City council protects the Waldorf and gets a visit from Port Metro Vancouver

Supporters of the Waldorf outside City Hall on Tuesday, January 15.

The regular Vancouver city council meeting of January 15, 2013 came to order at 9:35 am.

Councillor Kerry Jang gave the welcome and wished everyone a happy new year. He talked about New Year’s resolutions and how we can all make a difference by taking small steps toward change.

The clerks took roll call and all councillors and the mayor were present. Council then agreed to meet for an “In Camera” meeting later in the day. It was disclosed that during the “In Camera” meeting on December 12, 2012, council appointed Tara Mahoney to the Mayor’s Citizens Engaged City Task Force and Alan James to the Chinatown Historic Area Planning Committee. 

All four administrative reports on the agenda were adopted on consent. The first was “Request to Travel – FCM Sustainable Communities Conference 2013 – Councillor Louie.” The report is a request to council for permission for Councillor Raymond Louie to attend the 2013 Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Sustainable Communities Conference from February 13-15 in Windsor, Ontario with expenses estimated at $944. Councillor Louie will be moderating a session at the conference, so his registration fee has been discounted. Louie is also the chair of the FCM Green Municipal Fund Council and a MFC meeting is taking place during the same trip, so the MFC is covering his airfare and one night hotel stay.

The second report, “Request to Travel – FCM Sustainable Communities Conference 2013 – Councillor Reimer,” is a request for permission for Councillor Reimer to attend the same conference with expenses estimated at $2160. While Reimer requires full airfare and accommodations for all three nights, and her registration is not being discounted, according to the estimated cost reports her hotel is $88 cheaper a night than Councillor Louie’s.

The third administrative report was “Application for Provincial Grant to Support ‘Welcoming Communities: A Healthy and Connected City Initiative.’” It request’s council’s permission for the Social Policy department to accept a grant from the Provincial Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Development to initiate a Welcoming Communities Program. The grant has already been applied for and the Ministry has agreed to grant up to $567,000, pending approval of the final Welcoming Communities Action Plan and signing of the contract. The grant will cover the full expenses of this initiative.

The final report adopted on consent, “41 Alexander Street – Façade Grant – DB 441100,” requests that councilapprove a grant of $50, 000 for the rehabilitation of the principle façade at 41 Alexander Street, which is a heritage building. The report also asks the city to enter into an agreement with the owner of the building to have the rehabilitation overseen by a qualified heritage consultant and to keep the façade in “good appearance and good repair” for at least fifteen years. The funding for the grant will come from the 2009 Capital Budget for the Heritage Façade Rehabilitation Program.

All five policy reports on the agenda were held for debate, but before they could be discussed there were two presentations scheduled. First on the agenda was a presentation by Port Metro Vancouver, but as the presenter was not scheduled to arrive until slightly later in the morning, council voted to have the second presentation on the agenda given first.

City Manager Penny Ballem gave a presentation on the Waldorf hotel. The current owners of the hotel recently made a sale agreement with Solterra Developments, though the final sale has not yet taken place. She explained that the Waldorf is located in the middle of the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan area and that an interim zoning policy limits consideration of rezoning applications until the plan is complete. The site the Waldorf is on is currently zoned as MC-2, which is mixed commercial and industrial, and would not allow for the development of condos.

The Waldorf is not a heritage site, but it was discussed as part of a Heritage Interiors Project in 1996. Ballem explained that the architecture and cultural value of the hotel could potentially put it on the Heritage Register, but a Statement of Significance will need to be done.

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