The City of North Vancouver is open to business.
That was Mayor Linda Buchanan’s message to an overflowing gallery comprised mostly of well-wishers shortly after her inauguration Monday night.
Following a bagpipe procession and a Christian prayer that council be honest and prudent in their decisions, Buchanan ruminated on the decision voters made Oct. 20.
The electorate gave council a mandate for an urbanist future, Buchanan said.
Aside from Buchanan, who prevailed by a little more than 400 votes over slow-growth candidate Guy Heywood, voters also elected newcomers Tina Hu, Angela Girard, Tony Valente and Jessica McIlroy, all of whom advocated urbanist visions, largely with an emphasis on affordable housing near transportation routes. The quartet of newcomers are joined by returning councillors Holly Back, who is entering her second council term, and three-term councillor and former District of North Vancouver Mayor Don Bell.
After singling out former mayor Darrell Mussatto for his stewardship of the city and his friendship, Buchanan assured city residents that amalgamation was off the table for at least four years. The Harry Jerome rec centre, however, might be back on the menu.
While Buchanan did not go into detail, she challenged council to find a more economical version of the $237-million Harry Jerome rec centre project approved by city council earlier in the year.
In her first address sporting the chain of office, Buchanan praised to the Lower Lonsdale Business Improvement Area for creating a thriving business district and suggested their example could be followed in other pockets of the city.
Her vision, she said, was to see North Vancouver become: “the healthiest small city in the world.”
Buchanan, a public health nurse, noted the challenge of social isolation and the need to counter that worrying trend by developing active public spaces to make the city social and vibrant.
Buchanan sounded a note of urgency regarding the "intense crisis in housing affordability," underlining the critical role of housing affordability in terms of quality of life and in terms of business – particularly in regard to finding and retaining employees.
Growth must be at the right pace and in the right place, Buchanan said, pointing to transit routes as sensible spots for development. That strategy and an adherence to the city's official community plan should aid the health of residents as well as assuaging the gridlock that regularly clogs city streets, she said.
In terms of upgrades on those city streets, Buchanan underlined the importance of designing roads that shield the most vulnerable commuters: pedestrians and cyclists.
More to come . . .