Source: City of North Van delays decision on Upper Lonsdale development
Comment from Voices: Article in the North Shore News re the 2601 Lonsdale development application summarizes the Feb 5th Council meeting when the application first came up to move forward. At that time a motion was carried to refer back to staff for further analysis, and we (Voices) commented that it appeared that it would not be approved at that time. The Mayor requested that it be brought forward again on Feb 19th (with no new staff report), and with the absence of Coun. Buchanan it was again clear that the vote would fail. So, once again, he manipulated the process -the application will to be brought back at a later date when she is present.
We have commented on this previously (Nov): 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 unless one of the Mayor’s team is absent?
Councillors that were present for the Feb. 5 meeting had previously rejected the applicant’s proposal to move the project onto the public hearing stage, instead directing the proposal back to staff to take another look at.
But Mayor Darrell Mussatto brought the proposal back to council for reconsideration Monday, citing the need to act quickly to do something on the Upper Lonsdale site.
The property at 2601 Lonsdale Ave. has been vacant for more than a year after a fire last February destroyed the previous three-storey walk-up apartment that was there.
“If we don’t do something, that building is going to sit and it’s going to sit in a very derelict way for a long time and we need to get the process going,” Mussatto said. “I want to see something happen here.”
Coun. Craig Keating agreed the project should be pushed through to the public hearing stage.
He acknowledged that local residents and neighbours took issue with aspects of the proposed development but countered that sending the project to public hearing, not back to staff, was the best way to address those issues.
“I don’t think we can even begin to sort through the issues that people have with this unless we have a public hearing,” Keating said. “I’m not in favour of that model that says what we’re going to do instead is after all this length of time, and with a decrepit empty building sitting there, is to go back to some kind of behind the scenes discussion between the developer and city staff.”
Coun. Holly Back said she would like to “hear from more people” regarding the proposed development and was in favour of seeing it move onto public hearing.
Nearly a dozen local residents spoke during Monday’s public input period, with several expressing concern regarding building height and how the proposed development could impact local parking and the flow of traffic.
Pezzente’s application, which also includes 36 stalls of underground parking, also calls for the sale of a city-owned stretch of road on West 26th Street adjacent to the property in order to facilitate the development of the six-storey building.
Coun. Pam Bookham, who was not in favour of seeing the proposal proceed to public hearing, noted the proposed development could impact a local green space nearby the site, the loss of which could negatively affect the community.
“It’s available for the public as a whole. And it’s much needed given the lack of green space along that Lonsdale corridor,” she said.
Coun. Don Bell wasn’t in favour of “dragging this out for the applicant” if changes to the proposal needed to be made and stated council should send it back to staff before proceeding to public hearing.
Coun. Rod Clark acknowledged the developer’s deep roots in the community but said the proposal in its current state wasn’t ready to move forward.
“The community has risen up here and is expressing grave concerns,” Clark said. “I think quite honestly we’re just too far apart – the developer and the community – at this point in time to go to a public hearing.”
Coun. Linda Buchanan did not attend Monday’s meeting, leaving council with a 3-3 split. Council has deferred voting on the matter until a later date.