Jerry Zaslove open letter to NV City Council May 6, 2012

This is an ‘open letter’ to the Council.

We should praise Council who have listened to knowledgeable informants about the  issues around legalization of marijuana. Whatever their final vote or what the citizens of the area believe to be reasonable public policy  Council at least sought outside knowledge. 

Now if only Council would do the same kind of listening and canvassing of knowledge that is available about building still more tower projects in fragile residential areas adjacent to Lonsdale. 

If Councillor Keating and Mayor Mussatto are really serious about “rational, evidence based discussion” and do not stereotype and scoff at opposition to exceptionally tall buildings as “folk wisdom” (Keating), then they might at least try to see that the 19 story building proposed on a short, narrow residential side-street is not a “place where tall buildings should be” (Mussatto). 

These assertions are special pleading and circular reasoning to say the least.  Talk about ‘rational’ wisdom? Their position is retrograde when it comes to maintaining livable communities and  using  wisdom on the topic of rational planning for organic development. 

Planners and architects world-wide know the deleterious effect of highrises in small residential areas. The congestion and loss of rental accommodation on the entire life-cycle of a city further erodes the livability and spatial quality of residential life. 

Here are some reasons:

 In addition to the material effect of rampant ‘urbanization’ in an area that is already extremely congested, a tower will further erode livability because the Anthem building is on the same street! Eastern Avenue is not a thoroughfare but it will become one. It is one short block long! 

This will make a small, narrow residential street even more congested with market-driven  housing limited to affluent ownership. In addition truck traffic, police cars, ambulances and service vehicles make the street already congested. 15th avenue and St. Georges are feeder streets to the hospital and there is a constant flow of  emergency vehicles and along with the numbers of visitors to the hospital there is a steadily increasing  flow of traffic, not to speak of the bus route on 15th street and the delivery vehicles for Extra Foods entering and exiting on Eastern Ave.! Delivery vehicles as well constantly ply the street to service “tall buildings” after they are built! 

 The Anthem building and the massive Extra Foods store will change the character of the neighborhood completely. You approved that change in height. So now stop expanding the concept of the “city” into residential streets with more height than the neighborhood can carry.  

The  “City” of  Lonsdale is really not a “city” at all but a Town which has interlaced neighborhoods of distinct character. The kind of ‘urbanism’ that is rampant now will change the character of the city irrevocably as it spreads outward and upward. If you must build on this site you must not approve that site for buildings higher than the ones currently permitted on Lonsdale. 

The number of rental units proposed is ludicrous in comparison to the need for rental housing which in the proposal was a small fraction in regard to the entire condo plan.

Ask yourselves why these massive highrises are not being build on East Hastings, Kerrisdale, Main Street, Fraser, Kitsilano? The answer is that any city, particularly North Vancouver,  is built of neighborhoods and people move to neighborhoods because of the ethos and livability of the size,  the complex quality of life which is complex  in many different ways, and interesting and not anonymous, faceless transitory and   This is not “folk wisdom” (Keating) but the common knowledge of progressive planners who are careful about urbanizing neighborhoods. 

No one is arguing for completely abolishing density, but people are fed up with displacing neighborhoods by aesthetically displeasing and ugly “Lego” buildings (lower Lonsdale a case in point) that turn living space into the dead and empty space of walled glass structures that will increase congestion beyond the capacity of the neighborhood to retain its character.  

There is, finally,  the  planners’ fiction  that there is something like a ‘place’ called ‘Central Lonsdale’. Naming  a place doesn’t make it a reality. This is planners’ doublespeak. They say it is a city because they  say it is?


 If the new OCP wants to build new buildings one or two blocks from Lonsdale then why not at least maintain the limit allowed on Lonsdale? 


Jerry Zaslove
Simon Fraser University
[almost 50 years resident in North Vancouver]


One response to “Jerry Zaslove open letter to NV City Council May 6, 2012

  1. I, Professor Kilbey, am an ex student of Professor Zaslove and resident of North Vancouver for 54 years I agree and am glad to announce that Professor Zaslove is mentioned in Frontier University’s Mission Statement.

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