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Updates for old bylaws

New Westminster is seeking to modernize its 70-year-old zoning bylaw.

New Westminster is seeking to modernize its 70-year-old zoning bylaw.

A recent report to council stated that staff and the city solicitor have had discussions about the benefits of creating a new zoning bylaw for New Westminster, as the city's bylaw hasn't undergone a comprehensive review since it was adopted in 1940. Staff note that the current bylaw has been amended by "a variety of authors hundreds of times" through the years, which has resulted in a document that is "quite complex, lengthy and internally consistent."

Staff has been working on a new zoning bylaw, but informed council of a few policy issues that could be incorporated into the zoning bylaw. These include reducing parking near SkyTrain stations (a report is being compiled on this matter), allowing residential at grade in some areas (commercial is now required at grade in certain zoning districts such as 12th and East Columbia streets), and allowing new childcare facilities to be established in existing multiple dwelling spaces.

John Stark, the city's senior social planner, said the feasibility of operating childcare centres in multifamily buildings is limited by zoning regulations. Under the proposed changes, he said that underutilized amenity spaces would be allowed to be used for childcare uses if agreed to by the majority of strata owners.

Coun. Jaimie McEvoy said the city's regulations make child care more difficult than other uses. "Our goal ought to be it shouldn't be harder to have child care than a cheque cashing centre."

Staff expect to be completing the new draft zoning bylaw soon and will present it to council once it has been reviewed by legal counsel. It would then go through a council review and public consultation process.

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