District of North Van council sounds off on 3 developments

Warm, mostly sunny and then cool. That’s the forecast for three proposed housing developments in the District of North Vancouver following a committee meeting held Monday afternoon.

Although the projects, which are still in their preliminary stages, weren’t up for a formal vote, district council members were invited to give their early input on the proposals for Capilano University, Lynn Creek and Edgemont.

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Council members were most amenable to CapU’s request to build its first student housing on what is today a parking lot on the north side of the campus. The 207-room, 362-bed dormitory project doesn’t require rezoning but it will require council to grant variances for a building permit.

The school’s leadership is hoping to have it fully built by August 2022 when their current lease on older dormitory buildings at a former international school off campus on Dollarton Highway expires.

Rental rates are projected to be $800 a month for a shared room or $1,000 for a private room, and students would be required purchase a meal plan and eat in the shared cafeteria.

The only concerns raised by council were a potential shortage of bicycle parking and whether the 191 lost vehicle parking spaces would send CapU students looking for street parking in the surrounding neighbourhood.

“Obviously that area is under stress now,” said Mayor Mike Little.

Others, however, saw the loss of parking as a positive.

“I’m really pleased to see a proposal that is on a parking lot. It’s a much better use of space,” said Coun. Megan Curren.

Council also appeared largely receptive to developer Norman Laube’s proposal to redevelop five single-family homes at 1547-1599 Crown St. into a six-storey purpose-built rental building.

The proposal includes 85 rental units, nine of which would be rented at below-market rates for people earning roughly $30,000 to $85,000 per year.

“New rental of this type is obviously needed. It’s obviously part of the solution to our crisis around housing affordability and we obviously need the below-market feature of this and others like it. I’m totally supportive of rental projects of this type coming forward,” said Coun. Jim Hanson.

Coun. Mathew Bond noted that only about three per cent of the district’s housing stock is purpose-built rental.

“And the overwhelming majority of those existing purpose-built rentals are old,” he said.

The only debate by council was whether the 0.75 parking stalls per unit was too much or not enough.

crown street
A proposed all-rental project on Crown Street. image supplied

A proposed heritage revitalization project at 3700-3718 Edgemont Blvd., however, will face a much more difficult prospect of being passed by council if the comments at Monday’s committee meeting are any indication.

The proposal would see a 1951 fourplex designed by local architect and early West Coast Modern master Fred Hollingsworth restored and given heritage protection while the remainder of the property is built up with either 25 duplex units or 33 row houses.

Fred Hollingsworth's 1951 fourplex on Edgemont Road. photo supplied

The proposal has the backing of heritage advocates but most members of council expressed reservations about so many new units being added outside a town centre.

“This just seems, with a 25-unit increase, that it’s a larger increase in density than I was contemplating for the site,” said Little.

Hanson said he too had that same impression, but he added if council intends to follow through on its strategic plan to save heritage buildings from demolition, they would have to entertain projects like the one before them.

District staff and the proponents will use council’s input to further refine the proposals.

Coun. Betty Forbes did not attend the meeting.

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