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West Vancouver approves all-rental building across from Park Royal

The 201-unit building is the first major development considered by the new council. See who voted how and why.
West Vancouver council has approved a new all-rental building on Clyde Avenue at Taylor Way.| DA Architects + Planners

District of West Vancouver council has given the OK for a 201-unit, all-rental building at Taylor Way and Clyde Avenue – the first major development decision made by the new council.

Most of the rental homes will be studio apartments between 350 and 378 square feet, which the developer estimates will lease for $1,400 to $1,900 per month. Larco, the parent company of Park Royal, pitched the small-living suites as a way to provide housing accessible to local workers who otherwise must commute in.

At a public hearing held in early March and in written comments delivered to council, the project was divisive.

Those opposed argued the rentals would be both too small and too expensive while adding traffic to a neighbourhood that hasn’t been through a proper local area planning process.

Those in favour spoke of the development’s potential to provide housing options for people making moderate incomes and allowing them to live a short walk from transit, shopping and other amenities.

When it came time for a vote Monday, the majority on council were in favour.

Coun. Peter Lambur said the project may be a case of “spot rezoning,” but added it does largely conform with the district’s official community plan.

“It fits with the built form context and neighborhood character. And while it won’t deliver affordable housing to those who need it most, the project does add a significant number of units to the district’s rental housing supply,” he said.

Coun. Nora Gambioli said projects like Park Royal’s were overdue and needed for West Vancouver to turn around some regrettable demographic changes.

“It’s a fact that we have a shortage of purpose-built rental housing in our community, and the smaller units that are proposed here are the only way to make rents more affordable,” she said. “Years and years and years and years of not approving forms of more affordable housing in West Vancouver has driven away generations of children as well as downsizers and our workforce, so we need to change this.”

Coun. Linda Watt said she would have been a “hard no” on the project when she first looked at it, but she said West Vancouver will benefit from both new housing options and reduced traffic.

“I don’t think it’s going to be the product that somebody working in a shoe store at Park Royal can afford, but I do think there is a need,” she said. “I look at the number of people that commute across the bridge coming here, and it is my belief – not my hope – it is my belief that it will attract those workers.”

Coun. Scott Snider conceded that “affordable” wouldn’t be the best term to describe the new rentals, but he added they would be “attainable.”

“I do think that West Vancouver needs some more options available,” he said.

Coun. Christine Cassidy said it should come as no surprise that she’d be voting against the proposal, given her insistence on having a local area plan done first.

“I want to see a plan for the entire Taylor Way corridor before I say yes to this,” she said, adding that she also did not approve of the wood frame construction “in a rain forest.”

“They don’t age as well and I think in due course, this building will be coming down,” she said.

Only Coun. Sharon Thompson joined Cassidy in voting against the project, saying she would have preferred to see a rent-to-own or co-op developed at the site.

“To me this is a really missed opportunity,” she said.

Mayor Mark Sager acknowledged that land use decisions are the toughest ones for a council to make and that his vote in favour wouldn’t be to the liking of many loved and respected people in the community. But, he added, Park Royal’s proposal was simply a good fit.

“This building would have been completely consistent with what we were looking at some 30 years ago,” he said. “It’s unbelievable it’s taken this long to actually see a building built there.”

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