District of North Van rezones Delbrook lands for housing, park and seniors

District of North Vancouver council has given their blessing to a seniors’ care facility, four floors of low-to-moderate income housing and 3.5 acres of parkland on the Delbrook lands.

In November 2018, the newly sworn-in council voted down a five-storey affordable housing project on the parking lot at 600 West Queens Rd. after it proved unpopular with its Delbrook neighbours. But council voted unanimously Monday night to rezone the site with a more demure option, and adjoining park.

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How many units of housing will be in the four-storey building, how many bedrooms they’ll have and what the rents will be are all yet to be determined as, unlike the previous proposal, there is no non-profit proponent waiting to build the project.

Coun. Jim Hanson said the latest version represented a compromise of community interests that council should be proud of.

“Some say that we should have put a larger building on the site to accommodate more affordable units. Others will say, notwithstanding all that we have done to come to this point, that the building is still too high,” he said. “I think that’s the hallmark of good local government is listening to the community and finding the path that might not make one side completely happy. … I believe this council and this community can be confident that the project is proceeding with broad community support.”

Coun. Mathew Bond, one of the two council members who supported the previous Delbrook proposal, supported the rezoning but added he did so reluctantly.

“We know from our affordable housing strategy that we need an additional 600 to 1,000 affordable rental homes in the district by 2026. That’s only seven years away from now,” he said. “In my mind compromising 20 affordable homes for 20 households in need for esthetic preferences of five storeys versus four, is not a fair compromise.”

Mayor Mike Little expressed confidence the district would be able to find a non-profit willing to build and operate the affordable housing and seniors care facility, and said he hoped pre-zoning land would provide certainty for both non-profits and the neighbours.

“I hope that it is a model going forward – that we can find a successful project in this. I just think that creating a situation where we don’t have a conflict between the neighbours and a potential tenant was worth the effort to go back and re-examine this project and try to find a way forward,” he said.

Coun. Lisa Muri said it was refreshing to see a project come before council with some consensus behind it, rather than divisiveness. Had the previous council listened more closely to the neighbours and been more willing to compromise, “this building probably would have been built by now.”

“Obviously there’s never enough. There’s never going to be enough for all the people that want to come move to the region, not just the district,” she said.

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