Category Archives: Letters

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

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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,

 

Why Real Estate Developers Are Ignoring the Middle Class | The Tyee

Comment from Voices:  We have been watching with increasing dismay as the overbuilding continues in the City of North Van.  We are watching new buildings being constructed with starting prices for one bedroom units in excess of $600,000 (Kindred $649+).  We are watching sales being announced in new buildings when the projects have not yet had a public hearinghttps://www.buzzbuzzhome.com/ca/canada/cities/bc-north-vancouver-new-homes.

In the meantime, we note that there have been six Council meetings in 2017 to date – total time for six meetings has been less than 9 hours!  Is it too late for Council to meet with residents in a Town Hall setting to ask residents if they’re happy with this direction?
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The following article was published in The Tyee today and quoting in part: ‘But many of the experts quoted in the report spoke candidly about the industry. Some of them are concerned about the direction it’s heading. “We’re not paying enough attention to affordable housing, and I don’t mean low-income or government-subsidized. Just regular rents. No new buildings are providing that kind of product,” said one CEO. “Time will tell if that’s going to come back to haunt us. Not everybody makes $75,000 to $100,000 a year.”’

Source: Why Real Estate Developers Are Ignoring the Middle Class | The Tyee.

Kerry Morris has written to the Mayor and Council expressing his concerns:  Kerry Morris opinion on Tyee article  Quoting in part: ‘

When Darrell Mussatto began as Mayor, the City of North Vancouver was still an affordable place to live. There existed an abundance of large liveable well maintained apartment buildings providing nice accommodation for the more than 50% of City residents who live in our community but do not own a home.

We also note this letter to the Editor, North Shore News today:

Dear Editor:

Recent letters to the editor have prompted me to write.

We have been extremely wasteful with our land, a precious commodity that we buy and sell. However, when it becomes in short supply, we cannot manufacture any more. When a commodity that is in great demand becomes scarce and hard to get, the price skyrockets – a situation we now find ourselves in.

The North Shore has arrived at a point where it is necessary to accommodate a different style of building and people must open their minds to change, as our community planners wrestle with the necessity of smaller footprints, which mean building up in our core centres and with more creative infill in our surrounding neighbourhoods.

It is also time to take a break from the building of high-end market homes and concentrate on building housing for those who live, work and serve our North Shore.

These are the people who give life and vibrancy and caring to a community, the average and low income earning people. They form a large section of the North Shore and certainly deserve the dignity and security of a home, be it rental or freehold, without having to fight tooth and nail to get their homes built in the neighbourhoods they serve and protect.

The North Shore has always been home to people from all walks of life, all levels of income and all forms of expertise. Let’s keep it that way.

Maureen Bragg
North Vancouver

– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/opinion/letters/letter-housing-should-serve-the-needs-of-those-who-live-here-1.12483976#sthash.kGLXXNsG.dpuf

LETTER: Hold our local councils to account

In the North Shore News today:

Dear Editor:

I encourage everyone everywhere to pay attention to what is happening at their municipal council meetings. They affect our daily lives so directly.

My understanding of all that underlies decisions of our local councils should be that whilst they move their communities forward, they should always work to maintain the quality of life of the people who elected them. In this North Vancouver councils have abysmally failed!

I have lived on the North Shore for many years and I am increasingly feeling like a prisoner in my own home, unable to venture out after two o’clock. As the traffic congestion becomes intolerable the councils continue to approve every application for development with minimal upgrade to infrastructure. Hundreds more units have been approved for this year.

At a District of North Vancouver council meeting recently a councillor suggested that if residents think this is congestion, we should visit Vietnam. Three councillors pleaded for a three-month development approval pause but were voted down by four who suggested we should be concerned about where our grandchildren will live. I conclude that they are quite unconcerned about the lives of their current constituents.

We must pay close attention to what transpires at our local councils and we must vote accordingly next time.

Lesley Brooks
North Vancouver

– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/opinion/letters/letter-hold-our-local-councils-to-account-1.9918282#sthash.4fvSFbip.dpuf

Source: LETTER: Hold our local councils to account

151 East Keith – new infill proposal?

We have been sent a copy of this email to the owners (Starlight Investment) of the rental property at 151 East Keith.  There was a ‘private open house’ held last week to inform some of the neighbourhood.    So now it seems that any green open space is a target for increased density.    Full details of the application are not yet available.

 

This e-mail is being sent to:       

Daniel Drimmer, President and Chief Executive Officer
ddrimmer@starlightinvest.com
 

David Chalmer, Vice President, Asset Management
dchalmers@starlightinvest.com
 

Honorable Mayor Darryl Mussatto and City of North Vancouver Council Members

Posted for all OWNERS of:           VICTORIA PLACE                   

Messrs. Drimmer and Chalmers: 

As you are aware, on November 10th, 2016 an ‘Open House’ was held at St. Andrew’s Church in North Vancouver.  The purported purpose of this meeting was to open a discussion with the residents of our building.  The notice stated:  “As valued neighbours, Starlight wishes to invite residents of Victoria Place to a private Open House to preview our proposal and solicit your initial input.”

Infill developments face several challenges.  The projects are more expensive to build; infill sites are sometimes constricted in available space; additional transportation and vehicle parking issues have to be addressed; and the need for architects and developers to “respond to the context” of the neighborhood – in other words, to create a development that fits into the “character” of the neighborhood. 

How does one define the “character” of a neighborhood?  A neighborhood’s character goes well beyond how the buildings look – it’s about how people live and work there, how people move around, the scale of the neighborhood, and many other factors.  Architects and planners should be asking themselves how people live in and interact with a place – and how they can support people living with broader, longer-term changes in the economy and environment. 

When the Starlight Investments proposal was shown to the owners of this building, without having a representative from Starlight there to address our concerns, it was evident that you intend to proceed with presentation for approval to the City of North Vancouver with a total disregard as to how the neighbours really feel. 

We realize that neighbors, too, have a responsibility to be more open-minded about the design of new developments.  However, there are several negative factors in your proposal that we were previously not aware of.  The property currently under development at 161 Keith Road East was approved in spite of huge opposition from the residents of this area.  Your proposal has “assumed” Starlight will be granted the same concessions and have indicated the intention to build from property line to property line all the way around the development.

Architects can also get it wrong.   Unfortunately too many of them don’t understand enough about the neighborhoods they’re building in, or the legacy they will leave.  The biggest mitigating factor against your development is the misguided conception that there is ‘already sufficient parking’ under the current building at 151 East Keith to allow for the additional cars that will need parking for the proposed new tenants.  This is definitely not the case and, since the onset of the construction at 161 East Keith, parking has become significantly less easy to find on either 6th Street or Keith Road.

Obviously, there has not been enough discussion on infill.  In light of the many projects currently in the works in North Vancouver, our neighbourhoods are concerned the City or the developers might not ‘do it right’.

To us, it now seems apparent that the infill solution is designed to satisfy the greed of the developers at the cost of ruining the few neighbourhoods with character left in this city.

In your presentation, the theme seems to be more about why we should accept infill rather than what we would like to see.  Meeting with the neighbourhood ‘face to face’ would have certainly been more productive than presenting a proposal with ‘no face’ from your end and no input from ours.

This e-mail will confirm that the owners of Victoria Place are unhappy with your proposal and we fully intend to voice our concerns to the City.

I trust you can empathize with our position.

Respectfully submitted,

Terry Lehouillier, President

On behalf of all Owners

Strata Plan VR 2735 Victoria Place

img_2260

 Left is 161 E Keith new tower underway; middle is existing building at 151 E Keith (proponent of new application) and right is existing building at 123 E Keith

Deliberately misleading?

Comment from Voices:  Eyebrows were raised several times during the Council meeting and Public Hearing on October 24th.  

Whether it was the violation of the public input rules by allowing two speakers to address matters which would be dealt with by the Public Hearing that night.  Or some of the statements by members of Council – i.e. Councillor Back stating ‘professionals don’t want to live in old buildings’ or Councillor Buchanan stating that ‘it fits with the OCP’. It seems she missed the fact that the OCP projects an annual increase of 1.3% but growth for the last two years has been over 3%.

Or maybe it was the Mayor stating that he ‘happened to have a study’  that ‘the hottest job markets in Canada by numbers – the number one hottest job market in all of Canada is the City of North Vancouver’.  Not true.  We have been contacted by many people asking us to check – North Vancouver (City and District) is about 35 on the list.  We wrote to the City more than 24 hours ago, and have not had the courtesy of a reply – here is our email with the facts:

Email addressed to Connie Rabold, Communications Director:

Several people have contacted us and asked us to investigate and confirm a statement made during the Public Hearing on October 24th that ‘the City is the hottest job market in Canada’.  Both the media company that conducted the survey and the Government have confirmed that the Job Bank does not distinguish between the City and the District of North Vancouver.  
 
Therefore with the City’s population quoted as 48,196 and the District at 84,412 the ‘title’ is totally incorrect.  We believe that based on a corrected population for “North Vancouver” (city + district) of 132, 608 and using the average number of jobs provided on that Top 50 list (10.42 x 48 = 500 jobs). The correct number for North Vancouver should be 3.79 jobs per thousand population, which would put us 35th on that list, just behind Saskatoon and Edmonton.
 
We are surprised that the stats were misinterpreted and that they seemingly have not been questioned by City staff.  We respectfully suggest that the News release be corrected, otherwise the public may feel it is being deliberately mislead.  Also, we feel that the District should be advised because it is likely largely responsible for any job growth, with the expansion of Seaspan.
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 from the City’s website:
October 27, 2016 City News
Hottest job market in Canada
The City’s been named the top-ranking community in the Top 50 Hot Job Markets in Canada survey. The survey says,  we’re  the number one job destination in the nation. According to the ranking, with 10.42 available jobs per 1,000 people, the City’s the best place in the country to find work
“This endorsement of the strength of our community’s employment opportunities confirms the City is an extremely desirable place to live and work”, says Mayor Darrell Mussatto. “Our ranking as the top job market in Canada is confirmation that employees and employers throughout our community are enjoying the benefits of an extremely vibrant and thriving job sector and business climate, as well as a desirable community in which to work.”

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 Please confirm that your news release will be corrected.  The North Shore News is being copied on this in the event that they may run an incorrect article.

Thank you,
Toni Bolton for
North Van City Voices
 

 

A Petition? Don’t Bother!

Comment from Voices:  We have received the following copy of a Letter to the Editor, North Shore News (not yet published):

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How I wish Mayor Mussatto had mustered the courage 2 years ago to tell us honestly his plans for the densification of our little 4.6 sq. mile city. Just consider the time that could have been saved — hours on the phone, computer and knocking on doors; afternoons standing on street corners in the rain; evenings at meetings; the endless talking and planning with like-minded people — all aimed at gathering signatures for the time-honored method of showing public opposition, A PETITION. 

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    The reality is that all opposition petitions presented to the current council over the past two years  have been either maligned or ignored by the Mayor and his majority slate .  Every path to success has been tried — 2500 signatures were deemed to be from people who would not be affected by the project, 85 signatures from an immediate neighbourhood were said to be from too narrow an area  and the most recent  with 325 signatures from taxpaying city residents against the Hollyburn tower were proclaimed to be inadequate in contrast to the pity felt by one councillor for the 800 hopefuls on a waiting list.

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    If only the Mayor and his slate had been honest.  Of course, they might not have been elected but then, they may have been successful.  Either way, everyone would have understood what was ahead.  Instead the Mayor, in my opinion, has become a bully and has been  publicly downright rude to several citizens and councillors who have spoken against him .  Council meetings are overcome by an atmosphere of antagonism.

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    Are you mad enough about all the significant problems densification is heaping upon our city and are contemplating a petition?  My advice is – DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME AND EFFORT!   The final council vote is guaranteed to be 4-3 in favour of all future densification projects.

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   Our City deserves better!      
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 Joan Peters