A proposed five-storey development on Marine Drive came one step closer to construction after receiving strong support at a City of North Vancouver council meeting Monday.
Despite questions about the mixed-use building's density and its possible impact on a neighbouring creek, the project passed second and third readings, leaving the development one vote from adoption.
The property, located at 972 Marine Drive next to Heywood Park at Hamilton Avenue, would include 67 residential strata units above 4,200 square feet of commercial space.
Several residents praised the building's design and said the location's proximity to transit made it an ideal spot for development.
The developer, PC Urban Development Group, would remove and remediate the area on the western edge of Mackay Creek currently occupied by a parking lot. The vehicle bridge spanning the creek would also be removed.
Part of the deal includes a land swap with the city. The city would become owners of the parcel currently occupied by the parking lot, and PC Urban Group would take the smaller piece of land adjacent to Marine Drive on the southern edge of the development.
The city would likely turn their land into the southern entrance of Heywood Park.
The land given to the city would also be included in the building's floor space ratio, which measures a building's total floor space against the parcel of land on which the structure is located.
That inclusion of the traded land into the FSR was a sticking point for Coun. Rod Clark.
The building has a floor space ratio of 1.64, well within the city guidelines, but if the donated land is excluded from the measurement, the ratio balloons to 2.52.
"I guess density is as you perceive it," said Clark, the lone objector to the motion.
The building is also nearly 17 metres tall, approximately three metres taller than its neighbours.
"In the winter there are certainly some shadowing effects," said development planner Carl Purvis, adding that the difference with a similar four-storey development would be negligible.
Clark suggested "lopping off" the building's top floor to gain compliance with a 2.0 FSR.
"It's too dense and I won't support it," he said.
The development is located five metres from the banks of Mackay Creek, but some critics questioned whether the setback is enough to preserve the health of the river.
"We don't want to continue an unsatisfactory situation with a slightly less unsatisfactory situation," said Miles Hogan, a member of the North Shore Streamkeepers Society.
Hogan referenced a Department of Fisheries and Oceans report that called for a 30-metre setback from streams.
Completing the project as planned would squander an opportunity to make the creek a bounty of fish, according to Hogan.
"The main concern we have with the project is the five-metre riparian setback," said Karen Munro, chairwoman of the North Shore Streamkeepers Society.
Munro stopped short of opposing the project. While the setback is a concern, she said the removal of the parking lot would likely benefit the creek.
Speaking on behalf of the North Shore Fish and Game Club, Terry Bragg pledged his support for the project.
The motion received support from Mayor Darrell Mussatto, who said the development represented a net benefit for the city. While a wider setback might be ideal, Mussatto said the five-metre gap between the development and the creek bed was substantial.
The city will also enjoy the benefits of improvements to the stream, with only some damage to neighbour's views on the south side of Hamilton Street.
"We all realize we don't buy the view we think we've purchased," Mussatto said.
The project includes 72 parking spots located on two levels of underground parking.
However, the loss of the parking lot may leave some residents circling the block for a space, according to Coun. Guy Heywood.
"In the surrounding area there's going to be a net loss of parking spaces," Heywood said.