District of North Vancouver council has directed staff to begin design work for a four-storey building on the Delbrook Lands which will include one storey for seniors’ respite care and three for social housing and a park too. The staff will consult with the Delbrook community on the design features of the park.
The instructions come after a recently released survey that shows support for affordable housing, a park, and a respite centre at the location.
Members of Delbrook Community Association have expressed concerns over the height of building as proposed in the survey. Member Keith Reynolds said the survey presented a confusing picture on the actual height of the building. “Is it four storeys plus a respite centre and a parking? There is no clarity on that question,” he said.
James Gill, another members, said he wasn’t opposed to densification but the height of the buildings should follow the Official Community Plan (OCP). “My main concern is that it doesn’t fit into OCP. Expanding away from the town centres, OCP calls for building height that is appropriate to residential neighbourhoods and that would be roughly the height allowed on a duplex or a townhome,” he said.
Gill said Delbrook was paying the price of failure of the previous council which didn’t create more affordable housing in town centres when it was supposed to be as per OCP. “We want something appropriate for our neighbourhood as defined by OCP. If the council really follows OCP, the height for these buildings should be roughly three storeys,” he said.
Gill also said the previous council as well as the present one had paid no heed to the community association’s suggestion that the housing on Delbrook Lands could be created for first responders who can’t afford to buy a home on the North Shore. “It should be employees housing for first responders. What better way to enhance public safety in the event of a catastrophe, but they just seem to gloss over the suggestion.”
Reynolds believes it’s an idea worth exploring but won’t happen. “That ship has sailed long time ago,” he said.
Still, the present consultation process is an improvement from the previous council’s time when the community’s desire for a park was being ignored, Reynolds said. “We were concerned that with nothing done, it would be too easy for the district to ignore it,” he said, adding that the community is happy to see a park moving forward under this administration.
Reynolds is hopeful it would be a better proposal than the one brought forward by the previous council, which had partnered with a non-profit to build a five-storey building with 80 units of below-market rentals. That was far from being affordable, he said. “There is a difference between being truly affordable and being just below market, which can still be quite expensive.”
Reynolds said the community was looking forward to see what the district staff brings back in the fall. “We would want housing that is more in keeping with the neighbourhood, more family-oriented housing that is truly affordable,” he said.