New Westminster will be tackling various components of the official community plan in 2019, but it remains to be seen whether work on duplexes and triplexes will be in the mix.
In November 2017, the city endorsed an OCP implementation work program that identified several initiatives city staff would work on in 2019. Staff recently updated council on the priorities for 2019 (22nd Street SkyTrain station master plan development, infill housing implementation phase one monitoring program, street activity program, short-term rental program and supporting OCP action implementation).
Items identified for implementation between 2020 and 2024 are infill housing implementation phase two (duplex and triplex), Lower 12th and Sharpe street area, Brunette Creek development permit area, flood hazard development permit area, and an update to the downtown community plan. Work on the Phase 2 of the infill housing implementation, which would work on duplexes and triplexes, was previously included as a priority for 2019, but staff recommended it be taken off this year’s work plan.
“This council has been a strong advocate for housing, and all types of housing forms,” said Coun. Mary Trentadue. “I am concerned that by pushing this later we just become later to the game as far as planning this kind of housing. I appreciate that even by putting it into a 2019 work plan, it’s still probably going to take a couple of years to come to sort of its full extent. I don’t actually support pushing that forward.”
Jackie Teed, the city’s planning director, said staff pulled that item out of this year’s work plan because the department has been shifting staff around to work on some significant development applications that are happening in the city.
“Recently, we have been focusing on internal staff doing that work rather than using external consultants. That has reduced the amount of hours that we have to apply to our policy work. We have been working to identify what pieces we can shift around,” she said. “Certainly there is an opportunity to put some pieces back in, but what it means is that all pieces need to take a longer amount of time in order for us to do them.”
Trentadue said she doesn’t want New Westminster to fall behind in allowing other forms of housing that should be available, and wants the city to stay the course on determining what kind of housing forms would work in the city.
Teed said another option would be for the city to accept applications for duplexes and triplexes and use those as pilot project to develop design guidelines for those housing forms. She said the city could apply what it learned through the laneway house and townhouse design guideline process to these housing forms.
“From my experience, some of our decisions that we have made on the fly or as projects come forward have been more challenging for the applicant because we haven’t actually done the work at the table, and we have sort of tested it or practised it on them. I am not sure that has always been efficient for them,” Trentadue said. “I would prefer that that item gets put back into the planning years that it was originally in.”
Mayor Jonathan Cote said he’d be comfortable if it took staff a little bit longer to work on some of the OCP items, but wouldn’t support adding the work on duplexes and triplexes to staff’s workload if it meant delays to the monitoring of Phase 1 of the infill housing implementation (which is work on rowhouses and townhouses) and development of a master plan for the area around the 22nd Street SkyTrain station
Coun. Chuck Puchmayr believes the OCP implementation plan has been structured in a way that best addresses the density coming to the city.
“I trust that staff has laid out a pretty ambition plan. Duplex and triplex housing is going to create fewer opportunities for people to live in than the 22nd Street project. We can really put some density around SkyTrain which is exactly what we are looking for,” he said.
Staff will consider council’s feedback and report back to council on implementation of the OCP work program.
A recent report to council outlined the various initiatives city staff will be working on related to the official community plan. Here’s some of the work the City of New Westminster will be working on in relation to implementation of the official community plan that was approved in October 2017:
* 22nd Street SkyTrain station master plan development will finalize proposed land uses and densities, identify required infrastructure and community amenity needs; establish a program for financing these amenities through development; and adopt public and private realm design guidelines. Staff anticipates the plan would be adopted in the fall of 2020, instead of early 2020 as previously proposed.
* Infill housing implementation – phase 1 monitoring program: The program, which includes laneway and carriage housing, infill townhouses and rowhouses, will be assessed in terms of uptake, quality of design, public perceptions, barriers to participating in the laneway and carriage house program, etc. Any updates to the program and revisions are anticipated in early 2020.
* Street activity program will focus on ways of enhancing street vitality and creating employment opportunities for small businesses by allowing food trucks, street entertainment and street vending in designated locations in New Westminster.
* Short-term rental program will look at current regulations on short-term rental, analyse what’s being done in other municipalities and provide options for creating a program in New Westminster.
* Supporting OCP action implementation would include work on projects led by other departments that may relate to land use and development planning, such as building energy initiatives, work with the school board regarding planning for future schools, and implementation of an integrated storm water management plan
* Bent Court study area, which is designated as a study area because of the heritage assets of this group of houses near Sixth Street and Fourth Avenue, could be implemented in 2019 – if a developer is interested in collaborating with the city.
* Phase 2 Infill housing implementation would include drafting zoning regulations, development permit guidelines and determine an appropriate approval process for duplex and triplexes.
* Lower 12th Street and Sharpe Street study area, is an area where the city will explore a mix of uses including ultra-light industrial, residential, retail and service commercial
* Brunette Creek development permit area will work to consider the future of the neighbourhood that includes Hume Park, Sapperton Green (the development at the corner of Braid and Brunette) and the industrial area.
* Flood hazard development permit area would work to ensure that buildings in the floodplain are built to the flood construction level.
* Downtown community plan update will update the plan that was adopted in 2010.