Crisis Response Bylaw Amendments & Housing Projects in Downtown and Queensborough

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Consultation has concluded


Project Update, December 2021: A Public Hearing was held on December 6, 2021, after which Council supported (gave Third Reading to) the rezoning bylaws and Official Community Plan amendments for all three projects.

Click here to view the Public Hearing and Council Meeting recordings from December 6, and click here to read the Council package and all public correspondence received.


What's being proposed?

The City of New Westminster is bundling three separate, but closely related, projects into one review and consultation process in the interest of moving quickly to meet current and near-future funding deadlines, as well as respond more readily to urgent needs in the community.


  1. Potential city-wide bylaw amendments to allow more rapid response on projects meeting specific criteria and addressing an identified emergency or crisis: Adoption of some general bylaw amendments would offer a way for the City to respond more quickly to current crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, recent fires and heat waves, the overdose crisis, the regional homelessness crisis - and any other future crises. The proposed Official Community Plan and zoning bylaw amendments would be limited by projects that meet all four of the following criteria: property owned by the City or other government agency; project funded by government; project operated by non-profit or public agency; project must address needs identified through a Provincial emergency declaration or crisis publicly recognized by multiple Metro Vancouver municipalities. Click here for more information.

  2. Non-market housing on City-owned land at 350-366 Fenton Street in Queensborough: Rezoning and an Official Community Plan amendment are required to allow for this proposed partnership between the City and Vancouver Native Housing Society. The proposed project includes 58 units in a three-storey mutli-unit building with a mix of studios, one and two bedroom units. The building would be for Indigenous individuals and families, including providing spaces for women and children. Click here for more information.

  3. Supportive housing on Province-owned land at 60-68 Sixth Street in Downtown: Rezoning and an Official Community Plan amendment are required to allow for this proposed project of 52-units of modular homes with supports for adults at risk or experiencing homelessness. An experienced housing operator would be selected, and staff would be on site 24/7 to support residents and provide services. BC Housing would own the building. Click here for more information.


How can I engage?

The final opportunity for feedback on these projects before Council decides whether to approve them will be at the Monday, December 6, 2021 Public Hearing. You can submit your comments for Council as part of the Public Hearing process through the comment form below.


An initial comment period was open October 1 - 24, 2021. Click here for a summary of What We Heard from community members through the consultation.

The City hosted four different virtual information sessions to present the three proposed projects, address questions and hear from community members. Sessions were held October 5, 19, 20 and 21, 2021.

A recording of the October 5 information session is available. Click below to watch.



Project Update, December 2021: A Public Hearing was held on December 6, 2021, after which Council supported (gave Third Reading to) the rezoning bylaws and Official Community Plan amendments for all three projects.

Click here to view the Public Hearing and Council Meeting recordings from December 6, and click here to read the Council package and all public correspondence received.


What's being proposed?

The City of New Westminster is bundling three separate, but closely related, projects into one review and consultation process in the interest of moving quickly to meet current and near-future funding deadlines, as well as respond more readily to urgent needs in the community.


  1. Potential city-wide bylaw amendments to allow more rapid response on projects meeting specific criteria and addressing an identified emergency or crisis: Adoption of some general bylaw amendments would offer a way for the City to respond more quickly to current crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, recent fires and heat waves, the overdose crisis, the regional homelessness crisis - and any other future crises. The proposed Official Community Plan and zoning bylaw amendments would be limited by projects that meet all four of the following criteria: property owned by the City or other government agency; project funded by government; project operated by non-profit or public agency; project must address needs identified through a Provincial emergency declaration or crisis publicly recognized by multiple Metro Vancouver municipalities. Click here for more information.

  2. Non-market housing on City-owned land at 350-366 Fenton Street in Queensborough: Rezoning and an Official Community Plan amendment are required to allow for this proposed partnership between the City and Vancouver Native Housing Society. The proposed project includes 58 units in a three-storey mutli-unit building with a mix of studios, one and two bedroom units. The building would be for Indigenous individuals and families, including providing spaces for women and children. Click here for more information.

  3. Supportive housing on Province-owned land at 60-68 Sixth Street in Downtown: Rezoning and an Official Community Plan amendment are required to allow for this proposed project of 52-units of modular homes with supports for adults at risk or experiencing homelessness. An experienced housing operator would be selected, and staff would be on site 24/7 to support residents and provide services. BC Housing would own the building. Click here for more information.


How can I engage?

The final opportunity for feedback on these projects before Council decides whether to approve them will be at the Monday, December 6, 2021 Public Hearing. You can submit your comments for Council as part of the Public Hearing process through the comment form below.


An initial comment period was open October 1 - 24, 2021. Click here for a summary of What We Heard from community members through the consultation.

The City hosted four different virtual information sessions to present the three proposed projects, address questions and hear from community members. Sessions were held October 5, 19, 20 and 21, 2021.

A recording of the October 5 information session is available. Click below to watch.


Consultation has concluded
  • What We Heard: Summary of October 2021 Community Consultation

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    The City hosted four different virtual information sessions to present the three proposed projects, address questions and hear from community members. Attendance (excluding staff and project partners) across the four sessions was as follows.

    • October 5, 2021 (Presentation on all three projects) – 9 participants
    • October 19, 2021 (Focus on 60-68 Sixth Street) – 26 participants
    • October 20, 2021 (Focus on 250-366 Fenton Street) – 12 participants
    • October 21, 2021 (Presentation on all three projects) – 10 participants

    The community was also able to provide their feedback on the proposed projects by:

    • Completing an online Comment Form on Be Heard New West;
    • Submitting comments via BC Housing’s Let’s Talk webpage for 60-68 6th Street;
    • Emailing their comments to City staff;
    • Requesting a phone or in-person meeting with City staff; or
    • Mailing a letter to City Hall.

    City staff has summarized the feedback received through Be Heard New West, phone calls or correspondence submitted directly to City staff, as well as the comments provided during the Virtual Information Sessions. The primary comments expressed relate to the following:

    City-wide Crisis Response Bylaw Amendments

    • Rapid response to community needs – Comments in support of bylaws that would enable the City to respond more readily in the future to emergency or time sensitive needs, with set criteria. A comment was also made that the criteria should be expanded.
    • Bundling of projects – Comments were made that the city-wide bylaws seemed to be over shadowed by the individual projects.
    • Non-support – Comments were made in non-support of these amendments, citing leaving the current process as-is and providing housing for specific users.

    60-68 Sixth Street

    • Unfair burden on neighbours and neighbourhood – Concerns were raised that this development would be an unfair burden on those who live in close proximity to the development with respect to litter and crime. Comments were made that the Downtown neighbourhood already has a high concentration of services and housing for vulnerable populations and this project would exacerbate nuisance activities. Other comments were received from nearby residents in support of the building.
    • Adjacent uses – Concerns were raised regarding the adjacency to a cannabis store, liquor stores, daycare, schools and existing shelters/transition housing.
    • Affordable housing in the community – Comments were made in support of this development which responds to the region’s housing crisis and a need to increase the amount of affordable housing in the city. Some comments expressed that housing is a human right and should be treated as a priority in the community.
    • Property Value – Concerns were raised that the proposed project would have a negative effect on nearby property values.
    • City residents should make the final decision on the project – Some comments suggested that a referendum among residents should be used to determine if this project is approved to move forward.
    • Tenant Agreements/Conduct – concerns were raised regarding tenant behaviours (in and outside the units/building) and how the operator could enforce the tenant agreements.

    350-366 Fenton Street

    • Size/density of the development in relation to the surrounding neighbourhood– Issues were raised about the overall size and height of the building compared to the surrounding single detached dwellings. Other residents stated the benefits of this project outweigh concerns about the size and fit of the building.
    • Proposed location of the development within the city – Some residents questioned the appropriateness of this location siting a lack of services and transit as opposed to elsewhere in the city (e.g. on the mainland). Other residents expressed support.
    • Affordable housing in the community – Comments were made in support of this development which responds to the region’s housing crisis and a need to increase the amount of affordable housing in the city.
    • Existing infrastructure – Comments were made that the current infrastructure on Fenton street is inadequate (street lighting, uncovered ditches, localized flooding from blocked culverts, lack of sidewalks). Requests were made for the City to cover the ditches, complete sidewalks and raise street lighting for the entire length of the block.
    • Pedestrian Safety – Concerns were raised that the street is narrow and in poor condition and sidewalks should be provided to better access transit.
    • Traffic and parking impacts – Issues were raised about potential impacts to on-street parking. Issues were also raised related to increased traffic volumes in the area.
    • Soil/Settling issues - Concerns were raised regarding pile driving and potential ground settlement from during construction activities.
    • Increased demand for schools – Questions were raised regarding the impact of the proposed new units on demand for schools especially given the number of family-friendly units.
    • Property Value – Concerns were raised that the proposed project would have a negative effect on property values nearby.
    • City residents should make the final decision on the project – Some comments suggested that a referendum among residents should be used to determine if this project is approved to move forward.
  • City-wide Crisis Bylaw Amendments

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    When emergencies are declared or regional crises identified, and when senior government funding opportunities arise with set deadlines, the City's current land uses and standard processes for review and consultation can either prohibit or slow down support and response.

    Some examples of how current land uses set out in the Zoning Bylaw could limit urgent response to Provincial and regional emergencies include:

    • The need to situate a cooling centre due to a heat wave, or an air centre due to extreme wildfire smoke, in a commercial building where institutional uses are not permitted;
    • The public health need to create a rapid testing or vaccination clinic or emergency care beds by repurposing an industrial warehouse;
    • A business need to relocate its sale of basic goods and groceries to an institutional or residential property in order to continue sales on an emergency basis, should the properly-zoned grocery store be compromised by an earthquake.

    In any of the cases outlined above, there would not be sufficient time to pursue a site-specific zoning or even a temporary use permit to allow for these land uses.

    When urgent situations arise - and when time-sensitive opportunities to respond (such as grants, etc.) are presented - it can be necessary for the City to expedite public consultation processes in order to respond. We recognize this is not an ideal approach, and want to take proactive measures now to consult the community on "pre-approving" specific land uses, with specific criteria, on all publicly-owned land.

    Some general bylaw amendments could allow the City to respond more readily to time-sensitive needs relating to the current pandemic, the recent fires and heat waves, the overdose crisis, the homelessness crisis, and any other future crises. The Crisis Response Bylaw Amendments are proposed to include City-wide amendments to the Official Community Plan and zoning bylaw that would allow projects and land uses proposed in direct response to an identified crisis to proceed more rapidly. Any proposed projects would have to meet all of the four following criteria:

    1. The property/properties must be owned or under long-term lease by the City, by BC Housing, or by another public agency;
    2. The project(s) must be government agency funded;
    3. The project(s) must be non-profit society or public agency operated; and
    4. The project(s) must address needs identified through a BC Public Health Emergency Declaration; or a BC State of Emergency Declaration; or a crisis affecting the Metro Vancouver region that is publicly recognized by multiple member municipalities, including the City of New Westminster.


    Even if / when a proposed project meets all of the criteria, there would still be an opportunity for public notification and comment. Where possible, future projects would follow the City's standard development review process. However, with the property already zoned there would be fewer steps in the review process. Future projects would also be subject to further Council approval. For projects on City-owned land, the City would still have the authority as landowner to approve and proceed with the proposed land use, including setting any appropriate conditions on the use (i.e. limiting the use to a specific time period).

    It is anticipated that the Crisis Response Bylaw Amendments will be reviewed and considered for adoption during Fall-Winter 2021/2022.

    Moving forward, New Westminster City Council has also directed that staff consider a high-level, multi-year public policy and public engagement project related to "social benefit land uses" more broadly. These additional potential land use changes would be broader in terms of types of use, and include privately-owned lands (including projects on lands owned by non-profit societies and faith organizations, even if they are slated to receive senior government funding). These potential additional land-use changes would be further explored starting in 2022.

  • 350-366 Fenton Street

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    Aerial map of project site

    As part of its 2019-2022 Strategic Plan, New Westminster City Council resolved to leverage City resources to secure development of below- and non-market housing. This direction is in response to the housing affordability crisis facing the city and region as a whole. One of the most direct ways that Council can deliver affordable housing options is to identify City-owned sites suitable for housing.

    In October 2019, Council directed in principle the use of the City-owned properties at 350 to 362 Fenton Street in Queensborough. The City issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) inviting housing providers to describe how they would develop this site for affordable housing. Seven proposals were received in response, and in August 2020 Council endorsed in principle an earlier proposal received from Vancouver Native Housing Society (VNHS) for the Queensborough site. An original concept with a three-storey building and one level of underground parking was proposed; however, a subsequent preliminary geotechnical investigation commissioned by VNHS revealed that the site could not support this scale of development.

    In partnership with VNHS, the City has continued work on developing a non-market affordable housing project for Indigenous individuals on this site. Based on the new and immediate opportunity for Federal funding provided through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's Rapid Housing Initiative Round Two, and updated site information on geotechnical construction technology, a modified project that meets the funding program requirements is proposed. The project team sought the advice of an independent geotechnical engineer, and their review – based on preliminary information – concluded that technical solutions exist that could work to address existing site constraints (namely construction using piles as the building foundation).

    The newly-envisioned project would be situated on just over four of the nine City-owned lots along Fenton Street, and include 58-units for Indigenous individuals including providing spaces for women and children.

    The concept includes a low-rise apartment building designed to the Flood Construction Level (FCL) necessary for construction in Queensborough, with at-grade parking and three levels of residential above. A central elevator would provide access to all floors and provide accessibility to the units. A mix of apartment sizes are proposed: studios, one, and two-bedroom units. An exterior common corridor is envisioned, which could also accommodate a table and chairs. Other common areas would include a common laundry and green space. Property management services, including a building maintenance worker, would occur, but there would not be 24/7 on-site supports, meals or medical services. The proponent is seeking to design to the Passive House standard and include a geothermal exchange.

    Click here to see the concept drawings that have been prepared for the grant application, which was submitted in August 2021.

    The sites are currently zoned “RQ-1 (Single Detached)” and a rezoning to accommodate a multi-unit apartment building form, up to three storeys in height (above the FCL), would be necessary. The proposed development would also require an amendment to the Queensborough Community Plan, which currently designates the site as RL (Residential Low Density), which states that the principle forms and uses are: “Single detached dwellings and duplexes. Single detached dwellings may also include a secondary suite.” A subdivision and consolidation of the sites would also be required.

    The existing neighbourhood is typified by single detached dwellings with suites. Further to the south is Ewen Avenue, where a number of services and commercial uses are located. To the north, across Boyd Street, are industrial lands, along the Fraser River and Queensborough Landing shopping centre.

    The August 2021 grant submission was for approximately $32 million, which is anticipated to be 100% of the construction cost required for this project. While the City would be the recipient of the funding, these dollars would largely flow through to VNHS to execute the development of the project. If the City is successful in the grant application, the majority of municipal costs associated with this project will be recovered. Some fees waived such as Development Cost Charges will require an alternate funding source.

    Past Consultation on the Project

    The City hosted a virtual information session in the summer of 2020 once the Small Sites Affordable Housing Initiative was announced (prior to VNHS being selected as the project operator). The purpose of the event was to provide an overview of the small-sites affordable housing initiative, the evaluation criteria that was developed to review the proposals, and the process to explore affordable housing on the site. A total of 15 community members joined the meeting.

    Community consultation process for a previous iteration of the project was launched in fall 2020. The following is a summary of the community and stakeholder consultation that had been completed to date:

    • Residents Association Consultation: VNHS organized a special meeting with the Queensborough Residents Association executive. Two members attended and provided feedback on the project.
    • Stakeholder Consultation: Due to the required Official Community Plan (OCP) amendment, all First Nations with an interest in New Westminster, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and the School District were identified as stakeholders and were invited to provide feedback on the proposal. At that time, support was received from Cowichan Tribes and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Tsleil-Waututh Nations also noted the possibility of archaeological deposits on the site and requested that the proponent follow archaeological and environmental best management practices, which VNHS had committed to doing.
    • Project Webpage: Both the City and the applicant launched project webpages with details about the application. Click here to view the City's page. (The VNHS page includes information from the previous iteration of the project and is not up-to-date.)
  • 60-68 Sixth Street

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    Aerial map of project site

    A supportive housing project is being explored by the City and BC Housing, with the intention to submit a grant application in 2021 to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's third round of Rapid Housing Initiative program. The project site includes 68 Sixth Street (owned by BC Housing) and 60 Sixth Street, which is a small strip of land the City owns adjacent to 68 Sixth Street.

    The concept includes a four-storey modular building. The project would provide 52 supportive housing units, along with limited exterior programming space (e.g. a gazebo for residents to smoke). Supports provided to residents would include: meal programs, access to laundry facilities, access to 24/7 support staff, life skills and employment training, referrals to other community services, access to health supports, and on-site medical supports. An operator for the building has not yet been selected, but will be done so by an open Request for Proposals in the coming months. BC Housing anticipates having two on-site staff to operate the building, as well as other building support staff as needed (e.g. cook, cleaners). Very limited, if any, parking would be able to be accommodated on-site.

    Click here to view the preliminary concept site plan.

    The project would require a site consolidation, rezoning and Official Community Plan (OCP) amendment. 68 Sixth Street is currently zoned Commercial (C-4) and designated Mixed Use High Density in the Downtown Community Plan, which includes “mixed-use (commercial and/or residential) throughout Downtown, outside of Columbia Historic Mixed-Use, retail, office, service or residential and any combination of the above (can be one use or multiple uses)”. As commercial uses cannot be accommodated within the modular building and the limited site size, an OCP amendment to permit non-commercial uses at grade would be required.

    There will be an opportunity for the community to learn more about the proposed homes with supports at information sessions later this fall. Information on session dates and times will be posted to this webpage when confirmed.

    The site is located along Sixth Street, which is a Great Street identified in the City of New Westminster's Master Transportation Plan and OCP. Immediately adjacent to the west is a four-storey, 33-unit residential and commercial building, and to the south is a two-storey car service shop. To the north, across the Agnes Street Greenway, is a four-storey commercial building with retail on street level and offices above. Across Sixth Street to the east are two-storey commercial buildings.

    Staff from BC Housing and the City are currently working through the project concept development for 68 Sixth Street. Senior government funding is needed to proceed with this project; the City cannot afford this project without significant funding assistance. As a result, there is an expectation from senior government that the City will expedite processing of municipal bylaw amendments and permitting as a requirement to access funding.