City of N. Van votes down draft OCP

Editorial: October 1st

They had meetings, gabfests, gettogethers, enclaves, conclaves, cogitation, deliberation and just plain arguments.

In compiling the City of North Vancouver’s official community plan, staff spent three years listening to anyone who would talk about the city’s future.

All told, city personnel canvassed about 4,600 residents.

It turns out they should’ve spent a little more time talking to the city’s seven councillors, who couldn’t arrive at consensus if they made a reservation.

The OCP went down in flames Monday night in a 4-3 split.

It would be easy to blast Mayor Darrell Mussatto and Couns. Craig Keating, Linda Buchanan and Guy Heywood for rendering the OCP DOA , but we’re not sure that would be warranted.

Each councillor objected on legitimate grounds.

The OCP wouldn’t have allowed homeowners both a coach house and a secondary suite. That was enough to raise the resistance of the Mussatto, Keating and Buchanan trio.

Heywood, an amalgamation proponent, called for more collaboration with the District of North Vancouver in crafting the OCP. We could bemoan the city’s wasted resources and the wasted time of all those who took part, and we do.

But the good news is that all 4,600 residents whose ideas for the city’s future perished with the doomed document have recourse.

City residents go to the polls in six weeks and the OCP just became a key election issue.

They don’t have to talk about the city’s future anymore. Now they can vote for it.

– See more at:



City of N. Van votes down draft OCP.

North Vancouver is a city without a plan.

The official community plan, which would have guided the city’s growth, transportation, environment and economy over the next 10 years, failed to make it out of council chambers Monday.

Despite nearly unprecedented outreach that included more than 100 community gatherings and input from approximately 4,600 concerned residents, consensus on council proved elusive.

Coun. Pam Bookham trumpeted the draft OCP as “the democratic will of this community.”

“I would urge all members of council to support this draft OCP,” she said.

The OCP allows for either an in-house secondary suite or a coach house but not both, which amounts to a major loss, according to Coun. Linda Buchanan.

“We have taken away property owner’s rights to create revenue. We have taken

away creative options for affordability, and we’ve put our heritage inventory of houses at risk,” she said.

Mayor Darrell Mussatto concurred, stressing the importance of coach houses and secondary suites.

“If we were to close down every secondary suite in a single family home or duplex we would have a mass exodus of people. There’d be people living in tents on Grand Boulevard,” Mussatto said.

Buchanan, Mussato and Coun. Craig Keating – who frequently form a voting block – each opposed the OCP, largely due to restrictions on coach houses.

Coun. Guy Heywood noted the city’s history of developer-friendly policies when voicing his concerns about the OCP.

“The city was created to serve developers and when you look at the first draft of the community plan, you’d have to come to the conclusion that it is still doing that,” he said. “The bias is to create development.. .. It’s in the DNA of the city.”

Heywood was supportive of the OCP’s first chapter, which focuses on land use, housing, population and employment. However, he said he couldn’t support the document’s remaining chapters, which focus on community well-being, parks and arts, among other topics.

Those chapters should be written in collaboration with District of North Vancouver planning staff, according to Heywood. “They think about the district as a competitor, and I’ve heard that from senior staff,” he said. “I don’t want my governments competing because that can only do damage to the taxpayer.”

Some of the dynamics of the OCP need to be reversed, according to Heywood. “I’m a bit concerned that we’ve got a city going out and shaping a community when I thought communities should be shaping their governments,” he said.

Heywood eventually put forward a motion that would cut the OCP in two, allowing for passage of the land use chapter and debate on the remainder of the document. No one seconded the motion, leading to Heywood’s decisive nay vote.

Couns. Bookham, Rod Clark and Don Bell supported the OCP.

Council’s rejection of the OCP could breathe life into the struggle over density in Moodyville below East Fourth Street between St. Patricks and Queensbury avenues. The OCP allowed for a floor space ratio – which measures a building’s total floor space against its lot size – of 0.75 in the area.

Council’s decision to allow an FSR of 0.75, rather than a denser 1.25, was tantamount to disregarding the voice of the community and city planners, according to Laurel Hickey. “At the current FSR of 0.75, south Moodyville is going to fail the city on all counts,” she warned.

The neighbourhood has undergone major changes in recent years with the Low Level Road project serving as catalyst for massive industrial expansion on the port. After noting that council had “helped open Pandora’s Box” with the Low Level Road project, Leo McPeak blasted the councillors who supported the lower FSR. “If you had any sense, which it seems one of you does, you would not seek re-election,” he said.

Moodyville resident Michelle Binkley decried the loss of green space in her neighbourhood. “I’m imprisoned in my home, along with 50 other neighbours,” Binkley said.

East Fourth Street resident Steve Corcoran lauded council for approving lower density in the area, suggesting that developers have excited the pocketbooks of some Moodyville homeowners. “Build it and they will come – at a very expensive cost,” he said.

Carol Abbott thanked the quartet of councillors who voted for lower FSR : Bookham, Heywood, Don Bell and Rod Clark. “I can truly appreciate the immense pressure you have all been under to change your vote. Please, please do not do so.”

Had the OCP been approved, Moodyville would have seen triplexes and small infill condos, according to Coun. Rod Clark. “That’s the kind of growth I want to see. Go low, go slow.”

The discarded OCP won support from Fred Dawkins, who spoke on behalf of North Van City Voices, which has frequently been critical of development projects. “We as citizens have to remain vigilant and hold our mayor and council accountable to respecting the spirit of the OCP that so many people worked so hard to develop.”

– See more at:


One response to “City of N. Van votes down draft OCP

  1. So can we expect the resignations of drafters Gary Penway and Suzanne Smith from City Hall?

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