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City of North Van advances Capilano Mall redevelopment plan

The mayor says this will lead to the area becoming a 'complete neighbourhood'
A map shows the Capilano Mall site and surrounding area. | City of North Vancouver

City of North Vancouver council has kickstarted the process for an overhaul of Capilano Mall, the largest development site in North Vancouver.

Council voted unanimously Monday to begin processing Quadreal Property Group’s pre-application to amend the official community plan for the area.

At 6.7 hectares, the mall and its surrounding parking lots are almost twice the size of the Harbourside Waterfront site currently being developed. Because it is so large and complex, Capilano Mall will require its own master plan before there is any indication what mix of residential/commercial and amenities will be included in the proposal that goes to council for a vote.

Mayor Linda Buchanan acknowledged the sheer scale of the development potential, but added it will go a long way to making the area “a complete neighborhood.”

“I’m really happy to see this coming and moving forward and particularly as we look at a master plan,” she said, noting the area has become “fragmented” over time. “I think this is a really good opportunity. It is the gateway to our city on the west side.”

The master plan process is expected to include “extensive” consultations with the community and detailed studies.

“These planning tools will evaluate how the redevelopment fits within the context of this area and how the Capilano Mall site can deliver on community amenities, employment, housing, environmental sustainability, public realm, transportation improvements, and other city priorities,” the city staff report submitted to council states.

Capilano Mall is on the RapidBus route, which is slated to be upgraded to Bus Rapid Transit, and the Spirit Trail is nearby, Buchanan said. That means the entire development should be more oriented toward active transportation than what folks on the North Shore are used to, she said.

“I know what we’re going to hear from people in terms of the impact that a large amount of residential units will bring, so let’s really think outside of the box in terms of how we can make this work,” she said. “Because if we build it for a lot of cars, that’s what we will get.… We can do something quite unique here to support the movement of people not just across our city but across the North Shore.”

The light-industrial land just south of the mall won’t be up for any rezoning.

City staff have provided the developer with a list of studies they’d like to see completed when a formal application is filed in the fall or early winter.

Capilano Mall first opened in 1969 and underwent expansions and renovations in the ’70s and ’80s. Sears, one of its anchor tenants, shuttered when the company went bankrupt in October 2017. That space is now being retrofitted to host B.C.’s largest indoor bike park.

Talks of redeveloping the 53-year-old mall began in 2019, when QuadReal carried out initial consultation with local residents and businesses. At the time, the idea of mixed-use redevelopment was raised, which would follow a trend of residential towers going up at other Lower Mainland malls, including Park Royal, Oakridge Park and The Amazing Brentwood (previously Brentwood Town Centre). The new report makes several mentions of housing, alongside a list of other needs to be addressed by the potential redesign.

QuadReal is the property management/development arm of the British Columbia Investment Management Corp., a public employee-owned pension investment firm.

Coun. Tony Valente recused himself from the discussion citing a potential conflict of interest, given his role as a director with Family Services of the North Shore, which has its offices in Cap Mall.

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