Four-storey Delbrook project on DNV docket this fall

This article has been amended.

With the hour nearing 11 p.m. and a six-week adjournment looming, District of North Vancouver council voted to consider a four-storey project on the former Delbrook rec centre site recently.

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The project could include one storey devoted to a community amenity such as a seniors respite centre with three storeys reserved for housing.

The July 22 discussion centred around a district survey that asked residents to vote on the size and scope of the project.

The survey, which offered three, four and five-storey options, broke largely along neighbourhood lines. Approximately 63 per cent of residents from outside the Delbrook neighbourhood opted for a five-storey project including a seniors respite centre. However, 50 per cent the respondents from the Delbrook neighbourhood favoured a three-storey building including a respite centre.

The results are clear, according to Coun. Lisa Muri.

“I’m sure it’s the lateness of the evening and the challenge to get through all of the information ... but the survey was very definitive,” she said, explaining her support for a three-storey project

Given that the discussion started at 10:30 p.m., Muri pushed for a deferral. “If we want to have a very broad conversation ... can we do it in the fall.”

Her deferral motion failed to gain traction with Mayor Mike Little emphasizing the need to give district staff direction prior to the summer break.

While he ultimately supported a four-storey project, Little said he would also be willing to support three storeys on the site.

“I realize that that makes us a little bit less likely to have a viable affordability partner,” he acknowledged. “But I do think that this will help us allay the concerns that the community has in terms of access/egress, the form and massing of the building.”

In order to provide between 600 and 1,000 social and affordable housing units over the next nine years, the district needs to use the Delbrook lands for their highest use, according to Coun. Mathew Bond.

Stating his preference for a six-storey project, Bond said a four-storey proposal was likely at the edge of viability.

“If we build a two-storey building, there’s no way it’s going to be affordable,” Bond said.

A smaller project would likely never get built and certainly wouldn’t garner support from B.C. Housing.

“I don’t think they’ve approved a project this small anywhere ... definitely not in a major metropolitan area.”

Little’s motion passed 5-2 with Bond and Back opposed.

In a 5-2 vote held last November, council rejected an 80-unit, five storey below market rental project along with a seniors’ respite centre on the parking lot site. The district was slated to provide the land and waive development fees while non-profit Catalyst Community Developments Society paid capital costs.

This article has been amended  to note that the project rejected last November was five storeys, not six.

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