NEIGHBOURS are being asked to comment on two preliminary development proposals that would see three new highrise towers built in the centre of Lynn Valley.
If approved, the construction of the residential towers would begin transforming the heart of the community into the commercial and residential hub envisioned through about 15 years of planning.
"These would be the first big catalyst projects we'd be seeing," - as well as the ones with the highest density, said Brian Bydwell, general manager of planning, properties and permits for the District of North Vancouver.
The two projects - both in the "pre-application" stage, according to Bydwell - are being put forward by Safeway and Bosa, the corporate owner of the Zellers property.
The Safeway project, on East 27th Street facing Whiteley Court, would involve demolishing the existing store and rebuilding a more modern store of 59,000 square feet, along with about 4,000 square feet of other commercial use, plus a limited number of residential units. It would also include a 22-storey residential tower with 165 units.
The Bosa project, east of the Safeway project between East 27th Street and Mountain Highway, would involve demolishing the existing Zellers store and replacing that with two highrise towers - one 14-storeys tall and one 22 storeys tall - plus two six-storey buildings, and a community space.
The buildings would include ground floor commercial development and 439 residential apartments.
The high-density hub in Lynn Valley's commercial centre is something set out in the district's official community plan, adopted by council last year, after a two-year public process, as well as in Metro Vancouver's regional growth plan.
It's also been a part of local area plans dating back to the 1990s, said Dan Ellis, a director of the Lynn Valley Community Association who has been involved in the planning process since that time.
"It fits with the vision of Lynn Valley that goes back to the 1990s," said Ellis.
Public involvement in those planning processes was good, said Ellis, but "It's never a majority of people."
"Most people are too busy to get involved. They only get excited when they see the result that's going to come back."
In the case of both the Safeway and Bosa proposals, "These are large developments," he said. "The concept of highrise buildings has always been controversial to some extent."
Letters went out to about 500 neighbours from district planners to gather initial feedback from the community, said Bydwell. They were datemarked Sept. 14. Feedback will be passed on to the developers to consider before they decide to come back to the district with a formal application.
Once that happens, developers would be required to hold public information meetings. Both projects need a rezoning, requiring a formal public hearing and must have zoning changes and development permits approved by council.
Ellis said he's not sure what the majority of people in Lynn Valley think about the highrise projects. "My sense is it is somewhat less controversial than it used to be," he said, noting an existing 18storey residential tower nearby has been in the neighbourhood since 1974.
"But it's not my place to tell you what Lynn Valley thinks." "You can't understand what the community really thinks until you go through a full public process, which is what's coming," he said. "That's the community's prerogative."