The City of New Westminster’s transportation division is swamped and needs more staff to help it keep up with development applications.
New Westminster is considering a new transportation development fee that would offset costs associated with staff time needed to review new development applications. On July 8, council supported in principle the new transportation development review fee and directed staff to inform the development industry, through the Urban Development Institute, and to seek input on the proposed transportation development review service delivery model and associated fee structure.
“Currently, various transportation staff conduct reviews, in addition to the other duties associated with the city’s transportation planning, public engagement, project design, traffic management and other programming,” said the report. “Staff are not able to keep up with the volume of application reviews, and the quality of the review, and engagement with development applications, the community, staff in coordinating departments and council is compromised as a result.”
According to a staff report, the built-up nature of the city, the “fully saturated” road network and policy that supports and encourages sustainable transportation and inclusion means the development review process is different and more complex.
“It requires a significant degree of iteration, verification and negotiation with applicants,” said the report. “Applications for rezoning and development permit applications require multiple stages of staff involvement and a collaborative approach with internal staff and applicants, to enable optimization of applications to address the goals, action and policies set out in the master transportation plan.”
The report to council states that council approved the hiring of three additional staff positions in the 2019 to 2023 financial plan that are dependent upon cost recovery through a new transportation development fee and increases to street occupancy permit fees.
“Existing staffing levels are not sufficient to address the current and forecast level of development application review,” concluded the report. Three new staff positons were approved by council in the 2019 to 2023 financial plan, subject to a new transportation development review fee and increases to street occupancy permit fees. This report recommends a transportation development application review fee structure which is designed to generate the revenue needed to fund the approved positions.”