At the City of North Van Council Meeting on November 20th, the decisions on three items were deferred until “all Council members were present”.
Street and traffic bylaw amendment (crosswalk use by cyclists and street occupancy permits).
Harbourside zoning bylaw (public hearing).
150 E 8th rezoning bylaw.
Regarding Harbourside, the acting Mayor stated at the end of the hearing that ‘the bylaw will be considered on December 4th when a full Council is expected to be present’.
150 E. 8th is a rezoning application to be referred for a public hearing, but Councillor Keating immediately made a deferral motion.
Outcome of the meeting? More than 20 items briefly considered and meeting concluded in about an hour.
None of the items was considered at last night’s meeting due to the absence of Councillor Buchanan. Absent on the November 20th meeting were the Mayor and Councillors Bell and Buchanan.
Question: If a meeting is held and it would seem that the vote would likely fail, is it proper to wait two weeks for the items to be discussed? Or is this manipulation of the vote? To be discussed Dec 4th unless one of the Mayor’s team is absent?
Comment from Voices: We heartily agree with this sentence in the following article from The North Shore News today: “What Goes Up …”, ‘We also need our municipal governments to keep a closer eye on developers who walk in the front door preaching affordability and walk out the back door hawking luxury living.’
We have calculated that over 7,000 new units have been added to the City of North Van since 2011 – and if you are searching for a new condo, or a rental – you will likely not find one to purchase under $500,000 and a rental under $1800. That would be for 500 sq.ft.
Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster and the relationship between housing supply and affordability. It’s an unlikely trio that belongs to the realm of the mythical – at least, that’s the contention of a Kwantlen Polytechnic University professor who crunched 15 years of housing numbers and concluded Metro Vancouver has produced more than enough supply to meet demand. For every 100 new households, Metro Vancouver has built 119 new housing units, John Rose contends.
There will doubtless be sufferers of tower fatigue who will use the study as grounds for opposing every construction project. And it’s true supply has utterly failed to exert any gravity on the North Shore’s astronomical housing market. Over the past decade, benchmark home prices in North Vancouver and West Vancouver have risen 98 and 106 per cent.But even if Rose’s conclusions are correct and we do have enough physical houses, that still doesn’t mean we have an adequate housing supply. That’s largely because we’re burdened with a more than adequate supply of Airbnbs, empty homes, and speculators.
While the foreign buyers tax has helped, we still need senior levels of government to make a simple declaration: if you’re not going to live here then your money’s no good here. We also need our municipal governments to keep a closer eye on developers who walk in the front door preaching affordability and walk out the back door hawking luxury living.
Rose is slated to release his report this Friday. We hope all levels of government will examine it closely because for far too many trades workers, nurses, and teachers, the real myth is an affordable place to live on the North Shore.
With the current rush in the City to build market rental housing:
4) Design for liveability, not profitability
This one’s not so much a policy as a rant: this city does not need any more luxury shoeboxes.
My last apartment search in Vancouver revealed an epidemic of new condo units clearly designed to appeal to investors, not to people looking for a home. We encountered countless “junior one-bedrooms” and “microsuites” commanding nearly $2,000 a month for less than 500 square feet, many with “extras” such as a “flex space” (read: a windowless sliver in the back of a closet) or high-end finishes like solid granite countertops and state-of-the-art appliances. While those features add to the resale value of a suite, they are absurd add-ons in a space so small you’d have to make an executive decision between having a couch or a kitchen table. A top-of-the-line kitchen is useless when you literally don’t have enough space to sit down for dinner.
The majority of new or renovated condos are painfully impractical for couples, much less families, and utterly unaffordable for singles. The really frustrating part is it wouldn’t take much to fix that. The difference between 500 and 700-square-feet when it comes to liveability is huge. Many people would happily take Ikea countertops and basic, functional appliances if it meant they’d also have room to breathe.
Perhaps the city needs some sort of liveability standard for new developments that would determine a minimum square footage (and a maximum price) that is realistic for an average family, couple or single person to occupy long term. Developers could then be tasked to stay between the lines — think of it as a fun design challenge. Or they could simply ask themselves: would I want to live in that?
Comment from Voices: We have been received the following notification from a CNV resident concerning a Seaspan (Vancouver Drydock) request to discharge air contaminants from their location at 203 East Esplanade:
‘We have become aware that Seaspan (Vancouver Drydock) has applied for a permit from Metro Vancouver to discharge air contaminants. They have never had a permit and are applying to double the number of volatile organic compounds, particulate matter and trace metals compared to their own 2016 report. Seaspan self-reports and self-monitors. They have an air quality monitor on their property but Metro Vancouver does not have access to it.
Please send your input in as noted in the following and attached permit by DEC 6th‘
We also received the following comment from a resident in the area:
‘In general, I think the shipyards have reached their capacity for airborne contaminants and are trying to apply to spew more into the air here in North Vancouver.
With all the development of people living in the shipyards, I do not think that is fair or safe. You can smell VERY strong chemical smells at times already.
North Vancouver also has deemed this area an Entertainment District, to sell to whomever to use(loud electronic music parties was one).
When you purchase here, none of the developers disclose this’ .
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION NOTICE TAKE NOTICE THAT Vancouver Drydock Company Limited Partnership of 1800 – 510 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 0M3 applies to the Metro Vancouver Regional District (“Metro Vancouver”) pursuant to the Greater Vancouver Regional District Air Quality Management Bylaw 1082, 2008 for a Permit. 1. Vancouver Drydock Company Limited Partnership has applied for a new permit to discharge air contaminants from a dry dock facility located at Pier 94 – 203 Esplanade E., North Vancouver, BC V7L 1A1.
. The purpose of this application is to request authorization to discharge air contaminants from a dry dock with the primary business of vessel conversion, repair, maintenance and dry docking services.
. Emission sources include: Two floating dry docks with surface preparation and painting operations; one hut for surface preparation of small items; and one shed to crush used paint cans for recycling. link to full notice follows:
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 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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.
A view of what Harbourside might look like in 10 to 15 years. Monday’s motion is intended to jumpstart construction at the waterfront. image supplied
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.
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).)
The Council meeting last night was without video picture for about half an hour, which somewhat hinders understanding of what was going on. Following is the script from Bryan May which deals with accessibility, mobility, parking issues and campaign donations. There was also another speaker who brought up the difficulty of navigating sidewalks in the City with all of the obstacles.
I’m Bryan May of 144 W 14th St
This City is NOT disability /mobility /or accessibility friendly …
City Planners , under strict orders from the very top , give developers ,like Hollyburn, whatever they want …and it impacts disability / mobility and accessibility issues negatively .
Case in point … Marborough Tower beside the library, close to City Hall, a Hollyburn property….Team Slate benefactors .
25 stories ,138 units , a 3 level attached covered and gated parkade with ….zero indoor handicapped parking ….ZERO….BUT !
70 …SEVEN ZERO…City staff have 24/7/365 exclusive reserved access to the same Marlborough Parkade ….fully subsidized by taxpayers… while building tenants are on a wait list for parking!
As of February this year The City has paid Hollyburn $87,350 for City Staff parking , AND nefariously crafted it so City Staff…. do NOT even declare it as a taxable benefit…nice City HR sleight of hand perk worth thousands !
…ONE new handicapped parking spot was recently added …OUTSIDE…near the loading dock at Marlborough Tower …. BUT…. it’s exclusively for Hollyburn’s new Bridgewater Tower across 14 th down @ Chesterfield … thus Bridgewater APPEARS compliant with City regulations … underhanded deception, with the full collusion and complicity of City planners !
Last week another single handicapped spot was added … again outside Marborough Tower … next to the steep vehicle entrance ramp, then need to travel the entire length of the Parkade to access the building …there’s no handicapped access through the main lobby !!!
Developers do what they’re hard wired to do …maximize profits …Team Slate do what the Developers tell them to do and do NOT meet their fiduciary responsibilities to the citizens of The City ….all for a few thousand token campaign donations… that we know about !