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Plan to build West Van apartments pushed back by council

More community consultation is required before plans for the West Vancouver apartments can proceed, council said.
Park Royal's proposed 201-unit apartment building planned for the corner of Taylor Way and Clyde Avenue in West Vancouver. Council voted Nov. 21, 2022 to defer a decision.

West Vancouver council has punted their decision on a proposed apartment complex near Park Royal to allow for more public consultation.

The project was initially put forward back in November 2021, when Larco, which owns Park Royal, proposed the build of 199 "micro-unit" market rental apartments designed to cater to the living needs of local workers,at Clyde Avenue and Taylor Way.

Since then, the developer has tweaked the proposal to include 202 units and they've dropped the term "micro."

Park Royal vice-president Rick Amantea said their initial description as "micro-apartments" was inaccurate, due to the general sizing of micro-units being 140 square-feet to 300 square-feet, and the proposed sizing of these units being 350-450 square-feet.

"They are more studio suite in size," he said, "and are still affordable, and still built at a very high quality."

The proposed 201 rental apartments will include 174 studio units and 27 adaptable units, each fully contained with a kitchen, washroom and washer and dryer facilities.

"The concept was to put smaller units in a collective environment for ... a real need for people who want to live and work in this community," Amantea said. "We looked at ways to make them a little bit more attainable and affordable than what was currently on the market in West Vancouver."

An expansive rooftop deck will be available to use by residents, along with a new outdoor plaza, while underground parking will offer 50 stalls for residents.

When it came time for a vote on whether to advance the rezoning to a public hearing, the majority on council expressed concern that the public had not been consulted with well enough on the project. They also noted that council hadn't had enough time in their newly assembled state to consider it.

"It's come very very quickly after our recent election. It's new to at least three of us on council, so I would like to suggest some further consultation with the public," said Coun. Scott Snider.

Coun. Linda Watt agreed, pointing out how different the current climate is compared to November of last year - when the outbreak of Omicron was at the forefront of people's concerns. 

"In-person engagement wouldn't have been the top priority in most people's minds," she said.

Counc. Nora Gambioli disagreed with the proposed deferral.

"I think the proposed motions that are here set before us are the right ones," she said. "In fact, I don't recall that I've seen a project in the last eleven years that has actually been supported by so many people who have wrote comments. There is a 98-per cent support rate here."

Mayor Mark Sager said that he shared many of Gambioli's views, and thinks the project is worthy of going ahead, but also acknowledged that there are new members of council and the group want "a real comfort that the community has been well engaged," before they can continue.

It is the first land-use issue to come before the council since the election in October, which saw Sager sworn in alongside newcomers Linda Watt and Scott Snider and returning council member Christine Cassidy. The three joined incumbents Nora Gambioli, Sharon Thompson and Peter Lambur.

While Gambioli and Thompson voted against the deferral, Snider's motion was passed, seconded by Watt, and voted in favour for by Lambur and Cassidy.

Earlier in the day, Premier David Eby announced coming legislation that would require municipalities to set and meet targets for new housing approvals.

Under the Housing Supply Act, which will come into effect in 2023, if targets are not met or actions are not taken to adequately increase housing in a given municipality, cabinet may order a city to make approvals or rezonings. Eby said his hope is that never has to happen.

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News' Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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