THE tallest building on the North Shore can now be built in the Seylynn neighbourhood of the District of North Vancouver, following a contentious council vote Monday (Dec. 10).
In a 4-3 vote, council approved the five-building development east of Mountain Highway and north of Fern Street, which includes three highrises measuring 24, 28, and 32 storeys.
In an equally close vote the week before, council passed an amendment to limit height to 28 storeys, but last Monday’s meeting restored the plan to its previous height limits, thus allowing the 32-storey tower.
The development, which includes 790 residential units, is too dense and imposing for the district, according to Coun. Lisa Muri.
“I voted in favour of the original design,” Muri said. “I should have voted against it.”
The district council is inexperienced in dealing with large-scale developments, according to Muri.
“In the future, I bet we never get close to the height or the density we’re considering now,” she said.
Muri spearheaded the previous week’s motion to limit height to 28 storeys, which was reversed this week by a motion put forward by Coun. Roger Bassam.
Limiting height to 28 storeys would result in the project’s architect rearranging the development to accommodate the 36 suites displaced by the cap.
Giving the green light to bulkier buildings with decreased financial viability due to a reduction in sought-after top floor suites would be a disservice to the district, according to Bassam.
Bassam had voted in favour of the height restriction, but changed his mind.
The mountain view will be replaced by a tower-dominated vista, Bassam said.
“It would not matter if they were 25 storeys, which is already approved, or 32 storeys,” he said.
The deal includes an amenity package for the district calling for Seylynn North Shore Properties to complete the Lynnmour Connector Trail as well as complying with the district’s green building requirements.
The development must also include a child care facility and approximately 1,000 square metres of commercial space.
The development became “palatable” for council because of those amenities, according to Coun. Mike Little, who voted against granting approval for the project.
With rents between $1,130 and $1,950, Little stressed that the units are out of reach for many residents.
“It’s about double or more than double what a person with disabilities gets from the provincial government,” he said.
Little, who supported the height limit, suggested a tall building might have been a better fit at Crown Street and Mountain Highway.
“It’s the right direction, it’s just too far in the right direction,” he said.
Both Muri and Coun. Doug MacKay-Dunn suggested the development should be moved farther south down Mountain Highway.
“I don’t see it as the centre of the Lower Lynn plan,” said MacKay-Dunn.
The Seylynn development must complement, and not dictate, growth in the area, according to MacKay-Dunn.
Once completed, the development will feature easy access to shopping, transit, and Capilano University, according to Mayor Richard Walton.
Along with Coun. Robin Hicks and Bassam, Walton also expressed personal misgivings about the height while explaining the larger purpose being served.
“Our needs and preferences don’t reflect the needs of the entire community,” he said.
The district has moved to turn “a pretty desolate piece of land into a place where people can live,” Hicks said. “We cannot remain frozen in time.”
The development will be a boon to students and young families, according to Hicks.
Discussing the change to the view, Hicks said most residents will only see the towers for 15 minutes during their commutes.
A high-density project which never came to fruition had been approved for the site in 2009. Despite debate that has stretched over more than three years, Muri suggested council might be rushing the decision.
“You take so long because you want to get it right and you don’t want to screw it up,” she said. “Patience is what we need.”