Category Archives: Letters

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

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 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
                                                                                              

Blindly pushing density

We have received a copy of the following letter sent today to City of North Van Council:

 

Dear City of North Vancouver Council,
 
With regards to the possible OCP Amendment to the Hollyburn rental building I, along with many others, will be watching closely to see how Council handles this proposal.
A couple weeks three full buses passed me on Marine drive in the morning and last week twice I was late for work again as the buses did not show up on time…again! 
We don’t have the infrastructure in place on the North Shore for more density. 
It seems that City Hall pushes for more people to live in the City – but we don’t have the resources.  We are destroying the planet / ecosystem at such an alarming rate.  
Density is not the answer to the world’s problems and unlimited growth is just increasing the divide. 
In the last election I spent countless weeks encouraging the community and my contacts to vote. In the upcoming election I will not be supporting those who continue to blindly push ahead the OCP amendments and density that cannot be supported by our ecosystem, infrastructure, and disappearing health and education systems.
 
Best Regards,
Evonne Strohwald

LETTER: Tower proposal goes to public hearing Monday

Comment from Voices:  Below is a letter to the Editor, NS News regarding the Hollyburn Properties development application for 13th and Lonsdale.  We also remind you that four members of Council – Councillors Back,  Buchanan, Keating and Mayor Mussatto received campaign donations from the applicant (from $500 to $1000).    Quoting Dan Rather “Who gives what money to whom expecting what for it?”

Lonsdale hearing

 Dear Editor:

Hollyburn Properties Ltd. held an open house and a town hall earlier this year for its proposed development of a market rental building at the corner of Lonsdale and 13th Street. Mayor and council (in a 4-3 vote) recently passed a resolution for the project to proceed to a public hearing. This was despite the fact that as reported by the city planner, “there is significant public concern with regard to the application.” Three councillors (Pam Bookham, Don Bell and Rod Clark) voted against the resolution, citing concerns with density, height, parking and traffic.

The site was designated as a special study area for consideration of increased height in response to lobbying by Hollyburn. As stated in the official community plan, such sites “are areas of the City that require in-depth study to resolve issues.” Where is the in-depth study? Will increased height for this location in fact provide any improvement in “defining the City Centre”?

The city has offered to sell 22,186 square feet of density to Hollyburn for $1,996,758.  There has been no justification provided for this increased density. Is the city being unduly influenced by the money in considering a 20 per cent higher density for this site?

This has resulted in a proposal for a building at a height of 58 metres whereas the OCP maximum is 37 metres and with a density of 0.8 floor space ratio, or FSR, over the OCP maximum of 4.0.  We now are faced with an increase in height of seven storeys.

The Hollyburn proposal does bring additional needed rental housing albeit at market rates to the city. However, this can and should be done consistent with the height and density restrictions contained in the OCP.

The graphic above shows an OCP compliant building. Imagine another seven storeys on top. You decide. This is your city – it’s time to speak up. Attend the public hearing at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 24 in council chamber at city hall, 141 West 14th St., North Vancouver. Council is scheduled to vote immediately after the hearing.

Jim Nicholson
North Vancouver

 

Source: LETTER: Tower proposal goes to public hearing Monday