Skip to content

City of North Van rejects one rental building, accepts another

2601 Lonsdale gets 4-3 vote, 151 E. Keith defeated 4-3

Potential North Van renters got good news and then bad during Monday’s city council meeting.

Council voted 4-3 during the April 23 session in favour of going ahead with a 40-unit rental development at 2601 Lonsdale Ave., while an action-packed public hearing on whether to permit the development of three infill residential buildings consisting of 40 rental units at 151 East Keith Rd. was defeated.

Developer Pezzente Holdings originally proposed building a six-storey 44-unit development of mixed strata and rental, but recently agreed to make its project entirely rental and said it would limit it to five storeys following a public hearing last week that saw a horde of residents and neighbours weigh in on the fate of the project.

Many who spoke expressed concern with the developer’s plan to pay the city for a 9,625-square-foot stretch of roadway as well as a small greenspace to make room for the project’s floor space.

“I heard loud and clear at the public hearing last week that people want 26th Street open on an eastbound basis to facilitate traffic movement in the neighbourhood,” said Coun. Rod Clark, who voted against it. “Where’s the commonality? Where’s the middle ground? The middle ground is keeping 26th open.”

Coun. Pam Bookham criticized what she called the “fatal flaw” in the way that council went about contemplating the sale of density to the developer on the assumption that 26th Street would be closed. “We did that without any consultation with the neighbours who would be immediately impacted by that,” she said.

In lieu of 26th Street access and the community green-
space, Pezzente has said it will build a walkway connecting Lonsdale and Western avenues. The development also includes 36 underground parking spots.

“I think it’s a right place to put the density in this situation,” said Mayor Darrell Mussatto. “It’s on Lonsdale, it’s going to be half a block from the new Harry Jerome, it’s on the major transportation network, (and) it’s close to the highway for people driving.”

The project was also supported by Couns. Holly Back, Linda Buchanan, and Craig Keating.

Council, however, rejected a proposal by developer Starlight Investments that was looking to add three infill buildings totalling 40 rental units at 151 East Keith Rd.

Starlight already owns a 15-storey 89-unit rental building on site and was proposing building three infills – two four-storey buildings and one two-storey – on top of the its existing parkade structure.

Around 20 people spoke during Monday’s public hearing on the proposal, with many arguing that more rental housing was essential amid the city’s housing crisis, while others insisting that the proposal’s reduced setbacks would mean the new buildings would encroach on nearby Victoria Park.

“I really don’t think it’s a good idea to crowd the park,” said Coun. Holly Back, who voted against sending the development forward. “I think rental property is necessary but I also think it’s very necessary that we keep the people of our city happy.

Coun. Don Bell said he was not convinced “this particular location is the right location for what is being proposed,” while Coun. Clark lamented the idea to “shoehorn density everywhere in the city, especially around Victoria Park, which is a gem in the entire city.”

Starlight’s proposal would add 0.91 floor space ratio – which measures the proposed infill buildings’ total floor space against its lot size – and would have a maximum building height of 59 feet.

Coun. Linda Buchanan acknowledged neighbourhood concerns over what the addition of 40 new units might mean for parking, traffic, and surrounding greenspace, but she ultimately was in favour of the project. “Here’s what I value as well: I value ensuring that everybody in our community has a home.”

Starlight was also proposing connecting with Hollyburn Family Services to earmark four of the 40 proposed rental units for low-income seniors.

However, Coun. Bookham rejected the dichotomy that council’s decision had to be a choice between doing what’s popular and what’s necessary.

“The first speaker mentioned that in Victoria Park there’s a feeling of breathing space, and I believe that that intangible is going to be needed more than ever as we continue to densify throughout the rest of the city,” she said.

Couns. Back, Bell, Bookham, and Clark voted against sending the project forward following the public hearing and ensuing discussion. The development was defeated 4-3.

The mayor bemoaned the challenges that cities face – and the few tools they really have to deal with housing people – and urged council to consider the project on the basis of providing rental.

“We need to really look at ourselves and say, ‘How are we going to let young people stay here to enjoy what we’ve got?’” he said.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks