Category Archives: Development

Setting the Record Straight #3

Here we are again disputing Stache’s comic of the day – not that we want to give him any publicity but his statements today need to be refuted. There seems to be no ability on his website anymore to leave a comment. https://mystacheonline.com/2018/09/28/wannabe-mayor-councillors-buchanan-and-clark-are-ready-to-program-your-livability-whether-you-want-them-to-or-not/

He states, referring to Mayoral Candidates Buchanan and Clark: ‘Two anti NIMBY’s voicing similar sanctimonious robotic platforms that would enable either one IF elected to further deconstruct and devastate the social wellness and livability of our city… All you have to do discerning voters is look at their evidentiary pro density city council records over the last four years’.

We would strongly suggest that you DO look at their records – Councillor Clark, together with Councillors Bell and Bookham, has consistently voted against the majority slate, hence the references to the 4-3 vote approving most developments. The majority being Mussatto, Back, Buchanan and Keating.

DO NOT ACCEPT SOMEONE BLINDLY STATING FALSE FACTS!

Residents increasingly share a dim view of real estate developers – Commentary | Business in Vancouver

Article borrowed from Business in Vancouver and quoting in part: For the past three years, housing has consistently topped the charts as the most important issue facing most cities in Metro Vancouver.

One of the issues that have played a role in the sudden loss of esteem for real estate developers is the perception of cosiness with sitting municipal administrations. This becomes clear when Metro Vancouverites are asked a simple question: who has more influence on the look and feel of your municipality?

Comment by Voices: This perception is very evident in the City of North Vancouver, with the development community funding the election of the consistent 4-3 majority on Council.  A good question for Mayoral candidate Buchanan – why have you not supported the Regional Growth Strategy Targets for the City of North Vancouver?  currently exceeding the year 2041?

Across the Lower Mainland, only 24% of residents believe their municipal government is the deciding authority when it comes to the future of neighbourhoods. A slightly smaller proportion (22%) believe the community itself has more influence.

Who is regarded as the most powerful voice when it comes to how our neighbourhoods look and feel? Developers, as stated by two in five Metro Vancouverites (39%). Men (44%) are more likely to express this opinion than women (34%), but all generations agree that governments and communities are taking a back seat in these discussions.

The public is also particularly critical of the idea that, in an effort to build, the character of their municipality is being abandoned. Three in four Metro Vancouverites (74%) feel that developers are too quick to demolish and rebuild when existing facades and structures could be kept.

The results outline two problems for incoming city councils. One is the perceived lack of consultation from members of specific communities, who may find it difficult to attend meetings or have a voice in traditional forums. The other is the feeling of powerlessness when the relationship between developers and municipal politicians is as entrenched as it is in some cities.

Source: Residents increasingly share a dim view of real estate developers – Commentary | Business in Vancouver

Elizabeth Murphy: Vancouver city hall is slamming through destructive new zoning without giving citizens a say | Vancouver Sun

North Van City Voices has documented that the City of North Van has exceeded the 2041 Regional Growth Targets and is rushing to get through more density before the vote on October 20th: partial quote from the article:

The shift from the Livable Region Strategic Plan in 1996 to the 2011 Regional Growth Strategy has directed the emphasis to growth objectives. As land values have increased due to speculative inflation from rezoning for more density, demolitions of older, more affordable buildings have increased, with more people displaced, causing skyrocketing homelessness and unaffordability. Most of the new supply is unaffordable for both owners and renters and often left empty.

Now the enormous costs of servicing this growth agenda are emerging with the need for billions of dollars to upgrade utility services.

The city’s consultants confirmed as far back as 2014 that there is more than enough existing zoned capacity to meet population growth beyond 2041. Yet the city continues a manic rush to rezone.

The City of Vancouver is on a mad rush job to rezone Kitsilano and Cedar Cottage in a move that will only benefit developers.

read full article:

Source: Elizabeth Murphy: Vancouver city hall is slamming through destructive new zoning without giving citizens a say | Vancouver Sun

Setting the Record Straight #2

If you received the following ‘Stache Comic  Relief‘ https://mystacheonline.com/2018/09/05/density-darrells-i-o-u-legacy-shall-hamstring-mayors-forever-after-unless/  we are again attempting to correct the ‘fake news’.  This statement in part refers to Councillors Buchanan and Clark: ‘BOTH of these wannabe mayor city councillor records readily confirm i.e. that not only are they pro density zealots; they BOTH also favoured and supported the mayor’s $22million Black Necklace for the less than 2% who bike annually to work’ is not true. While it’s true that Councillor Buchanan voted in favour of the majority of development applications, Councillor Clark clearly voted not in favour with the minority 4-3 vote on applications. 

We recall Councillor Clark consistently referring to it as the ‘black necklace’ and initially threatening to lie down in front of bulldozers .  We reached out to him for a comment and received this response:

‘Stache is way out of line in saying I supported the Green Necklace. As you well remember, I stood at the Opening Ceremony with you having dubbed it the Black Necklace. I was, I believe the only voice against for years & finally gave up after the three strips of asphalt went up Grand Blvd. I supported the last links only because it seemed pointless/futile to resist further & completing it was the best option.
I would reach out to Stache directly but cannot find an email for him.
.
Anything you can post to get these facts out would help.’
.
Comment from Voices: If you hear or read anything that causes you to wonder and would like a little fact-checking, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

 

 

 

Vancouver’s high housing growth rate making homes less affordable | Vancouver Sun

Comment from Voices:  We have made this statement previously to Council about our concern that our excess development (exceeding 2041 regional growth targets in 2017) has not and will not result in ‘more affordable housing’. Elizabeth Murphy concurs with us in this article.  As we have stated below, and we note that the reference to Council* is to the votes cast consistently by the 4-3 block: Mussatto, Back, Buchanan and Keating. 

The building boom continues unabated. There seems to be no limit to this Council’s love of high-density high-rise residential development. As we have documented before, the pace of growth in North Van is already far beyond our commitment under the Regional Growth Strategy. Yet Council * routinely overrides the limits of our Official Community Plan, using density bonuses and transfers to allow ever larger and taller developments. 

Quoting from the article in the Vancouver Sun:

The first job of the next city council should be to revisit all the growth plans and reconsider if this is in the public interest. With all the excess zoning capacity the city already has in the system, there is time to plan this more carefully. The problem is that most of the new construction is unaffordable and involves demolishing the older building stock that former occupants could afford but who are then displaced. More new supply is not making things more affordable — quite the opposite. Vancouver is in an affordability crisis of its own making that requires a rethink of current growth with consideration of all the costs and impacts.  Read more:

Source: Vancouver’s high housing growth rate making homes less affordable | Vancouver Sun

‘Perpetual’ motion to give boost to City of North Van renters

From the North Shore News today:

Ten years isn’t long enough.

That was the verdict July 23 as City of North Vancouver council amended a policy aimed to help lower-income renters get a foothold in the city’s housing market – although not everyone agreed on the timing of the amendment’s implementation.

Currently, if developers want to build a midrise or highrise that’s bigger or denser than envisioned by city guidelines, city council only approves the project on the condition the developer rents 10 per cent of the building’s new units at 10 per cent below market rates for at least 10 years.

But as of Jan. 1, 2019, that policy will be changed to maintain that 10 per cent discount in perpetuity.

While council concurred on the merits of the amendment, they disagreed on its execution, with Coun. Don Bell pushing to implement the revised policy on Sept. 1.

“I would hate to see a flood of applications come in expecting to have the lower amount,” he said. Bell emphasized that currently, if renters move out of their discounted apartments within a decade, “the rents will jump up and we’ll lose those (units) as homes.”

Coun. Craig Keating disagreed, suggesting that while city staff process applications swiftly, “I don’t think they’re superheroes.” It would be improbable that a developer could conduct a land survey, finalize architectural drawings, submit their project to advisory bodies, deal with drainage and sewage issues and somehow get their project in front of council prior to Jan. 1, according to Keating.

Bell’s motion also failed to curry favour with Coun. Pam Bookham, who noted that the new policy represented a significant change for developers.

“In the spirit of co-operation and respect for those are putting their money into rental housing in this community . . . perhaps the date suggested by staff might be best,” she said.

The sooner the new policy can be implemented, the better, responded Coun.
Rod Clark. “If it’s impossible to get through the process by Jan. 1, then what’s the big deal about making it Sept. 1?” he asked.

Bell’s motion to push the start date to Sept. 1 was defeated 5-2.

Coun. Holly Back welcomed the change, suggesting the in-perpetuity policy was needed to keep low-cost housing. “I definitely had some concerns on what’s going to happen 10 years from now,” she said.

In 2017, Clark advocated for council to revise the policy so that 20 per cent of new units would be rented at 10 per cent below market rents. However, the change would not be financially feasible in most developments, according to a city-commissioned analysis from Coriolis Consulting Corp.

As of June 2018, average rents in the city ranged from $1,500 for a studio to $3,825 for a three-bedroom. Given that approximately half of city households are renters, Clark said he hadn’t given up on doubling the amount of discounted units on certain new builds and strata developments.

“This whole conversation is to be continued.”

While the policy should help, Mayor Darrell Mussatto emphasized that municipalities need a boost from the senior levels of government that “basically abdicated” the responsibility to build affordable housing.

While there were 7,138 rental units built in the City of North Vancouver over the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, Coun. Linda Buchanan noted there were zero rentals built in the 1980s and ‘90s and 146 built between 2000 and 2010.

The reason rental construction flatlined was because: “there was no absolutely incentive for them to be built,” she said.

A city staff report attributed the stark decline to the elimination of federal funding and tax incentives as well as the introduction of strata ownership in 1966.

The discounted rentals aren’t just for workers in menial jobs, they’re for entry level nurses and teachers, Buchanan emphasized. “These are the people in the community that also can’t afford to live here,” she said.

While the policy is designed to encourage affordable and alternative housing forms, Keating reminded his colleagues the policy is essentially a tool to assist construction. “There’s certain limits here,” he said. “The City of North Vancouver is not itself going to build any housing.”

However, Clark pointed to a plot of city-owned land on East First Street that he called a: “perfect location for affordable housing.”

In the last eight years, 1,030 rental units have been built or approved in the City of North Vancouver including 41 mid-market rentals.

The July 23 motion also charges city staff with investigating how zoning might be used to require below-market rental units or cash contributions from new strata developments.

Source: ‘Perpetual’ motion to give boost to City of North Van renters

North Van gives go-ahead to $237 million Harry Jerome replacement | Vancouver Sun

Below is the Vancouver Sun’s article about the Harry Jerome replacement:

Source: North Van gives go-ahead to $237 million Harry Jerome replacement | Vancouver Sun

-which garnered this comment on their website:

Duncan James Beith

No mention  in this article about the real people running the show.

Richard White  and Darwin Development ..Mr. White now retired from his top position at City of  NV  enjoys a lucrative career getting developers projects passed in the C of NV.  Also Mr White sits on the Darwin Team who now will own and run this project. 

Under Mr Whites stewardship the trading or selling of community land to pay for projects always seemed to be the favoured route. While at the same time collecting funds from development in the manner of community ammenity conbributions seemed not to have been a priority . 

So who really runs the City of NV ? Well it is not council that is for sure .

Comment from Voices: The replacement is attracting much discussion around and about, we know that we’re nearing the end of a very long process. We found information on the CNV website going back to 2007: https://www.cnv.org/parks-recreation-and-culture/recreation/harry-jerome-rec-centre/harry-jerome-redevelopment-study-,-a-,-building-renewal

There is much built into the financial portion of the replacement, daycare, affordable housing and there will be cost savings as the project proceeds.  So what do we know for sure?

-the Director of Finance believes the risk is acceptable

-the residents of the City of North Vancouver are being packed into a very small, dense area and will need these recreation facilities

-Millions of dollars have been ‘given away’ by these same protesting Council members (Mussatto, Buchanan and Keating) for density bonuses and favourite projects over the past four years                                                                                                  -the Mosquito Creek completion of the Spirit Trail cost $7M, estimated in 2014 to be under $3M – how much has the “Green Necklace” cost to date?

We also point out that this Council since January has held the minimum number of meetings, many lasting under an hour.  Very typically they hold important hearings and votes in the middle of summer – hoping people don’t pay attention?

A strong public vote in October could bring changes!

 

 

 

 

 

New $237M Harry Jerome rec centre approved in split vote

Source: New $237M Harry Jerome rec centre approved in split vote

Despite a $237 million case of sticker shock, the new Harry Jerome rec centre won approval Monday.

Suggesting approval amounted to a blank cheque, Mayor Darrell Mussatto pleaded with his colleagues not to push the project forward without a more detailed cost estimate.

The centre is replete with curling and hockey rinks, a 50-metre pool as well as a seniors centre.

The rising cost will jump up and “bite us,” Mussatto said, explaining the tax hike that may hit city residents if the project goes sideways.

The city needs a more detailed estimate, but “not today,” Coun. Holly Back pronounced.

While the project’s cost means a risk, a further delay in replacing the 55-year-old cinder block structure will only mean a heftier bill in the end, according to Back.

After noting that the $237 million estimate would have to endure dips in the construction market, shifts in the labour market, and general inflation for five years, Coun. Craig Keating put forward a motion that would have delayed the new rec centre pending a more detailed cost estimate.

Keating’s motion, while understandable, would cause a huge delay, Coun. Rod Clark responded, noting that Harry Jerome rec centre renewal had been a civic priority since before his hair turned grey.

Keating’s motion was defeated, leading to council cast their vote on pushing the Harry Jerome project to tendering and construction.

“I am very, very enthused,” Clark said of the rec centre.

Prior to the critical vote, council got their first glimpse of the design of the new centre, which roughly resembles a giant Jenga game that eliminates the warehouse esthetic of older rec centres, explained project architect Paul Fast.

Coun. Pam Bookham praised the design and noted that the wood and glass esthetic blend seamlessly with the vibrancy that the city has been trying to create.

The motion passed 4-3 with Couns. Clark, Back, Bookham and Don Bell in support and Mussatto, Couns. Keating and Linda Buchanan opposed.

Full story to come…

Iconic reminder of railway history is being pushed from place to place in North Vancouver | The Global Canadian

From the Global Canadian:  for those wondering where our PGE Station is:

A rare railway structure dating back to 1913 lies forgotten and abandoned as a new glitzy city shapes up at the Foot of Lonsdale. The iconic reminder of BC’s railway history and pioneer spirit was temporarily moved to a city-owned vacant lot on Alder Street to make way for the new Polygon Gallery and other buildings at the Foot of Lonsdale in 2014.

This ‘designated municipal heritage building’ was supposed to be back to the Foot of Lonsdale in 2015. Three years later, this seminal structure lies neglected and forgotten by a council too focussed on developing and reshaping the city. A study by a city consultant even suggested the PGE building could be converted into an ice cream shop or coffee shop in efforts to keep it on the waterfront, but that never happened. Those who value history may have to wait another few years before the council decides what it will do with the PGE building.

Communications manager for the City of North Vancouver, Connie Rabold, said council decided in 2014 that the relocation of PGE Station be referred to the Waterfront Park Master Plan process, which is scheduled for 2020. The abandoned building is a painful sight for former journalist John Kendrick, whose accompanying picture documents the council’s broken promise on the building. “It seemed to have been conveniently forgotten and that is certainly no way to treat a key part of our community’s heritage,” Kendrick said.

“This iconic piece of North Van’s history has been getting treated like this for decades.  For the longest time, it sat on the grass in Mahon Park behind Burdett stadium (where nobody much knew what it was), being used as an annex to the North Van Museum, until it was finally decided to move it back to the its original site at bottom Lonsdale.  As we now know, that wasn’t to last very long. It’s now sitting in a lonely corner of the municipality overlooking the grain elevators, where nobody sees it.”

Railway historian and archivist at the West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish said the railway operated from the Foot of Lonsdale to Horseshoe Bay from 1914 until 1929. He said the old station has been moved several times since 1929 and faces an uncertain future considering the frenzied pace of development happening in the City of North Vancouver.

“CNV is having trouble keeping up with the development happening at the moment and there are hundreds of old homes being torn down in the name of progress. History and one old station are way down on the list of priorities. Look at how the North Vancouver Museum has been pushed around from one place to other over the years. It looks like they might now have a permanent home but it won’t be ready until 2020,” he said.

According to the Canadian Register of Historic Places, a resource funded by the federal government, the building’s heritage value is associated with its location in Lower Lonsdale, the ‘earliest, most historic area of commercial buildings on the North Shore of Burrard Inlet.’

“The railway had an important role in the economic growth of North Vancouver, providing a link to the resources of the interior of the province as well as passenger services to Horseshoe Bay and West Vancouver. The streetcar, ferry to Vancouver and PGE railway all converged at the south foot of Lonsdale Avenue, the major transportation hub on the North Shore. The PGE station serves as a reminder to the area’s historic significance.”

For Kendrick and Mills and many others City of North Vancouver citizens who value history, the PGE station is now a reminder of something entirely different: of shameless neglect and political amnesia.

News, analysis, opinion and features on North Shore, Canada and the World. Politics, culture, lifestyle, crime, entertainment, travel and local news. Coverage of British Columbia, North Shore, and Vancouver.

Source: Iconic reminder of railway history is being pushed from place to place in North Vancouver | The Global CanadianThe Global Canadian

City of North Vancouver advances Harry Jerome project

 

The City of North Vancouver is one massive step closer to getting its new Harry Jerome rec centre after council narrowly voted to advance an 802-unit Upper Lonsdale development project that will pay for it following a public hearing held Monday.

Council voted 4-3, despite hesitations from Couns. Linda Buchanan and Craig Keating, as well as Mayor Darrell Mussatto, to advance the development of the Harry Jerome neighbourhood lands that will see Darwin Properties build one 30-storey tower and one 26-storey tower in addition to three six-storey buildings and one five-storey building between 21st and 23rd streets along Lonsdale Avenue.

Darwin will agree to pay the city $183 million to lease the land for a period of 99 years, with the funds going towards paying for the new Harry Jerome recreation centre project estimated to cost $210 million.

“This is a good deal for the city,” said Coun. Rod Clark. “I’ve been pushing for leasing of city-owned lands for 15, 20 years.”

More than 40 local residents addressed council during Monday’s public hearing, with a near even split between those in favour of the project and those opposed.

Many who spoke out against the project rallied against the loss of nearby Norseman Field, which will be cleared to make way for the new rec centre, pending approval.

But, Clark noted, Darwin’s proposal accounts for loss of local green space with plans to extend nearby Crickmay Park south along Lonsdale to 21st Street as well as weaving the Green Necklace trail network through the development area.

“Much has been made at this table about what we’re getting in the way of trades between losing Norseman Park and Mickey McDougall Field and what the new project will bring,” Clark said. “It’s going to be a change, but you’re going to have open space and it will be public accessible.”

Darwin’s 802-unit proposal includes 486 units of market housing and 124 units of market rental, as well as 13 units that will be devoted to affordable rentals and another 99 units earmarked for seniors in need of assisted living. In addition, the proposal also includes a child-care centre with 37 spaces and 80 housing units that the city can allocate to a non-profit organization of its choosing.

Local resident Linda Sullivan, who spoke at the public hearing, praised Darwin’s proposal for offering a variety of housing options.

“Moving away from family in North Vancouver is now becoming a necessity rather than a choice,” Sullivan said. “I’m excited at the prospect that my sons could come back to North Vancouver.”

But Coun. Keating said that a rec centre with a curling rink and 50-metre swimming pool was excessive and argued the community shouldn’t have to pay for it by losing park space and adding unwanted density, referring to the proposed Harry Jerome rec centre as more of an “elite sport lollapalooza.”

“Where’s the District of North Vancouver? They just finished building a new recreation centre. Did they get a 50-metre pool?” he mused. “We got to carry the cost with that, and more specifically this neighbourhood has to carry the cost of that because they’re the ones who are going to have all this new traffic, all this new density, all these new buildings in that spot.”

Coun. Buchanan observed that Darwin’s proposal was the “single largest development that we’re going to see along the Lonsdale corridor,” and while she approved of the project’s community amenities, she balked at the potential costs.

“What we started out with was saying we wanted a community recreation centre, we’ve now got a regional centre. … How much is this community prepared to pay?” she said. “We’ve had housing projects that have come forward that have given us far greater benefits to supply housing and people around this table have refused it.”

Retired school teacher Rosemary Swinton worried the community wouldn’t be able to handle an influx of new people as increased density lured families to the area.

“You have 37 units available for child care. In a building of these sizes, this is totally inadequate. I would suggest that the developers look carefully at this because daycare is a major problem for young parents,” she said, adding that a lack of schools in the Lonsdale area could create challenges for families as well. “What are parents to do if both parents work? How do they get their children to school?”

Following Monday’s public hearing, council voted on a number of official community plan amendments that would allow the project to proceed. Darwin originally proposed building a pair of 28-storey towers, but agreed to instead build one 30-storey on the project’s north side and one 26-storey tower at the southern side following discussion that variances in height would create a more pleasing skyline.

Couns. Clark, Holly Back, Don Bell and Pam Bookham voted in favour of the proposed amendments, with Couns. Buchanan, Keating and Mayor Mussatto opposed.

Source: City of North Vancouver advances Harry Jerome project