This article was written after a followup meeting with City staff after a Council Workshop Oct 29/2012 about Density bonusing and comments from some Council members at that workshop.
The City of North Vancouver is currently revising it’s Official Community Plan in a process called “City Shaping”. The OCP is the statement for the City’s future and is intended to provide a degree of certainty. Our most recent version was adopted in 2002, and once adopted all bylaws and works undertaken by the City must be consistent with the plan.
The City of North Van adopted the Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy in 2011. The City is assigned a 1% per year growth rate as it’s share of the Region’s growth over the coming years. The City’s OCP must be generally consistent with the RGS, as per the Local Government Act. The RGS projects population, dwelling units, employment and a Ten Year Housing Demand Estimate.
After extensive research into public hearing transcripts, council meeting minutes, committee meeting minutes and the development application list we concluded that the City has far exceeded targets assigned by the RGS and even by our own OCP. On November 6 we met with City staff members with our documentation. We asked them to confirm that our conclusions about growth in the City, that we are far exceeding the targets assigned, are reasonable and accurate. They indicated they would verify our numbers.
We have tried to contact them for a response over the past two days with no success and have now reluctantly come to the conclusion that the City does not want people to realize the facts. “We” are North Van City Voices, a group formed in response to the City Shaping process.
While we have respect for the professionalism and ethics of the city planning staff, we have grown very concerned about the role city staff members have been assigned in handling development applications. Since staff is advising Council, we think their primary responsibility should be as defenders of the OCP. We have been dismayed to see City planning staff assigned to work with developers to find a way around the OCP and we have heard from developers that city staff members have encouraged them to ask for more height on proposed buildings.
Your article about the backlash to the Onni development on the Safeway site was well timed. There is a public hearing on Monday November 19th, at which time this development will likely be approved. So many residents are now concerned about the rate of development that we now feel we must publish our findings. It may interest residents of the City to know that over the past couple of years there have been 14 OCP amendments – the purpose of which has mostly been to increase density.
From the Regional Growth Strategy:
The Ten Year Housing Demand Estimate is for 2400 units, of which ownership demand is 1600 plus rental demand of 800. The 800 rental units is broken down to 600 affordable housing and 200 market rental units.
The Current Population is 51,083.
Target population for 2021 is 56,000 and for 2031 is 62,000.
The Current Dwelling Units are 22,789
Dwelling unit target for 2021 is 25,600 and for 2031 is 28,000.
Where are we today? There are 4,145 dwelling units currently approved. This means that, using the City statistics of 2.2 people per unit, an additional 9,119 people are planned for already. Bottom line? The 2021 target population is surpassed by 4,202, and we are already 97.1% of the 2031 target population.
Our figures do not include new duplexes, coach houses, secondary suites (23 currently listed on the development application site). Our figures do include the population for Harbourside estimates although the rezoning is not yet scheduled – it is listed on real estate sites for preregistration. Our figures do not include the estimated 350,000 square feet of development planned for the Harry Jerome redevelopment. Conservatively this will be another 500 units at 700 square feet per unit.
As far back as 2002 the City proposed a population cap of 55,500 by 2021 and Coun. Braithwaite at that time said that when the limit is reached Council will know what to do next. Our Mayor, then a Councillor, said that then he would look at sustainability and affordability. Well, the time has come to look at it – we have passed that mark.
We are emphatically not anti-growth. However we believe the pace of development is out of control in our city. We want to continue to enjoy the things that brought us to North Vancouver – its beautiful scenery, spectacular vistas and natural splendor. We do not want to live in the shadows of oversized condos or have our limited hours of sunlight blocked by massive towers. We want growth that respects the character and values of our neighbourhoods and growth that puts the interests of citizens first. We want growth that respects the Official Community Plan, not growth driven by developers and speculators. We want LIVABLE GROWTH that includes the development of parks, recreation facilities, schools, medical facilities, transportation and traffic capacity at the same time as development occurs, not as a long-delayed afterthought, paid for through higher taxes.
The City’s population growth is no longer within the stated limits. What happens when we are no longer consistent with ANY plan?
Toni Bolton for North Van City Voices