Category Archives: Development

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

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City of North Van council sends Harry Jerome project to public hearing (NS News)

Source: City of North Van council sends Harry Jerome project to public hearing

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Which is stronger: your desire for a new Harry Jerome rec centre or your aversion to a pair of 28-storey towers?

That’s the question facing City of North Vancouver residents following council’s decision Monday night to advance an 802-unit Upper Lonsdale proposal to public hearing.

If approved, Darwin Properties would build two 81-metre-tall towers as well as a trio of six-storey residential buildings and a five-storey commercial building on the patch of land occupied by the current Harry Jerome rec centre, the Silver Harbour Seniors’ Activity Centre, and Norseman Field. Pending council’s approval, Darwin would pay the city $183 million to lease the land for 99 years. Much of that money could go towards the new $210-million Harry Jerome rec centre project.

Council voted 4-2 to push the project forward despite the vociferous objections of Coun. Craig Keating, who said the community did not ask for a rec centre with a 50-metre pool or a curling rink.

“We’re actually carrying the freight for the two other districts who just can’t get it together to fund the things that their citizens want,” he said, suggesting the districts of North and West Vancouver are: “too profligate or too cheap to fund their obligations.”

The project is slated to include a medical office building, restaurant, grocery store, and a child-care facility totalling 22,700 square feet of retail and 73,500 square feet of office space. The project’s floor space ratio – which measures total floor space against the size of the lot – is 2.5. That density was: “never asked for and never imagined,” Keating said.

Keating also noted that council declined to include a pool in the John Braithwaite Community Centre – a fact Coun. Pam Bookham also pointed out.

“That to me argues the greater need for a pool (at Harry Jerome),” she said.

Responding to Keating’s argument that the new Harry Jerome rec centre will end up serving the entire North Shore, Bookham noted that North Shore residents seeking recreation frequently cross municipal borders. “If it can be enjoyed by others, so be it,” she said.

Council’s support of dense highrises in recent years has necessitated a major rec centre, according to Bookham.

“We are building more multi-unit housing, the units are smaller, people who are occupying those units need spaces like recreation centres and parks in order to make life on the North Shore livable.”

Coun. Linda Buchanan suggested the current rec centre plans are too grand for the area.

“This is not a community centre,” she said.

Despite her opposition, Buchanan praised aspects of Darwin’s proposal, which includes 80 housing units to be allocated to a non-profit organization of the city’s choosing, a child-care centre with 37 spaces, and an extension of Crickmay Park along Lonsdale Avenue to East 21st Street. The development would also include 486 units of market housing, 124 market rental units, 99 units for seniors in assisted living and 13 affordable rentals.

“It’s going to crush this community with the amount of density,” Buchanan said.

The 28-storey towers are a way to maintain green space, according to Coun. Holly Back.

“Instead of going short and fat, I like to go tall and skinny,” she said. “It’s hard to count how many storeys they really are once they’re up in the air.”

Coun. Don Bell took the opposite view, suggesting it would make more sense to spread the density over the site. But despite his misgivings about the 28-storey towers, Bell voted in favour, noting that heights could be reduced following the public hearing as long as the development’s density doesn’t increase.

The project requires several amendments to the official community plan to change land use designations and maximum building heights. Currently, the ceiling on the site is 18 storeys.

Bell also stressed the need to move forward with replacement of the Harry Jerome rec centre, suggesting that keeping the current pool warm and the ice frozen will cost the city “substantial monies” in the future.

The original Harry Jerome rec centre was built when the city’s population was around 27,000, Coun. Rod Clark pointed out, noting the city’s population has doubled since then.

“This council in the main has supported incredible increases in density up and down Lonsdale, to the benefit of the development community,” he said. “Here’s an instance where we’re benefiting the citizens of the city.”

However, Clark added that council needs to maintain an open mind during the public hearing. “If they come in here swinging a bat saying: ‘We don’t want more than 18 storeys,” well, I guess that’s what we have to consider. And if that’s the case, we won’t have enough money to do Harry Jerome.”

Darwin’s development is interdependent with the new rec centre. The final phase of Darwin’s development isn’t set to go under construction until the new rec centre is open for business, ensuring there’s no disruption in rec centre service.

The public hearing is scheduled for June 18.

Mayor Darrell Mussatto did not attend the meeting.

What’s that smell?

What’s that smell?

There was a distinctly fishy aroma at Monday’s CNV Council meeting when, at the behest of Mayor Mussatto, Council re-considered Starlight’s proposal to develop 40 units of infill rental housing around the existing high-rise building at 151 East Keith (fronting Victoria Park).

The development had already been discussed at a public hearing on April 23, and Council had turned it down by a 4-3 vote. That should have been the end of it under the rules, which state: “No further information or submissions can be considered by Council once the Public Hearing is closed.”

Then suddenly last week, the mayor directed that an item be added to the May 14 council agenda: to reconsider (and approve for third reading) the zoning bylaw changes that Council had rejected on April 23.

No one seemed to know what the mayor was up to. Had one of the dissenting councillors decided to change his or her vote? Surely he wasn’t bringing up new information received after the public hearing had been closed – that would be against the bylaw.

And we know the mayor was sensitive about upholding the bylaw, because at the start of the May 14 Council meeting, he did not allow two members of the public to speak about 151 East Keith in Public Input Period. “We’re not allowed to receive any new information,” he explained.

Then came the mayor’s big reveal. In their original proposal, Starlight had promised to apply the “10-10-10” affordability formula, meaning 10% (i.e. four) of the new units would be rented for 10% below market rates, for 10 years. Now, the mayor told Council, Starlight was proposing to make 20 per cent (i.e., eight) of the new units available at 10% below market rates, in perpetuity. More affordable housing! Who could be against that?

But didn’t this contravene the rule about “no further information or submissions…once the Public Hearing is closed”? Heavens no, claimed the mayor – Starlight had informed him of this pot-sweetener before the public hearing. Apparently, they just neglected to mention it at the time.

In the subsequent discussion, both the mayor and Councillor Keating revealed they had had discussions with the developer offline about this offer. Keating claimed the rule had not been violated because it’s OK for individual councillors to receive new information, just not Council as a whole. (Hmm.)

Despite the mayor’s urging, and some passionate oratory by Councillors Keating and Buchanan on the crying need for more rental housing and more affordable housing, the dissenting councillors (Clark, Back, Bell and Bookham) stuck to their guns and the mayor’s motion was defeated.

Some closing thoughts:

Either the mayor was less than entirely truthful when he claimed Starlight told him about the deal sweetener before the public hearing, or Starlight’s project team is amazingly incompetent for neglecting to mention such an important detail at the April 23 hearing.

It seems municipal bylaws governing public hearings are merely suggestions, unless you’re just a taxpaying citizen, in which case they are iron-clad.

Could it be that this whole exercise was just to provide a platform for Councillors Keating and Buchanan to kick off their election campaigns with some thundering rhetoric about the need for more rental development? We’ll see.

 

Planning Contradiction

Two rental buildings similar size:  365 E 2nd (Public Hearing on May 14th); 151 E Keith (public hearing in April) coming back May 14th for “reconsideration” of vote.  

To:  Mayor and Council, City of North Van
There is a major contradiction between the proposed development at 365 E 2nd and 151 E Keith. I hope someone explains it during the public hearing on Monday night.  Parking proposed at 365 is 44 stalls for a 42 unit building (noted in the staff report as being ’11 more than required’).  Parking proposed at 151 for a similarly sized building is zero.
Similar access to transit.

Community is back in the conversation

Submission to Council from long-time City residents Bob and Peg Heywood re 151 E Keith proposal:

Dear Councillors:

Thank you so much for all your efforts to listen to the community that lives, works, and plays here now.  We will be forever grateful that the proposed development at 151 East Keith Road was rejected.  And a special thank-you to Holly Back — the residents around Victoria Park, and indeed the whole of the City will be looking to you in the next few months to ensure that the green necklace and the vision of our early city planners is not undone by the development frenzy and the plundering of our community assets.  This is likely in part triggered by an excess of profits going to the developers at the cost of the citizen’s of North Vancouver’s quality of life.  We are worried about our other community green spaces — and who is next to be targeted by this aggressive form of development and facilitated by some of our own City Councillors?  Regional development is necessary and will continue to accommodate newcomers however, our small City has now taken on more than our share of new housing in the short term—it is time for other communities to do more.

.The set-backs around Victoria Park are an essential part of the green spaces that connect our parks.  The green spaces and vegetation that grows give the residents fresh air to breathe, and much needed green spaces in a City of increasing asphalt and concrete.  Most of the set-backs are well treed with mature stands of evergreen and other beautiful trees that would likely be destroyed if all of the buildings were to be enticed to develop this space, not to mention the loss of now affordable housing.  This in turn will also diminish the space for our existing bird and animal population in the city as well.  

Victoria Park development – a little miracle on Monday night

We have posted previously about the proposed development to add three buildings to the bottom of an existing tower at 151 East Keith.  We can now report that the proposal did not pass the Public Hearing on Monday thanks to the votes of Councillors Holly Back, Don Bell, Pam Bookham and Rod Clark.

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Here is a letter to the Editors of the North Shore News and the Global Canadian NVCV- letter to editor apr 24 2018 (not yet published) ; and a letter to the Councillors who voted against from a Strata President neighbour nvcv-infill project letter apr 25

Victoria Park – Beginning of the End?

Rated as #21 in ‘things to do in North Vancouver’ on Trip Advisor.

Some City of North Van residents may not be aware of the pressure being placed on some loved spaces in the City. Victoria Park is recognized on the register of ‘Canada’s Historic Places’ as ‘an urban park surrounded by a high density residential area’. The area has a park-like feel mostly because of the green space surrounding the apartment buildings. That green space has generally had a 25′ foot setback from neighbouring buildings, but is now being reduced to as little as 5′ to enable more buildings on some lots. 

There is a public hearing on Monday for a proposal at 151 East Keith, a rental building whose land is being paved over by an additional three buildings with no additional parking provided.  PLEASE ATTEND THE PUBLIC HEARING AND SPEAK UP TO SUPPORT YOUR NEIGHBOURS IF YOU ARE NOT IN AGREEMENT WITH THIS PROPOSAL.

We urge you to read this letter to Council and know that surrounding buildings are being approached by the City’s former Director of Planning suggesting that their building could do similar.  ‘I see you have potential for additional development on your property’.  He also seems to be pushing support for two particular members of Council which appears questionable in a local election year.

PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ THIS AND THINK ABOUT THE IMPLICATIONS FOR PRECEDENCE IN THIS AREA.  

To Mayor Mussatto and Counsellors Back, Bell, Bookham, Clark and Keating

I am totally opposed to the proposal for 151 East Keith Road and I hope you will be also.

BUILDING SETBACKS

The proposal is asking to change the building setbacks from 25 feet to as little as 5 feet for much of the property. This is not a minor change to adjust a small piece or corner of a building to position it better – no – this is a proposal to build about 50% of additional structures ON THE 25 FOOT SETBACK.

RESULT – This would be the beginning of the end for Victoria Park.

  • PRECEDENT

This would set a precedent for every building around the park. Already 123 E Keith received an email saying they could consider doing the same. 160 East Keith has just been sold – we have heard it may be to the same company and that it is already being looked over for possible additions.

  • RESULT FOR THE PARK

If buildings are allowed to have only a 5 foot setback, the park will be a walled fortress with a small green space (or probably mud space) in the middle. Already the shadow from 161 E Keith is covering the east end of the park for much of the winter. The park alone is not a wide space. It looks much wider because of the 25 foot setbacks all around and gets a good amount of sunlight – a space much needed by people living in highrise towers and used by people all over the City.

  • RESULT FOR CURRENT RENTAL BUILDINGS AROUND THE PARK

The owners of about a dozen, older, well-kept, rental buildings all around the park will look at their properties and recalculate what could be built if you tear down and rebuild when you only need a 5 foot setback. These are rental buildings in excellent condition that provide high quality living space for hundreds of people. Any new construction will have smaller units at higher prices. This would make our affordable rental problem even worse.

ADVISORY DESIGN PANEL – Feb. 15, 2017

  • SETBACKS AND NEIGHBOURHOOD BUY-INS

There were multiple comments in the minutes from members of the panel:

you should have positive feedback from neighbours to do this’

I think we are allowing this building owner to do something which is not really in the zoning’

The setbacks are aggressive and neighbours to the east and west need to be satisfied.’

NONE OF THESE COMMENTS got carried forward to the summary of the minutes or into the Rezoning Application!!!

There is NO BUY-IN FROM THE NEIGHBOURS!

  • PRECEDENT

There was a question asked by the Advisory Panel:

What is the implication of breaking the setback? Can other buildings along East Keith Road make similar applications? What precedent does it set?’

Answer from staff – ’ There is not much opportunity for neighbouring sites to do the same thing.’

Reality: – We already know that even before this has past there is already activity! And this sets a huge precedent for all buildings around the park!

  • PARKING

There was also a question – ‘no additional parking is being added?’

Answer from staff – ‘The requirement is 0.75. A variance request down to 0.70 is being made.’

Reality: – the building can only provide 0.63 but somehow the zoning bylaw regarding parking requirements was changed to 0.6 last summer.

Obviously the design panel was questioning the 0.75 level – now there are fewer parking spaces than when the project was reviewed! This is totally inadequate for adding 40 units with 7 units being townhouses with 2 and 3 bedrooms and high rents. Very few people paying these rents can walk to work or even work in NV.

HOUSING ACTION PLAN

  • The City’s Housing Action Plan requires 10% of new units be offered at 10% below market rates for 10 years. For the 40 proposed units this means 4 would be required. (The 10% should apply to all the units on the property as the FSR, lot size, and setbacks are for the whole property – 129 units = 13 below market units.) Starlight is working with Hollyburn Family Services and is offering the 4 units at the BC Government SAFER rate of $765 per month.

When this is calculated – what is the value of this contribution by Starlight?

CMHC NV Average Bachelor Rent

$1,018

BC Government SAFER Rent

$765

Difference Starlight Foregoes Each Month

$253

Starlight Total Value of Foregone Rent for 4 units per year

$12,144

Starlight Total Value for 10 Years

$121,440

What does Starlight gain?

CMHC 2017 – NV Average Rents * # of New Units Total per Month Total Per Year
– Bachelor Rent $1,018

33 – 4 = 29

$29,522

 
– 2 Bedroom Rent $1,645

5

$8,225

 
– 3 Bedroom $2,192

2

$,384

 
TOTAL ANNUAL RENT
– FOR NEW UNITS
 

$42,131

$505,572

TOTAL OVER 10 YEARS    

$5,055,720

*These rental rates are averages – probably much lower than a newly constructed building would command.

Starlight stands to gain very significant income from these units. Their building costs would be paid back quickly as there would be no underground parking added and it would be wood frame construction – less costly than concrete. In comparison they would make an extremely small contribution to our community in the way of a Community Amenity. Our community would give up extremely valuable setback zoning – that would set a precedent for the whole park area.

Can anyone explain why this deal would even be considered acceptable by Council? We are being bribed with an inadequate offer of 4 rental units – in return for substantial gains to Starlight!

The community is clearly the loser in this transaction!

THE CURRENT RENTAL SITUATION

According to CMHC 2017 report, the City of NV now has a vacancy rate of 1.3%. Our OCP has a GVRD 10-year Housing Demand target of 200 Market Rental. Since 2011 our City has already approved or built 1,166 units (only counting mid- and high-rise rentals) – with more under construction. Condo buildings have rentals of about 40% so that is another 1,136 units. We do not need another 40 market rental units. We need the BC and federal governments to help provide rents that allow people to live in them.

ACTION NEEDED

The community understands the desperate need for affordable housing. In discussion with Mayor Mussatto, I suggested the City use some of our gain from the $1.8 MILLION sale of the boulevard by 161 East Keith and make arrangements to house at least 4 people as soon as the building is finished. As he pointed out, there are many more units needed so we cannot do this for one group and not others. It is also not the responsibility of the municipal government to provide this housing – it is the responsibility of the provincial and federal governments. With the recent changes in these levels of government there is now increased commitment for support in this area. Our City needs to advocate very strongly to obtain increases especially for the GVRD area so the SAFER program and other similar programs will be funded to meet the actual rent requirements. If the City needs the citizens to get involved there are many of us willing to stand up for these requirements.

SUMMARY

I totally object to this proposal and implore council to reject it. The precedent would have unbelievable consequences for our park and our affordable housing! It has NO BUY-IN from the neighbourhood!

PLEASE REJECT THIS PROPOSAL

Linda Heese

140 Keith Road East

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