Skip to content

West Vancouver's Hollyburn Gardens debate spills into second night

West Vancouver council chambers overflowed into the surrounding halls for a contentious public hearing Monday night and council’s debate overflowed into a second night.

West Vancouver council chambers overflowed into the surrounding halls for a contentious public hearing Monday night and council’s debate overflowed into a second night.

Hollyburn Properties is asking the district to rezone a piece of its land a 125 21st St. to allow for 41 purpose-built rental units in two buildings standing three and four storeys, sharing the lot with the 126 units in the already existing Bellevue Tower.

The new buildings would include an extra 23 parking spots and the developer would contribute $1 million to the district, $700,000 of which would go into a fund to build affordable housing, and $300,000 of which would go to local parks improvements.

If approved, they would be the first purpose-built market rental units constructed in West Vancouver in 40 years.

Though it conforms with West Vancouver’s official community plan, the rezoning was overwhelmingly unpopular with its immediate neighbours, more than 20 of whom came to speak against the project.

Common themes among the opposition were how it would impact parking and traffic, the district’s lack of a comprehensive plan for the enclave tailored by the neighbours, the concern that it would set a precedent for other in-fill developments, the loss of green space, loss of views and loss of privacy, construction impacts, and an overall skepticism that West Vancouver was in need of more rental units.

“Today, there are approximately 180 people living on the equivalent of five housing lots in West Vancouver. To changing that formula so dramatically without any meaningful neighbourhood consultation, is to not appreciate the value of the space and room to move and breath on the health and well-being of people living in small, congested spaces,” said Pat Pearmain, chairwoman of the strata council of the nearby Navvy Jack West building.

Pearmain added that she has known several people to successfully sign residential leases without any difficulty.

Those who supported the project, urged council to respond to the rental housing crisis, many of them citing a statistic released earlier that day by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. that vacancy in West Vancouver had fallen to 0.2 per cent.

Ambleside merchant Duncan Pearce urged council to think about the wider demographics that would be affected by the decision.

“I think council has a duty and obligation to be forward looking and review statistics, review the recommendations from staff and to be courageous because you of all people know how long it takes to get a project approved in this municipality and it’s going to take a long time to change the conditions we need to change in West Vancouver to make this a healthy and vibrant community,” he said, noting that, at the age of 47, he was one of the youngest people to speak at the public hearing.

The project itself is all much more innocuous than the opposition let on, he added.

“What’s been proposed here is a very, very modest increase in the number of units. Forty one units is a freckle on the skin of this community,” he said.

But following a five-hour public hearing, the majority on council were feeling too spent to properly digest and debate the matter, instead voting to delay the decision to another council meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening (after North Shore News’ print deadline).