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District of North Vancouver buys two Seymour lots for $2.5M

The future of the land is unclear, but its recent history is coming forward
A fire-damaged home sits on the 3200 block of North Vancouver’s Mt. Seymour Parkway. The District of North Vancouver has since purchased the land in January 2024. | Paul McGrath / North Shore News.

The District of North Vancouver has bought two residential lots in the Parkgate area for $2.5 million – but no one from municipal hall can explain why.

The purchase of the properties at 3250 and 3252 Mt. Seymour Pky. went through in January but was only made public in the April 8 council agenda.

Asked for an explanation for the purchase, the district offered little detail.

“There are no plans for the lands at this time. The district bought two parcels adjacent to land it already owns to create a larger land assembly,” a statement from district spokesperson Ryan Schaap said. “Future use of this land will be at the discretion of council.”

Together, the two lots were last assessed at $2.6 million.

In November 2022, a fire broke out in a long-boarded up home on one of the lots. Initially, the North Vancouver RCMP deemed it suspicious, but the investigation never led to any charges. District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services found that hydro had been illegally connected to the house but the structure was so damaged, it was unsafe to send members in to further the investigation.

While the future of the properties is in question, the former owner is speaking up about what could have been.

Ray Vesely, principal of Apex Western Homes, said he bought the properties and approached the district with a proposal that would have seen them redeveloped with rental housing at a price targeting younger residents.

To keep rents lower, Vesely said he’d planned to get long-term CMHC financing and build the apartment with no underground parking, which can add $60,000 to $100,000 per stall to the cost of a building.

“We have two big problems on the North Shore. One, the car traffic over here and two, affordable housing units for the young,” he said. “It basically has to be targeted for young people that aren’t buying cars, and there’s a lot. Some of my friends’ kids don’t get licences anymore. It is on a main bus route.”

That plan though was subject to the district being willing to sell its adjacent properties. Vesely said he presented three options for the number of below-market units that could be included in the project based on different sale prices for the land.

Vesely said his company spent about $400,000 on planning, surveys and architectural designs for a building that would be built to the highest level of B.C.’s energy step code for efficiency.

“I thought that was kind of a win-win for everybody,” he said. “So they took it to the council and they voted behind closed doors. They never told me why they wouldn’t sell the property.”

In frustration, Vesely said he gave up and put the properties on the market last year, leading to the district’s purchase.

Vesely said the experience has put him off attempting any further projects in his hometown.

“To be quite honest, I’m a little frustrated,” he said. “It seems like it’s a struggle here to do stuff so I really would rather not work in the district anymore.”

Mayor Mike Little declined to comment on the matter.

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