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Mixed-use development pitched as the future 'heart of Lynn Creek'

The District of North Vancouver council is considering a 404 unit mixed-use development, with 207 rental homes, at 1510-1530 Crown Street and 420-460 Mountain Highway.

A proposal for a mixed-use development pitched as the future “heart of Lynn Creek,” which will bring hundreds of new homes and new amenities to the area, has inched closer to becoming a reality.

IBI Architects has applied to the District of North Vancouver, on behalf of Fairborne Homes, to create a mixed-use development with 404 units in the Lynn Creek Town Centre.

The proposal includes 197 strata units, 162 market rental units, 45 non-market rental units, and commercial space, all in a mix of buildings ranging from seven to 24 storeys which would be built on a 2.4 acre (0.97 ha) site on the east side of Mountain Highway, north of Crown Street, which includes the existing Dykhof Nurseries commercial operation land and five single-family lots.

The development boasts space for a grocery store, neighborhood retail, and childcare for over 100 children. Other public benefits of the plan include the creation of a new plaza and a pedestrian use pathway, that will connect the new Community Centre to Marie Place Park in the green spine, and land dedication for a new North South Lane connecting Crown Street to Hunter Street.

The proposal returned to council on March 29, having first been reviewed and referred back to staff and the applicant for changes on Nov. 2, 2020.

The updated application received a mix of positive and negative reviews from councillors, but in the end, council voted four to three in support of staff preparing bylaws and rezoning and development permits for further council consideration.

Speaking at the meeting, Chris Philps, president of Fairborne Homes, said through the development, with its many amenities, they were “looking to create the heart of Lynn Creek.”

He said the new application addressed many of council’s previous concerns expressed about tower height, rental housing, and parking strategies.

“We've reduced the tower height by five stories from 29 to 24, increased the number of rental homes in the midrise buildings,” he said. “These changes added 57 more rental homes for a total of 207 rental homes. Also, we've advanced our discussions with a local housing provider to ensure the 45 below-market homes will support children, youth, adults and families in the local community.”

He said the amount of parking had also been reduced (from 473 bays to 461) and they were working with a car-share provider. On top of this, Philps said there were two bicycle spaces for every home, along with new bike and bus bay infrastructure. He added that the project will offer a fossil-fuel-free mechanical system for all residential homes that will achieve a reduction of 80 per cent greenhouse gas intensity to further support sustainability, and they’d committed to installing green roofs on all buildings.

While a lot of changes were made, Coun. Jim Hanson tried to quash the proposal putting forward a motion not to support the development, which was backed by coun. Lisa Muri.

“One of the things that I hear people say is, ‘as a matter of common sense, you can't just keep building these towers and packing people in and packing in the cars if you don't have a plan to increase and improve transportation infrastructure’” he said.

“It's simply not something that the community broadly is going to support at this time.”

Hanson’s motion failed and a new motion to support staff’s recommendation, put forward by Coun. Mathew Bond, was supported. Hanson, Muri and Coun. Betty Forbes voted against it.

“In my experiences here on this council, there’s often an illogical tendency to place the blame for many of our existing problems, traffic being one of them, on new homes, and we've built a miniscule number of new homes,” Bond said.

Bond argued traffic congestion wasn’t caused by people who lived in North Vancouver but by people living elsewhere cutting through the area trying to avoid the highway, as well as “50 plus years of car-oriented planning.”

“Not changing anything is just going to perpetuate that,” he said. “We've tried in the District of North Vancouver, particularly east of the Seymour for 25 years to have a ‘no growth strategy,’ and what did that do for traffic? It did nothing.”

He said new developments in the district were “exciting” and it was important to continue offering infrastructure that will bring more affordable rentals, increased services, and welcome new people into the community.

Coun. Megan Curren said while the development may not tick all the boxes right now she was also in favour, noting she liked the environmental initiatives including its green roofs. She agreed it was “unfair to say other people can't live here because we live in a car-addicted society.”

“I think we have to change the car addiction and I think we have to do that through land use planning,” Curren said, adding she’d like to hear more from the community on the proposal.

Meanwhile, Coun. Jordan Back was in favour because of the amenities and vibrancy the development will bring to the area.

“It's all about the amenities that it's going to provide the people that are living in this area, which I think are sorely needed,” he said, noting he had heard excitement from residents about a new grocery store and child care facility.

Mayor Mike Little concluded that the applicant had “meaningfully revised the project to address the concerns raised by the council.”

“I think it's become a better project because of that and so I will be supportive of this proceeding,” he said.

The proposal will return to council for its first reading at a later date.