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City of North Van council opts for public hearings on two projects

The projects don't require public hearings, but council will hold them regardless.

Two more mixed-use mid-rise proposals are moving ahead in the City of North Vancouver.

Council voted unanimously Monday (May 2) to advance proposals in the Mosquito Creek and Lower Lonsdale neighbourhoods.

Polygon Homes has applied to build a six-storey project with 90 strata homes and 11,000 square feet of commercial space on what is today a strip mall at 818-858 West 15th St.

Council members showed little quibble with the substance of the redevelopment proposal. Because it was largely compliant with the official community plan for that site, staff recommended it proceed without a public hearing, a rule change recently granted by the province with the intent of speeding up the new housing approval process.

But Coun. Don Bell moved that a public hearing be held before the project faces another vote, regardless.

“This represents a significant change to the character of that block. And I think it's consistent with the intention of the OCP but I think the public around it needs to understand what that is and have a better awareness of it,” he said. “I think it's worth the applicant having an opportunity to state their case and do so publicly and have council able to ask questions.”

No one on council disagreed, and the vote to advance the project and hold a public hearing passed unanimously.

“Our council has shown wisdom, courage and strength when we look at projects that come forward and we're able to make the trade-offs that achieve our city's housing objectives and we're continuing to push that forward,” said Coun. Tony Valente. “I realize the province has given us these powers but just using those powers without the context that has to go with them is maybe too bold for me right now.”

Mayor Linda Buchanan acknowledged there are probably other things that could be done to speed up the approval of new housing.

“The public hearing piece is really a small fraction of that, and there are many points of contact through that process,” she said.

Immediately following, council advanced a seven-storey mixed-use building from Staburn Group, with 28 strata homes and 7,000 square feet of commercial/office space on the ground level, at 119-123 East Second St.

Council had little comment on the proposal. It too will go to a public hearing.

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