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Council Update - March 13th, 2023

Updated: Mar 19, 2023

First off, I owe you all an apology: it was my intention to have these updates occur much more regularly. However, and this will likely come as a surprise to no one, there has been an immense amount to learn while on the job, and as a result, the time I’ve had to dedicate to writing has been limited. My hope is that by the next Council meeting on April 3rd, I’ll have been able to provide an update on the first five months of this term. If you'd like, you can find the recording of the entire Council meeting here on the Township website.

In the meantime, there were several Official Community Plan Amendments, Rezoning Applications, and Development Permit Applications on the agenda of the most recent Regular Meeting of Council on March 13th.

It was a rather jam-packed agenda, with approvals given at various stages for 422 condominiums, 46 townhomes, 10 single-family homes, 42,000ft2 of desperately needed commercial space in Willoughby, and a five-storey office building. For the new applications that received approval, this will result in over $3.1 million in Community Amenity Contributions (CACs). Approximately $600,000 of these CACs were gained as a result of the changes made to the CAC policy by Council at the start of this term. This change requires additional contributions from applications that seek additional density above what’s allowed in our Community and Neighbourhood Plans. Further, Third Reading was granted to the Conwest industrial application that expands the Gloucester Industrial Estates by 36 acres. This was the application that faced significant opposition last term from then-Councillor Woodward due to the small community amenity contribution compared to the increase in value from these lands being converted from Rural to Industrial. As a result of many discussions and work, the application came back to Council with a Community Amenity Contribution of over $18 million in cash as well as the contribution of an ecologically sensitive parcel of land along the Salmon River.

Besides the various development applications, there were also a couple of items that were either referred to or brought back to this meeting. One was the vote on the large soil deposit permit across the street from Aldergrove Regional Park that Council first saw on the agenda of the February 27th Regular Meeting of Council. With over 30,300 truckloads of fill proposed, this soil deposit permit required a presentation from Staff to assure Council that it was promoting agriculture and would not cause any undue hardship on the surrounding properties. In the end, it was passed by Council unanimously.

Another application that was brought back for reconsideration was the Local Area Service application for 47 properties in Glenwood. After a presentation from the proponent and healthy discussion amongst Council members, the application was once again voted down by a majority of Council.

On the environmental front, a final amendment was made to the Tree Protection Bylaw to harmonize the cash-in-lieu fees for replacement trees that were proposed at the last meeting with the requirements set out in the Bylaw. There was also a vote to reconsider a proposal from 2019 to create an Integrated Stormwater Management Plan for the West Creek watershed located in the Gloucester Industrial Park. This “comprehensive, ecosystem-based approach to rainwater management” will help guide Township policies and actions as they relate to the protection of sensitive wetlands and creeks. This was approved by Council and will now be proceeding after having been rejected by the majority of the last Council.

The last items on the Regular Meeting Agenda were nine Motions proposed by members of Council. These included Servicing and Building Permit Processing Timelines (Woodward), Parks Works Policy Redundant Work Plan Item (Woodward), Step Code 4 for Part 9 Residential Buildings (vanPopta), Improvements to Fort Langley Community Park (vanPopta), Fort Langley Waterfront Project (vanPopta), New Fort Langley Heritage Streetscape Plan (vanPopta), “Tattoo Parlour” Bylaw Review (Martens), and a Review of Community Proclamations Council Policy (Baillie). All were passed by a majority of Council.

After the Regular and Closed Meetings of Council were completed, there was the Public Hearing on the proposed Streamside Protection and Enhancements Clarification Amendments. As I’m sure many other Councillors did as well, I received many letters and phone calls from residents and activists who expressed a variety of concerns with the amendments as proposed in the week leading up to the Public Hearing. These concerns were echoed last night, with the primary issues identified being the elimination of "Ditches" within the definition of a watercourse, as well as the lack of clarity as to what defines a "Qualified Professional". These Qualified Professionals would have immense leeway to determine what is a sensitive watercourse worth protecting. Public Hearings are an opportunity for members of Council to listen without comment, and the Amendments will be on the Agenda for Council to debate at the April 3rd meeting.
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