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Feds float housing for North Vancouver Canada Post warehouse

DNV mayor is puzzled by the proposed plan to build housing on a Canada Post property located in a light-industrial zone near the North Van dump

A Canada Post warehouse in North Vancouver’s Maplewood industrial area is one of several the federal government is considering for redevelopment into housing.

The 2024 budget released this week notes that the building at 120 Charles St. is “being assessed for housing development potential.”

“As part of its work to build homes on public lands, Budget 2024 announces that the government will take steps to enable Canada Post to prioritize leasing or divestment of post office properties and lands with high potential for housing, where doing so maintains high service standards for Canadians,” the budget document states.

District of North Vancouver Mayor Mike Little said the plan to turn a North Van Canada Post facility into housing would make a lot more sense if they were talking about the one on Harbour Avenue near Main Street.

If the government is contemplating new homes on the Charles Street Canada Post property, the residents living in them will be about a six-minute walk to the nearest bus stop on Dollarton Highway and a nine-minute walk from a grocery store. But Little noted they’ll also be sidled up to heavy industrial land uses which can produce loud noises and pungent smells sometimes at odd hours. The Charles Street property is in earshot of Allied Shipyards and nose-shot of the North Shore Recycling and Waste Centre.

“It would be very, very hard to incorporate residential. There are very incompatible uses in the immediate neighbourhood,” he said. “It’s not an area that we’ve prioritized for housing, that’s for sure.”

The property itself has light-industrial zoning, which the district is generally protective of because of its capacity to generate employment and form part of the tax base.

“And so it would have to have a broader conversation with our community about whether we were contemplating a change,” Little said.

The property was last assessed at a little less than $5.6 million ($3.8 million for the land and $1.8 million for the warehouse).

Little said he sought clarity from Burnaby North-Seymour MP Terry Beech about whether the government intends to build on the land or sell it and use the money to purchase property elsewhere for housing. When the federal government is looking to divest surplus lands, it typically goes through First Nations consultation and land claims first, Little noted, adding that Beech wasn’t able to immediately clarify.

The notion of building homes on the former Blair Rifle Range Lands off Mt. Seymour Parkway, which is co-owned by the CMHC, has come in the past, Little noted,

“But again, I fully expect that to be part of negotiations with First Nations communities first,” he said.

On the subject of the federal budget, Little said he and the rest of Metro Vancouver’s mayors were both shocked and disturbed to see the feds were not committing the money required for the next round of transit expansion in the Lower Mainland, including a bus rapid transit line from the North Shore to Metrotown.

“It seemed to be an area where we had concurrence between the provincial, federal and local governments – that [funding] had to grow and our support for transit had to be there,” he said. “With the significant population increases in the Lower Mainland, we absolutely need the federal government to be a better partner on funding transit expansion, or else those people will have no choice but to get into cars.”

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