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Deep Cove filmmaker to run for District of North Van's mayor’s seat

Now that he’s up to speed, newly announced District of North Vancouver mayoralty candidate Erez Barzilay is ready to slow things down.

Now that he’s up to speed, newly announced District of North Vancouver mayoralty candidate Erez Barzilay is ready to slow things down.

The Deep Cove resident announced his bid for the mayor’s chair recently, emphasizing the need to end to what he described as: ““unrestricted irresponsible development.”

“People were shocked by those towers in Seylynn,” he said, discussing the 32- and 28-storey towers at Mountain Highway and Fern Street. “Who would have thought about that, let alone vote for that?”

While Barzilay is a critic of the district’s current council, he supported the June decision to delay a critical vote on Darwin Properties’ Maplewood Innovation District, which was slated to include 4,500 tech-centric jobs and approximately 900 condo and rental units.

“I’m happy that Darwin is rethinking,” he said.

The filmmaker and entrepreneur also expressed skepticism about Darwin’s plan to include 450 rental units offered at 10 per cent below market rates for North Shore employees.

“Is it enough to incite a family to move from Langley to North Van?” he asked. “I don’t think that anybody moves his or her family for $1,200 in potential savings.”

Barzilay suggested a more modest development could win his support.

While developers like Darwin are “vital for our existence,” Barzilay said the crucial questions for council centre on the size of development projects and the speed at which they’re approved.

“You can’t just clog these arteries and bring so many people so fast,” he said.

Barzilay’s campaign literature emphasizes “responsible development,” which he defines as providing adequate transit, hospitals, schools, fires and police stations before allowing significant population growth.

“Responsibility means that you update the infrastructure and you bring the people when it’s safe,” he said.

Barzilay was dubious about the notion of luring the missing generation back to North Vancouver through increased density.

“I personally don’t see the connection between affordability and densification,” he said.

In a video featured on his website, Barzilay explained that: “Increasing property taxes is not the solution for affordable housing.”

If elected mayor, Barzilay said his “main hope” would be to work with federal and provincial governments on a plan to ease gridlock.

While TransLink vice-president of planning Geoff Cross has said that transit is allocated based on jobs, density and overall population, Barzilay suggested other options could be explored.

“I really hope that we can somehow find a way to convince TransLink to come in before that,” he said, suggesting a pilot project featuring a few express bus lines could demonstrate the viability of putting more transit in the district – particularly in the under-served neighbourhoods east of Maplewood.

Other regions in the world have solved similar traffic problems, “without building the entire place up and densifying,” Barzilay said.

Having not served on district council previously, Barzilay suggested his candidacy will add another voice to the political conversation.

Despite extensive public hearings, many district residents don’t feel they are part of the political process, Barzilay said.

“A major part of responsibility is listening to the people,” he said.

The municipal election is set to take place Oct. 20.