The residents of Lynn Valley have come to a consensus: they don't agree.
District of North Vancouver council delayed its vote on the controversial Lynn Valley Town Centre plan Monday after an exhaustive report found no clear winner among development options voted on by the public who participated in the process.
After sifting through a "morass of statistics" based on four open houses attended by nearly 1,200 district residents, Coun. Mike Little said he was frustrated to learn there was no favourite.
"The community's not polarized, it's fragmented," noted Coun. Roger Bassam.
The town centre is bordered by Mountain Highway to the east and Fromme Road to the west and includes sections of East 29th and East 27th streets. The neighbourhood is earmarked to receive approximately 2,500 new housing units and 5,000 new residents over the next 20 years, but exactly what those housing units will look like is still unclear.
One option would be characterized by five storey buildings and a reduction in anticipated growth. The five-storey limit might hurt the economic viability of key sites, resulting in a failure to improve roads and sewers and upgrade transit, according to a staff report.
A proliferation of low-rise buildings did not sit well with Coun. Doug MacKay-Dunn.
"I'm going to keep an open mind but I have to tell you quite honestly that I've not been impressed with what I've seen at five storeys, it reminds me of Kiev in Ukraine," he said.
MacKay-Dunn wasn't overly enthused about a town centre for Lynn Valley to begin with.
Unlike the district's other town centres at Lower Lynn, Maplewood, and Lower Capilano, many Lynn Valley residents are not enthused about development, MacKay-Dunn said.
"Lynn Valley has seen a great deal of development and traffic congestion has worsened and residents, quite frankly, are tired."
A second option for the town centre consists of midrises between five and eight storeys with an option to build as high as 16 storeys in the central core.
The second option would allow plenty of open space while addressing infrastructure needs, according to the staff report.
Council heard support for development from mall merchant David Hewitson, who declared himself "the unofficial mayor of Lynn Valley mall."
"Business has been crap since Zellers disappeared, we need to do something because it's getting harder and harder to keep that mall afloat," Hewitson said.
Exactly how Lynn Valley residents will move in and out of the neighbourhood was a major concern for Alex Schwarz.
Schwarz accused district staff of turning a blind eye to the massive expenses associated with the transportation infrastructure that would be necessary to serve expanded population.
The district's official community plan does not include a viable transportation plan for Lynn Valley, Schwarz said. "Until something happens, Lynn Valley has to stay small."
David Hunter spoke in favour of greater density in the area. The Karen Magnussen recreation centre and the Lynn Valley Library Square both turned out wonderfully despite some initial vocal opposition, Hunter told council.
"If we want to attract younger families to Lynn Valley and the North Shore we need to have higher density and affordable housing," he said.
But the town centre will likely not have affordable housing, according to Coun. Little. "If you think that the OCP's going to deliver affordability, it's not," he said, adding however, that it would provide more housing variety.
Council should weigh the needs of young people, said Mathew Bond, 29.
"I'm very disappointed that none of these directions give much hope for the future of youth or young families in Lynn Valley," he said. "I'd argue that development of the town centre over the next 20 years will have relatively little impact on those over 50. This plan will have huge impact on people my age and younger than me."
Hazen Colbert spoke in favour of a five-storey height limit. "To say that 12 storeys or 16 storeys came out ahead on the basis of average ratings is like saying that the prisoners on death row prefer a firing squad over hanging," he said.
The town centre plan coincides with Bosa Development Corporation's recently unveiled plan to build 379 condo units in seven buildings including two 12-storey towers in the area.
A five-storey height limit would make the project unviable, according to Mark Sager, Bosa's point man for the project and a former West Vancouver mayor.
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