Please sir, may I have some more?
An application to re-zone one of many blocks of land in the rarefied atmosphere above the Upper Levels Highway owned by British Pacific Properties (BPP) is to be heard by West Vancouver District (WVD) council on Tuesday 3rd December (6 pm WVD).
The core of the request is to increase the number of units by 331 from the 493 initially agreed. An increase of over 67%. Add the 150 rental units to be sequestered by the district and you have a 98% increase — double the original parameters.
And this involves only two out of five ‘areas’ in one parcel within BPP’s range of mountainside. That parcel is known as Rodgers Creek.
The train is about to leave the station — and it’s about a LOT more than Rodgers Creek. Here are the other ‘carriages’ in the planning horizon for Cypress mountain:-
BPP’s ‘Upper Lands’ consist of several parcels of land including
• Cypress Village
• Cypress West
• Upper Campus
• Rodgers Creek
Please sir, may I have… even more?
The current request is to roughly double the units and accommodate between 800 to 1,000 people. Later, it is envisaged that Cypress Village will add a further 5,000 souls to the developed area (some estimates rise to over 7,000).
The slippery slope
Tuesday’s hearing will be interesting because it will test the Central Principle at stake for West Van – Incremental Changes to previously studied, examined and agreed allowances.
Interesting too is the language BPP use to describe their request — not as an increase but as “…our refinements to the vision … ”.
Did that one slip by you?
But the implication for future development in WVD is more serious. It pivots on the principle of allowing developers to make a request, have it granted, then feel free to push to the next level — as if submissions were merely stepping stones.
Waiting in the wings is Larco’s request for a further five stories at Marine (old White Spot).
The mountain, as everyone knows, has two ski resorts: Downhill (open 135 days/year) and X-Country. Currently, one exit road feeds them from the Upper Levels highway. Anyone who has skied in popular days has experienced congestion, particularly on the highway.
With a potential of 7,000+ new residents living between the highway and the ski area, are we really to believe that the traffic will be smoothly integrated on intersections like the highway or 21st st. or the increasingly scary 15th st.?
The District soothes our worried brows and tells us that transit will be magically available to transport residents to centres of work and interest.
But when Metro Vancouver (GVRD) examined that question. Here is their opinion documented on 30th May 2018:
“Metro Vancouver does not consider the Cypress Village and Cypress West planning areas to be good locations for focusing trip‐ generating multi‐family growth and development.”
“ … the vision for Cypress Village and Cypress West are not in alignment with Metro Vancouver’s strategies of focusing growth in transit‐oriented Urban Centres ..”
Now if you believe in carbon offsets… West Van has a somewhat similar offer for any developer who would like to get around environmental restrictions. Example from WVD documented policy:
“The West Vancouver OCP includes policy direction to seek to transfer development rights from ecologically sensitive areas below 1,200 feet of elevation west of Eagle Creek to the Cypress Village and Cypress West Planning Areas.”
So if the developer needs an acre of land above the “reserved” 1,200 ft contour, all he needs to do is go fishing for an acre of land he owns below that level, label it “ecologically sensitive”, and then swap it.
The unprincipled among us might even include unbuildable areas as “sensitive” and trade those useless tracts for the buildable jewels above 1200 ft.
Of course, no developer would dream of that.
Climate change “emergency”
When the concept of “densifying” the upper mountain is examined in the light of the mayor’s stated intention of looking at all projects through the lens of “climate change”, you’d be forgiven for wondering how those 7,000+ people can be lifted up above the 1,200 ft. level, on a daily basis.
Is there some plan to “”Beam Me Up” that consumes no hydrocarbons?
But, of course, there are sure to be bike lanes!
Neil Caroll is a resident of Ambleside in West Vancouver.