Category Archives: Letters

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.

Re: ‘Collecting Stuff’

Letter to the Editor, North Shore News (not yet published):

During the City Council meeting discussion on a new proposed development, honest questions were raised regarding parking and storage.  The developer answered the parking concerns with the fact that the  carports were to be opensided and therefore safe  only for parking  and, as for storage, there were to be several large closets within the home itself.  Further questions followed:  Will those closets take winter tires?  What about skis, strollers, lawn mowers etc.

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    Our Bachelor Mayor finally pronounced his solution;-  “We must all stop collecting “stuff”.  Living spaces and storage spaces are going to be much smaller. Acquire only what you need, not what you would like to have.

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     And so, in the Mussatto future, say goodbye to bargain filled thrift sales and garage sales.  My generation has been avid ”stuff” collectors  and “stuff” recyclers.  I for one have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it!

 

                                                                                                    Joan Peters

 

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

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.

Eastern Ave- 13 storeys, 225 units

Developer’s Information Session coming up: January 31 6-8pm 125 West 15th (Legion) for a new proposal by Anthem Properties at 1600 Eastern Avenue.  The Mayor and Councillor Keating were recipients of campaign donations from Anthem in 2014.  The proposed density is 3.3 FSR.

We (Voices) have received a copy of the following submission from a concerned resident in the area, which has been submitted to Anthem:

Dear Emily Howard
Community Relations Manager
Anthem Eastern Apartments LP
cc. Planning cnv.
__________________________
I will be attending the Information Session on January 31 to hear about your proposal for the new massive development in our neighborhood.
I’m sure other residents of The Sovereign will be there and will want to know about your plans.
This message is directed to both Anthem and Planning CNV and several Council members.
Here are some questions which you might want to address:  
1. What is the rent scale that Anthem proposes? 
2. Will there be options for affordable rent for the renters who will be affected who now live in the apartments on the East side of Eastern Ave.?
3. What kind of traffic survey and analysis has been done? What does it show?
   The traffic in this area is circumscribed by through-arteries to Grand Blvd.,Lynn Valley,
   and beyond, and the Upper Levels. Traffic on St. George and the hospital is considerable as well.
   17 th. is a shortcut to Grand Blvd. and the Upper Levels.  
4. Traffic to and from Loblaws, bus routes on 15th, fire, police, ambulances, delivery and service vehicles spread are now spread throughout these narrow streets. A huge development will take place on St. George and 15th adding more congestion to the already stressed neighborhood.
5. This is a small residential neighborhood with a specific character;  this massive development will once again promote urban growth and see development take charge of the way of life. What if any amenities is Anthem returning for this density? The intersection at Eastern and 17th and Eastern and 15th is already a  dangerously congested intersection for pedestrians and automobiles. The neighborhood has  many older people who use walkers, families who walk with small children and strollers.  The entrance and exit to Loblaws on both 17th and Eastern impinges on sidewalk traffic.
6. Where is the entrance and exit going to be for Anthem Eastern Apartments?
Thank you for your attention to these issues. 
— 
Jerry Zaslove 

 

Tribute to Stella Jo Dean

We (Voices) have received the following from Joan Peters, a long time City of North Van resident:

  About 50 years ago it was reported that the City was going to civilize the park at the top of Grand Boulevard, known then as “The Quarry”’  My young family loved to go up there and let their imaginations run as wild as the surroundings.  My daughter wrote a Letter  to the Editor of the local paper asking “Please, no changes!”  The paper printed her letter and  even arranged for a picture of her in the park.

   Two days after publication, there was a knock on our front door.  It was Stella Jo Dean, the fairly new City Councillor,  who wanted to meet and talk to the 9 year old letter writer.  Were we impressed?  You bet we were!  We held Councillor Dean dear all the years she served this city and she was always our first ballot check at election time

    Stella Jo Dean was a very special Lady, an eternal excellent example for present and future councillors.

She will be missed.

Letter to the Editor – Monday night TV

Comment from Voices:

We have received a copy of the following Letter to the Editor, North Shore News (now published).  This complements the column by Paul Sullivan in today’s edition and posted on this site. http://www.nsnews.com/opinion/letters/letter-switch-off-cnn-and-click-on-cnv-org-for-politics-in-action-1.23094072

To:  Editor, North Shore News

    Are you finding Monday night TV dull?  Might I suggest tuning in to NV City council meetings at 6:00 via the city website*.    It’s akin to watching CNN but these politics are happening right here in our little city and are affecting our quality of life – every one of us, present and future.

    It doesn’t take long to realize that  members of our elected council don’t  get along well; it soon becomes  obvious that there is a concerted effort to prevent the public’s voice from being heard;  you’ll get frustrated with the high-falutin’ language used to discuss issues; you may get angry with the constant 4-3 votes in favour of serious changes within our home territory, in spite of large public opposition  and you may want to “Boo” loud and clear when the mayor congratulates himself on speeding through another meeting.

    City council watching is certainly not dull!   You’re either with the powers-that-be or against them but either way next October it’s OUR TURN to take control and have OUR WAY with  them —- Election 2018!

    So for good entertainment, on the spot education –  Watch your city council in action on Monday Nights, form an opinion and , for Heaven’s Sake, Vote next October !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Joan Peters

*update:  the link to the Council meeting is usually on the front page of the city website: http://www.cnv.org/. It can also be accessed on the Council meeting page here: http://www.cnv.org/your-government/council-meetings

Strata re 151 E Keith:Rezoning unacceptable

Below is a submission to the City from the residents of 123 E Keith, neighbours of the development proposal at 151 E Keith to add 43 units in four separate infill buildings. It would seem that sometime in the past year the City has amended the parking requirements to .6/ unit. 

We received this response from the City when queried: ‘Our Zoning Bylaw does have the provision to charge applicants $35,000 per parking stall for the purpose of creating municipal parking facility.  It has only been applied when a the application falls short of the required off-street parking in accordance with the Zoning Bylaw.  It has not applied to applications that meet the off-street parking requirements of the Zoning Bylaw’.

We have previously published information on this application (search 151 E Keith ).

Your Honourable Mayor, Esteemed Council Members and Mr. Johnson:

 

Yesterday evening a contingent of our residents met with representatives from Pottinger Bird, Starlight Investments, Urban Systems, Burrowes Huggins, and Connect Landscape Architecture to allow them the opportunity to hear our concerns in advance of the Public Hearing to be held regarding the infill project at 151 East Keith Road.

 

Over 30 residents were in attendance at the meeting last night and rigorously participated in the question period.  I don’t think any left the meeting feeling anything was accomplished.

 

Our main objection is still to the aggressive setbacks for the proposal.  Originally, they were submitted as:

 

  • E. Keith Lot Line:              2.40 m
  • E 6th Street Lot Line:        1.64 m
  • East Lot Line:                   2.00 m
  • West Lot Line:                  3.04 m

 

To our dismay, only one of the setbacks has been altered and that one for only a portion of the West Lot line between our buildings to allow a 7 metre green space.  It was offered that Starlight was very disappointed to lose three of the 43 proposed units to accommodate this.  It was questioned why they didn’t continue the green space on the entire lot line between the buildings and we were told that Starlight would further lose 8 of their 400 sq.ft. units to allow this and the project would no longer be viable.  Putting in a small patch of grass does not in any way allay our growing frustration with feeling an inability to communicate with either Starlight or the City.

 

Other information came up during the meeting that was equally as disarming.  The architect advised that the City required them to alter the original plans to create a garbage and bicycle storage facility outside the current building fronting 6th Street and to incorporate them in the current parking structure.  Parking has always been one of our biggest objections.  Currently, the building has 104 stalls.  The original proposal was to decrease it to 93 stalls representative of 0.7 parking stalls per unit.  When we found that the plans had been altered, we asked how many stalls they would have in their new submission.  We were told 82 – representative of 0.6 per unit.  We asked how this was even possible because we knew the requirement had already been dropped by CNV to 0.7 and it was casually noted that the City changed the regulations this past summer.  Really???  Did the City change the stipulations to allow this specific project to drop to 0.6 per unit?? 

 

When it was noted that the planners had based the parking on a ‘current study’ of buildings in Greater Vancouver, one of our residents asked if they polled the residents at 151.  We are fully aware that many of them have to pay for parking in their building and opt to park on the street to avoid paying the $75/month.  The only way to get an actual representation of the utilization of the parking in the building is to canvas all of the residents and see how many have cars and where they are actually parking them.  There is absolutely no way you can add 40 more units to that property and say there is sufficient parking for all of them using the format presented by Starlight.

 

It was then questioned how many of the proposed units would be low rental for Starlight to be granted the density bonus.  The 34 x 400 sf units are anticipated to market at $1,400/month.  We don’t know what the townhouses will be rented for, but know they will be expensive.  We were advised that 10% of the units will be offered at off-market/mid-market of CMHC averages for the area.  Is this based on 10% of the 40 proposed units or inclusive of the 89 current units on the property?  I.e., the architect said that they are allowed to build 34 tiny units to allow the entire portfolio of the property to be 1/3 studio, 1/3 one bedroom and 1/3 two bedroom suites.  Does that mean 10% of the entire portfolio will be offered at off-market pricing based on the suite sizes?  What about the townhouses … will at least one be offered at a lower rental?

 

As one of our owners noted, this property is a developers dream …. They are paying nothing for property or parking.  They are building on a current structure and are set to reap huge profits.  This will be done at the expense of all the other residents in the neighbourhood losing privacy, green space, corridor views and parking.  Not only that, the City is giving them extra density to add insult to injury. 

 

The model presented shows the buildings will still go from sidewalk (on Keith Road) to sidewalk (on 6th Street).  This is totally in line with the project currently being constructed at 161 East Keith that has been controversial since the onset and was pushed through by council in spite of 4,000 people objecting on a signed petition.  After months of being subjected to construction noise, unbelievable amounts of concrete dust and traffic nightmares, our members feel it is unfair for the City to even consider the project at 151 until the residents have moved into 161-163 East Keith (that also has a reduced parking allotment of 0.7 for those units) and do a feasibility study to determine what the actual parking ramifications will be to the residents on Keith Road and 6th Street.

 

We are aware that Starlight is anxious to get in front of North Vancouver City Council to push the project for development but we want it made clear that we feel the setbacks are still out of line with the OCP and the proposed parking is even more unacceptable.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Victoria Thompson,

 

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