Affordable rental homes for school staff proposed for North Vancouver redevelopment

Feb 1 2019, 10:43 pm

The largest single redevelopment project on the North Shore could potentially include ample affordable rental housing units for teachers and supporting staff of the North Vancouver School District (NVSD).

A memorandum of understanding that will be signed by NVSD, local developer Darwin Properties, and the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation outlines a potential affordable rental housing component within the developer’s proposed North Shore Innovation District (NSID).

North Shore Innovation District

Site of the North Shore Innovation District in North Vancouver. (Darwin Construction)

North Shore Innovation District

Site of the North Shore Innovation District in North Vancouver. (Darwin Construction)

Darwin Properties revealed last year its proposal to transform a largely undeveloped 45-acre site at Dollarton Highway in the Maplewood Village area into a 2.3 million-sq-ft mixed-use district with about 700 homes, live-work spaces, nearly 1 million-sq-ft of office space, close to 90,000-sq-ft of creative industry space, and about 280,000-sq-ft ‘innovative’ education space.

There would also be a community-serving retail component, 132,000-sq-ft of recreational space for the new and relocated home of the North Shore Winter Club, and ample park and open spaces.

The residential component will be comprised of close to 250 market ownership units and the remaining 450 units will be for non-market rental units, with rates set at 10% below the market rent and dedicated to those working within the North Shore.

North Shore Innovation District

Artistic rendering of the North Shore Innovation District in North Vancouver. (Darwin Construction)

North Shore Innovation District

Artistic rendering of the North Shore Innovation District in North Vancouver. (Darwin Construction)

Deneka Michaud, a spokesperson for the school district, told Daily Hive the exact number of non-market rental units dedicated to school district staff has yet to be determined, but the units will be available to all staff, including education assistants, support staff, principals, and custodial staff. Not just teachers.

The measure demonstrates the extent of the challenges staff face with working in the North Shore.

According to a recent NVSD employee engagement survey, 40% of employees commute to work, with 18% commuting for about an hour, travelling from areas as far as Aldergrove and Abbotsford daily. Overall, 21% of employees in the school district said their work was being impacted by commuting and transportation challenges.

North Shore Innovation District

Artistic rendering of the North Shore Innovation District in North Vancouver. (Darwin Construction)

North Shore Innovation District

Artistic rendering of the North Shore Innovation District in North Vancouver. (Darwin Construction)

“To support staff and create nurturing and healthy work environments, the school district is taking creative steps to help employees with the quality of life concern of unaffordable housing,” said Michaud.

“All school district employees, including teachers, education assistants, support staff, principals, custodial staff, and the like, should be able to live within the community they work in, if they choose to do so.”

The NVSD employs 2,500 staff members to operate its 25 elementary schools and seven high schools.

Last summer, the previous North Vancouver District Council decided to delay a decision on the developer’s rezoning application for the innovation district until after the fall election. A portion of the development site is occupied by a former boarding school that is currently being leased to Capilano University as 250 beds of student housing.

North Shore Innovation District

Artistic rendering of the North Shore Winter Club at the North Shore Innovation District in North Vancouver. (Darwin Construction)

North Shore Innovation District

Site of the North Shore Innovation District in North Vancouver. (Darwin Construction)

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