The City of North Vancouver recently told its citizens about a public virtual information session regarding an application the City was considering.
The application was to redevelop the North Shore Neighbourhood House (NSNH) and Derek Inman Park located at St Georges Ave between East 1st and East 2nd Streets.
Since the development was happening in my neighbourhood I went to the city’s website to learn more.
The redevelopment proposal will amend the current Official Community Plan (OCP) height restriction and rezoning to allow for an 18 story tower for below market rentals, and upgrades the North Shore Neighbourhood House, and provide a new Care BC facility.
Phase one of the project is for the Care BC facility and around 86 below market rental units. It is scheduled to start 2022. Upgrades to the NSNH would be done in Phase two of the project, as part of the Tower build and no current date has been set.
This redevelopment proposal will greatly impact the current footprint of our city, including the loss of the existing Community Gardens.
I actually stood in the community gardens, speaking to the residents that live in the neighbourhood. Everyone is for this project, but not amending the current OCP and height restrictions.
The common phrases I heard were, “we are sick of overdevelopment” and “Mayor Buchanan is selling us out”. It would drastically change the look and feel of the neighbourhood that currently holds a charm that nobody wants to lose.
Not to mention a loss of property values for those that bought properties with a view, or enjoy their view from their current low income rentals that are now threatened by a wall of concrete.
On May 10, I created an online petition to provide a forum where the citizens of the City of North Vancouver could voice their concerns regarding the proposed amendment to the current OCP height restrictions and rezone application.
Since then, 574 people (and counting) have signed the petition. As well, over 40 plus people have added comments opposing the height proposal, which can be read here.
Such a drastic change to the current OCP should consider the opinions and needs of the whole community, including alternative design concepts as well as the use of the city owned block of land on 100 Block East 1st .
The site at East 1st is already zoned as a Mixed Use 4B High Density which could house the tower for below market value rental units.
The current 200 block of East 1st is zoned as a Residential Level 5 Medium Density. That is a unheard of 6 level jump in zoning.
Amending the current OCP to widen the “corridor” sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens the already existing lower income rentals farther east that would be in risk of tear-down in the future by developers should the OCP is amended.
Further, if the tower is moved to the East 1st site owned by the city, this would allow for another 6 story on East 2nd where NSNH could be included in Phase 1, not Phase 2 which is possibly years down the road.
Hence, these badly needed services that are a supposed priority and the whole project could happen sooner.
In an online public virtual information session held on May 13, many questions were raised by me and local residents that were skirted by the CNV.
In answer to one question in particular, why not use the lot on East 1st, the response was simply “We have no strategic direction” and “there are issues with that lot”.
Many questions are not answered and it raises more.
What are the plans for the rest of East 2nd? What are the plans for East 1st? What are the plans for the rest of the “corridor”.
Why is the low income level set at 83k per year maximum which is beyond most average person salaries? It makes me wonder about the project’s purpose for the rezoning, and the long term consequences to the neighbourhood.
I sent my petition to CNV and have not heard back. There is a way to do this project and keep the current neighbourhood happy. I urge the City of North Vancouver to do the right thing.
In July, the NSNH project team will be going back to Council, and it is really important that they hear from us. If you love your neighbourhood like I do and are opposed to the planned changes please make your voice heard before it’s too late. The project team can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and Mike Freisen’s email is email@example.com
Michelle Intwert is a long term resident of Lower Lonsdale for over 30 years, has a deep connection to and cares for her neighbourhood and community.