An all-affordable housing project in the District of North Vancouver’s Lynn Creek neighbourhood has received unanimous approval from district council.
The vote, held Monday night, rezones seven single-family lots owned by the municipality on the 200 block of Orwell Street, next to Phibbs Exchange, and allows the Sanford Housing Society to build 90 below-market rentals.
“I am supportive of this project,” said Mayor Mike Little. “I think this is the kind of use that our community sees for district-owned land, and for developments going forward.”
The previous council earmarked the land for affordable housing and began negotiations with Sanford. The district will lease the lots for a nominal $10 per year as well as waive more than $1.1 million in permit fees and development cost charges that it would normally collect.
Capital costs for the building will come from BC Housing, which funds projects that adhere to a particular formula for new social housing. Under that formula, 20 per cent of the units will be capped at rates affordable to people on social assistance. Half of the suites will be at no more than 30 per cent of the gross income for households earning between $51,000 and $90,500, depending on the number of bedrooms. And the remaining units will range from $1,650 per month for a one-bedroom to $2,450 per month for a three-bedroom unit, available to households with incomes between $71,200 and $104,440.
The province announced $9 million in funding for the project in 2018.
Although there were some quibbles by individual council members about some aspects of the project, like a lack of nearby street parking, it passed with a 7-0 vote.
“I can say that each of these 90 units is badly needed by our community. And while I would have liked to see greater affordability. … I recognize this to be a sustainable model,” said Coun. Jim Hanson. “I believe, based on my knowledge of this community, that projects of this kind have broad public support.”
Coun. Mathew Bond praised Sanford for their “Herculean” effort at doing public consultation over several years for the project but stressed the whole process should be easier for non-profit housing providers.
“I want to commend them on doing that but also want to insist that it should not be such a high standard to deliver this type of housing, which is desperately needed in our community,” he said.
Coun. Megan Curren said she was disappointed that BC Housing did not include higher environmental requirements, like passive house emission standards, in their procurement process.
“The province and the federal government are now paying lots and lots of money for retrofits and, at the same time, we're building retrofits so, to my mind, that makes no sense,” she said.
This is the first affordable housing project to be approved by the current district council after they previously rejected below-market housing proposals for Burr Place and the Delbrook Lands. Council later rezoned the Delbrook Lands for affordable housing and the district has partnered with Hollyburn Family Services Society to build 86 below-market units if the non-profit is approved for capital funding by BC Housing.
The Orwell Street rezoning requires one more vote to be adopted by council, at which time district staff say they will try to expedite the building permit process for Sanford.