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District of North Vancouver to offer Maplewood land for affordable housing

Four undeveloped lots on Riverside Drive to be considered for below-market rental housing
riverside drive lands
Four undeveloped lots owned by the District of North Vancouver could become affordable housing, following a council vote Sept. 27, 2021.

This article has been amended since first posting.

District of North Vancouver council is putting up an assembly of lots in Maplewood for affordable housing.

Hoping to get access to Metro Vancouver grant funding, Council voted 5-2 Monday night to kick-start a process that may result in up to 120 below-market rental homes being built on Riverside Drive, just north of Old Dollarton Highway.

After trying and failing to secure affordable housing funds from Metro in 2020, council drew up a list of 10 district-owned lots that could be eligible for affordable housing. The four Riverside lots were deemed by Metro to be best suited, based on the short walk to transit, shopping, amenities and services within Maplewood.

The best thing district council could do to sweeten their chances of being approved, according to staff, is to pre-zone the site to allow for 60 to 120 homes in a four- to six-storey building. All units would be below-market rentals for low- and moderate-income households.

The deadline to apply for Metro’s funding is Dec. 31, 2021 – a tight timeframe in municipal terms.

Mayor Mike Little said he wasn’t convinced six storeys would fit well with the existing neighbours, but he added he wanted to make good on his campaign promise to bring Metro Vancouver affordable housing to the district.

“I want to see how that massing looks on the site when we advance but, generally speaking, I think that this is a good location for this type of housing,” he said, noting that transit and schools are nearby.

The lots are currently treed, mostly with second-growth cottonwood and maple, but Coun. Megan Curren said there could still be a net gain for the environment with the affordable homes.

“There are many ways we can use the built form to improve biodiversity,” she said, adding that the district’s Rental, Social and Affordable Housing Task Force has urged them to “get on with it” when it comes to affordable homes.

Only Couns. Lisa Muri and Betty Forbes voted against starting the process. Muri said she agreed with the idea of Metro Vancouver-funded affordable housing – just not at that location. Muri said the area has too much traffic and the lot is not serviced.

Forbes agreed and suggested she would not mind the district missing out on Metro Vancouver’s housing grant.

“I feel that this proposal is coming, not because some of us want it, but because it fits into Metro’s timeline, and also into Metro’s size, and I'm quite frankly, more concerned about our timeline – the District North Van’s timeline and what we want to develop on the land,” she said.

Council’s vote will trigger a typical rezoning process, including consultations on what an eventual development should look like, as well as a public hearing.

Correction: Oct. 16, 2021

An earlier version of this story misstated comments attributed to Coun. Lisa Muri, "the area has too much traffic and is not well serviced." Muri has since clarified what she said was: "the lot is not serviced."