West Vancouver may need more rental and different housing types, but not enough to support a huge development on Sentinel Hill.
West Vancouver council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to sink a 390-unit proposal consisting of 156 purpose-built rental units alongside 234 condos on the northeast corner of Keith Road and Taylor Way.
Despite being a “huge supporter” of different housing types, Coun. Marcus Wong said he was uncomfortable with what he termed “whack-a-mole planning.” Wong and other councillors discussed the need to complete a local area plan prior to considering any major developments in the corridor.
Having acquired 19 of the 21 single-family lots on the 6.5 acre site, Taylorwood Investments has patiently waited for more than three years for West Vancouver to conclude their local area plan, according to company spokesman Hill Wang.
“Given the delays and uncertain timing of when the study will officially begin, we would like to push this project forward,” Wang said.
Council’s preliminary approval Tuesday would have allowed Taylorwood Investments to pitch the proposal to the public before proceeding through a more customary development process. Wang promised thorough public consultation and emphasized West Vancouver’s “desperate need” of housing options for young families and downsizing seniors.
Approximately 40 per cent of the project would have been market rental, Wang said, explaining that car sharing or a shuttle service could be explored to mitigate traffic impacts.
Residents of the nearby Cedardale neighbourhood plan their lives around Taylor Way’s congestion, resident Cathy Palmer told council.
“We have a horrendous traffic problem,” agreed fellow Cedardale resident Hans Krutzen. “It’s a mess almost all day long.”
The development does not have enough merit to proceed, Krutzen said.
“It’s stillborn,” he told council.
While calling the development “simply not suitable” for West Vancouver’s interim rezoning policy, Coun. Craig Cameron reminded Cedardale residents of the need to embrace change.
“The status quo isn’t really an option anymore in West Vancouver,” he said. “We have to allow for infill. We need more housing alternatives.”
His comments were largely echoed by Mayor Mary-Ann Booth.
“We do not need any more single-family houses. They are unaffordable. We’re losing population because people are trying to downsize. We can’t attract employees,” she said.
But the Taylorwood project lacks a creative mix of townhouses and row houses, Booth said.
“It looks to me like it’s shoehorned in there,” she said.
Coun. Sharon Thompson agreed, suggesting a mixed-use commercial development might be more appealing.
For Coun. Bill Soprovich, the notion of five apartment buildings, four six-storey buildings and one five-storey building was too much for Sentinel Hill.
“For me, it’s a little too massive,” he told the proponent.
Council voted 6-0 to defeat the project. Coun. Nora Gambioli did not attend the meeting.