Towering concerns touch Lynn Valley
A couple hundred people packed a District of North Vancouver council meeting Monday, as vocal resistance to high-density neighbourhoods in North Vancouver continues.
Most were there to protest the Lynn Valley Town Centre Implementation Plan, a rigorous public consultation process on the future of new development in Lynn Valley. Attendees told council they felt the consultation plan would merely pay lip-service to residents’ concerns while high-rise development plans for Lynn Valley would go ahead regardless of the public’s wishes.
In actual fact, the implementation plan is just the next step in the district’s Official Community Plan (OCP), a long-term growth management strategy ratified in 2011 after two years of public consultations. That next step, approved unanimously by council Monday, merely directs staff “to undertake an intensive and focused community engagement initiative in early 2013 to seek further feedback to shape and refine the Lynn Valley Town Centre Implementation Plan.”
Still, outside the meeting residents circled petitions and passed out leaflets decrying a supposed 24-storey commercial-condo development plan for the Lynn Valley town centre.
Council took pains to clarify that any such development could only occur if the majority of residents called for it during the consultations, which will begin in the coming months. However, mayor and council agreed that change is coming to Lynn Valley, regardless, and it will include higher density development and more market housing, as laid out in the OCP.
Mayor Richard Walton expressed regret that high housing costs have prevented young people from staying on the North Shore and said the OCP was partially designed to fill that affordability gap with other forms of housing besides single-family homes.
a“I’ve got four adult children and one lives in a house with six others, two are renting apartments and one is renting a townhouse,” Walton said. “None have lived in this community; they can’t afford to.”
Coun. Doug MacKay-Dunn agreed, saying the district must allow new housing modes, “otherwise, this community will quite frankly die on the vine.”
While all on council voted in favour of directing staff to start the Lynn Valley engagement process, Coun. Lisa Muri was the most empathetic to those opposed to any change in the valley.
“We talk about a 20-year plan but it seems in a lot of areas everything’s happening in like six months,” Muri said. “And it’s freaking people out and I’m one of them. We have to slow down, we have to step back.”
The meeting came less than a month after district council drew opposition for granting preliminary approval to a condo tower development at Seylynn Village. Meanwhile, tempers continue to simmer in the City of North Vancouver over Onni’s high-rise proposal for the Safeway site at 13th Street and Lonsdale Avenue. That project is due for a second public hearing later this month.