A proposed overhaul of the Lower Capilano neighbourhood is getting an enthusiastic thumbs-up from the residents' association most affected by it.
The planned overhaul, reported last week, would see a "village centre" appear on what is now a huge vacant lot just west of Capilano Road between Fullerton Avenue and Curling Road. The Larco Investments development would include a cluster of multi-family residential buildings along with commercial space, a new community centre and public plaza with connections to nearby parks.
In comments to the North Shore News last week, a spokesman for the Lower Capilano Residents Association expressed skepticism about the plan, suggesting it might worsen traffic in the area and insert a community centre in the wrong part of the municipality.
But a group representing the project's closer neighbours appears to be greeting the idea with open arms.
Doug Curran, executive on the Capilano Gateway Association and Curling Road resident, said the revamp would be a welcome change for a tired neighbourhood full of failing businesses and vacant lots.
If Larco's plan comes to fruition, it will transform the area into a friendly, beautified, walkable neighbourhood, said Curran - the type needed to improve sustainability and address issues such as an aging population and crumbling infrastructure.
The community centre is badly needed in the area, especially for young people and seniors, he added.
The Curran's organization formed, in part, to give input to the District of North Vancouver's official community plan review process for the area, which wrapped last year.
"We said, 'Let's sit at the table; let's start making some change that works for us," Curran said. "Let's not wait for something big to be thrown on top of us."
The CGA doesn't share a paranoia about developers that some community associations have, Curran said, adding that he believes Larco will be a good steward for the neighbourhood.
"You can't just project all developers as rapacious privateers," he said. "There are things to be done. We've taken a realistic approach to things, and we've galvanized the neighbourhood to be something other than the Land of 'No.'"
Taking a decidedly non-NIMBY approach can be a difficult task in the sometimes-rough-and-tumble world of OCP reviews and community associations, said Curran, but the result has been worth it.
"I was accused of actually being paid by Larco to do this work. It's ridiculous. I like where I live, and I want to have a place that works for me in the next 15 to 20 years," he said. "It's a fantastic area, and it's got great potential. We're 10 minutes from downtown. I can go fish for salmon at the end of my street. In 20 minutes, I can lose my life to a bear, and yet we live in this area of urban blight."
If left as it is, Curran worries that local businesses will continue to disappear, and the neighbourhood will become more run down until it has to be demolished and replaced with a "little Metrotown."
"We're going to have crack havens or brown fields around us. We need some sort of hybrid form of redevelopment," Curran said.
Curran doesn't accept the neighbouring Lower Capilano Community Residents Association's view of potential traffic problems.
"Things get busy at times if there's an accident on the Lions Gate (Bridge), but 95 per cent of this traffic comes from somewhere else, and it always will," he said.