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City of North Van sends 6-storey project back to square 1

44-unit building at Upper Levels to get traffic flow study

City of North Vancouver council sent a rezoning application for a proposed six-storey residential building on Lonsdale Avenue back to the drawing board Feb. 5, following concerns regarding building height, traffic flow and how the development could affect a nearby road and green space.

Pezzente Holdings Inc. is proposing a 44-unit building containing 27 rental apartment units and 17 strata units at 2601 Lonsdale Ave., a block north of the Upper Levels Highway.

Council voted 3-2 to reject the motion for the proposal to move to the public hearing stage, opting instead to direct it back to staff for another look.

“I noted that from most of the developer information sessions that most of the people in support weren’t living in the immediate area. It seemed they were from other parts of the North Shore,” said Coun. Don Bell, who voted against sending the project to public hearing, adding that he thought the proposal should be scaled down in size. “I don’t feel comfortable taking this to a public hearing. I would rather see it go back.”

Lisa Love was one of five people that spoke up about the development proposal during the public input period. She expressed concern over how the development could impact surrounding views in the neighbourhood.

“I bought there because of the view that I had and it was very important to me and it still is very important to me,” she said. “By all means put in a three-storey building. Don’t put a six-storey building there.”

The developer has proposed offering three of the 27 rental apartment units at below-market prices for a 10-year period in exchange for a density bonus.

The application has also called for the sale of a city-owned stretch of road on West 26th Street adjacent to the property in order to facilitate the development of the six-storey building, which could also include 36 stalls of underground parking.

This aspect seemed to irk some community members who noted in public info sessions and email exchanges with the city that the stretch of road on 26th was important for traffic flow, parking, and contained a small green space coveted by the neighbourhood.

“I’m particularly concerned about the loss of the existing green space,” said Coun. Pam Bookham, who voted against the motion. “In the early stages of discussion of this property I wasn’t aware of the amount of work that had gone into the maintenance of the vegetation that is basically between the proposed development and the property to the south.”

The sale of the road parcel could net the city approximately $2.46 million if it went through.

Coun. Linda Buchanan said she would like staff to go back and look further into how the proposed development could affect traffic flow in the area. While Buchanan didn’t vote to send the project along to the public hearing stage, she said the site needs to be redeveloped nonetheless.

“I would prefer to see it go back and work with the applicant, hear what the community has to say, and then come back with something that’s going to work for everybody,” she said.

The existing three-storey apartment on the site has been vacant and fenced off since last February after an apartment fire left 18 people homeless.

Mayor Darrell Mussatto said he would have liked to have seen the project move on to the public hearing stage Monday night, but noted residents’ concerns and hoped they could be addressed by staff moving forward.

He added that the currently vacant building needed to be replaced at some point either way and that its location close to the highway, Harry Jerome rec centre, and along the Lonsdale corridor made it a prime location for the city’s growing population.

“It is one of those areas where higher density is warranted and I think that we need to consider that as we move forward,” he said. “If you can’t put it here, where do you put that density?”

In addition to Mussatto, Coun. Holly Back was the only other council member who voted in favour of sending the project to public hearing.

Couns. Rod Clark and Craig Keating were absent from the meeting.