A Total Disconnect?

Over the past year opportunities for public involvement in City of North Van Council meetings have been strongly curtailed and, very often, Council votes are taken so quickly it’s impossible to follow the proceedings.  The result – short meetings and public confusion.  At one recent meeting the Mayor declared the meeting adjourned, looked at his watch and gleefully announced “7.35!”
. 
The January 9th Council meeting – after a 4 week hiatus with a healthy agenda was adjourned after 41 minutes at which time Council members went into a closed session.  There were only two members of the public who spoke during the 2 minute public input period.  Most disconcerting was that the public gallery was virtually empty apart from staff.
. 

Question and concern – Have the Mayor’s attempts to squash public criticism succeeded?  Have those who would question Council and staff decisions given up?

. 
One involved resident copied us on this submission sent to Council concerning two agenda items from the Jan 9th meeting (she notes it took longer to type than the length of the meeting):
 

I am writing to convey some thoughts I wish I could state during the Public Input Period at the City of North Vancouver Council Meeting on January 9, 2017. Unfortunately, I am extremely ill, have been off work today, and will not be able to attend.

First, I wish to comment about Item 5, Zoning Amendment to Permit Secondary Suites and Coach Houses on One-Unit Residential Use Lots – File: 08-3360-01-0001/2016 

I have spent time over the weekend carefully reading the attachments that go along with this document as I have had the time. I have concerns about the proposal that would require only 2 off-street parking spots for a single family residence with a Coach House and a Secondary Suite.

 At this point, on my street in the immediate area of my home, are 5 houses that all have secondary suites; two of these houses have 2 secondary suites. NONE, I repeat, NONE of these houses supply off-street parking to the tenants of these suites. In addition, ALL of the owners of the houses park on the road rather than in their garages or parking pads. That means for the house next to me, for example, there have been as many as 5 vehicles from that address alone, all parked on the street. These vehicles do not fit in front of their house, and completely block in front of my home or other homes. 

For the most part, I park in my garage, as do the others in my home. But the one time a week when I buy groceries and want to drop them from the front of the house, it is rarely possible and extremely frustrating. Or if I need to take my mother-in-law to an appointment, I can’t get a spot to park in front. She has mobility issues which makes it impossible to have her walk around to the garage to get into the car. 

It seems to me that this potential Zoning Amendment has not been thought through very carefully. While the CITY SHAPING TOWN HALL SUMMARY REPORT: TWO SUITES POLICY at which the information is provided was held in April of 2014 – and of course on a Tuesday when I have to work – it seems to me to be sorely out of date. 

I believed that the intention for the Council Meeting on January 9 is the recommendation from Staff to proceed to a Public Hearing as per the Agenda: 

RECOMMENDATION:

PURSUANT to the report of the Planner 1, dated January 4, 2017, entitled “ZoningAmendment to Permit Secondary Suites and Coach Houses on One-Unit ResidentialUse Lots”:THAT “Zoning Bylaw, 1995, No. 6700, Amendment Bylaw, 2017, No. 8529”(Secondary Suites and Coach Houses on One-Unit Residential Use Lots), beconsidered and referred to a Public Hearing; AND THAT staff be directed to implement the notification strategy outlined in thereport prior to scheduling a Public Hearing. 

But then I read further into the document and found this statement:

 Options for ConsiderationThis report seeks to implement a Zoning Bylaw change that has long been anticipated.Both an accessory secondary suite and an accessory coach house are proposed to beallowed with no increase in the permitted Gross Floor Area. The processing of CoachHouse Development Permits, including verifying compliance with the Accessory CoachHouse Development Permit Guidelines and requiring consultation with neighbours, willremain unchanged. Three options are presented for Council’s consideration: Option #1 – Allow a Secondary Suite and a Coach House, with a required minimum oftwo parking spaces (RECOMMENDED) This is the staff recommended option. If Council supports this option, the recommendation presented in this report can be adopted.

So I am confused. I am hoping that this issue will move forward to a Public Hearing as per the Agenda item, and not specifically adopted immediately. We have enough parking problems in the City with unenforced illegal suites, and a plethora of illegal parking. We do not need more problems added with a quick adoption of almost 3 year old data where the conditions in the City have drastically changed. 

The second item I wish to address is Item 8, 703-813 East 3rd Street and 746-758 East 2nd Street Rezoning and OCP Amendment (Qualex-Landmark Northern Ltd. / GBL Architects) – File: 13-6480-30-0018/1

 Considering some of the developments that are currently purposed for the 3rd Street corridor/Moodyville Area, this one definitely has more character and variation than other more “box-like” plans I have seen. However, I am greatly concerned about one attribute that is missing from this, and most other large-scale, developments in the City of North Vancouver. 

The Community Benefit Contributions from this project are admirable. Moodyville Park is in need of a facelift. But this development is introducing almost 160 new units into our community. And despite this and previous Council’s edict that more daycare is essential to our communities, I am disheartened that of all the developments that have been approved in the City of North Vancouver over the last 7 – 10 years, as far as I can see only one – that’s right –one has included anything specifically towards child care.

 Public art is lovely, but we can live without public art. The same can be said for other amenities like parks, museums, waterfront amenities, and public parks and open spaces. These certainly make our City more attractive and liveable. But according to our present Council, it is essential that we take every opportunity to augment our supply of child care spaces in the City of North Vancouver. 

So where should these spaces go? Council has told me these spots should be in the communities where they live. So why are you not pushing developers to have daycares within their projects, or make a designated contribution to child care that will service the community they are constructing? You are not requiring these developments to look after the young families that are moving into their premises. You are pushing the required child care spaces out into other communities in the City. Where? How about into the one unit residential use homes which then causes problems like we have experienced on E 4th Street. 

Put these child care centres in areas that they belong in – the developments that create them. Do not push more daycares into one unit residential use homes. Commercial sized daycares do not belong there. If you spread out the daycares into the facilities that attract their clients, you will provide a great service to those families you are attracting to the City of North Vancouver. 

Every developer who wants the City to approve their new development where they get bonuses for 3-bedroom units or townhouses which is designed to attract young families, should be required to commit funds and/or space to look after the children they provide homes for. 

Thank you for your time. 

Jan Malcolm

porphyry@telus.net

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s