VIRTUAL PUBLIC INFORMATION SESSION
Thank you to everyone who attended – we had more than 70 community members join the meeting.
At the virtual meeting, hosted on Zoom, staff provided an overview of the small-sites affordable housing initiative, the evaluation criteria that has been developed to review the proposals, and next steps in the process to explore affordable housing on this site. Click here to see the presentation.
After the presentation, there was a question and answer session.
We have updated the Frequently Asked Questions sections above to reflect the questions that we heard during the information session. We have also summarized the key feedback we heard from participants below, as well as providing some follow up information, and answering some “less frequent” questions.
WHAT WE HEARD
They key themes we heard during the virtual information session, and from comments sent directly to staff, are:
- Parkland is needed in the community. We heard that there is a strong desire among session participants for more park space. Connaught Heights Park is shared with the school and is not always accessible by community members during the day.
- Desire for an improved and more transparent process. Participants raised concerns that the process felt rushed and expressed disappointment that the community was not included in preliminary conversations about the selection of this site for the affordable housing initiative. Participants also suggested a need for a wider notification area for direct mail from the City.
- The Official Community Plan (OCP) should be respected. We heard concerns that an affordable housing project does not align with the OCP land-use designation for this site. Some participants questioned why a site already envisioned for multi-family use in the OCP was not selected or purchased for this project.
- Two city-owned single detached housing size lots are not the appropriate location for this type of project. We heard concerns that these small sites may not be large enough to accommodate multiple families and to provide adequate play space for children in an affordable housing development, and that such a project would be more suited on a larger site as part of a developer-led project.
- Why Connaught Heights? Session participants questioned why Connaught Heights was selected for this project instead of other neighbourhoods in the City. Some questioned the choice to locate an affordable housing project in an area that has minimal retail services.
- Parking and traffic congestion in the area are already concerns. Participants expressed concerns about parking and traffic circulation in the area currently. Participants are worried that a multiple family development on this site would add to the parking and traffic congestion in the area.
FOLLOW UP INFORMATION
In addition to the information provided through the FAQ we want to share some additional context about this site.
Crown Land Grant
Through this consultation process, we became aware of a Crown Land Grant on 2038 Ninth Avenue that identifies of the property for parks and recreation purposes. This land grant is not registered on the title of the property and therefore was not discovered during the due diligence the City conducted for each parcel of land prior to the issuance of the RFP. This is likely because there was no requirement to register such Grants with the Land Titles Office prior to April 5, 1968. Once this information was received, the City began further research into the history of the site. Through this research, we discovered that Connaught Heights Park was created by the City instead of developing 2038 Ninth Avenue as a park. Plans for the new park were initiated in 1974, when federal, provincial and city funds were made available for improvements under the Neighborhood Improvement Program. The residents of Connaught Heights, through their Citizens Planning Committee, recommended the development of a park in the current location. It was intended that 2038 Ninth Avenue be sold to provide the balance of money needed for the project. However, the land was not sold. We will continue to research this new information and explore what it could mean for this project.
In 2009, these two lots were briefly added to the Heritage Register (where they were referred to as “Connaught Village Green”) as part of a larger city-wide update – before being removed a short time later. The update included a dozen City properties such as parks and civic facilities. Through Council’s deliberations on the additions (April 2009), it was suggested that listing some of the community or City-owned features “may not be suitable for the purpose or may impede future decisions relating to those properties”. A handful of the properties listed, including these two lots, and referred them to the Community Heritage Commission (CHC) for further review. The CHC did not support the addition of these two lots, citing lack of historic association, features, or overall heritage significance. A month later, Council removed the properties from the Heritage Register.
The FAQ section above has now been updated. We added new questions and updated some of the existing questions based on those raised during the information session. There were also a few “less frequent” questions that didn’t get added to the FAQ but we still want to answer.
We started consultation on the future of Connaught Heights more than three years ago. What has happened with that work?
The 22nd Street Station Bold Vision work remains an important project for Mayor and Council. However, as a result of the unpreceded nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, Council has made the decision to postpone some projects until a later year, including the 22nd Street Bold Vision work. The Bold Vision is not the only priority project impacted as a result of the pandemic – a number of other projects have also been delayed as a result.
More information about Bold Vision can be found at: www.newwestcity.ca/22streetplan.
You can also contact the Planning Division at with additional questions, or sign up for the mailing list to get updates once the project resumes.
Could the City and BC Hydro work together and create a park, dog park, or water park?
A recommended action in the City’s Comprehensive Parks Plan is to acquire more parkland in Connaught Heights, with the opportunity of using the BC Hydro lands identified. This is an opportunity we hope to explore in the future.
The City is working on People, Parks and Pups: A strategy for sharing parks and open space in New Westminster. The initiative is currently paused as we explore how to best consult the community during the pandemic, but there will be opportunity to provide input.
Another upcoming initiative is the update to the Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan, which in part will focus on equitable delivery of parks and open space opportunities across the city and develop strategies for increased and changing demands. There will also be opportunity to provide input though this process.
What is the Official Community Plan and how often is it changed?
The Official Community Plan (OCP) guides the overall future of New Westminster and provides a broad framework for managing future growth and change. In some cases, further detail on implementation of the various policy areas can be found in other plans, strategies, policies and bylaws. The City’s Affordable Housing Strategy, Master Transportation Plan, and Community Energy and Emissions Plan are examples of policy documents that connect with the OCP to help implement the vision.
Changes to the OCP can be grouped into three main categories:
- Major Updates: A major update of the OCP was completed in 2017. This was the first major update since 1998. These major updates include a substantial community consultation process and result in a new OCP.
- Minor Updates: The City does minor updates to the OCP on a more frequent basis. These updates ensure the OCP still property reflects the vision and remains up to date, even though a comprehensive review isn’t yet needed.
- Project Specific Updates: Project specific updates are either initiated by the City or though a development application. While this is the most frequent type of change to the OCP, these changes are still generally infrequent and are typically only supported when the proposed project aligns with a number of the policies in the OCP.
Why did City staff attempt to remove a sign which was in opposition of the small sites affordable housing project in Connaught Heights?
City staff responsible for maintaining City property regularly monitor all our properties for general maintenance and upkeep, including litter. It was through this regular activity that they came across a sign in opposition to the small sites affordable housing project in Connaught Heights. Based on City practice, which does not allow posting of third party signs on City property without permission, the staff determined that it should be removed. Through discussion with two residents, the staff determined to first check with their Superintendent, who advised them not to remove the sign as the fence it was affixed to belonged to the adjacent private property. Staff left without removing the sign.
The City has provided this information to the related property owner, who advised that it is resolved to their satisfaction.