When it comes to affordable housing, the District of North Vancouver’s loss could be the City of North Vancouver’s gain.
City council announced Monday that the municipality is moving ahead on a $70,000 feasibility study to look into including affordable housing as part of a rebuild of North Shore Neighbourhood House, with partners including two non-profit agencies that have had their housing plans recently rejected by the neighbouring district.
Council unanimously approved the move to include housing as part of the plan when the aging North Shore Neighbourhood House facility gets rebuilt on city-owned land in the 200 block of East First Street.
The city will partner with the non-profit organizations Hollyburn Family Services Society, Catalyst Community Housing Society, and Care BC to explore the potential to include non-market housing on the municipal site.
“This is extremely exciting news for the city,” said Mayor Linda Buchanan, describing it as an opportunity “to deliver a significant amount of non-market housing for a variety of ages within our community.”
Part of the vote Monday included the city’s promise to provide a letter of support to Hollyburn, Catalyst and Care BC indicating the municipality is committed to “working collaboratively to generate new housing opportunities on city lands.”
Both Catalyst and Hollyburn have recently had affordable housing projects rejected in the neighbouring District of North Vancouver.
In a 5-2 vote in November, the District of North Vancouver council rejected an 80-unit, six-storey below market rental project along with a seniors’ respite centre by Catalyst on municipally owned Delbrook lands.
District council also voted behind closed doors in January to nix a proposal from Hollyburn for a 100-unit, all-below market rental building on a piece of district-owned land on Burr Place.
In an interview following the announcement this week, Buchanan painted a stark contrast between the city and district’s receptivity to affordable housing projects.
Following the rejections by the District of North Vancouver, both non-profit agencies “came and had a conversation with the city,” said Buchanan. “I’m more than happy to have them in the city and welcome them with open arms.”
Buchanan added she’s spoken with Selina Robinson, B.C.’s minister of municipal affairs and housing and let her know, “the city is very, very open to delivering that housing in the city.”
She said she’s hoping the project will be a model of how housing and other social services delivered by non-profit agencies can be combined.
A request for proposals for the feasibility study is expected to be issued soon.
A report on the issue discussed by council earlier behind closed doors has not yet been released.
According to the city, the building housing North Shore Neighbourhood House – which provides services for children, seniors and families – is nearing the end of its life and needs to be replaced in the next six to eight years.
The building doesn’t meet current accessibility requirements and needs more room for both its childcare service and for meeting space, according to the city.
North Shore Neighbourhood House will continue to operate during the study and during any potential redevelopment.
Catalyst has partnered with other municipalities in B.C. to build affordable rental housing aimed at families making under $100,000.
Care BC offers respite and day programs for seniors with dementia who are being cared for by family members.