Category Archives: Election 2018

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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Election 2018

Comment from Voices:  With more discussion about the October 2018 election happening in coffee shops, Council chambers and on the street we thought it was time for a separate area for articles and discussions.  We start with a thoughtful comment by a City resident in response to a letter from another resident, published previously on our site: https://nvcityvoices.wordpress.com/2018/03/13/2601-lonsdale-developer-payback/

and the subject of an article in The Global Canadian:https://www.theglobalcanadian.com/woman-wanted-tell-cnv-council-couldnt/.

The public hearing for 2601 Lonsdale was last night, no decision until next week. The public hearing for 151 East Keith is next Monday.

Margaret Heywood Agree, we should be holding the “gang of four” to account. And be extra vigilant during this pre-election time for the four forcing through developments that are against the community plan, the community’s wishes and in my view common sense Pay attention to 151 East Keith coming on the heals of 161 East Keith and slated for public hearing next Monday. Right under our noses, the gang of four arbitrarily relaxed the distance between towers with no meaningful public input and no overall community notice — all to the benefit of their developer campaign donor. Now they are considering additional density at 151 East Keith where I understand much of the build out is on the 25 foot set back. This is a drastic change to the Victoria Park community, and in combination with the relaxing of distances between towers creates a precedent that has neither been approved nor discussed in the community plan and has never been envisioned by the people who live around Victoria Park. We need to be preserving all the green space we can, not giving it away for developer’s profits and cloaked in the elusive quest for rental housing. The 10-10-10 formula for density bonusing is grossly inadequate compared to the benefit that accrues to the developer. This has occurred largely because of the votes of Councillors Buchanan, Back, Mussatto and Keating. If you vote, and we urge you to do so, do not vote for these four because their record is entirely inconsistent with community interests and totally consistent with giving their developer friends and insiders profits on the backs of taxpayers.

EDITORIAL: A house divided

There has been no indication recently that the City has been willing to work with the District on any shared concerns – traffic, development, recreation – so maybe it’s time?

From the North Shore News today:

We welcome the news this week that the District of North Vancouver is making a new attempt at amalgamating with the City of North Vancouver. There is never a bad time to re-examine why there are two North Vancouvers to begin with and whether there should be reunification.

We’d say the bizarre, zigzagging border that divides our community seems arbitrary, but it isn’t. In 1907, it was drawn around the land holdings of property speculators who, conveniently, were also on the council of the day. They voted themselves a new municipality that would be cheaper to develop and service than the sprawling district.

City council members have so far been leery or outright closed-minded when it comes to talk of amalgamation. The perception has always been that the city has everything to lose and nothing to gain. A lot has changed and some myths have lingered too long. Today, district homeowners pay a lower tax rate than city ones.

But this isn’t about money, or at least it shouldn’t be. This is about an opportunity to correct a mistake of history and return to common sense in our governance, something we’ve been denied for 111 years. Whether it’s bylaws, planning, transportation or dog licences, we challenge anyone to explain why having two municipalities making decisions about the same chunk of land serves the residents better.

When the time comes, we insist the city approach this amalgamation study in earnest and with an open mind. North Vancouverites already share rec centres, traffic woes and a hospital. The demarcation doesn’t separate two municipalities from each other; it separates all of us from reason.

Source: EDITORIAL: A house divided

Unsettled Place of Transience?

Comment from Voices:  We have received the following version of a letter sent to North Vancouver City Council from a long time resident:

Is North Vancouver Now an Unsettled Place of Transience – Not A City? 

One issue about population growth: the enormous stress on the hospital. 

It is the only hospital on the North Shore and serves, as we know, the entire area from Deep Cove to Squamish and the Sunshine Coast: developments at 13th St and also along the entire Marine Drive and also 3rd street from St. George eastward etc. and at the foot of the cut grow buildings like mushrooms. 

Calling us a “City” is a misnomer; this is not a “city” anymore; it is an enclave that is a lacework of different kinds of settlements, small neighbourhoods, suburbs and bridge ways, which give it its character. 

The character now: sprawl and barely manageable growth. It is place of ‘transience’ and unsettled growth. 

As Council knows working people come to the North Shore from all over the Lower Mainland because they can’t afford to live here. 

For many the place has become little more than passageways from one place to another. 

This Transience! 

The dislocated renters will learn about ‘transience’ very quickly when they are forced to move. 

Who represents them? 

I’ll tell you a story perhaps representative: our Dr. in the Lower Lonsdale area moved his practice to Vancouver. We experienced what happens in finding a Dr. that is not a walk-in clinic. 

Most Dr.s on the North shore are not taking new patients unless in a walk-in clinic. We found out. 

Yet “we” are piling the people in. Who is the “We”? 
Especially one can add when so few voters in the City or District actually vote? Where is the “we”? 

The increase in population for example. Rrcently the rise in flu cases; many took their flu to the hospital because they don’t have a Doctor. 
Canadian statistics show this. 

The increase in population will further stress the lifeworld facilities. 
We know that the increase in population has moved beyond the predicted optimum that was planned. 

Yet development continues? 

We have experienced first hand the waiting time and the stress of the staff at the hospital who do their best. 
We eventually found a Dr. after many weeks of searching; this is a marker that is indicative of the reality. 

The Planning Department can produce a study of the indicators of the quality of the everyday way of life 

and see where ‘we’ stack up? 

-From a Very (very) Long Time North Vancouver Resident.

Last Hurrah for Big Money

From an Integrity BC Post:  2014, The Last Hurrah for Big Money in BC Local Elections (rules have changed for the 2018 election):

‘Time to start taking an in-depth look at who donated what and to who in the 2014 local elections and subsequent byelections.’

Donations by the Property Development Industry to the current slate in the City of North Vancouver.  The only current (non slate) Council member is Rod Clark, the recipient of a small donation ($400).  The donations from the larger developers totalled $62,467, and there were further donations from individuals in the development Industry.  The full list is available on facebook at IntegrityBC .

Integrity CNV developer donations 2014

Previous coverage after the 2014 election is available here: https://nvcityvoices.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/see-who-paid-for-the-2014-elections/

When the election-funding cap did not fit the CNV councillors – The Global Canadian

This article was published earlier in the print edition of The Global Canadian, which is now available online.   As we move further into the local election year (Oct 2018), we thought the comments in the article by various people including Council members are worth noting:

.

‘The new BC government led by NDP is proposing a ban on corporate and union donations and limiting individual donations to $1200.’

Source: When the election-funding cap did not fit the CNV councillors – The Global Canadian

Big Money small town politics (The Tyee)

From Andrew McLeod in The Tyee today:

Worries Continue About Big Money in Small-Town Politics

Former Sunshine Coast mayor asks whether new election rules will have sufficient teeth.

 

New rules introduced for municipal elections in British Columbia are a step forward, but may not be enough without strong support for enforcement, says a former Sunshine Coast mayor.

“The rules are only practical if they’re going to be enforced and if there are consequences for breaking the rules,” said Barry Janyk, who served in local government in Gibsons for 15 years starting in 1996, including 12 years as mayor.

“If people want to cheat the system and they have the resources to do it, then they’ll do it. I don’t know what the answer is.”

In the fall session of the legislature, the provincial government passed a bill that set a cap of $1,200 each year for individual donations to any one candidate or to candidates running as part of the same elector organization, or party.

A donor can still give $1,200 to multiple candidates if they are running independently and not part of an official slate or to candidates in several municipalities. Bill 15, the Local Elections Campaign Financing Amendment Act, 2017, also banned all donations from outside of the province, as well as those from corporations and unions.

A spokesperson for Elections BC, Andrew Watson, said in an email, “Elections BC is confident that we will be able to administer the changes to the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act effectively, and will seek additional resources if necessary.”

Uneven playing field

The day the bill was introduced, Union of British Columbia Municipalities president Wendy Booth endorsed the change. “Elections shouldn’t be won or lost on who has the most money,” she said. “We think these changes will level the playing field for candidates.”

Concerns about municipal election financing, particularly in Vancouver, go back many years. The Tyee published City Hall for Sale, a series that a decade ago exposed the “lax regulations that allow virtually unlimited contributions with little public scrutiny.”

In October, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson said the changes were needed in smaller communities as well. “I’ve certainly heard stories in different communities and the one that stands out is in the Sunshine Coast where a $20,000 contribution was made to a mayoral candidate,” she said. “In that campaign in a small community it was a significant contribution.”

The current mayor of Gibsons, Wayne Rowe, didn’t respond to requests for an interview.

According to a spreadsheet Janyk made using Elections BC data from the 2014 municipal elections, Gibsons had the highest spending per capita of any community in the province. Candidates and third parties spent more than $19 per person in the community, more than double what was spent in Vancouver.

Janyk said the amount spent on the election is a sign of business interests hoping to influence the outcome.

In particular, a plan from Klaus Fuerniss Enterprises Inc. for a marine resort and condominiums on the waterfront has been controversial in the community.

The plan was first proposed around a decade ago, and Janyk opposed it as mayor. “I got cold feet on the whole plan because I thought it was so out of step with the little town of Gibsons.”

The community was already struggling to adjust to development, he said. There’s a need to find more drinking water, he said, adding, “The ferries are a gong show, always overloaded, always late.”

‘Development plum’ and influence

People have been willing to spend money to influence elections in Gibsons because they hope to benefit from projects council can block or approve, Janyk said. “It’s all about money. That’s all it’s about. It’s made me really cynical about local politics in a community where there’s a development plum.”

Even with the new rules, much will depend on people’s honesty and integrity, he said. When something is improper, he said, “Unless you get someone who’s going to leak it, it’s very difficult to prove it.”

Elections BC’s budget request for 2018/19 included $1.69 million to administer campaign financing rules during the 2018 municipal elections. The agency added 11 full-time staff in 2014 after the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act was first adopted.

Watson said Elections BC didn’t seek more funding to administer the changes made last fall because Bill 15 had not yet passed when the agency appeared in front of the legislature’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services during the budget process in November.

“We are working to determine if additional resources are required to administer the requirements of the Bill, and will meet with the committee early this year with a supplementary funding request if required,” he said.

Elections BC tries to resolve any compliance issues through education first, Watson said, but can take further steps if necessary.

“The Chief Electoral Officer has the authority to conduct reviews, investigations and audits of the financial affairs and accounts of candidates, elector organizations, third party sponsors and assent voting advertising sponsors to ensure compliance with [the law],” he said.

“They also have the authority to require individuals or organizations to provide further information respecting compliance with the Act. We follow up any complaint we receive regarding potential contraventions of the Act, and may initiate an investigation if required.”

The new law made the rules retroactively effective starting on Oct. 31. Local elections will be held across the province on Oct. 20, 2018.  [Tyee]

‘Big Money’ to Be Booted Out of Municipal Politics READ MORE 

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