Parksville subdivision bylaw eliminates street trees

Larger water, sewer pipes among proposed requirements

New subdivisions in Parksville could boast visible changes to the city’s skyline and unseen changes below ground if a proposed new subdivision bylaw is approved by council in the coming year.

Council approved a motion directing staff to move a draft subdivision bylaw and standards to the statutory process and repeal the existing, 1996 bylaw, which was last amended in 2005, said Rosa Telegus, city development engineer.

In a report shared with council at its Dec. 18 meeting, Telegus shared a verbal report of the draft subdivision servicing bylaw. Its vision included future developments with no above-ground utilities — or street trees — and larger underground pipes to provide both water supply and drainage.

She said the recommendations in the proposed bylaw would be essentially cost-neutral.

“Some of the (building) requirements now require a higher standard, which will result in increased cost,” Telegus admitted. “However, this is balanced by decreases and deletions.”

One of the cost savings could come in the elimination of street trees in new subdivisions. Currently, Telegus said, annual maintenance on its street trees costs the city about $12,000.

The design and configuration of newer subdivisions, along with wider sidewalks and wider road lanes called for in the new bylaw, will leave much less space for boulevard trees — which surveys have shown are not a priority.

“Amazingly, residents don’t want street trees,” said Telegus. “And tree planting conflicts with house building.”

Telegus said the city’s operations department is drafting a plan to introduce a tree rebate policy to encourage homeowners to plant trees on residential properties. It would offer $50 toward a tree owners could plant on their property — but not on the street setback.

Asked by Coun. Leanne Salter what types of trees residents could get for the $50 rebate, city engineering director Vaughn Figueira said the parks department is expected to come forward with a list in 2018.

Trees would still be planted on arterial and collector roads in the downtown core, but the spacing between trees would be increased, “Hence, there will be fewer trees overall,” Telegus added.

In addition, all future utilities installations are required to be underground, eliminating all but light poles. Within those underground utilities, there will also be changes, particularly in water supply and drainage lines.

“There will be extra-capacity storm drain pipes and connections, 20 per cent larger, to account for unknowns in climate change and to withstand more intense storms,” said Telegus.

The bylaw also includes updated residential water service connections due to newer homes having more fixtures, including fire sprinklers, irrigation and plumbing in ensuites and carriage houses, she said.

“The pipe size to the home would increase from 19 millimetres to 25mm, or one inch for single-family homes,” said Telgus. “That’s the standard recommended by fire departments.”

Coun. Kirk Oates asked if the larger-diametre pipes would lead to lower water pressure from the city’s mains. Figueira said the city already performs water modeling for each new development proposed, which would address any potential issues before construction begins.

The proposed bylaw would include changes to engineering specifications, technical standards and regulations, the latter consisting primarily of housekeeping to update language and terminology.

They cover storm drainage, sanitary sewer, water supply, roadways, lighting and traffic signals and trees, boulevards and irrigation.

Coun. Kim Burden asked whether smaller subdivisions could be exempted from some of the proposed changes, using the example of a large-lot homeowner splitting the property and building a second home.

“The additional cost is only about $200 per house,” said Telegus. “We wouldn’t be interested in exemptions; this is a regulatory document, not a subjective document.”

Another recommendation was to eliminate the requirement for council to approve each change to the list of the city’s approved product vendors, to streamline changes as vendors are approved or go out of business.

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