West Vancouver OKs seniors residence expansion

West Vancouver council has given the go ahead for an expansion of a once controversial private seniors’ residence and assisted living facility in the Sentinel Hill neighbourhood.

Amica Lions Gate (formerly Maison Senior Living), won approval for a 48-unit, six-storey building on two lots immediately west of its current location at the corner of Taylor Way and Keith Road.

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The project would include 32 new parking stalls, although most of the senior residents would not drive.

When the original 90-unit Maison project came before council in 2014, it was deeply divisive and especially unpopular with its closest neighbours who warned it would send their property values plummeting and clog the adjacent streets with traffic and people looking for parking.

But when the expansion was up for its public hearing July 8, it was almost unanimously supported by members of the public – including some who led the opposition to the original project.

Eden Place resident George Dunn introduced himself as one of those vocal critics but he had no difficulty telling council he had been wrong about his prognostications about land values, traffic and neighbourhood character.

“It proves our negative concerns were not necessary,” he said. “If there was any change, I have to say, after the building, it improved our local image.”

Not every neighbour agreed though. Lawrence Higa asked council to find a way to mitigate parking pressures brought by new employees.

“Nothing is being done to alleviate the parking that’s been taken by the employees,” he said. “I’m not saying that building shouldn’t be built. I like the fact that there’s something for seniors.”

As part of the rezoning, the district will receive $219,000 in community amenity contributions, a sum that was independently vetted by an outside consultant.

Council’s support for the project was unanimous.

“What a difference four and a half years makes,” said Coun. Nora Gambioli. “This is purpose-built seniors housing in West Vancouver so this is pretty rare. … The community needs this. The OCP supports this. And our decisions, as always, must reflect what’s best for the whole community, not for individuals who might have a few concerns.”

Coun. Craig Cameron agreed and said it was refreshing to see the neighbouring community have a change of heart.

“I think there’s a lesson for all of us in this,” he said. “Some of the fears that people have about change and about new things in the community aren’t necessarily borne out when those changes happen.”

Mayor Mary-Ann Booth did not attend the meeting.

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