Council Update #8
I hope you had a magical and meaningful Christmas season with your family and friends. I certainly enjoyed time with mine, including a trip to Silverstar Mountain, where there was lots of snow and exciting terrain!
After a comprehensive, nation-wide executive search, Council announced in November its unanimous decision to appoint Ms. Nina Leemhuis as our new Chief Administrative Officer. We are confident that Ms. Leemhuis has the values, experience, skills, and vision to support Council in addressing its five priorities over this last year of its term:
1. Public Safety Building: After consultation with the public, which included presentations of a model and information boards at the Library, Community Centre, Seniors’ Centre and Municipal Hall; and two “touch-back” sessions with the Design Review Committee, the Design Development phase is complete and the project is currently in the Construction Documents stage. To keep the project on schedule and mitigate construction escalation costs, Council has approved going forward with the construction of the parking lot on the north end of the Municipal Hall site beginning next week. http://www.westvancouver.ca/psb
2. Ambleside and Waterfront Activation: On December 9th, Council approved Grosvenor’s application to redevelop the 1300 Block of Marine Drive into two 6 and 7-storey mixed residential and commercial buildings. The District will receive roughly $35 million in land sale proceeds, and $11 million in community amenity contributions. http://westvancouver.ca/1300block While anticipated to be a significant catalyst, this is just one important step towards revitalizing our Town Centre. Building on this momentum, Council commissioned a “Financial Analysis”, and a “Commercial Market & Revitalization Implementation Study” to assist in developing a specific and comprehensive strategy. http://westvancouver.ca/home-building-property/planning/ambleside-activation. As they are lengthy, I encourage you to have a look at the summaries and recommendations on pages 15-16 of the Coriolis report; and pages 10-23 of the Urbanics report, and provide feedback. You may have noticed that Godfrey’s House located at 1528 Argyle recently came down as part of a multi-decade plan to convert all waterfront lots between 14th and 18th Streets to public use. So far, the District has acquired 29 of 32 lots in that regard and continues to seek opportunities to conclude this significant community initiative.
3. Housing and Neighbourhood Character: As Council moves to implement many of the recommendations of the 2007-08 Housing Dialogue, our Planning Department is organizing upcoming community engagement events and seeking input on (a) proposed Coach House regulations (b) Purpose-built Rental Housing and (c) reducing Housing Bulk (character, size and massing of new houses). http://westvancouver.ca/housing
4. Municipal Services and Finances: At the last meeting of Council, our CAO recommended a property tax increase of 2.92% which will amount to approximately $93 per average household for the 2014 budget year. Please visit http://westvancouver.ca/budget to see background material and the proposal. I encourage you to provide input by registering to use our new on-line engagement tool at http://westvancouver.ca/westvancouverITE/. Council has approved increases in the Water(5%), and Sewer and Drainage (11%) Utilities which will result in total levies of approximately $549 annually per household ($1.5 per day) and $733 annually per household ($2 per day) respectively. These utilities are operated on a cost-recovery basis in terms of operating, and infrastructure maintenance and renewal costs.
5. Environment, Parks and Upper Lands: The Howe Sound Community Forum, which includes elected representatives from all communities bordering Howe Sound, including the Squamish Nation, held meetings in September and January to confirm Principles of Cooperation and establish support for comprehensive management planning for the area. With much community input and collaboration, plans have been approved for the extension of the Spirit Trail from Seaview Walk to Horseshoe Bay. Council continues to consider ways to expand the trail west from 13th Street. The Upper Lands Working Group presented its first report to Council in December and has made considerable headway in defining its objectives for the long-term management of approximately 6,265 acres of undeveloped Municipal and privately owned-lands above the Upper Levels Highway.
1 Cell Towers: On December 16th, Council considered an application by Rogers Communications to install three cell towers along the Upper Level’s Highway. Due to significant concerns by community and area residents related to potential impacts on health, property values and views, Council resolved to forward the applications to Rogers Communications, Industry Canada and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, noting that Council cannot support the applications at this time due to (a) lack of evidence of poor service, (b) a lack of evidence of the demand on the part of residents, and (c) the unacceptable intrusion on the amenities and important characteristics of the area surrounding the proposed antenna system. Industry Canada has the ultimate decision-making authority on whether the installations will proceed.
2. Centre for Art, Architecture and Design: After a rigorous process, the CAAD Board has selected Russell Hollingsworth as the successful architect, and is in the process of developing a sustainable business plan to operate the facility and raise outside capital to build it. Community input and council approval will be sought before the project proceeds.<http://westvancouver.ca/arts-culture/major-projects/west-vancouver-society-art-architecture-and-design>
3. Taylor Way and Marine Drive intersection – Last fall, we were advised by our staff following a meeting with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, that when the Lions Gate Bridge upgrade was completed several years ago, cameras were installed for the purpose of actively monitoring and controlling traffic-flow in real time. Apparently, this has not been done on a regular basis by MOTI. More specifically, the counter-flow lane had been switched from north to south-bound on a fixed schedule, mostly without regard to actual traffic conditions. Real-time monitoring and control has now been implemented, so you may have noticed an improvement in traffic flow.
4. The annual appointments of community members and council liaisons to Boards and Committees has been completed. I will continue to serve on the Youth Services Review Implementation Group, the Joint School Traffic Safety Advisory Committee, the Metro Aboriginal Relations Committee, and on an informal basis, on the North Shore Congress Steering Committee and the Hollyburn Lodge Restoration Project.
5. Maison Senior Living: At our next meeting on January 27th, Council will consider a recommendation to advance the review process for an OCP amendment, rezoning and development permit application regarding 825 Taylor Way and 707 Keith Road for a 91-bedroom Alzheimer and Memory Care facility. http://westvancouver.ca/home-building-property/planning/major-applications/mais-senior-living-residence.
6. Replacement of West Vancouver Secondary School Track and Sports Field: The existing track facility at WVSS has deteriorated and requires replacement. The grass field within this track is in poor condition. The School District and Municipality are working collaboratively to consult the community on options for replacement. An open-house is planned for Wednesday, January 22nd in the Atrium of the WV Community Centre from 4:30-6:30. Or visit http://westvancouver.ca/westvancouverITE/.
7. Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, our new Medical Health Officer on the North Shore has asked that I help promote a new important population health initiative by the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health Authorities called My Health My Community. In this regard, I encourage you (especially the men out there) to complete a 15-minute health survey at http://myhealthmycommunity.org. You have to register to obtain a PIN first, but it’s all relatively painless:)
For Monday night Council meeting agendas and minutes see http://westvancouver.ca/government/mayor-council/agendas-minutes.
Watch videos of live and past meetings here: http://westvancouverbc.swagit.com.
Your comments and questions are always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>.
And feel free to pass this update along to your friends. Thank you for your continued interest and support.