A five-storey affordable housing building proved to be too much for a neighbourhood in the District of North Vancouver, with councillors deciding on Monday night to reject the project.
Catalyst Community Developments Society proposed to turn 600 West Queens Road, the parking lot for the former Delbrook Community Recreation Centre, into a development with 80 non-market rental apartments and an 18 bed seniors’ respite care facility.
Under the proposal, the municipality would provide the land to the non-profit society at no cost. There would be 16 studio units, 41 one-bedroom units, 15 two-bedroom units, and eight three-bedroom units, with 20% below-market rents ranging between $1,000 to $1,660 per month. An underground parkade with 82 vehicle parking stalls would also be created.
However, council voted 5-2 against the project in response to an outcry from neighbourhood residents who were concerned about the building’s height and traffic.
“I’m voting against this proposal because we can do better. The local community raised serious concerns about designs, about the impact of this structure on their community, and from my point of view those concerns were never integrated into our analysis,” said councillor Jim Hanson, who also noted that he wanted to see more family-sized units and an integrated planning approach to the former community centre site.
“We need to find win-wins. We can’t impose our view of community planning on these local communities without appropriate input and consideration. They raised concerns about height, traffic, and parking.”
Mayor Mike Little, who voted against the project, said the newly-elected city councillors — apart from two returning councillors — did not have a chance to oversee the process by the previous council leading up to the public hearing.
“The council voting on it did not have the opportunity to participate in the hearing process as council and ask questions that would be answered on the record. My preference in this situation would be to open up an additional hearing night, allow the council to actually discuss the issue in the community,” said Little.
“I think we need go through and gently go back to the community associations and neighbours to find ways to change this project to make it more appetizing to the community.”
Councillor Jordan Back provided his support for the project, noting that such developments are needed in the North Shore as it helps fit the gap for the ‘middle generation’ and seniors.
“I’m not sure whether four storeys or five storeys would really change the character of the building or the views, but I do think it will have a great impact on the number of rental units that can be offered and the number of beds for respite care,” said Back. “With regards to traffic, I don’t have any huge concerns with respects to the development site, and I also noted in a staff report that this site is on a future frequent transit network.”
“I do think that tonight, if we are serious in our desire to create more rental housing amidst a housing crisis, I would urge my councillors to urge this project forward and not use it as some sort of political hot potato. It will provide housing to those who need it the most… and it’s going to do it without displacing a single resident.”
Following the rejection, staff with the municipal government will work with the non-profit society to determine the future of the project.
Editor’s note: A correction was made to the statements delivered by councillors Jordan Back and Jim Hanson during the meeting.