Once again, not a surprise to see New Westminster City Council vote unanimously 7-0 in favour of a major development project.
This time it was Bosa Development [not to be confused with Bosa Properties who was a significant financial contributor to all of the DLC Caucus members] who went to Council requesting a zoning variance in order to construct two very tall towers alongside the Fraser River next to Pier Park. One of the towers will actually soar 53 storeys in height. Once it is constructed, the tower will be in the top three when it comes to the tallest buildings in British Columbia.
Let me first say that I’m glad something is finally being done with the eyesore between Pier Park and the Fraser Discovery Centre. This is the third attempt to get something built there and it has taken our local politicians and city staff way too long to get to get something finalized.
As someone who generally supports the notion of adding density to provide more housing options and lower our carbon footprint, this type of project – on the surface – would appear to have lots of appeal.
However, if we are going to give thumbs up to these types of major developments – there should be a clear set of community benefits that come along with it and it should fit into a broader vision of what we want and need our neighbourhoods to become.
There are those who will assert Bosa’s efforts to green and clean up the waterfront should be considered a community benefit unto itself.
It is hard to argue against the notion that adding green space and a few amenities is an asset to the city. But have no doubt, those improvements and investments in the public realm also help to sell more condos and in turn, make the developer more money. Generally speaking…the taller the tower, the more profit you can make.
I’ve already written about how we lack arenas and other key sports amenities in this town. Sadly, our only indoor pool was constructed back in 1973 and is in dire need of replacement – something even the Mayor has publicly acknowledged.
It’s not only sports and recreational facilities that are in need of some TLC, so too is our basic infrastructure. The most glaring example is Queensborough where they lack what most of us simply take for granted each day – paved sidewalks.
In their place are mosquito-infested open ditches and dirt trails that appear more reminiscent of what you’d find in some lesser developed nations – let alone one of the wealthiest countries and cities on the planet.
Supporting new developments in New Westminster should be part of a much larger strategy to upgrade and renew our public amenities. More density…more development…should equal more community-wide amenities.
Yet far too often these much-needed major projects take years, if not decades to plan, finance and construct. For Heaven’s sake, just look at how long our community has been waiting for a new high school – it’s measured in the decades.
I found the reaction of some city councillors to the Bosa development, as reported by the Record newspaper via Twitter, quite curious.
Rather than ensuring we push the developer for the maximum amount of amenities we can obtain for building on our beautiful waterfront, some politicos simply appeared relieved the process was over.
For example, read this tweet regarding Councillor McEvoy’s reaction to the project.
Coun. Jaimie McEvoy says he'd take a good project any day over another 25 years of empty land on the waterfront-good public policy. #NewWest
— The Record (@TheRecord) June 27, 2017
On that note Councillor McEvoy I respectfully disagree. Rather than settling for simply a “good” project, we should understand our community is going places. We should have been striving for the best project possible given it is in an “iconic” location!
Harper says the two towers are part of a much bigger plan and will be iconic. "They are going to be a symbol of New Westminster." #NewWest
— The Record (@TheRecord) June 27, 2017
In reference to the previous tweet…while the towers may have some visual appeal, I certainly wouldn’t classify them as “iconic”.
In fact, if Councillor Harper visited Yaletown or Coal Harbour recently he’d find at least 50 other “iconic” buildings that look eerily similar to those being proposed for our waterfront. Furthermore, how can Harper honestly classify this as a “symbol of New Westminster?” What exactly does it symbolize?
In any event, the Bosa towers are now one major step closer to reality and our elected officials appear to think this is the best deal we could get.
For the record, according to Elections BC, in 2014 Bosa Properties contributed $5,750 to DLC Caucus members. This included a $2000 donation to the Mayor’s campaign.
I’ll have more to write in the coming weeks about how we should and could take a different approach when it comes to using new developments to help us renew and build major public amenities in our city.