Despite Mayor Mary-Ann Booth’s impassioned support for the rezoning of former church site in Horseshoe Bay, the controversial project was rejected by a 4-2 vote of the council.
Mayor Booth and Councillor Craig Cameron supported the rezoning which was opposed by Councillors Bill Soprovich, Peter Lambur, Sharon Thompson and Marcus Wong. Councillor Nora Gambioli didn’t vote due to a conflict of interest.
Quma, a development company owned by Peter Nilsson, had applied to rezone the former church site for a 14-unit multi-family development called Tantalus Gardens on Wellington Avenue.
Speaking to support the rezoning, Booth said there was more support than opposition to the project. She said her calculations suggested there were 171 people who supported the project through letters and in public hearing, while 118 were against it. “This is close, but there is community support for it.”
Booth said the project deserved to be approved when seen through the lens of climate change, as well as the vision of the district’s OCP and the council’s declared priority to expand the supply of housing, including housing that improved the missing middle such as coach houses, duplexes and townhomes.
“We are the only municipality in Metro Vancouver with a losing population. People have left the community because there is no diversity of housing. Smaller houses cost less, and they are going to be lot less expensive than single family homes starting at $2 million,” she said.
Booth said a disapproval by the council won’t affect supply or prices in any positive way. “We will likely end up with four single-family homes with higher prices. There is a demand for this kind of housing, regardless of the fact that there are listings of this kind in Horseshoe Bay,” she added.
Booth also said zoning for community use was in place to reflect a cause, not to dictate it, and the council should prioritise housing objectives on the zoning, adding that there is already underutilised space in the community in Gleneagles Community Centre and the club house.
Councillor Craig Cameron said everyone in this local election had run in favour of adding more housing, and yet the council hadn’t added any housing to the community. “It is hard to get more gradual infill than this. You can’t get more gentle increase than this type of density and the proposal is one of the types of housing we need to provide or we will be left with aging apartments and large single-family homes.”
Their arguments, however, didn’t convince other councillors.
Councillor Peter Lambur said the Local Area Plan needed to be completed before any proposal could be considered. Community use, neighbourhood character and density were all issues that remained unresolved, he said. “Without the absence of context that a Local Area Plan will provide, a number of issues remain unsolved,” he said.
His comments were echoed by Councillor Bill Soprovich, who said a Local Area Plan must be completed to have a look at any development being proposed.
Councillor Wong said West Vancouver needed diverse housing but it couldn’t be done in a one-off manner. “It feels like I don’t have all the pieces to see how the project fits in. I feel like I will have to imagine how the LAP will be later on. I struggle with that,” he said.
Councillor Thompson noted that the proposal had divided the community. She said the project did have merit but there were questions that needed to be answered in the context of a Local Area Plan. “I think we need to understand completely and then make a decision,” she said.
With Wong, Thompson, Soprovich and Lambur opposed, the rezoning proposal was defeated.