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City of North Van signs agreement for 89 below-market rentals

The below-market rentals and seniors' respite centre was rejected by District of North Vancouver council in 2018.
NSNH redevelopment 2
An artist’s rendering shows how a new North Vancouver affordable housing project might look when completed by Catalyst Community Development.

This story has been amended to correct an error in the location of the rezoning. It is southwest portion of the 200 block of West Second. Not the entire block.

In one of their final votes of the current term, City of North Vancouver council has signed an agreement for an affordable housing and seniors care project once rejected by the District of North Vancouver.

Council voted unanimously Monday (Sept. 26) evening on a housing agreement with the non-profit Catalyst Community Development Society to provide 89 units of below-market rentals on top of a seniors respite centre on what is today the Lower Lonsdale Community Gardens. It is the first phase in the eventual full redevelopment of the North Shore Neighbourhood House site.

Under the agreement, Catalyst will pay for the construction of the six-storey building. On average, all of the new rental homes will be priced at least 10 per cent below Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.’s market rents for the city, but 30 per cent of the suites will have their rents capped at no more than 30 per cent of the gross annual income for households earning between $57,500 for a one-bedroom and $80,000 for a three-bedroom.

Priority access will be given to those currently living or working within the city.

The 18,000-square-foot seniors respite will be run by Care BC.

District council members voted down a nearly identical project for the Delbrook lands in the fall of 2018. Mayor Linda Buchanan said she held a meeting with Catalyst soon after. “I said, ‘Yes, we can look to see how we can make this work here in the city,’” she said. “We do need partnerships.They’re absolutely essential to be able to address the challenges in front of us.... I’m looking forward to us being able to break ground and having those homes delivered sooner than later for the very people in our community who need it.”

Several CNV council members took the opportunity to say the district’s loss was the city’s gain.

“I’m so proud that the city has taken this great opportunity with Catalyst to supply affordable housing. I know in other areas, it was turned down,” Coun. Holly Back said. “The respite care is so needed and it is so important that we are providing it at this time.”

“These kinds of opportunities – they don’t come around very often,” Coun. Angela Girard added.

Eventually, district council agreed to redevelop the parking lot of the old Delbrook High School with 86 rentals for low- to moderate-income households, with funding from BC Housing.

Although the city has not yet found a new permanent home for the Lower Lonsdale Community Gardens, Coun. Tony Valente said it’s better to leverage city land for affordable housing.

“I think with this piece of land that we have in the city, we’ve been able to make a huge contribution to that effort and I think we’ve got the right partners through this agreement to make that happen,” he said. “We need some of these folks here because our local businesses are looking for workers.”

City council voted in 2021 to rezone the entire southwest side of the 200 block of East Second Street to allow for the Catalyst project, a 30,000-square-foot new home for North Shore Neighbourhood House and child-care centre, and up to 18 storeys of affordable housing to be run by Hollyburn Community Services Society, as well as a new Derek Inman Park to be built on the eastern side of the property.

If that should come to fruition, it will be the largest addition of affordable housing in the City of North Vancouver in a generation, Buchanan said.

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