District of North Van puts townhouse project on ice

It’s not you, it’s us.

That’s what councillors in the District of North Vancouver appeared to tell a would-be townhouse developer Monday, in putting an eight-unit townhouse proposal for Edgemont Village on ice.

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Councillors voted 4-3 to put off consideration of the townhouse complex until after the official community plan review is finished, despite support from immediate neighbours of the project and general praise for the developer’s environmentally friendly approach.

Debate on the project at the council meeting fell along familiar lines, with those against moving forward citing “development fatigue” in the neighbourhood, the need to prioritize social and rental housing over more market units and the OCP review, while those in favour cited the need to speed up building of more diverse types of housing.

The project proposes redeveloping two single-family residential lots forming a triangle on the corner of Highland Boulevard and Woodbine Avenue and fronted by Canfield Crescent into eight townhouses in four two-storey buildings over a single underground parking lot. All of the proposed townhouse units would be three-bedroom, and approximately 1,400 or 1,500 square feet.

According to a staff report on the project presented to council, the developer is attempting to design the buildings to “passive house” energy standards and “is exploring building systems with zero fossil fuel use.”

Most of the 31 neighbours who showed up to an information meeting support the project, according to the staff report.

But the majority of council said the merits of the project itself didn’t sway them from larger concerns about the pace and types of development projects they want to see in the district.

canfield townhouses 2
Source: graphic supplied DNV

Coun. Jim Hanson who put forward the motion to defer consideration of the project said that “that is not a criticism of the proposal. ... The issue for me is one of community planning. Are we building a balanced and complete community?”

Hanson said the district has created enough pricey market housing and not enough rental, social and supportive housing.

“I also know that Edgemont Village in particular, continues to experience redevelopment fatigue. And in my view the residents, many residents at least, do not welcome further noise disruption and major inconvenience created by further construction at this time,” he said.

Coun. Lisa Muri agreed, saying the municipality has approved too many developments that people can’t afford while displacing people from affordable complexes like Emery Village.

Muri added residents are suffering from too much construction in a short space of time – including both residential projects and infrastructure upgrades. “We’ve got about 22 projects on the go right now,” she said. “They range anywhere from eight units to over 400. And let me tell you, those 400 – they take several years to build out.”

Coun. Betty Forbes said she, too, had campaigned on a platform of no more market housing until other housing needs were addressed.

A frustrated Coun. Mathew Bond spoke in favour of moving forward on the project saying the townhouse proposal was supported by the local community, adding “market housing” of two single-family homes, both with secondary suites could already be built under current zoning.

“Proposals for rental, affordable and social housing are not going to fall in our laps” unless the municipality buys and offers up the land, he added.

Bond added if council wants to defer all development applications until after the OCP, councillors should bring forward a motion saying that so everyone knows what to expect.

Mayor Mike Little said he was torn on the issue. “I think if not this [project] then what?” he said.

But Little said a previous series of projects approved in Edgemont had taken a toll on residents. “I’ve heard the community loud and clear when it comes to wanting relief from development pressures through another summer,” he said. “This council in my view got elected to be very selective” in the projects it puts forward.


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