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No consensus from residents on Lynn Valley Town Centre plan
The consensus from the community — after four open houses attended by 1,200 people, 1,500 written submissions and 948 votes cast on the Lynn Valley Town Centre Implementation Plan — is there is no consensus.
Golder Associates was hired by the District of North Vancouver to gather residents’ input on building form, height, character and amenities for the heart of Lynn Valley. The plan projects a growth of 5,000 more residents over the next 20 years.
Following the release of the consultant's report this week, district council heard from a broad cross-section of the community on Monday evening.
John Neumann, former co-executive director of the North Shore Disability Resource Centre is concerned that affordable and accessible housing is a low priority for respondents of the survey.
"I want to remind you that between six and ten Canadians, including your neighbours, identify themselves as having a disability," Neumann told council.
"The list of the priorities in the report do not reflect our current or future reality: elderly parents unable to manage the physical barriers of the family home, friends who survived a stroke are forced to move from their supports due to inaccessible and unaffordable housing."
Hazen Colbert, vice-chair of the North Shore Alliance for Sensible Growth and a vocal opponent of high-rises in Lynn Valley, asked council to be cautious when reviewing the average ratings in the report for height options.
"Golder clearly confirmed that the 12- and 16-storey options were not supported," said Colbert. "To say that 12 storeys or 16 storeys came out ahead on the basis of average ratings is like saying prisoners on death row prefer a firing squad over hanging."
The Golder report revealed an under-representation of young people. Twenty per cent of survey respondents were younger than 30 years old, while half were over the age of 50.
Housing affordability was underscored by young people as a priority. Meanwhile, downsizing and transportation were topics that interested older residents.
A young speaker, who is on the cusp of turning 30 years old, is disheartened by the opposition to any change in the community, a sentiment expressed by some long-time Lynn Valley residents.
"Here's why doing nothing won't work the way they think it will," said the young man. "Lynn Valley is a very different place than what it was 30 years ago. Their experience living here was unique to them. And it can't be lived by anyone else except them."
He asked council to give the younger generation a chance to make Lynn Valley their home.
Using the Official Community Plan as a foundation, the consultants presented four options to the public during a series of open houses in June. The options differed in terms of building height, ranging from a maximum of 8 storeys to 22 storeys.
Feedback on the options was diverse, with no clear consensus reached. But respondents did agree on one thing: a desire for Lynn Valley to retain its mountain feel.
The top three ranked priorities listed in the report are parks and greenways, transportation and ecological health.
Coun. Mike Little was surprised by the feedback, saying he thought there was going to be a clear polarity in the community.
Coun. Doug MacKay-Dunn said Lynn Valley has seen a great deal of development and traffic congestion has worsened as a result.
“And residents, quite frankly, are tired. They are tired of all the changes,” added MacKay-Dunn.
He brought up the district’s other growth centres — Maplewood, Lower Capilano and Lower Lynn — saying those residents have embraced change.
Coun. Lisa Muri said she doesn’t want a line drawn in the sand as council moves towards the implementation stage of the Lynn Valley Town Centre plan.
“I want us to find a middle ground that we can all be comfortable with,” said Muri.
On Monday, council was presented with three potential directions for Lynn Valley implementation planning: delay the process at this time, agree on a five-storey building height limit which would reduce overall growth estimates or develop a planning framework to guide decision-making.
A main component of the latter option would include designating Lynn Valley as a “village centre” rather than a “town centre."
Coun. Alan Nixon made the following motion which passed unanimously: “That we refer items two and three back to staff with the objective being to report back to council in an expeditious manner on the financial and economic ramifications or consequences resulting from these two scenarios.”
More information on the Lynn Valley Town Centre Implementation Plan — including a copy of the consultant's report — is available online at identity.dnv.org.