We recently reported on North Vancouver District Council’s January 7 vote to extend the community consultation period regarding Lynn Valley town planning proposals. LynnValleyLife invited readers to familiarize themselves with the relevant issues and background information and then to fill out a feedback questionnaire for possible publication. We appreciate the responses we’ve received, and welcome them on an ongoing basis.
The letters below may have been edited for clarity, grammar, length, and suitableness. We have made it clear that we wish to provide a forum for discussion that is both passionate and productive; inflammatory accusations may fulfil the first of those requirements, but rarely the latter.
Town centre proposals will make for a vibrant community
From Darlene Clarke
1. What is your personal history here in Lynn Valley? I have lived in Lynn Valley for 14 years. I am married with two teenagers. We live close to Westover School (one of the reasons that we chose the house that we did). When my children were in their primary school years, Westover was closed due to declining enrolment. We love the Lynn Valley community and especially love living close to Lynn Canyon for hiking and walking.
2. How familiar are you with the town planning process? Did you get involved in any workshops or open houses, etc? Somewhat familiar. I have attended all the workshops and open houses that I was aware of and available to attend. Unfortunately, I did not hear about all of them so missed some that I would have liked to attend.
3. What are some of your greatest hopes or specific wishes for the Lynn Valley of the future? A vibrant, multigenerational and multicultural community with its roots in and support for the environmental amenities on the North Shore. A community that thinks like a Village within the larger North Vancouver and North Shore.
4. How well do you think the currently proposed town centre plan would fulfill those hopes? From what I know I think the impact of the proposed town centre plan would be positive. I would like my children to be able to find a home that they could afford within the community. When I am older and have to move from our single family home, I would like to have a choice to be able to stay in Lynn Valley.
The densification that the town centre would provide should give our community the economies of scale to be able to receive much more effective transit.
I think the Lynn Valley Centre/Village is the heart of our community. Currently Lynn Valley mall is slowly decaying. Once Zellers leaves, the mall will go downhill even faster. The town centre plan would allow revitalization of this critical area of our community.
I support the proposed town centre plan.
5. What concerns might you have with the high rises, or other aspects of the town centre proposals? Conversely, what do you see as their potential benefits? Benefits are listed above. Concerns are solely with the issues related to increased transportation. Even with better transit, there will be many more cars and the need for more parking spaces. I would also want the new buildings to be built to LEED standards and include charging facilities for electric vehicles. I would like North Vancouver to take a page from the City of Vancouver’s development requirements.
7. Any other comments you’d like to share? I would like to be added to a mailing list that lets people know when meetings/events are being held regarding Lynn Valley development. Does such a thing exist? [Editor’s note: Yes, such a thing exists! Send a note to email@example.com and ask to be put on the email distribution list for Lynn Valley town planning.]
A friend of mine is planning to move into a condo from a single-family dwelling and would like to stay on the North Shore. Since she is planning to purchase an electric vehicle in the near future, she requires EV charging in her condo parking area. She has not been able to find a single condo on the North Shore that has electric vehicle charging capability so she is now looking at having to more to the City of Vancouver. We can do better than this!
Future requires vision and cooperation
From Janet Dysart
1. What is your personal history here in Lynn Valley? I have lived and worked on the North Shore since 1975. My children were born North Vancouver and attended school in beautiful Lynn Valley. As an immigrant to Canada many years before, I have found friendship here and a home from home . This is a community that flourishes and cares for its natural beauty, wildlife and mostly for its people….A place such as this is very special and we must do all we can to preserve it while allowing for some change.
2. How familiar are you with the town planning process? Did you get involved in any workshops or open houses, etc.? The OCP was a huge learning process for us all, but along the way we had some laughter and gained new ideas. It was a chance to understand local politics and policies and maybe alter some of them! I attended almost every workshop and open house, and was allowed to give my views as a community member easily and without criticism.
3. What are some of your greatest hopes or specific wishes for the Lynn Valley of the future? Lynn Valley must adapt to the future. What we have is precious, and we can keep it and value it, but we must also provide some economic, employment and livable opportunities for our younger population to give them the chance to stay here or move here to work and play. It would also be wonderful if we enabled the generation that helped build Lynn Valley to stay here, to perhaps downsize, or to move closer to shopping, and gathering/meeting places.
4. How well do you think the currently proposed town centre plan would fulfill those hopes? If the planning is done as we all hoped there will be a chance
to live well here. Public transit, road safety, road usage, and lack of cycling lanes (in what is a cycling community) are a problem and must be addressed. Environmental issues to be considered are more pervious grounds, preservation of our famous streams and ponds and urban forests, pollution reduction and accessibility for all. Green roofs, green living walls, green areas within the town centre, trees (not just deciduous but also coniferous) and less cemented parking lots will help. We do not want to see a concrete jungle as we have now again.
5. What concerns might you have with the high rises, or other aspects of the town centre proposals? I personally believe there are too many high-rises planned as the design stands today. I do understand that we need higher density, but just how much can this community accept? There has to be a happy medium that we collectively can reach.
Too much has been incorrectly stated by those people opposing any change; those who probably did not attend any of the LV Town centre design and planning workshops; and those who think that change is simply not acceptable. The developer will not build if both sides do not compromise and come to an understanding together.
6. What do you see as potential benefits of the proposed higher density residences (high rises), or other aspects of the town centre proposals? There is a huge opportunity to have a community centre as a feature of this development, somewhere that all age groups can meet, learn, share their interests/knowledge and create a focal point for Lynn Valley residents to enjoy their community. Higher density may mean our shopping area will become more vibrant with employment opportunities for all. It desperately needs modernizing and has to appeal to young and old – right now it is “boring”. I’d like to see more walking space and fewer roads in the centre!
7. Any other comments you’d like to share? Certainly have a youth centre at Karen Magnussen Rec Centre, but a seniors centre must be an integral part of the new Town Centre for accessibility, community growth, and centralization of seniors services. They need to be able to walk to shops, coffee houses and doctors, rehab etc. Show our residents that we can have it all if we become involved, cooperate instead of oppose, and above all enjoy what we have. Resistance to densification is damaging locally as we plan collectively to move forward.
My brother lives in a European town with a town centre in which heritage buildings have been preserved, but the centre is mostly composed of wonderful walking streets with big and small stores, several offices, and restaurants with tables and colourful umbrellas outside on the plaza shared by all businesses. (Photo above)
I’d like to finish with quotes from Peter Simpson and Mayor Richard Stewart (Coquitlam) in January 12, 2013 Saturday’s Vancouver Sun:
Peter Simpson: Many thousands of people will move to Metro Vancouver over the next few years, and they will need a variety of housing options. We can’t be building moats and pulling up the drawbridges.
Mayor Stewart: Metro Vancouver is in a unique position. We can draw a hard line around development, as we have, or we can continue to allow urban sprawl. But if we don’t want urban sprawl, then our neighbourhoods will have to evolve. People must understand that planning principles involve greater densities in our futures. We must respond to housing demand, and anyone who thinks we can ignore housing demand is wrong.
High rises would destroy neighbourhood integrity
From Terence H. Winkless
1. What is your personal history here in Lynn Valley? We moved to Lynn Valley from Fairview because we were seeking a less dense, peaceful environment, close to nature and with less traffic, smog, congestion and crime where we could raise our daughter. We chose Lynn Valley because of the limits on building further into the mountain, which meant to us, less density and more peace.
2. How familiar are you with the town planning process? Did you get involved in any workshops or open houses, etc? I am not very familiar with the planning process. I was not involved with it. I saw no advertising for it in my local press or on the Internet, my primary news source.
3. What are some of your greatest hopes or specific wishes for the Lynn Valley of the future? My greatest hope is that Lynn Valley can grow without imploding. The Branches building on 27th [across from Safeway] is an excellent example of what belongs in LV. It is discreet and exquisite. We’d like to see more of that on a gradual basis. Simultaneous building of many structures is a nightmare.
4. How well do you think the currently proposed town centre plan would fulfill those hopes? It would demolish that hope.
5. What concerns might you have with the high rises, or other aspects of the town centre proposals? The proposed town centre would destroy the integrity of the neighbourhood, leave a massive carbon footprint, and create traffic gridlock beyond repair, especially considering the project at the bottom of the hill. It portends wrecking the entirety of North Vancouver for the inability to access it. Clearly one hand is not talking to the other.
6. What do you see as potential benefits of the proposed higher density residences (high rises), or other aspects of the town centre? There are no benefits to putting more people into the same amount of space as before, especially considering there will be no additional road improvements. Mountain Highway is already chaotic and deadly. Putting five rats in a cage designed for two results in a lot of dead rats, finger-pointing, blame being laid, and elections being lost.
7. Any other comments you’d like to share? We moved to this suburb because we wanted a suburb. If we wanted a dormitory, affordable by young people with minimal education and money, we would have gone to Metrotown or stayed in Fairview. We will fight these towers with every legal means available.
Town plan would foster diversity and amenities
From Barry Rueger
1. What is your personal history here in Lynn Valley? I haven’t lived here for 22 years, didn’t buy a house here in 1987, and don’t have fond memories of what Lynn Valley may have been 30 or 40 years ago. Instead I moved here about five years ago after living in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, and Whitesburg, Kentucky. What this means is that I’ve seen a lot of cities; rural, urban, and suburban, and can look at Lynn Valley with fresh insight.
2. How familiar are you with the town planning process? Did you get involved in any workshops or open houses, etc? Although I haven’t been part of the workshops and information sessions, I expect that my understanding of planning processes is as good or better than most people. I’ve been part of projects in other places that involved re-inventing or revitalizing neighbourhoods, and no matter where I lived I’ve been a keen follower of local government and planning.
3. What are some of your greatest hopes for the Lynn Valley of the future? I look at the Lynn Valley Village that surrounds the Library, and think that this is exactly the kind of development we need. I expect that many people groused and complained as it was developed and built, but don’t think that anyone can say it is less than a great success.
In particular I look at the crowds that visit during any event or concert, and think that this is the kind of development that builds a community. The Village offers a really nice collection of “urban”-type businesses and services – the kind of things that you won’t see in a mall. It provides a great meeting place for community events like the farmers’ markets, pet days, and concerts; and thanks to Browns and Delany’s it especially provides a destination place for coffee or dinner.
4. How well do you think the proposed town centre plan will fulfill your hopes? I’ve actually looked over the proposals on the DNV website, and I think that the proposed developments will build on the success described above. As nice as the amenities are in The Village, they also require a population that can support the type of businesses that you find there. The residential community that would be developed would be a perfect complement to the kinds of stores and services that have appeared since the Village opened, and would encourage the development of more, similar businesses.
I’m very concerned about the future of the existing Lynn Valley Mall. The loss of Zellers as an anchor tenant will likely hurt the other stores in that end of the Mall. These are all Mom and Pop businesses, and they rely on walk-through traffic for a fair bit of their income. Once Zellers goes, some of these stores will also be forced to close. Save-On-Foods customers alone are not enough to keep all of those businesses alive.
Once Zellers has closed there will be a two or three-block stretch of 27th with nothing but vacant buildings on the north side of the street. That is not a good thing. The faster those properties are redeveloped, the better for everyone.
5. What do you see as benefit(s) that would come with the higher density residences (high rises)? Benefits would include more people, probably younger people, and a demand for the kinds of amenities that Lynn Valley lacks. As much as I love the butcher and the baker in the Mall, the truth is that I find myself travelling elsewhere for an awful lot of my shopping because the selection of goods and services in Lynn Valley is just too limited. I would love to see another couple of mid- to high-end restaurants, and perhaps a bar with live music.
6. Do you have any concerns that stem from the town centre proposals? Honestly, we have a planning process in place, and a staff at the District to oversee these things. I’m prepared to assume that they’ve looked closely at questions like traffic, parking, transit, and such, and don’t see the point in second guessing them on those things.
7. Any other comments you’d like to share?
Two quick things:
1) Traffic? TRAFFIC? In Lynn Valley?? In an average week I travel several times from the top of Lynn Valley Road to Grand Boulevard, and from Lonsdale and Osborne across to Mountain Highway. A two-minute delay driving from Save-On to Sutherland Secondary is not “traffic.” Traffic is 90 minutes each way on the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto. Traffic is solid grid-lock at Georgia and Burrard. Traffic is any major freeway in Detroit, Chicago, or Los Angeles.
2) I’m baffled by the pamphlet from the the anti-highrise folks, who on one hand want Lynn Valley to stay “family friendly,” but on the other hand complain about adding more homes because schools would be “overcrowded”. Does this mean that they only want childless couples to move here?
From Barbara Dodimead
1. What is your personal history here in Lynn Valley? I have been a resident of Lynn Valley since 2000.
2. How familiar are you with the town planning process? Did you get involved in any workshops or open houses, etc? I wasn’t involved in any workshops or open houses but I was aware of the Lynn Valley Community Plan and the potential for re-development in this area.
3. What are some of your greatest hopes for the Lynn Valley of the future? Housing which is more affordable than is currently available in Lynn Valley and housing options for residents of Lynn Valley who choose to downsize from their larger homes. I also want a “town centre” with lots of green space.
4. How well do you think the proposed town centre plan will fulfill those hopes? I think this development will fulfill my hopes.
5. What do you see as benefit(s) that would come with the higher density residences (high rises)? More green space, housing which will be more affordable than what is currently available and more housing options for seniors. While searching for a single-level condominium for my mother three years ago in Lynn Valley the choices were very limited. There were some lovely townhouses, but as they had multiple levels this was not ideal for someone with mobility challenges.
6. Do you have any concerns that stem from the town centre proposals? I was initially concerned because many local residents felt that this project would bring greater density, more crime, more pollution, and more traffic. But when I did my own research, I discovered that researchers have looked at higher density and crime statistics and there is no link between higher density developments and an increase in crime.
Studies have also shown higher-density developments decrease pollution. A recent study by J.S. Miller (2011) determined that “higher density actually decreased carbon dioxide emissions by about 14% per person as compared to low land use developments.”
Furthermore, high-density developments have a greater efficiency in use of public service and infrastructure. It is a common misconception that higher density increases traffic. In areas where a transit system is already in place, traffic actually decreases. Studies in downtown Vancouver have proven this.
7. Any other comments you’d like to share? I am frustrated that many local residents seem to be reacting as if this project has been thrust on us with no consultation. Council began community-based planning in the mid-1990s, leading to the 1998 Lynn Valley Local Area Plan which brought us the Library Town Square, plus changes in the housing options in the area (eg. duplexes, triplexes and apartments).
We all need to get involved in our community by looking at the North Vancouver District website, attending council meetings, or meeting Mayor Walton at the local library so that we can all understand the challenges faced by our community and some of the tough decisions that need to be made rather than just being critical of change without offering any alternative solutions.
Furthermore, I applaud the Lynn Valley Community Association (of which I am not a member) for not allowing people to attend the (formerly proposed) November 21st meeting unless they were members before November 1st. People on these and other committees have worked countless hours to make our community better, and there has been ample opportunity for people to be involved in the process. I personally think that many of those coming to the table at this late date will not be offering any solutions, but simply will be critical of decisions proposed by those who have taken the time to try to understand and offer solutions to some of the issues facing our community.