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Budget 101 coming this month to New Westminster

Council in brief
Council resumed meetings on Aug. 30 after an eight-week summer break. Record/File

A Budget 101 webinar is the next step in the City of New Westminster’s 2022 budget process.

In an Aug. 30 report to council on the 2022 budget, staff provided an update about the responses to the city’s engagement workshop with city committee and COVID-19 task force members and outlined the next steps for the budget.

On Sept. 14, the city will hold an online Budget 101 webinar to give community members information about the budget. The city will also launch a public engagement survey on Sept. 14 and will report back to council in mid-October with the survey’s preliminary results.

According to a staff report, 31 people participated in the recent budget workshops.

“Participant input at the workshops was rich and covered a variety of themes and areas of focus for city staff and leadership to consider in budget development, including: reconciliation and social justice; infrastructure; housing; and vulnerable populations,” said the report.

Heritage changes

A property in Queensborough is being added to the city’s heritage register, while a downtown building is being removed – because it no longer exists.

As part of annual maintenance of the heritage register program, council has approved the addition of 647 Ewen Ave. to the heritage register and has removed 445 Columbia St.

A staff report states New Westminster’s Slovak community constructed the Slovak Hall (also called the Royal City National Slovak Society Home) on Ewen Avenue in 1939. The building is considered significant for its Colonial Revival detailing, a style that was popular in Queensborough in the 1920s.

“As the sole remaining building on Ewen Avenue with this style, the Slovak Hall is an important reminder of the early character of Ewen Avenue in Queensborough and the diversity of folks who located there,” said a staff report.

The Deane Block on Columbia Street, a two-storey commercial building that was built at the corner of Church and Columbia Streets in 1931, was destroyed by fire on May 24, 2021.

Created in 1994, the heritage register includes more than 200 residential and commercial buildings, parks and roads that have been deemed to have some sort of heritage merit.

“The city recognizes that the heritage register is not a complete list of the physical or intangible elements in the city that have heritage merit. The city also recognizes that some of the listings, which are reflective of white colonial history and/or maybe reminders of painful institutional experiences, may carry negative connotations for some folks,” said a staff report. “The register has not been comprehensively updated recently, and any future work on the program would look to better reflect the city’s reconciliation, inclusion and equity goals and the city’s diverse history.”

Noisy work

Quayside and Queensborough residents may notice some nighttime noise when sonar and video inspections of sewer lines take place this month.

Council has granted an exemption to the city’s construction noise bylaw to allow AquaCoustic Remote Technologies to do some work between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. on four nights between Sept. 12 and 27.  The video and sonar inspections of the sewer lines is part of the New Westminster sewer interceptor Fraser River crossing (north) project.

“The New Westminster sewer interceptor carries extremely high sewage flow during daytime hours,” said a staff report. “To capture the maximum surface area of the pipe’s interior, maintenance work on the interceptor can only be carried out during dry weather and during low-flow period. Low-flow periods typically occur between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.”

According to the report, area residents who will potentially be negatively impacted by noise will be noticed in advance. This will include Quayside residents living in the 1200 block of Quayside Drive and on Laguna Court and Renaissance Square, as well as Queensborough residents in the 200 block of Salter and Brooks streets.

In other construction news, council has granted TransLink an exemption to the construction noise bylaw so it can do work at the Braid SkyTrain station bus loop. A staff report stated TransLink has been resurfacing asphalt and parking surfaces at Coast Mountain Bus Company transit centres and bus loops to ensure the pavement condition is safe and reliable for employees and the public.

Work at the Braid station bus loop is set to take place in September, with most of the work taking place during the day but some overnight work being done to minimize disruption to residents, operators, property owners and passengers.

“The proposed night work is necessary to maintain bus operations during the construction,” said the report. “Therefore, a noise bylaw exemption is required.”

So long atrium

Approval of a development variance permit has cleared the way for interior changes to an prominent commercial building in uptown New West.

In an effort to make Uptown Centre more suitable for tenants, the building’s owner wanted to renovate the building and remove the two-storey atrium in the space at 601 Sixth St. Removing the atrium and creating additional floor space, however, meant the building wouldn’t meet current zoning requirements and triggered the need for variances.

In June, council received a staff report about the parking variances being requested and directed staff to re-engage with the applicant about opportunities for creating more accessible parking stalls. A follow-up report to council noted the applicant had increased the number of accessible spaces and short-term bicycle spaces in response to their resolution. 

On Aug. 30, council approved the applicant’s development variance permit application.

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus