New Westminster on the Visual Cutting Edge

New Westminster on the Visual Cutting Edge

City of New Westminster

The City of New Westminster, British Columbia is on the leading edge of zoning bylaw innovations. As of June 2002, the City is one of the first local governments in Canada and the U.S. to systematically incorporate visual graphics into their zoning bylaw. Like many zoning bylaws throughout North America, New Westminster's previous bylaw contained minimal visual enhancement, relying mostly on textual description of the City's requirements. Recognizing the difficulty laypeople, particularly homeowners and small business owners, often encountered when interpreting these written requirements, the City initiated a process to include graphics in the Zoning Bylaw in order to illustrate some of the most commonly consulted regulations.

The consulting team of Michael von Hausen, MCIP, Principal of MVH Associates and Gloria Venczel, MRAIC, Principal of Urbanitas Inc. developed the master graphic format and graphic illustrations in close cooperation with City of New Westminster staff. In this first phase, a total of four single detached dwelling districts and two commercial districts were selected. For each zoning schedule, the height, site coverage and yard requirements are illustrated.

The final product is the result of extensive review by City staff from both the Planning and Building departments and included focus group consultation. The focus group included representation from residents' associations, architects, house designers, builders and lay people who had recently been through the process of renovating or building their homes. This consultation was essential to ensure the visual graphics clearly illustrated key components of the bylaw.

In addition, a series of master information sheets with graphics were developed that simplified the language for public distribution. The master sheets will be distributed at the Planning Department's front counter and posted on the City's website so people can easily download them or they can be faxed when requested.

More information on the City of New Westminster's zoning bylaw graphics project is available from Michael von Hausen, MCIP, Principal of MVH Associates (604) 536-3990, [email protected] and Gloria Venczel, MRAIC, Principal of Urbanitas Consulting Inc. (604) 987-1919, [email protected] or Mary Pynenburg, Director of Planning at (604) 527-4554, [email protected].

Related Link:

For more information contact:

Lee-Ann Garnett
City of New Westminster
511 Royal Avenue
New Westminster
BC V3L 1H9

Phone: 604-527-4521
Fax: 604-527-4511
Email: [email protected]

Posted February 5, 2003

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