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Split North Van council passes 330-home project at Cap and Marine

Efforts to re-jig the plan were praised, but dissenting councillors criticized a lack of amenities in the upcoming town centre and falling short on other community goals.

Goodbye Travelodge, Pho Japolo and Denny’s. Hello massive residential development at one of the busiest intersections on the North Shore.

After a public hearing late Monday (June 27) evening, District of North Vancouver council narrowly approved a much-debated and revised plan for a 330-home project on Marine Drive near Capilano Road.

The motion passed with a 4-3 vote. Couns. Jim Hanson, Betty Forbes and Lisa Muri were opposed.

While Marvel Development received general praise for making a series of changes to the plan over a protracted consideration process, dissenting councillors criticized the skyscraper build for falling short on climate goals, affordability, and providing community amenities.

For dissenting councillors the most glaring omission from the town-centre-to-be, which has several newly built towers surrounding the Travelodge site, is a grocery store. The nearest sizable food markets are 1.2 kilometres away: Save-on-Foods on Marine Drive to the east, and Loblaws at Park Royal to the west. Those stores are five minutes away by car or bus, but not easy walking distance to stock the pantry.

Before Monday’s vote, Mayor Mike Little said the development meets enough of the community’s needs and should proceed, noting that the R2 RapidBus provides “great service” to the area.

He said council had heard concerns about the lack of grocery options, and that the commercial space should be larger. Another large point of contention was the tower’s height – the tallest in the area – which he said wasn’t unreasonable in that space despite the previous 20-storey limit.

Also backing the proposal, Coun. Jordan Back said tall towers are needed in certain areas and that a new café in the commercial space will help provide social connection for new residents.

Coun. Jim Hanson, a proponent of so-called gentle densification, expressed his disapproval.

'I believe we can do better'

“This kind of tall, concrete tower is simply not my vision for DNV,” he said. Instead, what’s needed is less expensive market strata and more affordable rental, he added.

Hanson voiced concerns about how concrete structures contribute to global warming, and wondered how the municipality can make good on climate promises while approving a plan with 373 parking stalls, which “can only add congestion in an already busy area.”

“I believe we can do better,” Hanson said. “Why would this not be 100 per cent affordable rental housing?” He noted that 1,000-square-foot strata apartments in the building going for more than $1.3 million are hardly affordable.

When completed, the property will include three buildings: a 27-storey tower with strata and market rental apartments, a four-storey building with non-market rentals, and a nine-storey strata building.

All in all, the project will house 212 market strata units (eight of which are rent-to-own), 77 market rental units, 41 non-market rental units, and 574 square feet of commercial space.

Coun. Lisa Muri said it’s hard to call it a sustainable town centre with little to no commercial space.

“The [official community plan] says to protect existing rental and light industrial,” she said. “We’ve built towers and displaced people.”

One of the first things the City of North Vancouver did when building out Lower Lonsdale was to renovate the IGA, Muri continued.

But Coun. Mathew Bond countered with the analogy that when Santa Claus finally gifts you the pony you’ve been asking for, you can’t start nit-picking once it’s there under the tree.

The new project will add an array of housing options to the area, including a number of units in range for lower-income families, and Marvel will make a community amenity contribution of $3.4 million to the district.

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