1,000 ideas for what to do with Delbrook lands

Seniors’ and low-income housing, more green space and something called indoor pickleball. Those are some of the roughly 1,000 ideas District of North Vancouver residents are pitching for the Delbrook Lands.

The buildings on the 1.7-hectare district-owned site at Queens Road and Stanley Avenue are scheduled for demolition when the new Delbrook Community Centre opens next fall, replacing the old William Griffin centre, and the district is now headlong into soliciting the public’s priorities.

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The ideas on the table come from 103 online survey responses, a three-hour meeting on Jan 28 that saw 177 district residents come out and offer input,12 paper surveys, and phone and email feedback to the district. A summary of the responses is included in a report released last week.

The level of community interest “blew expectations out of the water,” according to Robin Prest, program manager at the SFU Centre for Dialogue, which is helping to run the public process.

The ideas are broken up into categories: Parks and outdoor recreation, community programming space, housing and a handful of “other” suggestions.

Among the outdoor rec ideas: community gardens, flexible green space, playgrounds and walking trails, sports fields, a bike park, water park and skate park. Indoor suggestions on the wish list included rentable multi-use space, an arts and culture building, a seniors’ centre and child care. For housing, residents mostly preferred non-profit models targeted for seniors, people with low incomes as well as young families.

“Many suggested low-density housing design (townhouses and low-rise apartments), while others felt there should be no housing on the site,” the SFU report stated.

The district is now doing analysis of the community submissions to screen out ones that are not feasible with a plan to return to public consultation in June, wherein residents from across the district will be asked to identify which options for the land they support.

In 2015, district staff had suggested developing between 43 and 70 per cent of the land with condos and townhouses in order to raise $14 to $25 million, which would be used to pay down the $28 million in debt district taxpayers took on to fund the new $45 million Delbrook Community Centre, although there is no imperative to sell any of the land, district CAO David Stuart said.

Council is anticipating people in the immediate neighbourhood may have different priorities for the site than district residents from more far-flung areas. That may prove especially true when it comes to how much, if any, condo development occurs on the site, Coun. Robin Hicks noted at a March 7 council workshop.

“On an overarching basis, you’ve got to remember we’re paying over two per cent on debt for the new Delbrook rec centre,” he said. “When we come up to future discussions, there will be some financial implications for people to review. I anticipate then that people who live in the rest of the community will probably have a different opinion than the people in the Delbrook community.”

Delbrook resident Rene Gourley said the report provided an excellent summary of opinions being shared in his community, but, he added, he left the Jan. 27 stakeholder meeting somewhat disappointed.

“My disappointment was that I don’t feel that the process so far is going to result in the best use of that land. I feel like we are missing an opportunity to come up with something really innovative and new that could be a benefit to the social or cultural or even the economic use of that land.”

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