Tag Archives: ocp

Stick to the plan | The Local Weekly

Comment from Voices:  This letter to the Editor was published in The Local, a weekly newspaper on the lower Sunshine Coast and refers to Sechelt.  We (Voices) are in the process of updating the development statistics for the City of North Van and take note of the overwhelming number of rezoning applications being brought forward.  We’ll publish the new numbers within a week.  We agree with the letter writer.

Stick to the plan

Think about all those colourful zoning maps and booklets and thick binders of all the zoning rules that developers can read and understand. Think of the new staff required and wages paid out to experts and consultants. Think how effortless and trouble-free the planning process can be for the developers and how the citizens will always know what to expect when something new is planned.

Except that the developers want rezoning. They don’t want three stories when they can make more money with six. They don’t want that density when this density will “be better for the community.”

So the council will entertain rezoning, will hold more hearings and make more models and more pictures and more binders and bylaws and basically throw the community plan away. The “Community Plan” becomes a pointless, wasteful, useless pile of waste paper that all the developers (I’m not mad at developers, they have a right to do what they do) know can be circumvented by either asking for or buying a change. The Community Plan is reduced to a book of negotiating positions.

Isn’t it time to change this farce? Either toss the zoning rules as a useless exercise, or hold builders and developers to the letter of the zoning rules. This back and forth (buy another floor, lobby for exemptions, confound and confuse the neighbours and citizens and waste everybody’s time) has got to stop. To see where this can go, just look at the big city across the water – the roads and infrastructure are a mess, just about every building produced in the last few years has been loaded with exemptions.

We can do better than that here.

Ken Dibnah, Wakefield Beach

Source: Stick to the plan | The Local Weekly

Posted by: The Local Weekly December 28, 2016 in Letters To The Editor, Opinion Leave a comment

Densifying Vancouver housing for the young generation | Metro News

This article in Metro News talking about generational inequality and backlash from single family neighbourhoods serves to remind us why our group was formed originally.   Existing residents are not necessarily against density, but there is no certainty in the City of North Van with the 2014 OCP.  Density bonuses, transfers and spot zonings are rampant: https://nvcityvoices.wordpress.com/about-us/


Code Red: Single-family housing is out of reach for young Vancouverites, so re-zone for other types of housing, say experts

Source: Densifying Vancouver housing for the young generation | Metro News

Museum supporters rally for Site 8

from the North Shore News:

After 30 years of looking for a new place to hang the past, North Vancouver’s Museum and Archives may have found a new home – but they’ll have to make a compelling business case before they can move in.

Council is considering a 12-storey, 117-unit residential tower perched on a commercial podium at West Esplanade and Carrie Cates Court. The site includes 16,155 square feet which could be given to the city, potentially for the museum.

Council sent the project to public hearing Monday despite several councillors expressing reservations over the lack of a business plan.

There should be no further costs to the city or any requests for funds, according to Coun. Craig Keating.

The city provided $100,000 for the museum to undertake several studies, including a business plan. That business plan was not complete in time for Monday’s council meeting, much to the chagrin of Coun. Rod Clark.

“The taxpayer should have the right to know that they’re not giving away millions to a developer who’s going to walk away,” Clark said.

Council voted against putting the museum in the Pipe Shop earlier this year, which Clark called a much more suitable location. “(Site 8) won’t be nearly as attractive, it’ll be much more difficult to find. And I have to see those business numbers, that business case, before I can support it.”

A few rows of the council chamber were occupied by museum supporters clad in blue T-shirts who were there to advocate for a new home for the museum.

Serving as city council’s representative to the museum commission, Coun. Don Bell supported putting the museum in a new city-owned building.

“This provides an opportunity for the museum that was lost,” he said, calling the project a way to “reinforce a cultural precinct in Lower Lonsdale.”

The site is the last option in the neighbourhood, according to NVMA commission chair Sanford Osler.

“This site will allow us to meet our mission without requiring additional ongoing financial support from the two North Vancouver municipalities,” he said.

The need for a new building is pressing, noted Mayor Darrell Mussatto.

“We do need a space for the museum. The building it’s in now is tired, it’s old, it’s done.”

The museum’s finances were an acute concern at the meeting, particularly after plans for a museum on the Shipyards were scuttled when NVMA organizers fell short of raising $5 million before Dec. 31, 2015.

Without a solid business plan, Coun. Holly Back said she was concerned the city might end up trying to figure out what to do with 16,155 square feet of empty space.

“I much prefer the money so that we can do with it what we want rather than getting a space that we’re not sure what we’re going to do with if the museum can’t come up with the funding,” she said.

It would cost the city approximately $11 million to find a similar space, according to city staff.

If the project is approved, Polygon would pay the city $8.7 million. That payment would depend on the city selling 120 Carrie Cates Court and its share of Rogers Lane to Polygon at market value.

Back was also wary of the building’s height of 138 feet.

The building would be far taller than the 75-foot limit allowed under the official community plan. However, the site is considered a special study area by the OCP which: “indicates a willingness to consider density transfer from a donor site,” according to a staff report.

That transfer could take the form of 18,553 square feet from a city-owned site at 105 Carrie Cates Court, the site of a forthcoming gallery.

The building’s floor space ratio – which measures total floor space against the size of the lot – would be 4.07.

The project’s total floor area is 160,708 square feet.

The occupants of the building’s commercial podium was of special interest to Coun. Linda Buchanan, who expressed concern the corner would be filled with banks, insurance companies, and other businesses that tend to turn out the lights very easy.

The project also includes four levels of underground parking housing 266 stalls, including six spots that would be given to the city.

– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/museum-supporters-rally-for-site-8-1.2278664#sthash.1yXL0itt.dpuf

Source: Museum supporters rally for Site 8

Another Tower Exceeding Height & Density

Further to our previous post and letter to Editor, NS News:


Attached is a flyer with more information as well as comparisons to other buildings in the area.        NVCV- Hollyburn 13th and Lonsdale


 TOWN HALL MEETING *** CRITICAL TO ATTEND & SPEAK UP *** THURSDAY, April 21, from 6 to 8 pm, at the Pinnacle Hotel

Tall Wall on Lonsdale – letter to Editor, NS News

Voices has received the following Letter to the Editor, North Shore News concerning the Hollyburn proposal for 1301 Lonsdale:

North Shore News – Letter to the Editor

Subject: 1301-33 Lonsdale – Hollyburn Development Proposal – Town Hall Meeting – April 21

People may be unaware there is a major development proposal in process for the north-west corner of 13th and Lonsdale. Hollyburn Properties is proposing to build a 19 storey (190 foot) rental tower. A Town Hall Meeting has been scheduled for April 21.

This is an important corner in our City. The proposed building would be a tall wall along Lonsdale, too close to the street, too high next to City Hall and would overshadow the plaza and library – which has been lauded for its solar features.

The Blue Shore Credit Union on the SE corner is a very visually attractive, lower-height building and the Prescott tower is set back from Lonsdale – with a total height of about 12 storeys. Even the Onni tower being built on the NE corner has more setback and less height than this tower will have.

This proposal exceeds the Official Community Plan (OCP) in both height and density. (The maximum for this site is 12 storeys – absolute maximum with rental housing is 15 storeys.)

Surely there can be a design and appropriate sized building that would complement the Blue Shore corner and City Hall Plaza! Where is the ‘aesthetically compatible’ design (from the OCP) happening for this corner? The building design itself is reasonable but the height and ‘wall’ along Lonsdale are not attractive. The community vision for each side of Lonsdale is to leave the first half block with lower buildings, then taller towers beyond giving a sense of space and light along the street.

Why is our City Council encouraging this proposal? Why is the Official Community Plan being ignored after hundreds of people spoke up against over-height and densification, and managed to gain agreement on having maximum height and density numbers? The plan is worthless unless followed.

There is a Town Hall meeting on Thursday, April 21 from 6 to 8 pm at the Pinnacle Hotel.

Be there, look at the plans and give your feedback!

Linda Heese , North Vancouver


Site 8 and Changing Conditions – letter to Editor NS News

Following is a letter to the Editor of the North Shore News regarding the upcoming Town Hall meeting on March 10th.   The application from Polygon development is for a mixed-use building, 10 residential floors above a 2 or 3 storey podium and an Official Community Plan amendment for height.   The application also involves land purchases from the City,  density bonusing and density transfers and variances to the zoning bylaw.

Summary of the developer information session in October is here: http://www.cnv.org/-/media/city-of-north-vancouver/documents/major-development/119—131-west-esplanade-and-120-carrie-cates-court/developer-information-session-summary-report.pdf

Dear Editor,
‘Site 8’ at Lonsdale Quay was designated as a special study area in the City’s updated Official Community Plan (OCP) and its future will be up for a town hall discussion on Thursday evening March 10. North Van City Voices urges the public to attend and cast their opinion as to how any development of the land can best serve the community.
The land – collectively comprised of land at 120 Carrie Cates and portions of a lane both owned by the City of North Vancouver and land at 119-131 West Esplanade owned by Polygon Homes – is currently designated as mixed-use, allowing for residential, commercial and institutional uses. However, Polygon has submitted an application to purchase the City’s portion of the land, and to consolidate the site for a proposed 11 storey residential tower on top of a 2 storey commercial podium. While our city council and staff may have at one time encouraged residential development on this site, they should now re-evaluate the merits of doing so and weigh them against the long-term merits of other possible land uses.
The case for residential development on the site is now weaker than ever. The revised OCP will soon be allowing even more land assembly and densification throughout the city – particularly in the Moodyville area where the number of dwellings is expected to increase from several hundred to over 1,000 units in the long-term. Development at Harbourside – already approved – will be bringing over 800 new housing units. Closer to Site 8, redevelopment in Lower Lonsdale continues at a feverish pace – there are just over 500 units currently under construction. Public sentiment is that the area had already become built-out long ago. It follows that the 100 or so market units that would come with residential development on Site 8 would add comparably little value to the City’s total housing stock, mix and goals. Yes, the development would be close to a transit hub – considered smart growth – but it would be such few units at the expense of all other possible land uses from realizing their full potential and enjoyment by all (not-so-smart growth).
Site 8 is a crown jewel among city-owned land. Its proximity to the waterfront, the Shipyards, Lonsdale Quay market, neighborhood restaurants, the seabus terminal and the forthcoming art gallery makes a strong case for many other uses of the land that are synergetic to the area and that would be valued by all residents and visitors. The land would better serve the public as a place for meeting and gathering, community recreation, cultural events, exhibitions, forums and tourism. The City itself says that to match population growth in Lower Lonsdale, it needs to acquire land in the area that could serve as a park – how about an urban park that could host any of these uses?
Through the OCP’s special study process, City Voices implores council, staff and Polygon Homes to engage and listen to the public as to how the land on Site 8 can best serve everyone. To borrow from the City’s own words, ‘like the community, the OCP must be flexible in responding to changing conditions and values’.
North Van City Voices


OCP conflict, density transfer concerns, 1301 Lonsdale,

We have received the following from a City resident, quoting in part:


‘City in a conflict of interest re density transfer for the proposed Hollyburn development?


Somehow the site at the corner of Lonsdale and 13 St West has mutated from an OCP compliant 12 story building with a FSR of 4.0 that nicely fit into the Lonsdale corridor scheme into a 19 story building with a FSR of 4.86


In summary,
  • Hollyburn would like to have a higher building. Presumably better views will mean higher rent.
  • Hollyburn would like to have a bigger building. Presumably more apartments mean more revenue.
  • The Mayor and Council want to sell some of their excess density to Hollyburn despite the intent of the OCP to use that density for retaining existing rentals units.

Does this justify a change to what is envisaged in the OCP? Why bother having an OCP to begin with if these interests are to be allowed to influence the process.

The motivation of the Mayor and Council should not be influenced by the prospect of selling density. They should simply process a development application that conforms to the OCP. Instead we are faced with yet another a proposal for increased density and height’.

Jim Nicholson

The full submission is here: NVCV- conflict 1301 Lonsdale



Loss of View Compensation for City residents?


‘…I think we want to be clear, from our prospective, listening to the neighbours who are now partners in a way through the purchase, we’ve never considered the conditions to be unliveable or untenable. Frankly, if we did think that way then we wouldn’t have ever supported the initial density. The conditions are inherently liveable. What was affected were the views…’ Said Toderian

So why should City taxpayers give a dam what Toderian thinks? Good question. The answer is; he has either caused your home or condo to double in value, or his comments have started in motion legal challenges that will eventually lead North Vancouver City to suffer the biggest legal losses in its history, and could even bankrupt the community!

Continue reading

Out of Control Development?

We (North Van City Voices) are hearing from many people dissatisfied with the ongoing rate of development in our little city.  The proposal for the 19+ storey development by Hollyburn Properties at 13th and Lonsdale (yes, probably the busiest in the city) across from the contentious Onni development is the most recent.  For anyone who needs a reminder of what is currently under construction photos are here courtesy of Bill Bell: http://www.northvancitynews.com/north-vancouver-city-development-out-of-control/

There was an open house last week with the usual project boards and staff in attendance.  Following is feedback from Linda Heese, an attendee.  We note that there is a discrepancy with the FSR (floor space ratio) on the City website, which quotes density at 4.96, also the height is quoted at 19 storeys excluding elevator shaft.   We have to ask the question ‘why if discussions go back to 2013 was this not part of the 2014 OCP – designated it as a “Special Study Area” when staff must have been aware of the plan?’   We also note that committee meeting minutes referred to are not yet available on the City website.  Is this housing that City residents need?  More little boxes?  (yes, there will be 16 3-bed units). We welcome your comments.


1301-1333 Lonsdale Ave.
(NW corner of 13th & Lonsdale)
Development Open House Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016

I attended this Open House and was immediately frustrated and angry at the result that our City council and planners have allowed to come forward. According to one of the information boards, Hollyburn purchased the sites in 2007 and 2014. Starting in 2013 there have been on-going discussions and negotiations with City staff. In fall 2015 the current proposal went to: ‘City citizen advisory Committee review (APC, ADP, ITC) with Unanimous support for OCP change and some detailed comments – height not an issue’.

Who are on these review committees? I do not believe they looked at this proposal from the viewpoint of those who live in the immediate neighbourhood. Why would they agree that such excess height and FSR would be acceptable to our neighbourhood?? We spent too many hours at too many meetings where hundreds of people spoke against the over-densification and excess heights being agreed to by our planners and council. We managed to get some maximums agreed to in the OCP – and then this proposal goes forward exceeding these maximums!


Hollyburn Properties Limited is asking to build a tower with two floors of retail and office space and 16 floors of rental apartments – 9 units per floor.

The development would be 134,768 square feet on a property that is 27,582 square feet.

This is a Floor Space Ratio (FSR) of 4.89.

This project has a height of 180 feet (approximately 18 storeys high) plus another 30 feet for an amenity floor and the elevator shaft for a total height of about 21 storeys.

To be fair, the building shape looks attractive and good consideration has been given to its placement by City Hall. Also there is a community amenity space on the top floor that would be excellent for socializing – especially needed in small living spaces and increased density.

In the 2015 OCP land use, this property is shown as a Floor Space Ratio of 3.0 to a maximum allowable bonus up to 4.0.

The OCP also shows this property as a maximum height of 37 meters (120 feet or approximately 12 storeys).

In this proposal, the City is also agreeing to a Density Transfer from the City Hall property to allow the extra height and density! There should be no density transfer from anywhere to allow a building with so little set-back from Lonsdale, that should be a maximum of 12 storeys high, to be 18 and more high!

The reason for the height restriction for the buildings fronting Lonsdale is to keep the street walkable – not closed in and shaded by tall buildings. The Prescott on the SE corner did a good job of placing the tower away from Lonsdale and building to a reasonable height (46 meters – 152 feet – 15 storeys). The Onni project was allowed too much height – there are many more floors still to be added. We do not need to add to the problem by agreeing to another over-height tower across the road.

Do we need to give extra height and density for more, small rental units?

This is to be a rental property with 9 units per floor, each with one 3-bedroom unit at 1,005 square feet; one 2-bedroom unit at 550 square feet and seven 1-bedroom units from 462 to about 600 square feet. Does this sound like good rental housing that we need more of in our community? Many people have told me they would like to down-size and rent but they cannot find a place with enough space. Many young people cannot afford to buy houses and will likely live long-term and raise families in rental housing. Such small units are not long-term living places. Do we really need more, tiny rental apartments with people constantly moving to try to find space they can live in?

What about traffic and parking concerns?

Additional traffic is also a concern for this corner. The Onni project will cause thousands of additional automobiles to go through 13th and Lonsdale daily. Another 144 rental units will add to congestion.

The project information shows 85 parking spaces for 144 residential units; and 222 bicycle spaces.

I think this is going to add to the parking problems on all our residential streets in the area. In our building, young couples are asking for 2 parking spaces (plus bicycle spaces) not half a parking space!

Many people cannot ride a bike or take public transit to work. As we know, TransLink is not increasing the bus service and it is inadequate to rely on for work or appointments.

My Recommendations:

– reduce the building height by at least 3 floors (to 150 feet)

– increase the size of the units and reduce the number of units per floor – especially the 1-bedroom units

– if necessary, to increase the unit size, increase the tower footprint on the north side by a few feet but not height above 150 feet

– with fewer units the parking may be adequate? or can be increased?

I hope that Hollyburn and our City Council will listen to the feedback they get and make changes to this project – we need good, long-term rentals and the building looks good architecturally.


Linda Heese

Questions linger over taller, denser proposal

Letter from Jim Nicholson in the North Shore News today regarding the 19 storey proposal from Hollyburn Properties at 1301 Lonsdale: (full details of application here: http://www.cnv.org/Property-and-Development/Projects-and-Developments/Current-Developments/1301-1333-Lonsdale-Avenue)

North Vancouver – Dear Editor:

When city council approved the new official community plan in March 2015, a last-minute change added a special study area at the corner of Lonsdale Avenue and West 13th Street adjacent to city hall.

As stated in the OCP: “This site’s location at the southern extent of the Central Lonsdale City Centre makes it visually important in defining the city centre. This study would consider the possibility of an increase to maximum building height at this location.”

This was as a result of a proposal by Hollyburn, which reads in part “… we have found that the mix of uses and density for this site in the 2014 OCP is appropriate. We also believe that the city should allow more height flexibility.”A new proposal from Hollyburn was submitted in September 2015. The mayor and council subsequently directed the city planner “to process the development application with a density bonus and transfer.”

More density – not just height.Hollyburn’s 19-floor proposal is 70 feet higher (60 per cent greater) than the OCP maximum height of 120 feet. The design has a floor space ratio of 4.86, which is 22 per cent over the OCP. The city has conveniently offered to sell a density transfer of 23,713 square feet to Hollyburn to support this proposal.

Why is a density increase being considered when Hollyburn originally said that the density in the OCP “was appropriate”?

Is the city operating at arm’s length in supporting a density increase given that the density is being transferred from the city hall site?

How is this study to be done? The city planner intends to “review and refine the building design, including the fine grained retail character on Lonsdale.”

Is this sufficient to ensure that the end result is “visually important” in defining the city centre?  What solutions are proposed to address the increased traffic congestion at the intersection of 13th Street and Lonsdale Avenue?

Is taller really better? Is increased density at this intersection better? Will alternate building designs, which conform to the OCP, be considered?

There is merit in putting this site under study due to its location next to our award-winning city hall and the Prescott and Centreview developments. Hollyburn will be presenting its proposal at an information session on Jan. 12. Let’s all make sure that Hollyburn and the city fully meet the intent of the special study area.

Jim Nicholson North Vancouver


– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/questions-linger-over-taller-denser-proposal-1.2146677#sthash.nkKhzDGZ.dpuf