Trees, and green spaces in general, are an antidote for the stresses of modern life, and they act as a key element in the fight against climate change.
Which brings us to the serious problem unfolding across the City of North Vancouver (CNV) in general and Lower Lonsdale in particular. Today, few in Lower Lonsdale look out a window and see three decent-sized trees. Lower Lonsdale already lacks the 30% tree canopy recommended by urban planners. New developments will make things worse.
And all sorts of new developments are in the works. In late 2022 or early 2023 the bulldozers will arrive and the diggers will start churning up ground on St. Georges Avenue between E 1st and 2nd Streets. In a project that could stretch out to 2028, the building here will turn what has long been two community gardens into two buildings – one six stories with a respite care facility, the other 18 comprised of 260 units of social housing, with the three bottom floors a North Shore Neighborhood House replacement.
The city could end up committing as much as $100 million worth of value to this development, land and buildings combined. That’s an estimate, however. No one at the city knows the total value of this project — not even the City’s finance director. And in public hearings for this project, the actual values associated with land and buildings were not discussed. We do know that the current city council has committed financial resources to this project in two parts: construction and land: On the construction side, for accounting purposes, the city has set aside $50 million to prepare this site for the construction of the two buildings, to reinvent Derek Inman Park, and pay for its share of the new construction.
As for the land, council voted to contribute city-owned land here, likely leasing it to the developer at below-market rates for 60 years. What’s the land actually worth? The finance director doesn’t know. There isn’t a current appraisal. A reasonable guess would be somewhere between $30 and $50 million. Which means the value of the city’s contribution to this project could be as much as $100 million – $50 million for construction, $50 million worth of land.
There is another cost that comes with this project, however: community gardens in particular and green space more generally. Which brings us to the city-owned plot in the 100-block of E 1st, across the street from the coming 18-sotry tower, and right in the heart of a Lower Lonsdale construction boom. We believe the next city council should vote to preserve this as green space and a heritage site, by restoring the buildings from our past already on site, and creating a multi-use place for community gardens, a park for all and a place for dogs and their owners.
It makes perfect sense. This vacant is already being used as green space for people and dogs, and this is the last piece of significant undeveloped land in Lower Lonsdale. This in a neighborhood with an acute lack of green space more broadly, and dog-friendly spaces specifically.
The City’s Official Community Plan designates this land as mixed use – for hi-rise tower development and commercial purposes. We don’t need another tower in Lower Lonsdale. We do need a permanent green space in the heart of this emerging concrete jungle, and more green spaces across the city, too.
So please join the effort and sign the petition to turn this city-owned land into a heritage place, where we celebrate our history and enjoy gardens, parks, dogs and their owners. You’ll find the petition at https://www.cato4council.ca/petitions.