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Public hearing to be held on 420-unit development pitched as 'heart of Lynn Creek'

The proposal includes 205 strata units, 170 market rental units, and 45 non-market rental units

A proposal for a mixed-use development pitched as the future “heart of Lynn Creek,” which will bring hundreds of new homes and amenities to the area, will go to a public hearing.

IBI Architects has applied to the District of North Vancouver, on behalf of Fairborne Homes, to create a mixed-use development with 420 residential units in the Lynn Creek town centre.

The proposal includes 205 strata units, 170 market rental units, 45 non-market rental units, and commercial space, all in a mix of buildings ranging from seven to 24 storeys. The project would be built on a 2.4-acre (0.97 ha) site on the east side of Mountain Highway, north of Crown Street, which includes the existing Dykhof Nurseries commercial operation land and five single-family lots.

The development would include one 24-storey building with a commercial retail unit and four townhouses, and two midrise buildings (seven storeys and eight storeys) over a one-storey commercial podium.

The project also boasts a space for a grocery store and childcare centre for 80 to 100 children. Other public benefits of the plan include the creation of a new plaza and a pedestrian use pathway that will connect a new community centre to Marie Place Park in the green spine, and land dedication for a new north-south lane connecting Crown Street to Hunter Street.

The proposal returned to council for a third time on Monday (Oct. 4), having been reviewed and referred back to staff and the applicant for changes on both March 29 and Nov. 2, 2020.

Speaking at a previous meeting, Chris Philps, president of Fairborne Homes, said through the development, with its many amenities, they were “looking to create the heart of Lynn Creek.”

At this week’s meeting, Vicky Chou, vice-president of Fairborne Homes, said the new application addressed many of council’s previous concerns expressed about tower height, the amount of rental housing, and parking strategies.

She said Fairborne had since reduced the height of the tower by five storeys, added an additional eight market rental units, and increased sustainability measures to reduce the overall carbon footprint of the project.

“We believe the proposal before you this evening represents a thoughtful and comprehensive plan that will contribute to the betterment of the neighbourhood and help create a town centre that will benefit all districts,” Chou said.

“This proposal will create 420 new homes. Over 50 per cent of these homes will be below market and market rental. The 215 rental homes proposed will expand the supply of new rental and affordable housing in the district, including 45 below-market rental homes to support low- to moderate-income families.”

The report to council highlighted the amount of parking stalls has been reduced from 473 bays to 464, including 396 residential stalls, 29 visitor stalls and 39 stalls for commercial purposes. On top of this, there will be two bicycle spaces for every home, along with new bike and bus bay infrastructure, electric charging infrastructure and a car-share program to further support alternative transportation options to reduce private vehicle reliance.

The development will also have fossil-fuel-free mechanical systems that will help achieve a reduction of 80 per cent greenhouse gas intensity to further support sustainability, and the developer has also committed to installing green roofs on the buildings.

Chou shared that Fairborne will implement a locals first policy, that will give district residents the first opportunity to make Lynn Creek town centre their home.

“The project will also contribute $2.5 million to help fund the district's affordable and special needs housing infrastructure improvements, and public facility enhancements,” she said.

“Approximately 16,000 square feet of land dedications are also being contributed to create a new roadway for better traffic circulation, and new pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure for safe walking and cycling in the town centre.”

The updated application received mostly positive feedback from councillors, with the majority voting in favour of the proposal going to a public hearing.

Coun. Jordan Back said the project represents an “exciting part of the Lynn Creek town centre,” and believes it will become a gathering point for the community, being right across from the park and a new rec centre.

“I think there's a lot of highlights of this project that I think are worthy of hearing from the public on,” he said, noting the high number of rental homes and below market units as well as the community plazas.

“One of the aspects I'm most excited about is the childcare spaces, 80 to 100, which is a significant amount in this area. Then, the long-awaited grocery store … a number of the residents who are in that neighbourhood now … really look forward to having a grocery store that they can walk to.

“As we look to the future of Lynn Creek, this is really going to be the centre of it and what kind of defines that area and really makes it people-friendly.”

Meanwhile, sticking to his previous stance, Coun. Jim Hanson did not support the development moving forward, saying the district had more pressing priorities to address, including traffic infrastructure.

“We're talking about adding a lot of cars, a lot of units, in a location that is obviously going to contribute to traffic challenges. We just continue to add and add and add, and we don't seem to have a plan.”

He also said the development had an “imbalance of housing types,” with too many expensive condos and market rental units and not enough affordable options.

“This is a step in the right direction, but it still isn't a balancing of those housing categories,” Hanson said. “It isn’t making the change that we need to make in terms of our community planning.”

Similar to previous comments on the development, Mayor Mike Little said given the changes made to the proposal there was “evidence the developer had listened to the community.” He also mentioned that he’d been in favour of the Crown and Mountain intersection becoming the heart of the Lower Creek town centre for more than a decade.

While other councillors were happy with a reduction in parking stalls to promote more environmentally friendly transit options, Little said he was concerned the number of stalls was now a little low for the building. He added that when transit in the area was considered – knowing five buses stop outside the address – the number of parking stalls was “reasonable.” He said having the parking stalls was important to allow for flexibility in the future, as the spaces could be converted for alternative uses, such as storage or e-mobility services.

“I don't know what the future will hold, but if you don't build some flexibility in the space, you won't have that opportunity,” he said.

Little added he was looking forward to seeing how the developer responds to the public’s input following the public hearing.

“I do think that we're close to a viable project on this space, and it certainly warrants going to the community and asking for their advice on the matter,” he said.

The date for the public hearing has not yet been set.

Elisia Seeber is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.