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New Westminster council to consider wide-ranging waterfront plan Monday
In a staff report to be presented to New Westminster City Council Monday, city staff is providing broad-sweeping recommendations to address everything from rail noise cessation, partial demolition of the Front Street Parkade, and "seamless connectivity" between the Downtown and the Fraser River waterfront.
The report recommends that the city pursue train whistle cessation throughout New Westminster, starting with the Downtown area.
First, though, the city has to pursue safety improvements along the rail route.
In order for Transport Canada, which regulates train traffic, to allow cities to pass bylaws eliminating train whistles, the city must first secure an agreement from the rail companies that they will follow national safety regulations.
The city faces a significant barrier in carrying this out: the rail companies are reluctant to comply with the regulations that would allow whistle cessation.
In phase one, safety issues at three Downtown crossings need to be considered: Begbie and Front Street, Sixth and Front street, and where the rail line crosses Front Street to the east of Fourth Street.
The city would then work to implement train whistle cessation in other neighbourhoods, the report states. In order to make the rail corridor more attractive, the city is considering replacing "unsightly fences, weeds and litter" with decorative fences and landscaping.
The report also addresses the need to make Front Street easier to use and more pleasant for the community.
Redirecting truck traffic by implementing time limitations and other regulations would be a big step in that direction, according to the report, though this would require approval from TransLink and other agencies.
The city also hopes that a Sixth Street overpass will meet the community's call for safer access to the waterfront. The city has proposed that Larco Development Group Inc. (which owns the parking lot on the waterfront and has an approved development plan for the site) will pay half the cost, and the city can also apply for senior government grants.
The Front Street Parkade, which will be affected by the overpass, has been an eyesore and impediment to air quality for decades, the report states. Since only 44 per cent of its stalls are used, the city could demolish a section of the parkade between Begbie and Sixth Streets and then upgrade the portion Sixth Street and Fourth Street.
This partial demolition would also allow the city to reduce the number of traffic lanes from three to two on that section of Front Street, add add 16 new on-street parking spaces, as well as medians to manage westbound traffic.
Pedestrians would also have access to storefront businesses and a friendlier street scape, the report states, something "that has not been seen since the 1950s."
Some of the "next steps" recommended by staff include applying for grants from Transport Canada and other agencies and consulting with businesses and property owners along Front Street and the waterfront.