Category Archives: Harbourside

Five years later, all that remains is barren land | The Global Canadian

Comment from Voices:  This development application was pushed through with much opposition in 2012, Councillor Bookham once again is the voice of reason and common sense.

Source: Five years later, all that remains is barren land | The Global CanadianThe Global Canadian

If Councillor Pam Bookham had her way at a recent council meeting, a major developer would have lost a contentious change to OCP granted by the council five years ago. Concert Properties came before the council in 2012 to ask to rezone waterfront land from Industrial to a mixed-used commercial and residential on Fell Avenue and Harbourside Drive.

It was a controversial ask at the time but the council granted the go-ahead to change the OCP designation and allow for a mixed-use commercial and residential neighbourhood. But five years later all that remains is a barren land with no sights of a development that Bookham said was touted as a vibrant neighbourhood that would provide jobs and office space and revitalise the area.

“Vibrancy sold this project and it’s now in danger of never being realised and I don’t understand why we are not pulling the OCP approval for this. We move this forward or it reverts back to its original OCP designation, which was a place where jobs could be provided. I don’t understand why we would be supportive of Concert when they seem to be unwilling or unable to move forward and deliver the vision they sold to us against a great deal of resistance,” she said.

Coun. Rod Clark also expressed his frustration at the five-year delay, noting that city let go of industrial land to give way to a more mixed designation. “Well, if only I had a dollar for every time I hear Concert was going to do something there.

“Concert came here and said we are going to build a wonderful, wonderful industrial park and according to them that didn’t too well and then they came back and in a very contentious, drawn out process got residential and commercial. It’s been sitting there forever, I want to see some action and I want to see it soon. They have promised and they haven’t delivered,” he said.

The council recently heard from the developer but it wasn’t news about shovels hitting the ground. Instead, Concert came before the council for another ask: It wants to exchange land use and reconfigure commercial space. The company now wants to first build market rental housing on the lot where it first planned a seniors’ rental-assisted living facility and it wants to reduce commercial on two sites and move the commercial to the remaining sites.

“There is a very strong need for both rental housing and seniors’ rental housing in the City of North Vancouver. Delivering rental housing in earlier phases of the Harbourside development will help to address historically low rental vacancy rates,” according to the developer. Councillor Craig Keating agrees.

Keating said he shared the frustration of the council but also felt that Seaspan workers could benefit from housing in the location. Keating said he recently a steady stream of workers leaving work and joining traffic who could stay in the neighbourhood with the kind of housing being proposed by Concert.

“If anyone needs housing near that spot, it’s Seaspan because there isn’t any housing. It would be great if we could have some housing there so people working at Seaspan could live there. I saw hundreds of people today at Seaspan that could use this,” he said.

Councillor Pam Bookham said she recalled a Seaspan representative saying the workers won’t be able to afford the housing being built there. She asked Concert representative if the company has had any conversation with Seaspan over housing.

“Our intent is to provide rental housing and I don’t have any conversation with Seaspan and whether that is going to be affordable for their employees,” said Craig Water, a senior vice-president of the company. He said Concert plans to bring forward a development permit application soon. Council granted the company’s request with Coun. Bookham opposed.

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Harbourside inaction-new public hearing

Comment from Voices: The first public hearing regarding this development was held on June 25 2012: http://www.cnv.org/your-government/council-meetings/public-hearings-public-meetings-and-standing-committees-of-council/archived-transcripts/2012-transcripts.

Since then, various applications and rezoning proposals have come before Council (search Harbourside for history). The project was the subject of a contentious public hearing, with many speakers asking for a provision for a park, and plans for a pier were discussed at one point. We estimate that the City has added approximately 5,000 residents in the area with recent development. If the area was deemed ‘not park deficient’ in 2012, perhaps that could be looked at again.

Now a change from seniors housing to market rental is being proposed and a new public hearing will be held.  Councillor Keating was waxing eloquently about the stream of workers leaving Seaspan after shift, and how they need rental housing in the area. However, Seaspan in another article, is contemplating layoffs. Once again, so many issues. A project forced through the approval process in 2012 and still languishing.  An opportunity for a fresh look at the site?  We are a waterfront community without access.

http://www.nsnews.com/news/harbourside-seniors-rental-housing-delayed-1.23087584

harbourside

 
 

More than three years after winning approval to build a massive commercial/residential project south of the Northshore Auto Mall, Concert Properties has yet to apply for a building permit or a development permit for the Harbourside project.

The development was debated again Monday as City of North Vancouver council voted 4-2 to grant Concert’s request to delay the construction of a seniors’ rental-assisted living facility, push some of the commercial space originally earmarked for the foot of Fell Avenue farther west, and fast-track the construction of market rental housing.

The changes chagrined Coun. Pam Bookham, who excoriated Concert for taking so long to begin building the 800 strata and rental units and 300,000 square feet of commercial space on the strip of waterfront property between Bewicke Avenue and Bodwell High School.

“The vibrancy which basically sold this project . . . is now in danger of never being realized,” she said, joining Coun. Rod Clark in voting against the change.

“I don’t understand why we would be supportive of Concert when they seem unable or unwilling to move forward and deliver the vision that they sold to us, and sold to the community,” she said.

It was a vision Bookham never bought into, suggesting the project “flies in the face” of planning principles that target high-density projects for areas with quick access to transit.

The project includes a 24-seat community shuttle bus, which would offer complimentary service from Harbourside to Lonsdale Quay. The shuttle would cease operations once TransLink increases service in the area.

Given the steady stream of traffic that backs up along West First Street when Seaspan workers end their shift, “it’s about bloody time” there was rental housing in the area, stated Coun. Craig Keating.

“It’d be great if in fact we could have a bit more housing capacity down there so we’re not overloading the roads with people who just want to come here to work at good industrial jobs,” he said.

The project should “help to address historically low rental vacancy rates,” according to a city staff report. The city’s vacancy rate was pegged at 0.3 by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp.’s 2016 survey.

However, there is also a “strong need” for rental housing for seniors, the staff report noted.

Concert’s bid to reconfigure the commercial space “has the potential to weaken” the city’s goal of creating a vibrant commercial junction at the foot of Fell Avenue, according to a city staff report.

hawker
Intended as a temporary foodie hub, the Hawker’s Wharf project was formally scrapped in 2016. – photo Cindy Goodman, North Shore News

That was a concern for Clark, who questioned if the city had created a “gentrified community” with a large portion of dental, medical, and legal offices.

“Are we at risk of diluting the commercial node at the bottom of Fell?” Clark asked.

Dilution is a concern, said city planner Michael Epp. However, there will still be a plaza surrounded by commercial space.

“I do think that the node does still function,” Epp told Clark.

Clark also expressed frustration with Concert Properties’ sluggish pace.

“I want to see action and I want to see it soon,” he said.

The project’s initial plan prioritized the neighbourhood’s commercial centre and employment-generating office space, with the largest residential portion set to be delivered later in the process. That process was negotiated to provide the city “with a greater degree of comfort that the amenities would be delivered, particularly in the event that market conditions change,” noted a city staff report.

Building regulations related to flood risk have made the commercial component more challenging, according to Epp.

“They just haven’t been able to achieve the amount of commercial development at the ground floor that they previously anticipated,” Epp said.

However, the changes are “relatively minor,” as the majority of the commercial development is still slated to be built in the first two phases of the four-phase project, noted a staff report.

The change is intended to be a “precursor to some serious action on the site,” Epp said.

Mayor Darrell Mussatto concurred, referring to a meeting with Concert Properties.

“They want to get moving on this, and they see this as critical,” he said.

Mussatto also supported building housing first. “I think it’s the right thing to be doing.”

 Concert Properties initially pitched a major project for the waterfront in June of 2009.

The site is currently vacant, despite initial plans to create an outdoor plaza at 925 Harbourside Dr. ringed by cooks, chefs, and craft beer brewers. Plans for Hawker’s Wharf were discarded despite entrepreneur Chris Jerome and Concert Properties reaching an agreement with the City of North Vancouver in 2015.

The Harbourside project would likely take 10 years to complete, according to city staff.

Coun. Don Bell did not attend the meeting.

(comment from Voices: Councillor Bell underwent major knee surgery last week, we wish him all the best for a speedy recovery).)

Pay parking decision points to larger issue (NSNews)

 “This (pay parking decision) is just the tip of the very huge iceberg of non-creativity that is currently defining North Vancouver planning across the board.”
– Siobhan O’Connell, April 6 North Shore News

In her letter to the editor, Siobhan O’Connell added an exclamation mark to the frustration many City of North Vancouver residents feel about what they see as a growing lack of democratic process at city hall.

The Harbourside business owner-taxpayer wrote she was “beyond offended and utterly frustrated” that, absent any pretence at public consultation, council had voted 5-2 to turn area streets into a pay parking zone.

Whether or not O’Connell was aware, this issue has been festering for six years or more. We know that because, at a mid-April 2012 open house held to discuss development of the lands held by Knightsbridge Properties and Concert Properties, two of the main concerns that attendees raised were related to traffic gridlock and the already existing lack of parking spaces for employees and clients of the Northshore Auto Mall.

On April 18, 2012, North Shore News reporter Benjamin Alldritt noted that traffic consultant Peter Joyce, of Bunt and Associates, “said he had heard residents’ concerns over traffic at previous events over the past
two years.”

Driven by the pace of development, concerns about traffic congestion and parking throughout the city were repeated to council by a dozen or more presenters at a subsequent meeting of council on June 17, 2014.

Over those years, anyone who had taken their car down for an early-morning servicing could have told you the Auto Mall street parking was already taken.

How has it taken until now for city staff and council to bring down a hammer – on the wrong people?

Reached for her comment, O’Connell repeated her belief that a temporary solution would be for the city and property owners to reach some sort of agreement that vehicles be allowed to use the five vacant nearby lots to cope with overflow parking needs.

“We often see people from the film industry parked down there,” she said. “Why shouldn’t North Shore residents and businesses be allowed to do the same?”

When I thought of what it would take in business volume for O’Connell to just break even after paying her 24 employees and $14,000/month rent, I didn’t have the heart to answer by suggesting the use of those lots would likely also come at a price.

Lack of parking and traffic congestion issues are reaching crisis point in all three municipalities. It is hard to see how driving commercial operations out of business by making it impossible for their employees to get to work, or clients to patronize them will do anything to improve the quality of life on the North Shore. It is not as though convenient transit alternatives are anywhere close on the horizon.

And speaking of transit, the other major point to be made – especially in the city – is that the developments approved over the past eight to 10 years have so crowded our main thoroughfares, it will soon be impossible to build any effective form of rapid transit, even if TransLink did decide to look beyond the bridges.

Another aspect of the Harbourside question yet to be determined is for the community to hear exactly what will be the updated nature of the development on the still vacant lands. Many of the fundamentals of the original plans have changed significantly over the intervening years since Knightsbridge and Concert Properties first began to put their ideas to council.

Not only has council membership changed at least twice over, the tone of council discussion has become toxic.

Meanwhile, city’s hall’s overzealous staff appears to prefer overcoming council’s democratic right and responsibility to make the final decisions.

Beyond that, though, is the fact that man-made or not, climate change is giving a boost to sea levels and forcing corporations and governments alike to rethink their attitudes to waterfront developments.

Will rising sea levels cause Concert to pull back and revise their plans? If that should happen, will Mayor Darrell Mussatto and his team at city hall give the public another chance to voice its opinions?

Or will they say – as they have over the recent Lot 5 changes – that citizens had plenty of opportunity to say their piece at the start of the process and all they need do now is comment on the design and/or zoning variances.
More and more it seems, the four in the 4-3 votes on council seem to think the public is only useful to pay for the decisions they make behind closed doors.
Question is, are city taxpayers of North Vancouver going to take that lying down?
Or will more and more of them “get their Irish up” as O’Connell has done?

– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/opinion/columnists/james-pay-parking-decision-points-to-larger-issue-1.2229689#sthash.MziFoXTj.dpuf

 

Pay parking coming to North Vancouver’s Harbourside neighbourhood

Comment from Voices:  Concerns were expressed by businesses and employees in July 2013 about parking and congestion in the Harbourside area. In June 2014 Council members, with the exception of Councillors Bookham and Clark, and with fierce opposition by members of the public – approved 800 residential units on the waterfront portion of  the area.

We agree with this NS News statement:

One City of North Vancouver councilor is predicting a “battle royal” following a split council decision in favour of instituting pay parking and time-restricted parking spots in the area surrounding the Northshore Auto Mall.

Article in the North Shore News:

Source: Pay parking coming to North Vancouver’s Harbourside neighbourhood

The free ride may not abide in Harbourside, following council’s decision to support new restrictions including pay parking between Bewicke Avenue and Mackay Creek.

In an effort to free up more parking spots in advance of an 800-unit development slated to be built at Harbourside over the next decade, council supported instituting pay parking and time-restricted spots in a split vote March 7. However, one councillor warned the change could be a disaster.

“I think we’re in for a battle royal,” Coun. Pam Bookham advised her colleagues. “I think we’re going to hear the first outcries the moment we try to introduce this plan.”

City staff weighed several options before recommending a combination of pay parking and time limits. Keeping the status quo was not considered despite the fact that keeping things as they are was the public’s preferred option in a 2013 study.

The same study also found on-street parking was 97 per cent full. According to a 2015 survey, 80 per cent of parking spots in the Auto Mall loop are occupied for an average of six hours at a time, presumably due to employees parking during their shifts.

Parking spots on the street are for customers, not employees, said Coun. Holly Back.

“I believe that employers have to take some responsibility for their staff parking,” she said, adding that many Auto Mall employers “didn’t seem too willing to take that responsibility.”

There is rampant speculation some auto dealers use their parking spots for the cars they want to sell, according to Darrell Mussatto.

“I’ve got assumptions, I don’t have any proof,” he said.

However, at least one dealership holds parking spots overnight, according to Mussatto.

“There’s one dealership I will not name; at the end of the day they take their used cars and they put them on the street,” he said, explaining employees swap spots with the used cars each morning.

There are 410 on-street parking stalls in Harbourside, including 138 in the Auto Mall. More than half of the spots are unrestricted. There are time limits on one-third of Auto Mall spots but the limits are rarely enforced over concerns that handing out tickets will push Auto Mall employees into the rest of Harbourside.

Hawkers Wharf, a temporary home for as many as 40 food businesses and a dining area, is set to open later this year. Harbourside is also scheduled to take on approximately 300,000 square feet of commercial development over the next 10 years.

Council voted 5-2 to institute pay parking, with Couns. Pam Bookham and Rod Clark opposed

– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/pay-parking-coming-to-north-vancouver-s-harbourside-neighbourhood-1.2215212#sthash.LnYsp6nt.Sd0w0H6E.dpuf

LETTER: Casino not condos at North Van’s Harbourside development

LETTER: Casino not condos at North Van’s Harbourside development.

Dear Editor:

Why does the City of North Vancouver not allow casinos to be built? They are constantly whining about money woes for their pet projects.

They are also making decisions about density that go way beyond the OCP to accommodate the shortfalls. Seems like a “no brainer” to me.

A casino in the empty lots in the auto mall would make perfect sense. The idea of putting hundreds of residences in that location is very simplistic and shows this council has no real vision for our city.I can just hear all the people who move there, crying about the noise and lights as soon as the shipyard starts full production. This location was never meant for homes. The traffic in that area is already at its limit.

We are soon going to be hit with a huge bill for the sewage treatment and with the Harper government in charge in Ottawa, we will be footing that bill ourselves.

The city would receive 10 per cent of the revenue from a casino.Maybe the citizens will wake up before the next municipal election and vote for new blood.

Terry Muldoon

North Vancouver

– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/opinion/letters/letter-casino-not-condos-at-north-van-s-harbourside-development-1.1008540#.dpuf

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Voices comment:  Or, as a friend said to me, they could put a Casino with the hotel and condos.. It would give people something to do when they can’t get out.

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North Vancouver approves new $400 million waterfront neighbourhood with 800 condo units

North Vancouver approves new $400 million waterfront neighbourhood with 800 condo units.

North Vancouver City Council has approved a new waterfront neighbourhood on Harbourside Drive, bordered to the south of North Shore Auto Mall. The vote on the re-submitted rezoning proposal came down to a 5-2 vote that gave the mixed-use development the green light, go-ahead.  *Voices comment: Councillors Bookham and Clark opposed, in part due to reasons further in this article*.

The 18-building, 1.16 million square foot Harbourside Waterfront development project will be built by Concert Properties on a 12 acre site consisting of:

  • 800 residential units, including 700 for market residential and 100 for affordable rental
  • 216,000 square feet of office space
  • 55,000 square feet of retail space
  • a 100,000 square foot hotel

The buildings will be no more than 27.6 metres in height and proponents have promised a LEED Gold standard certification. It will also fund a new one acre City-owned park, improve the existing greenways, dedicate an additional 2.5 acres for public spaces that will weave between the buildings, enhance the shorelines, and construct waterfront boardwalks and pier extensions to provide access to water.

Altogether, the $400 million project will be similar to the scale of Vancouver’s Olympic Village in Southeast False Creek and the Village emerging around the Richmond Olympic Oval.

However, the project’s location and its allocated density is highly questionable due to its relatively inaccessible location. Road access to the new neighbourhood is limited to only Fell Avenue (4 lanes) and Bewicke Avenue (2 lanes), which intersects with an active ground level rail crossing that will undergo developer-funded safety improvements.

Harbourside Waterfront departs from the region’s typical transit-oriented development of how mixed-use forms of residential and commercial are built adjacent to high capacity public transit infrastructure like SkyTrain. For North Vancouver, it has previously chosen to build density along Lonsdale Avenue, which is served by a high concentration of bus routes and the SeaBus terminal.

As no public transit is planned for the new waterfront neighbourhood, Concert Properties will implement a new ‘frequent’ private bus service to the SeaBus terminal in an effort to ease concerns over car traffic, parking demand and accessibility.

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Harbourside gets council approval

Harbourside gets council approval.

The largest single commercial/residential development to come before the city in recent years won its approval at City of North Vancouver council Monday night, years after it was first pitched.

Concert Properties’ Harbourside development, which will place roughly 800 strata and rental units and 300,000 square feet of commercial space on the waterfront property along Harbourside Drive at the foot of Fell Avenue over the next 10 to 15 years, passed 5-2 in a late-night session of council.

The city previously held a public hearing to rezone the property on April 1 but chose to defer the vote.

The motion passed 5-2, with Couns. Pam Bookham and Rod Clark voting against – the same split on council for each step of the project over the last two years.

For the two dissenters, the issues were poor access, a loss of land that could be commercial or industrial and the project’s isolation from the rest of the city and its services.

The only ways into the area are via Fell Avenue and Bewicke Avenue, which is home to an at-grade rail crossing. TransLink has no plans to run transit to the area and so the developer has promised to run a private shuttle linking the neighbourhood with the SeaBus terminal.

“It flies in the face of every planning principle that has guided where we put density. That is in Lower Lonsdale, Central Lonsdale and along the Marine Drive corridor because of that close connection between where people live and how they move about,” Bookham said, adding that the private shuttle plan is “no solution at all.”

“I find it hard to call it a neighbourhood because it is so far removed. There is no connection with other residential parts of the city. There’s no connection to any services. There’s no connection to any commercial area and I doubt very much the kind of commercial that will come in with the mixed use will be more than a place where you can maybe buy a quart of milk and a newspaper.”

However, Coun. Guy Heywood chose to champion the proposal at the late hour. With the project having been before council for both an official community plan ammendment and rezoning, it had, despite its challenges, had more vetting by the city than most projects that come forward, he said. And the commercial space at the site coupled with the housing will make it a community where residents can live and work in the same place, which is the best council could hope for he added.

“It’s never going to be classic industrial. It was never industrial before. It will never qualify as a truck terminal site because it’s not close to a highway,” he said. “There’s no way it’s going to be destination-commercial. It’s going to have to generate its own activity through the efforts of development that will have to promote a livework style of development.” Heywood added he was confident the area will eventually be served by transit.

Council must still pass one final reading of the bylaw.

– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/harbourside-gets-council-approval-1.965173#.dpuf