District of North Van OK's affordable housing partner for Delbrook

Two years after rejecting an affordable housing and seniors respite project on the Delbrook Lands, District of North Vancouver council has found a non-profit partner to develop the site.

The district announced Thursday it had signed a deal with Hollyburn Family Services Society to build 86 rentals for low- to moderate-income households at 600 West Queens Rd., the parking lot of the old Delbrook Community Centre.

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“This marks a very positive step forward in a significant housing project in the community and we look forward to working with Hollyburn,” said Mayor Mike Little. “Delivering social housing in the district is a critical step to ensure residents can remain in our community in housing they can afford, close to their family and supports.”  

The district chose Hollyburn for the project after putting out a request for proposals from non-profits last year.

 “Over the past few years we have witnessed the challenge individuals and families have faced finding affordable housing in our community. We are very excited to work with the District of North Vancouver to develop much-needed housing for a mix of family sizes and incomes,” said Hollyburn Family Services Society chairperson Alan Kwinter.

Getting anything built, however, will be subject to Hollyburn getting capital funding from BC Housing. But Little said he is confident they will be successful.

“Since we are contributing the land, I would say it would be an A-pile project. [Hollyburn] has a long history of providing these kinds of services on the North Shore in partnership with the provincial government and the provincial government has actually been very responsive when municipalities are putting up the land,” he said.

Under BC Housing’s funding formula for new multi-family apartments, 20 per cent of the suites will be offered at shelter rates. Half of the units are capped at no more than 30 per cent of the gross income for households earning between $51,000 and $90,500 depending on the number of bedrooms. The remaining units will be offered at below-market rates for households with incomes in the $71,200 and $104,440 range.

In one of their first votes after being sworn in following the 2018 election council voted down Catalyst Community Development’s proposal for a five-storey, 80-unit rental project with suites offered at 20 per cent below market rates.

Catalyst was to take on the capital costs of building the project with the district leasing the land and waiving the usual development cost charges. The project had been shepherded through the process by the previous council, right up to the point of its final vote. A year later, council opted to pre-zone the land for a smaller four-storey affordable housing project and then seek out a partner who could build it. Council also dedicated the rest of the property as parkland.

Little said it is a much better system for municipalities to rezone first and find partners later, a process council will follow for other affordable housing proposals on district land going forward.

“I know it probably stung some people. I know it probably gave some people the impression we were going to be very cautious about these kinds of projects. Nothing could be farther from the truth,” he said, noting the district is pursuing affordable housing at several sites now. “The focus is on housing for persons with disabilities and their caregivers, seniors housing, rental options, a variety of ownership options, rather than just simply the market luxury stuff that was being produced in the first 10 years of the [official community plan].”

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