We will be working with the District to determine how we can reduce the height of the building while simultaneously providing at least 50 per cent family housing units with two or more bedrooms
By Rene Gourley
While change is inevitable, overall the Delbrook Community Association (DCA) would like to see changes that support and enhance our safe, family-oriented community. Much of our near-term thinking about the future of our community centers on the redevelopment of the Delbrook lands. Once a high school, then for many years the home of a recreation complex, a child care centre and non-profit organizations, the Delbrook lands became an issue for debate in the community with the redevelopment of the old Griffin recreation complex.
For us, it was an enormous opportunity. While the Delbrook area has playing fields and trails it has virtually nothing in the way of neighbourhood parks, something the DCA has sought for six decades. The District of North Vancouver (DNV) decided future use of the lands was a District wide rather than a community issue and developed a consultation process that saw local residents with less than half of the input.
Despite this, the consultation concluded in June that park space is the number one priority, followed by community services and affordable housing (if the housing was not paid for by the District). To our delight, the consultation was nearly unanimous that the property should not be sold and should remain DNV land. In the following months, the DCA submitted a proposal to Council for the sort of affordable housing we should be looking at in the Delbrook Community.
We proposed a model of ground oriented housing we believed conformed to the DNV’s Official Community Plan calling for “appropriate ground oriented housing forms (such as duplex and townhouse) to adjacent residential neighbourhoods.” We proposed these homes be made available to first responders on a priority basis to provide security to the community in the event of a crisis in the community. The DNV did not consider this proposal.
The DNV proposal, presented in July, called for a five storey building. The first floor would provide services for children and seniors with four floors of rental housing above. This was to include 80 to 88 residential units. At five storeys this would be the tallest building in the Carisbrooke, Norwood Queens, Delbrook and upper Capilano areas.
It would certainly not be the ground oriented housing called for in the OCP. Overwhelmingly, the units would be made up of studio apartments. Even Premier John Horgan has expressed the need for family oriented units in an article in the Vancouver Province where he said, “We need to build more units…not just one bedroom condominiums, but we need to build two and three bedroom apartments and homes for families.” This is true in the province, but doubly true in family-oriented Delbrook.
We will be working with the District to determine how we can reduce the height of the building while simultaneously providing at least 50 per cent family housing units with two or more bedrooms. The principle change we are working toward in 2018 is one that brings this development in line with our family-oriented community. With regards to our other priority, safety, more and more residents are expressing concerns about speeding on Delbrook and on other feeder streets. Several people have reported close calls on Windsor and Delbrook as drivers speed past ignoring the crosswalk signs; a pedestrian was struck on Delbrook in November.
Sadly, drivers appear most likely to ignore children trying to cross to the soccer fields. In 2018, we will be working with the District to improve the safety on Delbrook and other feeder streets. In addition, we are looking to the RCMP for frequent and effective policing of speeding in the community and the monitoring of crosswalks. Beyond Delbrook, we have also supported calls for a moratorium on major developments in the District. This would give the District time to seriously look at the implications for the increasingly unmanageable traffic.
Despite this, in some cases we have supported greater densification, particularly for ground oriented housing along major traffic routes. One other wish for 2018? We encourage the District and Council to pay more attention to community associations, particularly when it comes to answering our correspondence. We wish all the candidates in the upcoming election good luck in their efforts to meet the needs of all our communities.