variance Permit to Vary Driveway Width

Driveways in New Westminster need to be 3.0 metres wide. The driveway at 230 Princess Street currently ranges from 2.81 to 3.12 metres wide. The owners want to construct a carriage house in their back yard, which requires parking, and that parking would require a driveway, which would need to be 3.0 metres wide. As such, the owners are looking to get a development variance permit to allow the 2.81 metre wide driveway that’s already there.

601 Sixth Street: Development Variance Permit to Vary Parking Requirements

The owner of 601 Sixth Street (the building that Westminster Savings is currently in) wants to add floor space by closing an existing two-storey atrium and extending the second floor. When floor space is proposed to be aded to a building, the City reviews the parking requirements against current Zoning Bylaw requirements. Adding this space would require the building supply 4 accessible parking spaces (up from the current 1), 23 short-term bicycle spaces (up from the current 0) and 2 loading spaces (up from 1). The proposal is asking to allow 2 accessible spaces (2 lower than required), 6 short-term bicycle spaces (17 lower than required) and 1 loading space (1 lower than required).

Cancellation of the Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program

The Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP) was a grant program from the Provincial Government to essentially refund the carbon taxes a local government paid to support its operations. In exchange, the local government was required to report greenhouse gas emissions and were encouraged to invest the funding in climate action programs. 187 of the 190 local governments in BC had signed up for the program. Over the lifetime of the program, New Westminster had received over $1.2 million, which it used to pursue higher efficiency equipment and innovative technologies.

The program was unexpectedly cancelled on May 11, 2021 by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. There has been no mention of any sort of a replacement funding program.

New Westminster will be sending a letter to Premier John Horgan, the Minister of Municipal Affairs Josie Osborne, and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman to essentially say “what the fuck”.

618 Carnarvon Street: Request for Construction Noise Bylaw Exemption

The building going in at 618 Carnarvon Street needs some concrete poured for the foundation, approximately 1,200 cubic metres in one day. To get it all done in one day, the construction company needs to start and end earlier than the allowed times. They’re asking for a variance to the Construction Noise Bylaw to allow them to operate from 7 AM to 9 PM on June 26, 2021.

2020 Annual Water Quality Monitoring Report

Drinking water in New West is compliant with the Canadian Drinking Water Regulations for E. coli levels and total coliform levels, and is also compliant with the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality for chlorine residuals and turbidity.

Fraser Health Authority has requested that the City implement a City-wide cross-connection control program to mitigate the potential of backflow from private properties into the City water distribution system.

COVID-19 Update: BC’s Restart Plan and New Westminster’s Restart Planning Matrix

The Provincial government released BC’s Restart plan that outlines how BC will move through opening different sectors back up as COVID-19 levels drop thanks to vaccinations and other mitigation efforts.

New Westminster also has to plan how to restart operations in conjunction with the changing guidelines for safe practices, and this report lays out those plans for the different areas that the City is responsible for. There’s a lot to unpack here, so if you’re interested in how New Westminster will re-open, check out the report.