Category Archives: Election 2018

North Van reunification study on 2018 district ballot

From the North Shore News today, passed by District of North Van Council on July 9th:

More than electing a new council this fall, District of North Vancouver voters are being asked to formally declare whether their new government should support a study into North Vancouver amalgamation.

District council voted unanimously Monday night on a non-binding ballot question intended to test whether there is true mandate for reunification. The question that will appear on the Oct. 20 election ballot reads:

“Do you support the establishment and funding, not to exceed $100,000, of an advisory body comprised jointly of residents of the City of North Vancouver and residents of the District of North Vancouver to investigate the costs, benefits and potential implications of reunifying the two municipalities?”

Council’s vote follows the release of survey results last month that found overwhelming support from residents in both North Vancouvers on whether the two “should jointly investigate the true costs and benefits of amalgamation” – 91 per cent support by current district residents and 82 per cent support by city residents.

“We have to get it into the hands of the people. We cannot leave it in the hands of politicians that are making decisions in a room without windows. This is an opportunity to open a window,” said Coun. Doug MacKay-Dunn.

But, while the district may be ready to pop the question, the city’s council will still have to be talked into courtship, Coun. Robin Hicks cautioned.

“If the city doesn’t open their books, spending any amount of money is an entire waste of time,” he said. “In order to go ahead, both municipalities should be totally committed to it because the negotiations and the … integration of operations, policies and financial arrangements are very complex.”

With the exception of Coun. Don Bell, the current city council has shown no interest in the latest overtures from the district towards reunification. City Mayor Darrell Mussatto said the district was being unneighbourly by conducting the survey and forging ahead without first meeting with city council directly.

District Coun. Roger Bassam, however, pointed out it will be up to the next city council sworn in after the election to determine how much the city bureaucracy helps or hinders the work of the citizen advisory body.

“I remain very hopeful the political leadership in the city will sincerely engage in this process and support the residents of the city and district as they study the subject. I recognize that even if they do not support amalgamation themselves, hopefully they will at least respect the will of the city residents and support this examination thoroughly,” he said.

The city was carved out of the district in 1907 when a group of property speculators petitioned the province for a new municipality that would be cheaper to service than the sprawling district, which, at the time, went from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove.

The vote passed 5-0. Coun. Lisa Muri and Mayor Richard Walton were absent from the meeting.

Source: North Van reunification study on 2018 district ballot

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Donald Trump is not your Mayor

The following was recently submitted to The Global Canadian (not yet published):

Commentary by Fred Dawkins, North Van City Voices

In the last municipal election, in 2014, roughly three-quarters of North Shore voters did not vote.

The turnout ranged from a paltry 23 per cent in the District of North Vancouver to 28 per cent in the City of North Vancouver, with West Vancouver coming in at 27 per cent. By contrast, the turnout for the most recent provincial election was about 60 per cent – more than double the municipal vote.

Political scientists have advanced a number of theories as to why this is. Probably it’s a combination of factors. Many people feel disengaged from municipal politics – they don’t follow the issues between elections, so don’t know how they should vote when the election comes around. Many don’t see the municipal issues as important, while others are cynical about how business is done at City Hall and don’t feel their vote will change anything.

There’s an information gap too. Most candidates for council are unknown to anyone but their family and friends, and mainstream media coverage of municipal issues and candidates is miniscule compared with coverage of provincial and federal politics.

My unscientific reading of the situation is that, thanks to cable news and social media, the average North Shore voter is more engaged in U.S. politics than in what’s happening in their own back yard. Everyone has an opinion about Donald Trump; not many even know who their mayor is, let alone what he or she stands for.

What it comes down to is, in municipal politics, people perceive that the stakes are low. The majority is okay with leaving the electoral choice to the few people who care, because after all, what’s the worst that can happen if the “wrong” people get elected to Council.

Well, if you are becoming increasingly irritated and inconvenienced by the unending traffic snarls on our major North Shore routes, this is one of those “worst things”.

Four years ago, City of North Vancouver voters were offered a choice between an organized bloc of candidates who advocated a rapid build-up of residential development, and a number of independent candidates who called for a more careful, measured approach to growth. Then a relatively small number of votes (remember, 28 per cent total turnout) elected a pro-developer council, dominated by candidates who received financial backing from the developers. The building boom accelerated, fueled by Official Community Plan amendments and density bonuses.

Now here we are. And it’s not over yet – the legacy of our developer-friendly City government will be felt for years to come, with several major developments still under construction. If you think traffic is bad now, just wait till all those new condos and townhouses are completed and the hundreds of additional residents join the daily commute.

Feel engaged yet?

The irony is, I’m preaching to the converted. If you are reading this community newspaper, you’re probably already among the relative minority who follow the local issues and will likely get out and vote this fall.

To you, I make this request – please talk it up with your friends and neighbours who may not be as engaged in North Shore issues. When they complain about the traffic, point out that our city councils are the ones who allow runaway development while doing almost nothing to ease the stress on our commuter routes and civic infrastructure. Make sure they know an election is coming, and unless they want four more years of this (or worse), they should read up on the candidates in their community newspaper, and make plans to vote for the ones who haven’t got us into this mess.

You might also point out that because of the relatively small numbers, their single vote has a lot more impact than it does in provincial and federal elections. And a short walk to the voting booth can make a big difference in their quality of life.

So you want to become a councillor? Here’s a step-by-step guide | The Global CanadianThe Global Canadian

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: So you want to become a councillor? Here’s a step-by-step guide | The Global CanadianThe Global Canadian

Spending limits announced for North Van, West Van civic campaigns

from the North Shore News today:

Candidates in the upcoming October civic elections on the North Shore will be running leaner election campaigns this time around and getting by with fewer glossy pamphlets and paid helpers.

Elections B.C. released dollar figures for new expense limits for municipal campaigns this week, which set out the maximum amount candidates can spend in an effort to get themselves elected.

The expense limits, brought in under the last provincial government, will be felt most acutely in the City of North Vancouver, where the two mayoralty candidates both spent vastly more than will be allowed under the new rules in the 2014 civic election.

The new expense limits are based on population, so vary between municipalities.

 

In the City of North Vancouver, candidates running for mayor will now be limited to spending $36,348 – about one-third of the approximately $96,700 spent by Mayor Darrell Mussatto in the last campaign and half the $79,200 spent by challenger Kerry Morris.

Council candidates will also have to make do with the beer-budget version of campaigning, with a spending limit of $18,368.

Both Coun. Linda Buchanan – who spent about $27,600 on her campaign – and Coun. Craig Keating – who spent $28,900 – spent over that limit in the previous election.

More significantly, however, this will be the first civic election since the new provincial government banned union and corporate donations and limited individuals to donations of $1,200.

During the last election, Mussatto, Keating and Buchanan all received sizable donations from a number of real estate developers, businesses and from unions including CUPE, which represents workers at North Vancouver city hall.

Individual donations are also limited to $1,200 under the new rules and can only be made by people who are B.C. residents and Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Candidates will also not be allowed to spend more than $2,400 of their own money on their election campaign.

During the last election, Mussatto received individual donations that were several times that size from the heads of two development companies, while Morris spent more than $70,000 of his own money on his campaign.

Spending and donation limits will be less of a factor elsewhere on the North Shore, but candidates in the districts of North and West Vancouver will also have to keep their campaign belts tightened.

Spending limits for District of North Vancouver mayoralty candidates is set at just under $53,963 while campaign spending by those vying for council seats will be about $27,335. Coun. Jim Hanson spent over that last time – about $28,300 – although the other candidates would have had no problem complying with the new limits.

In the District of West Vancouver, spending on a mayoralty election campaign has been capped at $30,841 while council candidates are limited to spending $15,564. Coun. Mary-Ann Booth spent more than that – about $22,300 – on her council campaign last time, as did the late councillor Michael Lewis, who spent $15,800.

Any candidate planning to skirt the regulations by having someone else pick up the tab will have to think again too: there are also new limits on what can be spent by third parties on advertising that endorses or promotes election candidates. Limits are $1,817 in the City of North Vancouver, $1,542 in the District of West Vancouver and $2,698 in the District of West Vancouver.

The campaign spending limits apply to the period Sept. 22 to Oct. 20. They also include goods and services purchased prior to that but used during the campaign.

In previous civic elections, there were no limits on how much money organizations could donate to a candidate’s campaign or how much candidates could spend, earning B.C. a Wild West reputation and leading to criticisms that those with deep pockets were having an undue influence on some councils.

Source: Spending limits announced for North Van, West Van civic campaigns

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

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