THE two-year saga of Central Lonsdale's Safeway site redevelopment appears to have come to an abrupt end this week when the Onni group announced it was scrapping its plan. The move has left supporters crestfallen and opponents elated, but it should also leave observers on all sides scratching their heads.
In a letter to City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto, the developer pointed the finger squarely at naysayers on council, saying the company could no longer put up with "public abuse." It had been unfairly criticized for stacking the first public hearing on the issue, it said, and the second hearing council demanded on Monday was unneeded.
The company's bitter comments are understandable, as were the remarks it was taking aim at - any project of this scale will naturally draw passionate debate and, inevitably, some heated accusations - but the decision to kill the plan in response is perplexing. Going to a second public hearing and putting up with aspersions is no doubt aggravating, but surely it's cheaper than starting from square one. Even if proponents expected to be voted down by council, it wasn't a certainty. Why spike the ball on the one-yard line?
A redevelopment of some kind on the Safeway site would benefit Central Lonsdale and, angry words notwithstanding, a compromise did not appear out of reach. The outright collapse of the plan is a setback for the community.
Until there's more clarity, it will be difficult to be sure the city can avoid such a disruptive outcome in the future.