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Caution urged on subdivisions
Although developers have asked for design guidelines on subdividing large single-family lots in New Westminster one councillor doesn’t believe it is necessary.
City staff have drafted a work plan to implement the guidelines, including running a trial study in three neighbourhoods. But Coun. Chuck Puchmayr thinks the city might be better off keeping things the way they are, dealing with subdivisions on a case-by-case basis.
“I have a lot of concerns with it, one being if you bring a policy that deals with developing those lots, you’re just going to bring in the developers to develop those lots,” said Puchmayr. “I have no problem with the way we’re dealing with it now … Having a policy is almost too inviting.”
A staff report proposed a trial study in the West End, Sapperton and Brow of the Hill neighbourhoods be done to work out the kinks before the guidelines are instituted throughout the rest of the mainland neighbourhoods. There would also be public consultation before adopting the guidelines.
The report said about half the 300 eligible lots are in Queen’s Park, though there are few requests to subdivide. Puchmayr said having the guidelines could pave the way for some large heritage properties in that area to be subdivided turning, for example, a $1.5 million property into one worth $5 million. In addition, the final result could be homes that don’t fit the historic character of the area.
Coun. Jaimie McEvoy said the guidelines could make it economical for heritage home properties to be torn down for subdivision.
“We don’t want to put the city up for small lot division, we don’t think that would be appropriate,” said McEvoy.
He said council is looking for a policy that would strengthen heritage protection and to also tie into the transportation network to ensure the lots have easy access to transit to justify adding more residential units.
The report said there is an appetite for subdivision in New Westminster. Since 1978, the city has approved subdivision for 56 single detached lots including 18 in the West End, 17 in Sapperton and eight in Brow of the Hill.
In the end, council sent the proposal back to staff to provide stronger language for heritage requirements and to investigate where the policies would work in the study’s trial neighbourhoods.