Think of it as coming to the rescue, in more ways than one.
The District of North Vancouver is looking into replacing the Lynn Valley fire hall with new one, including affordable housing on top.
The idea came from Coun. Catherine Pope, who said the project could be modelled on the Vancouver Fire Department’s successful partnership with the YWCA on Pacific Spirit Terrace, a 31-unit, four-storey affordable housing project on top of department’s hall No. 5 in the Champlain Heights neighbourhood.
Pope recently toured the Pacific Spirit Terrace with Coun. Jordan Back and said there’s no reason its success couldn’t be replicated in North Vancouver.
“The people who live in the building apparently never hear the fire hall or even know that it’s there and they love living there,” she said. “North Van is very much in need of affordable housing…. Seniors, families and young people are forced to move out of the district. We have labour shortages, and we have traffic congestion caused by workers who can’t afford to live here.”
A brand new District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services headquarters is currently under construction on Old Dollarton Road in Maplewood. The existing Lynn Valley hall is in its 50s and only has about 10 years left of life in it, according to the district.
There is a proposal to include a new Lynn Valley fire hall within a major redevelopment of the Safeway site at Lynn Valley Centre, but council members showed only tepid interest in the plan when it was presented in May.
Fire station-apartments model 'done a lot of good' in Vancouver
Lisa Rupert, vice-president of housing services at YWCA Metro Vancouver, told council that the YWCA’s partnership with the Vancouver Fire Department has done a lot of good for a lot of lives.
“(It) enables these families to stay in their communities where they have established supports. It allows their children to continue in the same schools, maintain the same friends and have stability. We know that that’s important for their long-term well being and success,” she said. “We are very satisfied with the ongoing partnership with the fire hall and highly recommend similar projects. It really makes the most of municipal land.”
The fire hall and housing have their own separate entrances and infrastructure with thorough soundproofing in between, Rupert said.
Although DNVFRS hasn’t yet been in contact with their Vancouver counterparts on how the partnership has been working from the fire department’s perspective, it’s something they are eager to do, Deputy Chief Mike Danks told council.
“We are supportive of the idea and are interested in being engaged on it if council moves in that direction,” he said.
The concept got total buy-in from council, with Pope’s motion passing unanimously.
“It’s something that we can do that would fit in nicely to the Lynn Valley community and utilize our existing facilities. It works. It’s been successful and I don’t see why it wouldn’t work here,” said Coun. Lisa Muri.
If council decides to pursue the plan, the municipality would have to put out a request for proposals so other non-profits would have an opportunity to pitch themselves as a partner.