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It's not just Deep Cove that's losing its charm

Dear Editor: RE: Not just Deep Cove – the entire North Shore is rapidly losing its charm! I read with interest the comments from the residents and merchants of Deep Cove (Deep Cove Losing Its Charms to Tourist and Traffic Pressure , March 21).

Dear Editor:

RE: Not just Deep Cove – the entire North Shore is rapidly losing its charm!

I read with interest the comments from the residents and merchants of Deep Cove (Deep Cove Losing Its Charms to Tourist and Traffic Pressure, March 21).  They have every right to be frustrated with the congestion and parking issues in their community. Unfortunately, apathy from the residents in the rest of North Van is allowing the city to ram through projects with no regard to the consequences to the people who live in the areas.

Case in point is the proposed infill development at 151 East Keith Road by Starlight Developments.  

Despite bitter opposition to the project almost completed next door at 161 East Keith (an 18-storey monstrosity that was pushed through by council without regard to the thousands of signatures on a petition), the 93 units on that property will have parking based on 0.7 spaces per unit. Council says that will have no impact on the parking on East Keith or SIxth Street – even though parking is already at capacity on both streets.

The proposed infill for 151 is adding an additional 40 rental units to that property. Originally, it was 43 units but that has been amended due to the opposition from residents of the area. The official community plan provides for an existing density ( floor space ratio) of 2.3 and a maximum bonus of up to 1.0 FSR in exchange for a community amenity, in this case, rental housing. The developer has attempted to take maximum advantage of the bonus opportunity by going up to 0.96 FSR in its first submission. (We have not been provided the FSR for this new revision.) 

Currently, the building at 151 has 104 stalls. The original proposal was to decrease it to 93 stalls representative of 0.7 parking stalls per unit.  When we found that the plans had been altered, we asked how many stalls they would have in their new submission.  We were told 82 – representative of 0.6 per unit. The change to the bylaws in June 2017 to enable this for rental buildings was just slipped through as a “clarification” by the mayor and council of the City of North Vancouver.

The proposed infill for the 40 units includes no provision for parking. It is laughable that both Starlight Developments and North Van City council think this is acceptable on any front.  The building at 161 is not even ready for occupation yet and the 0.7 parking per those 93 units is going to have a major impact.  Nonetheless, the city will probably push through the infill development at 151 East Keith without researching or studying the impact when 161 is fully occupied.

Residents need to sit up and take notice. As with the building at 161, the infill will occupy the property from lot line to lot line. The precedent has already been set and, if it is not stopped, all properties around Victoria Park will be able to apply for infills. Infill developments face several challenges. The projects are more expensive to build; infill sites are sometimes constricted in available space; additional transportation and vehicle parking issues have to be addressed; and the need for architects and developers to “respond to the context” of the neighborhood – in other words, to create a development that fits into the “character” of the neighborhood. 

How does one define the “character” of a neighborhood? A neighborhood’s character goes well beyond how the buildings look – it’s about how people live and work there, how people move around, the scale of the neighborhood, and many other factors. Architects and planners should be asking themselves how people live in and interact with a place – and how they can support people living with broader, longer-term changes in the economy and environment.

The saddest part is that Victoria Park is a place of comfort and refuge for many. It is particularly evident on Remembrance Day when hundreds of people fill the park to commemorate the soldiers who fought and died for our country. The park will be a lot less used and appreciated when there is total unavailability for parking. 

Starlight had a public relations company recently distribute an information sheet to local businesses along the Lonsdale corridor (I know specifically of shops on East 14th) asking for them to support the project. From the flyer - it says 40 rental units will be added with 10 per cent below market rental rates - this means only four units!!  The renderings shown on the flyer are only for the townhouse components – it does not show the four-storey building that will block the view corridors from Sixth Street. In the project timeline it shows this all started in October 2016 and is now coming to the second last step. How can our planning staff and council allow this to have continued to this point?

Hopefully, other residents will voice their comments and objections through the North Shore News and by letters to council and Mayor Mussatto.

Victoria Thompson
North Vancouver

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