February 25, 2014 - Minutes (Special)

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City of Richmond Meeting Minutes

Council Meeting for Special Public Hearing

Tuesday, February 25, 2014



Council Chambers
Richmond City Hall
6911 No. 3 Road


Mayor Malcolm D. Brodie

Councillor Chak Au
Councillor Linda Barnes
Councillor Derek Dang
Councillor Ken Johnston
Councillor Bill McNulty
Councillor Linda McPhail
Councillor Harold Steves

Michelle Jansson, Acting Corporate Officer


Councillor Evelina Halsey-Brandt

Call to Order:

Mayor Brodie opened the proceedings at 7:00 p.m.



(Location:  Hamilton Area; Applicant:  City of Richmond)



Applicant’s Comments:



Terry Crowe, Manager Policy Planning, provided a brief overview of the proposed Hamilton Area Plan and highlighted the following information:




during the public consultation process, Hamilton residents expressed the need for improvements to the library, recreation space, and shopping area, as well as, the need for safer roads and pedestrian paths, a police station, and a variety of housing options for families and seniors;




There are no changes proposed for the Hamilton Area’s existing parks, south residential neighbourhood, Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) lands, and industrial lands;




the proposed Plan includes (i) an improved east-west road connection,  (ii) a new park, and (iii) a range of community amenities such as a library, a police station, additional indoor recreation space, a child care hub, and a pier to name a few;




Hamilton specific and City-wide Development Cost Charges (DCC), allocated for sewer, water, road and park infrastructure, will apply to any new development; and




the proposed Community Amenity Contribution (CAC) rates are comparable to those applied in other areas of the City.



In response to queries from Council, Mr. Crowe advised that there would be no changes to the current road configurations or to the park on the east side of the Area. Also, it was noted that the proposed CAC rates are the second lowest in the City.



Written Submissions:




C. Surmik, 23171 Westminster Highway (Schedule 1);





Agricultural Land Commission, 4940 Canada Way, Burnaby (Schedule 2);





Kelvin Higo (Schedule 3);





Wolf Strecko, 23180 Willett Avenue (Schedule 4);





Melvin Yap, 23451 Westminster Highway (Schedule 5);





George and Wendy Walker, 4525 Fraserbank Place (Schedule 6);





Pauline Lewzey, 23180 Willett Avenue (Schedule 7);





Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association, 7495-132 Street, Surrey (Schedule 8); and





Urban Development Institute, 602 West Hastings Street, Vancouver (Schedule 9).




In reply to a query from Council, Mr. Crowe spoke of population scenarios, noting that a population between 11,000 and 17,000 could be accommodated with high-density infrastructure such as stacked townhouses, apartments, and mixed commercial developments; however, he noted that the proposed Plan reflects a population of approximately 12,000 residents.



Submissions from the floor:



Colleen Chambers, 5880 Kartner Road, generally supported the proposed Hamilton Area Plan with the exception of the proposed land lift contributions.  She questioned the proposed land lift calculations and she was of the opinion that the 85% land lift could potentially hinder development and pass on its costs to property owner.  Ms. Chambers stated that she did not believe that the proposed public library and the expansion of the Hamilton Community Centre were warranted due to the Area’s proximity to similar amenities in the Queensborough area; she suggested that the City work collaboratively with the City of New Westminster. Finally, Ms. Chambers was concerned that the miscellaneous amenity funds would be used for other City projects if not allocated for specific projects in the Hamilton Area.



In response to queries from Council, Joe Erceg, General Manager, Planning and Development, advised that the CAC is based on a contribution rate per buildable square foot, similar to all other areas of Richmond.  Mr. Erceg spoke of the land lift calculation referred to in the staff report dated January 28, 2014, and noted that an independent consultant conducted an analysis to determine the viability of charging the CAC rates on a per square foot basis while simultaneously encouraging development in the Area.  He noted that, of the eight areas reviewed in the staff memorandum dated February 25, 2014 (attached to and forming part of these minutes as Schedule 10), the proposed CAC rates for the Area are the second lowest rates for townhouse and apartment/condominium developments.  Furthermore, Mr. Erceg noted that the consultant’s analysis indicated that the CAC rates would neither stifle redevelopment in the Area nor lower the market value of existing properties.  Also, Mr. Erceg commented that the rates are not intended to be static; the rates could be amended to reflect current market conditions.



Mr. Erceg stated that, as per Council’s request, staff have identified proposed additional amenities in the Hamilton Area.  A Child Care Hub and a Waterfront Park Pedestrian Pier account for the majority of the $8.8 million identified under “Miscellaneous Amenities”.  In addition, should any new development in the Hamilton Area increase the demand on services in other areas of the City, appropriate contributions would be allocated to such areas; however, the majority of CAC funds will remain in the Hamilton Area.



With regard to the library and community centre amenities in Queensborough, Mr. Erceg advised that staff have worked closely with City of New Westminster staff.  However, it is not intended that Hamilton residents be reliant on amenities provided in Queensborough; the public consultation process identified the need for such additional amenities.



Maureen McDermid, 6480 Juniper Drive, read a written submission on behalf of the Honourable Linda Reid, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Richmond-East (attached to and forming part of these minutes as Schedule 11).



Trustee Donna Sargent, Richmond Board of Education, accompanied by Clive Mason, Director of Facilities and Planning, expressed concerns regarding the proposed population increase and read from a written submission (attached to and forming part of these minutes as Schedule 12).



In response to a query from Council, Mr. Mason advised that a 14,000 square feet expansion to the Hamilton Elementary School would be required to serve the projected population growth.  Also, he noted that Ministry of Education requirements indicate that an additional site would be necessary to facilitate such an expansion.



In response to a query from Council, Mr. Crowe noted that staff is aware of the School District’s needs.  He suggested that further discussion take place regarding the potential implications of an expansion and that such discussion take place prior to other sites being explored.



Mr. Crowe advised that the proposed square footage for the library, the community police office, and the community centre expansion are appropriate to meet the future needs of the community. 



In response to a query from Council, Trustee Sargent explained that, although the Ministry of Education is responsible for all school facilities, it is not allocating funds for capital projects.  Trustee Sargent noted that the School District is a partner to the City in the development of the Hamilton Area, and as such, progressive funding models must be explored in order to facilitate growth.  Trustee Sargent then spoke of an upcoming meeting with New Westminster School District representatives to discuss a shared high school facility; however, she noted that resolving the lack of space at the Hamilton Elementary School is the School District’s priority.



Guy Biggar, 23500 Gates Avenue, was generally in favour of the proposed Plan as he believed it would lay the foundation for the development of a beautiful, functional, and lively community; however, he suggested that the ‘Miscellaneous Amenity’ contributions be postponed until further community consultation has taken place.  Mr. Biggar commented on the Veterans’ Land Act, suggesting that land lift calculation be such that ensures veterans’ families benefit from the development of the proposed amenities.



In reply to a query from Council, Mr. Crowe advised that the City had conducted extensive public consultation since January 2012.



Craig Surmik, 23171 Westminster Highway, expressed concern with regard to the potential expropriation of land to facilitate the development of the proposed waterfront park on River Road.  Also, he was of the opinion that the designation of said land to parkland would pose development and mortgage challenges. Mr. Surmik explained that currently his property could be subdivided to allow for the construction of a new waterfront residence; however, he had not been assured that this type of construction can still take place should the proposed Hamilton Area Plan be approved.  Also, Mr. Surmik suggested that curbside parking be considered at the intersection of Westminster Highway and Gilley Road in an effort to promote the shopping area.



In response to a query from Council, Mr. Erceg noted that the proposed Area Plan includes a park designation; however, it does not propose any rezoning.  Mr. Erceg then spoke of the City’s practice in regard to land acquisitions noting that the City typically purchases land at market value, based on appraisals.



In response to queries regarding the construction of the bicycle path bridge, Mike Redpath, Senior Manager, Parks, advised that construction will commence once the weather improves.



Ali Elashi, 5380 Smith Drive, spoke in favour of the proposed Area Plan as he believed the higher density would allow businesses to succeed and provide much needed services to the community.



Betty Carr, 4485 Fraserbank Place, expressed concern regarding the proposed increased density noting that it would significantly impact traffic in the area.  She was of the opinion that, although the proposed Area Plan includes community amenity and commercial area improvements, area residents would continue to commute to and from recreation, shopping, and employment opportunities.  Also, Ms. Carr questioned the higher density housing and its impact on existing trees and the water table.



In reply to a query from Council, Mr. Erceg stated that a comprehensive traffic analysis has been completed for the Area Plan and, as a result, a number of road network improvements were identified.  In addition, he noted that as individual development applications are submitted additional traffic studies would be conducted.



Mr. Crowe advised that both the Official Community Plan and the proposed Hamilton Area Plan have ecological policies that incorporate better design guidelines for future development in the area.  It was noted that the City is committed to tree preservation and environmental enhancement as development moves forward.  It was further noted that the proposed Area Plan allows for residential apartments with and adjacent to the mixed use designation.



Al Sakai, Principal, Hamilton Elementary School, spoke of the latest Middle Years Developmental Indicator Study, and highlighted that the Hamilton area students were performing very well, and in some cases, approximately ten per cent better than students in other areas of Richmond.  He attributed the Hamilton area students’ well-being, in part, to the partnership between the City and the School District with regard to the shared Hamilton Community Centre.  Mr. Sakai noted that, in order to facilitate approximately 300 new students in the Hamilton area, it is vital that the City and School District continue this partnership.



In response to a query from Council, Mr. Crowe stated that the build out for the anticipated density in the Hamilton area could potentially take 20 to 25 years.  It was noted that the existing community centre can accommodate a population of 9,000 residents, which would allow sufficient time for the City and School District to work cooperatively on an agreement for the proposed additional community centre space.



Heather Hicks, 23171 Westminster Highway, raised concern with the lack of infrastructure to service the proposed population density, noting a shortfall in school space and poor transit service particularly during winter conditions.   Ms. Hicks expressed concern for the poor condition of the properties to be redeveloped along Westminster Highway.  She was pleased that a park is proposed along the Fraser River and requested that the development of the park trail be done sensitively in order to protect the wildlife habitat and predatory bird nests in the area.



In response to a query from Council, Mr. Crowe noted that staff will continue to work with the School District to address education needs and to minimize bussing.  He noted that staff will work with developers and property owners to ensure that properties in transition are kept in good condition.  Also, Mr. Crowe advised that public transportation needs of the community will be discussed with TransLink at an upcoming meeting.



Jeff Fisher, Vice-President and Senior Policy Advisor, Urban Development Institute (UDI), spoke in support of the proposed Hamilton Area Plan, but expressed concern with the CAC rates.  He read from a written submission (attached to and forming part of these minutes as Schedule 9).  Mr. Fisher then  requested that a copy of the staff memorandum regarding the proposed $8.8 million for community amenities be provided to the UDI.



Discussion ensued regarding the CAC rates.  In reply to a query from Council, Mr. Erceg advised that staff have liaised with and provided updates to the UDI; however, the additional information regarding the miscellaneous category was provided at the request of Council.  Mr. Erceg expressed concern that a city-wide review of the CAC rates would take considerable time and that development may be delayed should Council consider deferring approval of the proposed Hamilton Area CAC rates.  Mr. Erceg stated that he was not aware of any incident where the CAC rates were increased and reiterated that the City would be calculating the CAC rates on a buildable square footage basis and not through a land lift calculation.



Rob Howard, 5880 Dover Crescent, spoke in favour of the proposed Hamilton Area Plan, noting that it would bring additional housing options, services, and employment to the community.  He encouraged Council to move forward with the proposed Plan and expressed support for the definition of the miscellaneous community amenities and the CAC calculation.



Dana Westermark, ORIS Consulting, expressed support for the Hamilton Area Plan, and commented that the proposed CAC rates was a departure from past practices.  He further commented that the rates collected in Steveston are specific to purchasing excess density above 1.2 Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and to generating revenue to support the heritage assets of the area. Additionally, he noted that the City Centre (Capstan Area) charges are being specifically applied to construct the Capstan Canada Line Station, which is a valuable amenity for developments immediately surrounding the Station.  Mr. Westermark stated that details on the financial strategy for the proposed Hamilton Area Plan were not available, and as such, was of the opinion that this left no opportunity for meaningful consultation.  It was further noted that the proposed three amenities referenced in the staff report dated January 28, 2014 have been part of discussions for the past two years; however, the amenities under the ‘Miscellaneous Category’ were not part of past discussions.  Mr. Westermark believed that a CAC rate based on the cost of the proposed three amenities, with an additional ten per cent contingency fund, would be an appropriate interim policy.  This would allow (i) development to move forward, and (ii) for additional public consultation with stakeholders in order to reach a consensus regarding the scope of the CAC rates.  Mr. Westermark concluded by stating that the need for additional school space is an existing issue and as such, was of the opinion that landowners, developers, and taxpayers should not have to contribute towards this facility.



In reply to a query, Mr. Erceg advised that, should the CAC rates be approved on an interim basis, a moratorium on development applications in the area could be considered.  Alternatively, development applications could proceed with a lesser amenity contribution being applied.  He further advised that a review of the CAC rates could take longer than six months, and should the cost of the amenities increase during this time, the rates would increase accordingly.



In response to queries from Council, Mr. Westermark noted that, should the desired neighbourhood focused retail street be achieved, it would encourage additional development in the area.  He further noted that it is not anticipated that the Hamilton area experience a rapid absorption rate, and therefore, maximum build out would be a matter of decades and not years.



In reply to a query, Mr. Erceg noted that the policy relating to the CAC rates is reflected in the proposed Hamilton Area Plan, which refers to the rates per square foot of development.



Jose Gonzalez, 8935 Cook Crescent, expressed support for the proposed Area Plan, noting that the proposed east-west connection improvements would facilitate unifying the area and provide better access to community amenities.  Mr. Gonzalez requested clarification whether there was flexibility on the location of the proposed road bisecting Thompson Road.



Mr. Erceg advised the location of the proposed road is conceptual and that its location and impact to landowners would be examined carefully once a development application is received.



Walloce Sohl, 22760 River Road, was pleased to see a pier proposed along the Fraser River as part of the proposed Plan.  Mr. Sohl requested that the City consider providing water fountains, washrooms, and picnic tables on the future park site.  With regard to prior comments regarding school capacity, Mr. Sohl suggested that the area be developed as a retirement community, with suitable housing for an aging demographic.



Robert Kirk, 5880 Kartner Road, supported the proposed Hamilton Area Plan, with the exception of the use of land lift rates for future development.  Mr. Kirk expressed that the current “Developer Pay” approach may not be fair as current landowners are included in the definition for a developer. He believed that current landowners would be offered lower prices for their land as developers are to pay all infrastructure costs through an 85% or more land lift charge.



Michael Wolfe, 9731 Oldin Road, noted that public input received by the City represented only two per cent of area residents, which he believed was not enough support for Council to adopt the proposed Hamilton Area Plan.  He further noted that there were only 80 Affordable Housing Units proposed for the area, with no assurances that the units would be constructed.  Mr. Wolfe voiced concern for the (i) lack of school space, (ii) potential negative impact to the natural and semi-natural areas due to development, and (iii) lack of policies to reduce greenhouse gases and emissions.



Alex Yuen, 22120 Sharp Avenue, was of the opinion that increased density would adversely affect (i) the safety of children crossing Westminster Highway, and (ii) the operation of the Hamilton Community Centre.  Mr. Yuen expressed his appreciation for the proposed library. He noted that the current school capacity is a major concern and that bussing students to other schools would be detrimental to both the students and to their parents.  Also, he commented on pilings and soil conditions, noting that these are important considerations for future development proposals.



In reply to a query from Council, Donna Chan, Manager, Transportation Planning, advised that traffic signals on Westminster Highway at the intersections of Gilley Road and Boundary Road are scheduled to be installed in 2014.  She then noted that as development occurs, other signals are anticipated to be warranted along Westminster Highway at Smith Crescent and Willett Avenue.



Bruno Thielmann, Vice President of Development, Wesgroup, spoke in favour of the proposed Hamilton Area Plan and supported the proposed amenities.  Mr. Thielmann encouraged Council to clearly identify and account for the miscellaneous amenities in the proposed Area Plan.



It was moved and seconded



That Official Community Plan Bylaw 9000, Amendment Bylaw 9078 be given second and third readings.



The question on Resolution No. SPH 14/1-1 was not called as discussion ensued regarding the clarification of the miscellaneous amenity allocation.  As a result of the discussion, the following amendment was introduced:



It was moved and seconded



That Official Community Plan Bylaw 9000, Amendment Bylaw 9078, which repeals the existing Schedule 2.14 – Hamilton Area Plan and replaces it with a new Schedule 2.14 – Hamilton Area Plan, and includes policies on land use and density, community amenity contributions, community recreation, community safety, economic development, agriculture, transportation, the natural environment, infrastructure, parks, public realm and open space as well as new development permit area guidelines for commercial and multi-family development, be revised prior to second reading by:




replacing Section 12.0 Implementation Strategy, Objective 3, Policy b) with:





Developer Contributions to Hamilton and City Wide Community Amenity Space:





the City may accept developer community amenity contributions, or the developer construction of the actual community amenity spaces (e.g., a small public library, a community policing office space, childcare hub, and pedestrian pier on the North Arm of the Fraser River), and contributions to City-wide community amenities which Hamilton residents may utilize.



The question on Resolution No. SPH14/1-2 was not called as Council noted the importance of defining where the Community Amenity Contributions would be directed.



The question on Resolution No. SPH14/1-2 was then called and it was CARRIED.



Discussion continued regarding the merits of the application, with members of Council speaking in favour of the proposed Hamilton Area Plan, particularly noting the wide support for community revitalization, amenities, and as such, the appropriateness of the proposed CAC rates.  It was noted that Council would continue to work with the Richmond School Board to address the need for additional school space in the Hamilton area.  Council challenged the development community to provide a wide variety of housing that would be inclusive of all age groups and mobility ranges.



At the conclusion of the discussion, the question on Resolution SPH14/1-1, as amended by Resolution No. SPH14/1-2, was then called and it was CARRIED.



It was moved and seconded



That Official Community Plan Bylaw 9000, Amendment Bylaw 9078 be adopted.









It was moved and seconded



That the meeting adjourn (10:23 p.m.).






Certified a true and correct copy of the Minutes of the Regular Meeting for Public Hearings of the City of Richmond held on Tuesday, February 25, 2014.




Mayor (Malcolm D. Brodie)


Acting Corporate Officer
(Michelle Jansson)