City of North Van delays decision on Upper Lonsdale development

Fate of application for 2601 Lonsdale Ave. awaits full council vote

The City of North Vancouver is waiting until a full council is present before voting on whether or not to send a proposed 44-unit development on Lonsdale Avenue onto the public hearing stage.

Council appeared to reach an impasse during Monday’s meeting when once again considering Pezzente Holdings Inc.’s proposal to build a six-storey building at 2601 Lonsdale Ave. that would contain 27 rental apartment units and 17 strata units.

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Councillors that were present for the Feb. 5 meeting had previously rejected the applicant’s proposal to move the project onto the public hearing stage, instead directing the proposal back to staff to take another look at.

But Mayor Darrell Mussatto brought the proposal back to council for reconsideration Monday, citing the need to act quickly to do something on the Upper Lonsdale site.

The property at 2601 Lonsdale Ave. has been vacant for more than a year after a fire last February destroyed the previous three-storey walk-up apartment that was there.

“If we don’t do something, that building is going to sit and it’s going to sit in a very derelict way for a long time and we need to get the process going,” Mussatto said. “I want to see something happen here.”

Coun. Craig Keating agreed the project should be pushed through to the public hearing stage.

He acknowledged that local residents and neighbours took issue with aspects of the proposed development but countered that sending the project to public hearing, not back to staff, was the best way to address those issues.

“I don’t think we can even begin to sort through the issues that people have with this unless we have a public hearing,” Keating said. “I’m not in favour of that model that says what we’re going to do instead is after all this length of time, and with a decrepit empty building sitting there, is to go back to some kind of behind the scenes discussion between the developer and city staff.”

Coun. Holly Back said she would like to “hear from more people” regarding the proposed development and was in favour of seeing it move onto public hearing.

Nearly a dozen local residents spoke during Monday’s public input period, with several expressing concern regarding building height and how the proposed development could impact local parking and the flow of traffic.

Pezzente’s application, which also includes 36 stalls of underground parking, also calls 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.

Coun. Pam Bookham, who was not in favour of seeing the proposal proceed to public hearing, noted the proposed development could impact a local green space nearby the site, the loss of which could negatively affect the community.

“It’s available for the public as a whole. And it’s much needed given the lack of green space along that Lonsdale corridor,” she said.

Coun. Don Bell wasn’t in favour of “dragging this out for the applicant” if changes to the proposal needed to be made and stated council should send it back to staff before proceeding to public hearing.

Coun. Rod Clark acknowledged the developer’s deep roots in the community but said the proposal in its current state wasn’t ready to move forward.

“The community has risen up here and is expressing grave concerns,” Clark said. “I think quite honestly we’re just too far apart – the developer and the community – at this point in time to go to a public hearing.”

Coun. Linda Buchanan did not attend Monday’s meeting, leaving council with a 3-3 split. Council has deferred voting on the matter until a later date.            

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