Council Meeting Highlights: November 16, 2020

Nov 16, 2020

Here is a quick snapshot of the outcome of this week’s Council meeting. For further details, please watch the video or view the minutes once they are posted.

2020 Asset Management Update - Council received an information update on the asset management program, which was established in 2015 to identify the community's public assets, determine their condition, and develop a fund supported by an annual levy for their maintenance.

There has been a setback in funding asset management in 2020 because it was necessary to re-direct funds for COVID-19 response measures. Many important and worthwhile projects had to be postponed, and there is a need to rebuild this fund.

The report included updated lists of poor-condition, low-use assets, and poor-condition, high-use assets that are starting to reach a critical phase and require investment.

On a related note, the District has been informed that it will receive a grant of $5,068,000 as part of joint federal/provincial spending to alleviate the impacts of COVID-19 on local governments. These funds will assist the District in addressing unforeseen capital costs and COVID-19 response costs.

Coastal Planning and Preparation of a Foreshore Development Permit Area -  It is a priority for the District to address the threat of sea-level rise by preparing strategies to protect the shoreline and adjacent properties, and the Official Community Plan and Council's Strategic Plan both specify the need to address sea-level rise with a Development Permit Area (DPA). 

Currently, the procedure to deal with individual properties requires a flood hazard assessment report by a qualified professional, including calculating a flood construction level as outlined by the provincial government. A Development Permit Area would provide a consistent regulatory framework for all properties, providing guidelines that address flood construction levels and other site-specific requirements to allow properties to redevelop safely, without the need for Council approval for each property.

The District completed a study to determine flood construction levels for West Vancouver's coastline, from Horseshoe Bay to Ambleside Park, to guide where flood hazard assessment would be required. The study also looked at solutions to manage coastal flooding in the long-term, including a beach-nourishment berm (e.g. "green-shores" approach) on the public foreshore.

Council received this report for information and directed staff to prepare and introduce a Foreshore Development Permit Area for Council's consideration. Council also directed staff to hold a workshop in the first quarter of 2021 for community stakeholders to discuss progress on the foreshore DPA. The workshop would be an additional opportunity for public consultation before a public hearing for the DPA.

On a related note, the Coastal Marine Management Plan Working Group is preparing a report on several coastal issues. The Development Permit Area would be in alignment with that work. The working group expects to bring their recommendations to the public for review in the new year.

Solid Waste Utility Bylaw Amendment - Solid waste includes garbage, organics, and recycling collection. General property taxes do not support this service. A separate fund supports the service, and the rates are set every year, then charged to residents quarterly on their utility bills.

There was a change to recycling collection on July 1, 2020, when the District stopped being responsible for recycling (blue box) and a provincial organization, RecycleBC, took over recycling collection. As a result, residents only paid for this service until July 1.

This year, as a result of COVID-19, there was a significant increase in the volume of garbage left in public spaces, particularly in parks, and the District doubled the resources required to collect this public realm waste. This has resulted in an increased cost for garbage collection in public spaces.

This is the first time in four years that Council has approved a rate increase for solid waste collection. Compared to 2020, the rates for 2021 will increase by $20.04 for single-family homes and decrease by $3.47 for multi-family homes. This increase brings the cost for solid waste collection to $204.38 per year for a single-family residence. 

Other bylaw amendments were made to update the section about residential recycling to reflect the change in service provider, more clearly align with the Community Charter, and other housekeeping amendments.

Council approved the adjusted fees and amendments and read the bylaw a first, second, and third time. It will be adopted at a later date.

Waterworks Regulation Bylaw Amendment - Under this bylaw, the District treats and delivers extremely high-quality drinking water to residents. General property taxes do not support this service. A separate fund supports the service, and the rates are set every year, then charged to residents quarterly on their utility bills. The fund provides water treatment at two District-operated facilities, the purchase of additional drinking water from Metro Vancouver, and the water delivery system's maintenance.

The District encourages water conservation by using a four-tiered user-pay metered system. Through this system, the less you use, the lower your rate.

Council approved a rate increase for 2021, resulting in a median single-family household bill increase of $42. An average multi-family unit bill will increase $17 over 2020, assuming the same level of consumption. 

The bylaw was read a first, second, and third time. It will be adopted at a later date.

Sewer and Drainage Utility Fee Bylaw Amendment - The District provides sanitary sewer and storm drain services to residents under this bylaw. Every year, the rates are set by a bylaw amendment, and residents receive their utility bills quarterly. These funds are not part of general taxes. They are charged to residents quarterly on their utility bills. This fund ensures the sewer systems are maintained in good working order, the culverts are kept clean, and creeks and drainage systems continue working to prevent flooding. It also covers the regional levy due to Metro Vancouver for waste treatment.

Council approved a rate increase for 2021, resulting in a median single-family household total bill increase of $90 over 2020, bringing the total annual cost to $1,186. The average multi-family unit total bill increased $25 over 2020, bringing the total annual cost to $288.

Overall, this reflects an 8.0% increase. Part of this increase is because, in 2019, Council decided to move forward with smaller increases early on to prevent a large cost spike to residents when the new Lions Gate treatment facility comes online in a few years.

The bylaw was read a first, second, and third time. It will be adopted at a later date.

Navvy Jack House Update - Council received an early update on the Navvy Jack House, reporting on the nine-part resolution made October 2, 2020. Visit the project page for full details. Further project updates are anticipated in January 2021, including the grant application results, the feasibility study, and the project costing.

The next Council meeting will take place on December 7.

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