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Split vote by DNV council quashes Maplewood Gardens redevelopment plan

Council votes down mixed-use development proposal for village town centre
Maplewood proposal
A proposed development for the Maplewood Gardens site in North Vancouver will not advance to a public hearing, council decided in a split vote on Dec. 13, 2021. | RWA Group Architecture

Five years after it was first proposed, District of North Vancouver council has shot down a major redevelopment proposal for Maplewood.

Darwin Properties and QuadReal Property Group had sought to build 374 condos, 99 market rental homes and 80 below-market rentals, plus commercial space at the aging Maplewood Gardens complex on Old Dollarton Road and the adjacent industrial buildings on Front Street.

The developers largely tailored five buildings in the proposal to fit the district’s official community plan and Maplewood village centre plan, but a split council voted 4-3 to defeat first reading of the rezoning bylaw, Monday night.

The project was to be phased so tenants of Maplewood Gardens could move into the new below-market housing before the 1972 townhouse complex was demolished. The developers had committed to using no fossil fuels for heating, hot water or cooking in the buildings, and the tallest building in the proposal – a 12-storey tower – was to be constructed with mass timber, which sequesters carbon.

Mayor Mike Little quickly moved to defeat the proposal, saying the 12 storeys was a non-starter for him.

“I've been very open with this developer from the very beginning, very early stages on this one, saying that I didn't think tower format was appropriate for the Maplewood area,” he said.

Little said the developers would have done well to seek council’s input sooner so they could help design a project that could find enough votes to proceed, rather than fail to even advance to a public hearing.

Couns. Lisa Muri, Jim Hanson and Betty Forbes joined Little in voting down the project. Other issues included the amount of traffic congestion already in the area and number of market-priced units.

“The infrastructure cannot handle any more density in this area and if council chooses to go forward, there will be a significant uprising in the Seymour on this application because already the infrastructure has failed us,” Muri said.

Hanson said he might have voted differently had there been a different mix of rental and below-market housing proposed.

“In the 2018 election, I made a promise to vote for rental, social, supportive and affordable housing and against market housing,” he said. “There's too much market housing and too many parking spaces.”

Coun. Megan Curren lamented the majority on council’s fixation on traffic, when the project would have gone a long way to addressing the community’s climate, transportation and housing needs, all of which need to change, she said.

“I do feel like young folks in particular are really feeling left behind by the decisions that we're making,” she said. “We have to rethink the systems and as policy makers, that is our job to do that. ... These are complex decisions, and it can't be distilled down to parking spaces. These are about people's lives.”

Coun. Jordan Back and Mathew Bond also voted against killing the project.

Bond warned his fellow council members that a majority No vote does not guarantee the status quo will remain at the site, which will have implications for the current Maplewood Gardens tenants.

That was confirmed by Jason Turcotte, Darwin president, who told council the complex had reached the end of its useful life.

“To think that it would continue in its current state is false thinking,” he said. “It would require significant upgrades were it to remain intact, such that the existing  residents would not in all likelihood be able to remain.”