THOSE hoping for a definitive vote on Onni's Safeway site proposal on Monday would have to wait at least one day more.
City of North Vancouver council wrapped another five hours of public input Monday night but failed to go any further after one council member walked out just after 11: 10 p.m.
After listening to questions, comments and concerns from more than 50 residents, council was about to begin putting questions to the developer when Coun. Pam Bookham made a motion to adjourn the meeting until Tuesday evening. When Bookham's motion failed to pass, she stood up and walked out of the meeting.
A frustrated Mayor Darrell Mussatto tried to beckon Bookham back. When that didn't work, he said he wanted all of council present before putting questions to city and Onni staff and put forward another motion to adjourn the meeting, which passed.
Mussatto had pledged to cut off public input at 11 p.m. Monday and resume it again on Tuesday if attendees still waiting to speak Monday did not get a chance. Council was set to resume the meeting Tuesday evening after the North Shore News' press deadline.
Of the 50-plus people who offered input Monday night, slightly more than 30 spoke in favour of the project, most of them on the grounds that the proposed affordable housing in the proposal was badly needed for adults with development disabilities.
Other supporters were keen to see the offices, childcare space and high-density housing options, which are favoured by young families. Onni has offered the perks along with a contribution to the city's amenity fund, green building standards and a connection to the Lonsdale Energy Corporation in exchange for more building space and height.
For detractors, it was the lingering issue of how the height and density of the project, which would include the tallest residential tower in the area at 240 feet and density almost twice the guideline in the city's official community plan, would affect quality of life for existing residents. Several opponents said they feared Lonsdale would start to take on the look of a "concrete tunnel" like Vancouver's Georgia Street as highrises begin to spring up on every block.
Kerry Morris, a 15th Street resident, decried the "ever-increasing level of occupation" changing the way the city is populated.
"We're turning North Vancouver into something that isn't what most North Vancouverites came here to live in," Morris said. "When I was a kid you could fire a gun up Lonsdale and you wouldn't hit anyone. Now you'd kill 100 people. We have so many people, so many cars . . . I think you owe it those who live here, not to those who'd like to live here in the future, to maintain that quality of life."
Not everyone shared the sentiment though, including some neighbours who embraced a changing vision for the city's centre and the boom in shopping, restaurants, services and amenities it would bring.
"I'm sure it's imperfect, but as someone earlier said, we shouldn't let perfect be the enemy of good and I think we have achieved something good here," said Grant Tomlinson, a next-door neighbour at the Grande condo. "I think it's going to improve the quality of my life. However I do appreciate there are people who disagree by saying 'We like North Vancouver the way it is, or was.' I really don't think that we can go back in time and I don't think that we can freeze where we are. I think we need to move forward. I think we need to increase density."
At the first public hearing, Onni faced heavy criticism for its plan to send about 45 per cent of resident and customer traffic and 100 per cent of commercial delivery trucks into the site via the lane on 14th Street. Under the new plan, 13th will take 100 per cent of the traffic ingress and egress via a controlled intersection on 13th.
"The revised traffic access/egress plan represents a significant improvement from the previous proposal. It is both consistent with the OCP designation for 14th Street and addresses the traffic and pedestrian access concerns raised by our group," said 14th Street resident Teresa Watt in a letter read by a fellow member of the Save 14th group. "Our group strongly supports this revised scheme and feels that these changes address the most significant and the majority of all our concerns."
The group remained concerned about the height of the 24-storey tower on 14th though.
The developer also increased setbacks from Stella Jo Dean Plaza and the Grande condo building next door to improve natural light conditions in the plaza and included a living or green wall in the design for the walls that border the plaza.
While some of the public comment received Monday night centred around the revisions Onni had made to its proposal in hopes of winning more support on council and in the community, much of the night was a repeat of the first public hearing held in November.
Virtually everyone who came to the mic agreed that the site is in dire need of redevelopment, and the surrounding area could use the economic revitalization that would follow.
Council made the rare move of asking for a second public hearing in December after the first one drew complaints that the developer signed up a host of supporters to dominate the first part of the meeting.
Visit nsnews.com for updates on the project on Wednesday.