What’s Coming to New West Council on April 26, 2021

New Westminster City Council is having a Regular Council Meeting on April 26, 2021, and here’s what they’ll be discussing!

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

There has been a lot of work done in New Westminster in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and here’s a little flavour of that work:

  • The City received a contract extension to support the continued operation of five food security and resource hubs which are feeding up to 750 residents on a weekly basis, laundry and shower programs for the homeless, and portable toilets.
  • The Health Contact Centre beside the Anvil Centre is now operational.
  • The City is talking with BC Housing to provide an additional 20 emergency shelter beds and up to 50 supportive housing units.
  • The Friendly Caller Program continues to reach out to seniors who are seeking social interaction.
Update to Interim COVID-19 Food Truck Policy

In October 2020, Council endorsed the extension of some temporary policy adjustments to tweak them to help brick-and-mortar restaurants and food trucks, and staff is asking Council to extend the adjustments to December 31, 2021.

320 Ewen Avenue: Cedar Island Remanufacturing Ltd.

Some residents of Queensborough delegated to Council in March 2021 to express concerns about Cedar Island Remanufacturing Ltd., specifically around noise, air pollution, rodents, workplace safety, and a lack of response from the property management.

City staff has found that Cedar Island Remanufacturing Ltd. is violating the noise bylaw, and the rest of the issues aren’t really in the City’s jurisdiction (air pollution is Metro Vancouver, rodents are Fraser Health, workplace safety is WorkSafe BC).

330 East Columbia Street (Royal Columbian Hospital Redevelopment): Request for Construction Noise Exemption

Wait, I already talked about this!

Metro Vancouver New Westminster Annacis Main No. 5 (North) Alignment

Metro Vancouver is putting in a big watermain that will supply potable water to Surrey and Delta and it’s going right through New Westminster. This report outlines four potential alignment options, with one coming down 13th Street being the preferred alignment. The watermain would run down 13th Street from 10th Avenue to 5th Avenue, then turn east on 5th Avenue to 11th Street, and then down 11th Street to the tunnel shaft at the corner of 11th Street and Auckland Street.

2021 Spring Freshet Council Report – April 1st Snowpack

There’s snow in them thar hills! And the snow’s going to melt and the water’s going to come down the Fraser River. How much water is anybody’s guess right now, but the snowpack in the Fraser River basin is at 116% of normal.

New Westminster Outdoor Swimming Pools – Summer 2021

As discussed on March 29, some residents of New Westminster wanted the City to keep Hume Park Outdoor Pool (HPOP) open during the summer. At that time City staff said it would cost too much and they’d have to shut down Moody Park Outdoor Pool (MPOP), but Council asked staff to be a little more detailed. This report contains that detail, highlights of which are:

  • HPOP has been closed for 20 months and would require commissioning and maintenance to get it into serviceable condition, which would likely delay opening of the pool by a month.
  • HPOP requires its drain to be retrofitted, and that would take 3-4 months to complete.
  • Opening only HPOP but not MPOP wasn’t considered, but if both were to open instead of just MPOP, it would result in a net loss of 531 reserved drop-in spots per week.
  • Opening both HPOP and MPOP would have a net negative environmental impact as HPOP has the city’s highest energy use intensity amongst 24 city buildings examined in 2019.
  • Opening both HPOP and MPOP would cost an extra $151,100 in operating expenses and $145,000 in capital expenses, neither of which were budgeted and would have to come from some other program or service.

City staff is recommending that Hume Park Outdoor Pool remain closed for the summer 2021 season.

Queen’s Park Farm – Pilot Project to Transition towards Local Sustainable Food Production

City staff has done preliminary work towards switching the Queen’s Park Farm (aka the petting zoo) away from livestock and towards a program that will support and promote sustainable local food production.

Staff is going to be providing alternative programming within the space for 2021, including exploring an outdoor art gallery, an outdoor museum, daycamps, and documentary film making.

In the fall, the City will be setting up a partnership with a non-profit group to start constructing Phase 1 of the farm transition, which will include repurposing two of the existing farm structures, one for a community oven and one for a small events stage.

Sketch Concept of Phase 1 Transition – Community Oven, Small Events Stage and Communal Table/Seating for Sharing Food

What’s Coming to New West Council on March 29, 2021

New Westminster City Council is holding a Regular Meeting on March 29, 2021, and here are a few highlights of what’s on the agenda. The full package is 463 pages long, so I’m not going to cover everything!

New Westminster Aquatic & Community Centre: Project Update & Next Steps

In case you haven’t heard, New Westminster is getting rid of the Canada Games Pool and Centennial Community Centre and replacing them with the New Westminster Aquatic & Community Centre. Staff is giving a report on what’s happened (not much thanks to COVID) and what’s going to happen (communication, construction, and a groundbreaking ceremony).

City-Wide Bold Steps Work Plan

The City came up with Seven Bold Steps to work towards a zero carbon future, and this is the work plan to implement some projects that’ll fulfil some of those bold steps over 2021. Here are some highlights:

  • pedestrian crossing improvements, sidewalk repair, and accessibility improvements
  • bus shelters and operational improvements
  • greenway projects including Agnes, Crosstown, and Riverfront
  • consideration for additional density and height for higher efficiency buildings
  • researching of new construction technologies such as encapsulated mass timber
  • advance adoption of electric vehicles, e-bikes, and other electric mobility options
  • advancement of the Advanced Metering Infrastructure
  • continue increasing the city’s urban forest canopy cover
  • native planting restoration natural areas
  • pollinator pasture installations
  • advancing streetscape and sidewalk café projects
Temporary Use Permit for 40 Begbie Street

This Temporary Use Permit will be issued for a Health Contact Centre in Downtown New West. It will provide a number of services, including witnessed consumption, drug checking, harm reduction supplies, peer employment opportunities, education on safer drug use, and regular needle sweeps of the surrounding area.

Some people in the community unfortunately don’t want to see services for helping people in need, even though the drug poisoning crisis killed over 1700 people in British Columbia in 2020, but luckily we have a compassionate and empathetic Council in New Westminster and this TUP will be granted.

Cancellation of the Section 57 Notices on 711 Walmsley Street and 1402 Seventh Avenue

A Section 57 notice allows the City to put a notice on title for a property that that property is violating building regulations. This is done so that if someone wishes to purchase that property, they are informed of this notice.

This was done on two properties in New Westminster, 711 Walmsley Street in 2010, and 1402 Seventh Avenue in 2020. The owners of both properties have fixed the issues that lead to the Section 57 notices, and now Council will decide whether or not to remove those notices.

Withdrawal of LMLGA Motion Concerning Local Government Candidates Access to Multifamily Dwellings During the Campaign Period

Wordy subject there, but on March 1, 2021 Council passed a motion that would be sent to the Lower Mainland Local Government Association to ask them to ask the Province to allow candidates in local government elections access to all types of multifamily dwellings.

It turns out that on March 3, 2021 the Provincial government announced they are going to put forward legislation that would allow candidates in local government elections access to all types of multifamily dwellings.

New Westminster City Council: getting shit done.

1319 Third Avenue (Steel and Oak): Zoning Bylaw Text Amendment

Steel and Oak is popular and they want to expand their seating area from 50 to 100 people. They propose doing this by expanding the interior space, which would allow up to 89 people, and making their temporary patio on the street more permanent.

Cannabis Retail Locations: Sapperton Area Application Update

Herb Co. Cannabis had a proposal to operate a cannabis retail store at 451 East Columbia Street. They’ve had their application for a licence terminated by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, and they’ve had two years to advance their application. Staff is recommending that council rescind the First and Second Readings for the Bylaw that would have allowed them to operate at that location, and that the application for 451 East Columbia Street be put on hold.

Staff is also recommending that the second highest scoring application (North Root Cannabis) be given consideration, and a new Bylaw be considered to allow them to operate at 416 East Columbia Street. The Royal Columbian Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop is currently at this location, but they’re on a month to month lease and have been looking for a better location.

2021 Spring Freshet and Snow Pack Level

Snow pack levels for the Fraser River basin are at 115% of normal, and La Niña conditions through spring should bring higher than normal precipitation from March to May, with a likelihood of lower than normal temperatures. These combined means that there’s an elevated risk for freshet-related flooding. The City will continue to monitor the situation, and has started preparing for any potential flooding by inspecting dikes and placing orders for emergency supplies (the City currently has over 40,000 sandbags with 12,000 on standby order).

Hume Park Outdoor Pool – Summer 2021 Status

Staff is recommending that Hume Park Outdoor Pool remain closed through the summer of 2021.

Under the COVID-19 Public Health Orders, the capacity of the pool would be 15 participants (half of what Moody Park Outdoor Pool can handle), and there would be a limit of two persons in each changeroom. Lifeguard training was suspended for most of 2020, and there’s a limited supply of recertification clinics, which means that there won’t be enough certified lifeguards to be able to staff more than one outdoor pool in 2021. The City had already planned for Hume Park Outdoor Pool to be closed through the summer and has scheduled maintenance work on it, including work on the building roof, which is best done during the summer.

In short, Hume Park Outdoor Pool won’t be opening in the summer of 2021.

Mass COVID-19 Vaccination Implementation in New Westminster 2021

COVID-19 vaccinations are here, and cities are doing what they can to help vaccine clinics get up and running. New Westminster has set up a vaccination site at Century House and is in the process of setting up one at Anvil Centre. When the Anvil Centre site is open, the Century House one will close, but don’t worry, the capacity will be much greater. The Century House site only operates on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 6pm, but the Anvil Centre site will operate seven days a week from 7:30am to 9:30pm.