Lower Lonsdale may be about to get an education.
Alcuin College has applied to build a new private school at 300 West Esplanade.
City of North Vancouver council voted unanimously to send the proposal to a public hearing scheduled for Dec. 5.
The 2.5-storey tower would stretch up 40 feet and houses 15,000 square feet of floor space over one level of underground parking.
The kindergarten to Grade 12 school would cover 89 per cent of the 7,901-square-foot site, currently occupied by Hesp Automotive.
Lower Lonsdale Business Association president Bill Curtis lauded the proposal, describing Hesp Automotive’s “nondescript concrete block building” as being out of place in the revitalized neighbourhood.
The school would extend nearly to its property lines on each side, offering only a one-foot setback on the south side. The property's current zoning is for setbacks of 10 and 20 feet. The landscaping plan is “limited to due to the site coverage,” according to a city staff report. However, a rain garden of shrubs and tall, narrows trees has been proposed to help manage storm water and “soften” the school’s appearance.
Other landscaping is planned to screen the underground parkade and provide a buffer along the Forbes Avenue bike lane. The main access to the new school would be off Mahon Avenue.
A right of way would need to be registered to maintain public access for a portion of the Mahon Avenue sidewalk.
The proposal does not include a gym or an outdoor playing field, meaning the students will likely play at Waterfront or Semisch parks.
Alcuin College will likely work with the city staff on a park plan that will either include a stewardship program or a financial contribution to improvements in Semisch Park, according to the staff report.
Situated alongside a major truck and bus route, the project includes 11 parking spots. The current zoning requires 16 parking stalls and a loading spot. Given that the site is only a 10- to 15-minute walk from the SeaBus, staff advocated the parking reduction. Alcuin College students are encouraged not to drive to school, according to the staff report. The loading spot was also deemed unnecessary by staff, given both the “size and frequency” of deliveries to the school would be small.
An estimated 38 vehicles will be parked in the area for between five and 10 minutes during drop-off and pickup periods. School staff are slated to monitor the drop-off areas to keep “disruption of on-street parking … to a minimum.”
Writing in his capacity as outreach co-ordinator for the strata at 168 Chadwick Court, former Lower Lonsdale Business Association president Doug Ausman praised the proposal’s “extremely sensitive” design and good traffic management strategy.
“The building is a unique and beautiful design, which will enhance the area’s appeal,” he wrote, adding that he wholeheartedly encouraged council to approve the school.
His sentiments were echoed by First Quay Holdings president Walter Berukoff, who also wrote that he “wholeheartedly” supported the project and encouraged council to approve the application.
This article has been amended. A previous version incorrectly stated the new school would complement St. Alcuin's St. Georges location. The Lower Lonsdale campus would actually be a replacement. The proposed school site is currently occupied by City Auto, not Tireland Performance Centre, as noted in a previous version. Tireland is at 300 East Esplanade and remains open for business.