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  • UPDATED: Neighbourhood-specific delegations top New West council agenda

UPDATED: Neighbourhood-specific delegations top New West council agenda

Plans to revitalize 22nd Street area, possible all-weather field in Queensborough major talkers

New West city council meets on March 13.

Update: we’ve since included a link to a separate story that elaborates a bit more about the East Columbia and Brunette area. You’ll find that near the tail end of this write-up.

A note that Coun. Ruby Campbell was not in attendance Monday night.

A Year of Truth

Economic Development Coordinator Jen Arbo presented on behalf of the city’s Indigenous relations advisor, Christina Coolidge. She spoke of a young Indigenous boy who endured much suffering and a variety of traumatic experiences.

That boy turned out to be William “Bill” Nelson, the Elder who, along with Coolidge, leads the weekly soup and bannock event at New Westminster City Hall. The presentation marked A Year of Truth, with council moving to receive the report, and Mayor Patrick Johnstone making the proclamation marking the 12 months of work.

“It is important to note that this is A Year of Truth, not The Year of Truth; it may take several years to develop a deep enough understanding of the truth before reconciliatory acts can be undertaken. The work to uncover the dark history of New Westminster’s violent past and its genocidal relationship with local Indigenous communities was an important and necessary first step in acknowledging, understanding and accepting the truth. Truth must come before Reconciliation because it is only through the seeking of truth that we will truly understand those things for which we need to reconcile,” reads a report from Lisa Spitale, the city’s chief administrative officer.

William "Bill" Nelson is the Indigenous Elder who spends every Wednesday without fail at New West City Hall/Ria Renouf, New West Anchor

Outdoor pool season

The city announced a few weeks ago that it would go from a mainly reservation-driven system to a hybrid system for its outdoor pools. The main changes include:

  • A pre-registration system for those who want a guaranteed swimming spot

  • 20% of spaces will be reserved for drop-in swimmers

  • Swim time slots will go from 60 minutes to 90

If you haven’t had a chance, you can take a look at the feedback that came in about the outdoor pool experience via BeHeard NewWest.

Air quality permit application update for Cedar Island

As we heard during the Feb. 13 council meeting, a number of people in the community voiced their concerns regarding health effects related to the emissions that come from Cedar Island Manufacturing, located in the Queensborough area. Cedar Island is applying for a permit from Metro Vancouver—which is the regulator in this case—to be able to “discharge air contaminants.”

Staff previously explained that Port Royal was designed on the assumption that there would be a residential development at the edge in question. Ultimately, staff noted it’d be up to the owner to transition elsewhere.

Coun. Tasha Henderson wanted to know what kind of sway voicing council’s concerns would have on the permit application. The permit application is for Metro Vancouver, which is the regulator. The city serves as a stakeholder.

Henderson urged council to advocate for a decrease in emissions, a second filtration system, or monitoring at the fence line to make sure that nearby Queensborough residents are protected.

“I think we need to be heavy-handed in this letter back [to Metro Vancouver],” said Henderson.

Council chose to go ahead and send a letter to Metro Vancouver with stronger language regarding the health and safety concerns as they pertain to nearby residents.

Extending school zone speed limit hours

For the uninitiated, this is a discussion that has spilled over from the school board realm to city hall. As was the case in Burnaby, New Westminster would potentially move school zone times from 8am to 5pm to 7am to 10pm.

The city says it has since put together a survey that was posted to BeHeard NewWest, in which 213 people responded. The city has asked for information from the City of Burnaby, the City of Vancouver, and the Township of Langley, where similar changes have occurred. New West has also reached out to other municipalities to see if they have any plans to make changes to their respective school zones.

The latest report from New West city staff says signage in 37 school zones would need to be replaced. The report also says there’d likely be a need for more members of the New West Police Department to enforce the changes, though it was noted that more research needed to be done to figure out what exactly that might look like.

The report was received for informational purposes.

The Growing Communities Fund

We now know that the next steps for the Growing Communities Fund, the approximately $15 million passed along to our city from the provincial government, will be further discussed on March 27.

The future of an all-weather field in Queensborough?

Five Queensborough residents spoke about the need for an all-weather field, citing need for a space that is easy to get to, is accessible, and that will serve a variety of unique challenges their neighbourhood faces. Their remarks come weeks after Couns. Daniel Fontaine and Paul Minhas put a motion forward asking for all-weather amenities in various parts of the city, and as part of the capital plan.

At the city council meeting on Jan. 30, this was referred for more information, with Dean Gibson of parks and recreation noting that some preliminary information could be coming back in late March or early April.

During Monday night’s meeting, there had been a suggestion through one of the residents that the all-weather field be set up at Ryall Park. Out of curiosity, Mayor Johnstone wanted to know if people would be open to Old Schoolhouse Park as being the space for the all-weather field. The second presenter said Old Schoolhouse wasn’t large enough, and that the proximity to the two schools and the community centre made Ryall more advantageous. Parent representatives from Queen Elizabeth Elementary and Queensborough Middle School also spoke in favour of the all-weather field.

The director of parks noted that due to space constraints at Ryall Park, there’s a good chance that, should the all-weather field happen, it probably wouldn’t be a so-called “regulation” space. (i.e., think something that would measure appropriately official and sanctioned track and field events.)

Notice of motion procedure

The process will officially stand: there will be one notice of motion per councillor (and one for the mayor) per meeting, for a total of seven notices of motion per meeting.

Notice will be given, with the motion to be discussed at the following council meeting.

A motion regarding notices of motion was previously put forward in January by Couns. Fontaine and Minhas, who had been looking for clarification after a series of events at council pertaining to the motion process.

Other bits and bobs

  • Peijiang Miao, a resident from Connaught Heights, came to council to speak on behalf of his neighbours to ask mayor and council to accelerate the 22nd Street master plan. Upwards of three dozen people came in support of Miao’s presentation.

  • There were some concerns about the latest steps in the Urban Reforestation and Biodiversity Enhancement Initiative (URBEI): Coun. Fontaine wanted to know why the public in New West hadn’t been properly consulted. He noted that he’s not against the planting of trees but had some worries about the process leading up to the trees that would end up at the front of city hall. Council voted to go ahead with next steps, with Couns. Fontaine and Minhas opposing.

  • A bit of an update regarding the road safety situation in the Sapperton area, after someone died along E. Columbia during the Family Day long weekend: staff are planning to look at what the interim safety measures in that area could look like, with someone set to be brought in to do the technical work—that would have to go through a procurement process. The person would need to be onboarded for about six weeks, and then there would be at least three to four weeks of work in the area before anything is recommended.

The next council meeting is set to take place on March 27 at 6:30pm, and a public hearing is scheduled prior to that for 6pm.