City of North Van moves Harbourside plan to hearing

The rezoning of a section of Harbourside Drive will soon be up for debate at a public hearing.

Monday night, City of North Vancouver council pushed ahead the rezoning of 801 to 925 Harbourside Drive for residential properties. The development, to be built over the next 10 to 15 years, would include 800 units of strata and rental housing located on more than 300,000 square feet of commercial space.

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"This rezoning application is really setting the ground rules for 10 to 15 years of development review processes to come and things will change during that time," said Emilie Adin, deputy director of community development.

"So the big things are being secured through this rezoning application, and what is being proposed is that the city will additionally secure the ability to ask for what else is needed over time in order to make sure that development works at that location."

The hearing is to be scheduled after a proposal is made to TransLink for bus service in the area. Council voted 5-2 in favour of the public hearing, with some councillors remaining skeptical about the plan and involving residents when details had not been fully ironed out.

Coun. Pam Bookham said in all her time on council, she had never seen a development proposal so challenged by the context of the site.

"This is the site within the city that is most likely to flood as a result of sea-level rise, and I do not see the mitigating plan that is proposed as doing anything but creating a kind of island that will not protect, over the long term, the probability of the development that goes on this site," said Bookham. "Not to mention what impact it might have on the adjacent properties."

Bookham said another concern is building a residential area away from transit corridors.

"It makes sense to increase density where the option of public transit already exists and can be built upon," she said. "This is so far removed, this is the most flagrant disregard for that principal that our community has bought into over many, many years: that is that it makes sense to locate people where they at least have an option of transit."

Coun. Rod Clark said he is concerned that with a project of this size, the public is not fully aware of what's going on. He also cited transportation as a potential conflict as well as the Bewicke at-grade crossing.

"The Bewicke at-grade is still a problem. CN hasn't even responded to our interrogatories or those of the developer in this regard," said Clark. "I am concerned that if we are required down the road to build an overpass, that's $34 million, and the developer will have his residential and he will be scampering away with the profits from there, and we'll be left to foot that overpass bill. It's a convoluted way to proceed."

Brian Willock, manager of engineering, planning and design, told council that CN has had the development plans since February 2013 and the 5 city has only successfully talked about the plans but has yet to receive anything in writing.

"We've been dealing with CN separately on the other crossings in the city," said Willock. "Recently in conversation, CN has acknowledged that in principle they don't support this crossing but they recognize the reality that it is important to the neighbourhood."

Coun. Linda Buchanan said the application has been ongoing for years and should move ahead for public input.

"I think there's a lot of positives and I think people will come out to the public hearing, they will let us know what they think," said Buchanan.

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