Local B&B and Its Proposed New Look

I popped by a Public Information Session a few weekends ago at the Admiral Anson Bed and Breakfast. I’ve never stayed at the Admiral Anson, but it’s a pleasant member of my neighbourhood with a well kept yard. As a fan of B&B’s, I think I’d like it and although I’ve not slept there, I do recommend it frequently to family and friends and have heard no complaints. According to the website, rooms are offered at $45 – $75 a night – which is incredibly reasonable – beyond reasonable, to be honest, when plain Jane hotel rooms in this city go for an average of $100 a night. The owner of the Admiral Anson, Allan Greenwood, held the Public Information Session because he is seeking City approval for a three-fold application: a Heritage Revitalization Agreement for the existing home, approval for a secondary suite below in the basement, and the subdivision of his lot into two separate lots so he can construct another house. 

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How Suite It Is

I am one of the many home owners in New Westminster with a rented suite. We have a sunny, clean one bedroom that is rented to a lovely tenant. When we purchased our home, the suite allowed us to buy a home that we could truly live in, and we did not have to move to Surrey. Try as we might South of the Fraser, we could not find a neighbourhood that we were willing to live in. I was elated to find this house, with all of its heritage quirks, partly because the suite could help make it all happen. My suite, unlike so many in this city, is registered. I have a small 4 x 4 cm aluminum square on my sidewalk to prove it.

Victoria city, that place over the fog that stole our thunder, our capitol status and our streetlamps (fist shaking) has proposed a civic measure to help alleviate the dearth of rental properties in that city and tackle the affordable housing issue. (CBC Report) The city of Victoria will offer a limited number of homeowners $5000.00 to create a rentable secondary suite in their home or to upgrade an existing one to code, and have it registered. FANTASTIC I say. Not only will this place homeowners on better legal ground and assist some to make that reno dream come true, it will provide homes in a town with an unbelievably competitive vacancy rate and bring in a rise in tax revenue from all of the homeowners who took advantage of the program. I am sure that City of Victoria will repay the quarter million program investment quickly with the increased revenues and smell like roses to boot. The homeowners won’t complain about the extra tax as they will be bringing in an extra $800-$1500 per month.

I suggest the same thing happen here. I can not benefit from the program as I am already legal beagle but so many other rented suites are just a few thou’ away from being a reality and so many others can be brought into the cleansing gleam of daylight with just a bit of an upgrade.

Mayor Wayne Wright has comedown strongly infavour of enabling New Wesminster taxpayers to rent suites in their houses where appropriate but to achieve the goal of affordable housing, has had so shy away from rigourous enforcement of the zoning bylaws. I have attached a recent video (October, Queensborough) of Mayor Wright and Mr. Blair Armitage on the campaign trail answering a question on how to enforce the legal suite bylaws to illustrate his position. This program would offer Mayor and Council a way to achieve many important goals. I suggest they adopt a similar policy.

Illegal suites have not been closed down and the likelihood of our city’s bylaw being enforced is remote. What is your position on this?

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Parking Ticket Woe

Well, I got a parking ticket. I ranted about snow removal not too long ago and someone in the comments suggested that the city would be sure to give me a parking ticket but God forbid they actually enforce the snow removal bylaws.

Anonymous commenter, you are a prophet. Please tell me the winning lotto numbers.  

Don’t get me wrong, I was parked illegally and I’m not going to argue that fact now that I realize what the bylaw is. But I’m pleading ignorance here. I was parked on a side street off 12th, in a spot I pulled into as someone was pulling out. It was the last space before the corner, and there were no signs to indicate one way or the other if I could park there. Also, the curb was not painted. The street / curb is slightly cut away, and I (wrongly) assumed that parking was permitted within 6 metres of the stop sign because of that cutaway. It’s that way in different areas of the city, so I extrapolated. For example, in front of the video store I patronize, I can park similarly although hindsight tells me there is a sign there, so I suppose that’s different.

In any event, I was ticketed less than 10 minutes after I started shopping. About 15 minutes after I parked, the clerk mentioned sadly that someone was getting towed. I asked for a description of the vehicle and I felt my throat drop into my stomach when she described the vehicle  I was driving. It so happens that I had borrowed my mother in law’s car that day.How awful would that have been to not only have a car you are operating towed, but for that car to be your mother in law? I ran outside and the tow operator was kind enough to stop what he was doing as he hadn’t yet hooked the car up, and if I had a loaf of homemade banana bread to reward him with, I would have.  In my world, baking is currency.

I’ll pay the $50. Even though I’m on mat leave and have no funds in the mad money jar for things like this after my recent splurge, I’ll pay it. I feel morally obligated to do so. I realize that the city operates on revenue generated by things like parking tickets and dog licenses and I like my community and want to be a part of its sustainability and growth. I also don’t want my mother in law’s car marked as a naughty non-payer.

But that doesn’t mean I am not furious that no less than three residents in a one block radius of my house were permitted to IGNORE THEIR SNOWY SIDEWALKS for close to an entire month, and instead let them turn to sheets of extremely dangerous ice. It doesn’t mean I’m not frustrated that I think I am the only person in my neighbourhood who cleans up after my dog if the crap landmines are any indication. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get annoyed when someone’s off leash dog comes bounding up to me as their owner shouts “It’s okay, he’s friendly!” as if that makes it okay to have their dog off leash. It’s hard to blame residents – no one thinks they are doing anything wrong because there is no city presence to tell them otherwise. Its like the Broken Window Theory that tells us that clean and tidt begets clean and tidy. It’s about consistency and being fair across the board, not having one department running with an iron fist and the rest being given no budgets for enforcement. 

Anyway, I called the city’s parking bylaw office yesterday, for two reasons. One, I wanted to pay over the phone with my credit card, and two, I wanted to know what I have to do to request that they install a sign or paint the curb or something to indicate that parking is not permitted in that spot. I shop at that merchant a lot, and I know I am not the only one who has gotten ticketed and almost towed from there. It’s 100% unlikely I will make the same mistake again, but I’m sure that someone else will be ticketed and towed. I had to leave a message on their voice mail and my message went something like this:  “Hi, My name is Jen. I got a parking ticket this past weekend and had a question about it, so if someone could return my call to 604 XXX XXXX, I’d greatly appreciate it, thank you.”

Polite. Concise. Informative. I’m good at leaving messages. 

Here’s something that will likely shock absolutely no one: my call has yet (two full days later) to be returned. Perhaps if the message I had left was “I want to pay my ticket” I’d get action. But I’m doubly annoyed that now its apparently up to me to chase after the parking services office to pay a ticket.

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Yes, it IS that bad – snow shoveling redux

Just about anything anyone can talk about now is the crazy snowfall that we’ve ad in the lower mainland this holiday season. The way it usually goes is this:

Native BC’r: Wow – isn’t this crazy? We NEVER get snow here! And if we do, it usually melts!

Former Ontarioan: Are you kidding? This isn’t snow. It’s nothing! You should see what we had back home! And hey at least we get more sun this way…
At this point I’m tired of talking about it – except for the fact that a holiday with about 14 solid days involving snow, wind and/or a heavy snowfall, I can’t believe that people still haven’t gotten the message: Shovelling your walk is NOT just about you.

Both our T2F maven Briana and our newest contributor Jenhave written about the snow removal issue that our recent weather has highlighted, as have several others. I was in full agreement with Jen and felt no need to add until I came face-to-pavement with the issue the other day. (An important thing to note at this point is that I use a wheelchair full-time.)

On December 27th I spent a few hours at Starbucks working on my thesis. The Starbucks on Columbia and 6th in New West, like most of the city, was still under the thick – and at that point, icy – blanket of snow covering roofs, walks and streets. At 3:45 my dad stopped by to ask if I needed a lift home (as my car was buried in snow on an unplowed side-street) and we agreed that since none of the stores on that block had shoveled their sidewalks (including starbucks) and snow had brought down an awning next door, I’d have to find my way to a quieter sidestreet in order to get into the car.

Dad left to get the car and I packed up and followed him a few minutes later. The store had cleared the walk (or the customers had with their feet) immediately in front of the door, not even as far as the chairs and tables reach in the summertime. I struggled to get over the initial edge of deep, slushy snow and managed to get about 2 feet in the direction I wanted, right in front of the fogged-up western window of the starbucks. I got stuck, and did my standard rock-back-and-forth trick – which also didn’t work. Nobody was in sight, and the window was too fogged up to flag someone in the store.

I took one more push to get me out of the rut and in one fell swoop, my wheels spun in the rut and my chair – through some force of momentum I have yet to investigate – flipped over. Ass over teakettle, as they say. I was really winded and lay there on my back in the snow realizing ironically that my head had landed in the only bit of sidewalk that wasn’t still covered in a cushion of slushy snow, and now I’d have a bump to show for it

I lay there for a bit, and then decided I had to find some help to get up. I swung myself over the edge of my overturned chair and sat up, trying to right my chair but getting stuck (again) in the icy slush. It figured that the only 5 minutes of the whole year in which nobody passed by that high-traffic corner was the day that I was in a heap in the snow! Just as I yelled for my dad who was emerging from the car down the street, a nice bystander about my age came out of the starbucks with her purchase and asked if I needed any help. With their help I popped myself back up into the chair and got a push out of the rut.

Normally, I’d go inside and let the staff now and ask for them to shovel immediately, but because we were off to a Christmas party, there was no time to do so. So the next day, I called the Starbucks and asked for the manager. I spoke at that point to one of the two Assistant Managers as there was no current manager at that location. The AM was polite, but unhelpful. I told her about my incident and how I hit my head on the sidewalk and asked if the snow had been removed. She acknowledged that it still wasn’t shoveled as they didn’t have anyone to do it. She apologized for the situation but made no apology to me nor an effort to make up for it or inquire as to whether I was okay.

In the end, it brought home just how important shoveling the sidewalk is – it’s not just about you, and the safety for your family. It’s about the safety of the people who traverse your little bit of the earth every day – people who, in turn, keep up their walks to keep you safe too. This little snowmageddon “golden rule” applies especially in the context of a business – what an incredibly negative message this sends when you care more about your inability to find someone to clear the (at this point, 5 day old) snow on your sidewalk than you do about the safety of your customers. It is simply not enough to say that it’s not in your job description or you physically can’t do it yourself (especially when you can pay someone to do it for you) when we are all aware of how dangerous the icy, post-snow accumulation can be. Tenancy is especially no excuse – according to the city, snow removal is the responsibility of landholders AND leaseholders.

PostScript: I have sent an e-mail to City Hall requesting that a Bylaw enforcement officer visit the Starbucks at Columbia and 6th. I encourage everyone to prompt their neighbours and shopowners to look after their sidewalk snow… and to do your part to look after your own little bit too!

Finally – a little tidbit from our friend at CityCaucus and his recent media appearance on CBC (also on CKNW radio):

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Bee in my Bonnet


Hi! I’m Jen. Briana has invited me to be an occasional contributor for Tenth to the Fraser, and leave it to me to introduce myself by posting a slightly rant-errific type of post. This is re-posted from my personal blog at www.arbolog.com.

I have a bee in my bonnet about an item that only really comes to light about 2 weeks a year. Kale and I walk every day, sometimes twice a day. I usually use the carrier, because I like having my hands free. Once in a while I will use the stroller. Because it snows so infrequently here on the West Coast, I have a feeling that people feel like they have no obligations to remove the snow on the sidewalks in front of their property. In fact, I have a feeling that not all of them even own a snowshovel. 

New Westminster is rather hilly, one might say, and the neighbourhood I live in is right at the crest of the big hill and as a result, when we go out walking every day, we walk up or down a hill no matter which direction we walk in. The city is pretty good about plowing and salting the roads – as one of the oldest settlements in BC and one that is so proudly independant, I would suspect that they actually harbour a rather large fleet of winter snow removing trucks. 

But these days, being so… pedestrian, I hardly care about the roads other than Ross getting home safely. 
People: aside from moralling being obligated to foster a sense of a caring community and actually being concerned with whether or not your neighbour takes a tumble on the walk in front of your house, you are also legally obligated to do so.

Not to get all harrumph-y here but… ahem
506. A person being the owner or occupier of real property shall remove snow, ice and rubbish from any sidewalk and foot path bordering that person’s real property and from the roof and other part of a structure adjacent to or abutting on any portion of the street, not later than 10:00 a.m. of the day
after the snow, ice or rubbish is deposited thereon.

Certain neighbours of mine spend a great deal of time decorating their house for Christmas. But you think they bother to get out there and shovel the walk in front of their house? NO. So what happens? Well, the snow gets tramped down by those of us who have to or choose to walk on by.  Then it melts a little, because it’s so sunny and gorgeous out. And then at night it freezes into a sheet of glass. Never mind the fact that I’m carrying a baby and if I slip and fall I’ll likely hurt Kale, what about the seniors? I tried using the stroller but I had to give up – pushing it through the slush was even more dangerous than carrying Kale. 

I hate to get all “I’m calling the bylaw people!” but seriously, what options do I have? I considered knocking on their door and asking, but what happens if they freak out about the confrontation? People tend to get a little nutty when they realize that a) they are totally in the wrong, and b) someone is calling them on it, so do I really want to go and knock on my neighbour’s door and get sworn, yelled, or worse, swung at? Not really. 

So seriously. Be a good neighbour. Avoid getting sued. Shovel and salt your sidewalk. Those of us out walking say “Thank you”.