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What’s happening at New West council tonight?

Council pay, gender and diversity at city hall and a new design for the Belmont Street parklet are among the topics included on tonight’s council agenda.
New Westminster City Hall
The City of New Westminster will hire a consultant to help it develop and implement a framework that advances diversity, inclusion and equity across the civic organization. Diversity and inclusion is also something being pursued by the New Westminster Police Department.

Council pay, gender and diversity at city hall and a new design for the Belmont Street parklet are among the topics included on tonight’s council agenda.

Staff will be making a presentation at the June 10 meeting about a proposed redesign of the uptown parklet on Belmont Street. Some area residents have complained noise and conduct of people in the parklet (including smoking) that was created at Belmont and Sixth streets in 2016. (If you want some background, here's a link to one of the stories we've written about the parklet in the past. And here's another.)

Council is set to make a number of proclamations at tonight’s meeting: June 16 is Salmonbellies Day; June 2019 is Recreation and Parks Month; and June 9 to 16 is the 70th anniversary of the 513 Hornet Squadron/Royal Canadian Air Cadets Week.

The consent agenda includes a number of items, which may or may not be discussed tonight, depending on whether council members withdraw them from the consent agenda to discuss or to pose further questions to staff.

One of the items is a $12,000 budget related to reconciliation with the Tsilhqot’in Nation, with the money going toward a Chief Ahan commemoration event and visits with the Tsilhqot’in Nation.

Other items on the consent agenda include: a construction noise bylaw exemption related to road paving in the 800 block of Boyd Street; a resolution to the Union of B.C. Municipalities in support of greater investments in municipal and not-for-profit seniors services and supports; and the 2018 statement of financial information, which includes a number of documents, such as: audited consolidated financial statements; a schedule of council remuneration and expenses; a schedule of employee remuneration and expenses for employees earning over $75,000; a schedule of suppliers of  goods and services that cost more than $25,000; and a statement about severance agreements.

On the development front, the agenda includes a report concerning 230 Keary St., 268 Nelson’s Crt. and 228 Nelson’s Cres. – buildings in the Brewery District development. The city has received an application for a zoning bylaw text amendment to convert existing permitted commercial density on Building 8 at 230 Keary St. to omnibus zoning (a more flexible zoning that includes residential) – in exchange for providing all secured market rental housing units in Buildings 5 and 7 (only half of Building 5 is currently designated as secured market rental and all of Building 7 is currently permitted to be strata.) You can read more about that in a previous article from when this was considered by the city’s land use and planning committee.

The agenda includes two pieces of correspondence: a letter from Metro Vancouver about the key findings of a transit-oriented affordable housing study; and a petition signed by 45 people in 38 households who are concerned about the “negative consequences” of the official community plan changes to their Sapperton neighbourhood. Some residents on Rousseau and Wilson streets believe changes included in the OCP have created a “cloud of uncertainty” in their neighbourhood and have prevented them from building laneway homes like those allowed in other neighbourhoods.  

Council pay is also on tonight’s consent agenda, with a staff report on 2019 council remuneration  recommending a 2.9 per cent increase retroactive to Jan. 1, 2019 to maintain the current level of net pay under the new tax changes (the federal government eliminated the one-third tax-free component of their stipend this year.) If approved, the mayor’s annual salary would rise from $106,034 to $130,000 and the councillors’ pay would increase from $43,189 to $50,000.

In addition to  a presentation from Douglas College, tonight’s meeting also includes an opportunity for open delegations – and you never know who is going to show up to speak and what topic they’ll want to address.

The final item on the agenda is a motion on gender, diversity and inclusion that’s being put forward as new business by Coun. Mary Trentadue. 

The preamble to the motion states that the city’s hiring and training policies need to address gender equity, diversity and inclusion and some of city departments don’t reflect its aspiration of a balanced and diverse workforce. The motion asks staff  to: report back on current breakdown of departments by gender, diversity and people with disabilities; report back on best practices that other governments, institutions and businesses have implemented to address gender parity, diversity and inclusion; develop hiring practices that will meet the needs of a changing workforce and improve the balance of its employee makeup; and develop a citywide policy to which all departments can adhere and address not only the issue of gender parity, diversity and inclusion, but also the integration and support of all city employees with disabilities.