New West to take “bold” action around 22nd Street SkyTrain station

Could the area around the 22nd Street SkyTrain station become a car-free zone in the future? That is one of the ideas that may be explored in a new planning process being proposed for the neighbourhood.

Subject to approval in the 2020 to 2024 capital program, council has directed staff to proceed with work on the proposed 22nd Street SkyTrain Station Bold Vision for Affordability and Climate Action project. Staff has proposed a new approach to planning for the around the station in response to the City of New Westminster’s declaration of a climate emergency and council’s approval of seven bold steps to fight the climate crisis.

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“Towards developing this bold new neighbourhood vision, the city would identify a team of industry experts who would be tasked with creating an innovative approach to imagining the neighbourhood that responds to the climate emergency, and specifically the seven bold steps and council’s strategic vision,” said a staff report. “Leading with this principle should result in examples of a bold vision that could be explored including creation of: a car-free zone; a zero-emissions vehicles zone; a renewable energy zone; or other ideas as determined through an ideas competition.”

The city’s plan is to retain a consulting team and to launch a design and ideas competition in 2020, evaluate the shortlisted ideas and endorse a vision in 2021 and begin implementation of the vison in 2022. If the budget is approved, staff would immediately begin the process of retaining the consulting team.

Advancing a staff work plan on the development of land-use policy for this neighbourhood means other aspects on implementation of the official community plan will be deferred. Council has directed staff to defer work on the monitoring program for Phase 1 of the infill housing program until 2022 and to defer implementation of Phase 2 of the infill housing program (duplex and triplex implementation) project until 2022.

Coun. Patrick Johnstone said the change reflects the “new reality” of the city’s climate change declaration and seven bold steps, which weren’t in place when council adopted the OCP.

 “I think that it is really important for us to get some work done on understanding how the 22nd Street area will work and if we can actually do something really ground-breaking in master planning a truly car-light, or if I can blue sky and dream, car-free community adjacent to a SkyTrain station and really push the boundaries on how we can achieve some of our climate goals,” he said. “I recognize that some of the work we can’t get done because of this, having to do with infill density, is a little bit disappointing and will be delayed a little bit, but I just feel that this task is a bigger priority for us given the strategic direction the city is going.”

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