City moves Harbourside rezoning forward

Open house and town hall meeting scheduled

CITY of North Vancouver council is forging ahead with an ambitious public process for the massive Harbourside waterfront redevelopment.

Council voted Monday night to begin processing the rezoning applications for residential towers over commercial space, pending the approval of a three-metre right of way along Fell Avenue to make room for the Spirit Trail connection, and to kick off the public process.

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Developers Concert Properties and Knightsbridge Properties are looking to build 800 units of strata and rental housing on top of 370,000 square feet of commercial space just south of the Northshore Auto Mall over the next 10 years.

Council passed the required official community plan amendment to allow residential use on the site in July, but many big concerns about the proposal at the time continue to linger.

"Through the OCP (official community plan) process, there were a number of important issues that were raised with respect to this proposal so I will be looking forward to seeing how they're addressed and what proposals (the developers) have for those particular issues," said Coun. Don Bell.

"Among the more significant ones: traffic access, emergency access, transportation and bus routes. Things like that will be very important."

At the time, Couns. Pam Bookham and Rod Clark voted against the OCP amendment on the grounds of traffic and access, and said that the site should be left available for employment-generating industrial space, as the existing OCP, now under review, called for.

Members of the city's advisory design panel, advisory planning commission, parks and environment advisory committee, the integrated transportation committee and the North Shore advisory committee on disabilities will be the first to be briefed on the rezoning proposal on Dec. 12. That meeting is open to the public, but there is no public comment period.

The first public open house on the project will be scheduled for sometime in January, along with a developer information session and a second advisory body review. February 2013 will see a town hall meeting, not required by the city but offered by the developers.

Finally, in March, of next year, council will host a public hearing on the rezoning of the four lots up for redevelopment.

What the city will get from the developer in exchange for the rezoning isn't clear but that's something the city needs to get firm policy on before the vote, Bookham argued.

"I think it's very important that if we proceed, we do so on the assumption that we will be moving as quickly as possible to review our density bonusing provisions, and that we have that in place before we process this application," she said.

The city's council members frequently debate how the city should benefit from developers when upzoning for more density is approved.

In order to complete the project, the developers must still conduct traffic and parking studies and commit to traffic demand measures, fund a Kings Mill Park plan and utilities upgrade plan, include a commercial building as a buffer between the residential part of the project and the active and noisy Seaspan shipbuilding yard, and come up with a noise attenuation strategy.

Only Clark voted against the motion to move forward with the rezoning applications.

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