New Westminster council studies conversion of office space
Councils often face tough decisions, especially when one city goal clashes with another. That was the case with New Westminster council in connection with a downtown rezoning application. The proposal seeks to convert three floors of vacant offices in a multistorey building at 737 Carnarvon Street into rental-housing units.
Coun. Jonathan Cote explained that while the city wants to see more rental accommodations, it also wants to preserve and increase office spaces.
“Rental housing plays such an important role in affordable housing, so it was one of those difficult situations where this particular application is pitting one city objective versus another,” Cote told the Straight in a phone interview.
On March 26, council approved the scope and parameters of a staff-recommended study to create a policy regarding the conversion of office spaces to other uses like nonmarket housing, retail, and heritage. Council also agreed to proceed with the further stages of the rezoning application for 737 Carnarvon Street. If approved, the office spaces will produce 34 rental units.
A staff report to council noted that downtown New Westminster is a regional city centre that is intended to attract more office jobs and homes.
“It’s one thing to be working to try and attract new employment to a city, but it is also important to recognize that we need to preserve the existing employment base and buildings that you provide to those employment opportunities particularly in areas like in our downtown,” Cote said.