LV’s Robin Hicks: DNV council candidate

LynnValleyLife asked each Lynn Valley-residing DNV council candidate to respond to a set of questions designed to help readers become acquainted with their views. Read about candidate Robin Hicks, below, and see our original story for links to all the candidate profiles.

What  prompted you to run for re-election?

I have enjoyed my last three terms during which many achievements were completed by Council. These included the completion of an Official Community Plan and the establishment of a Finance and Audit Committee, which I chair. Apart from the Mayor, I am the only Councillor with a financial background (CPA) and I believe we need leadership through a transition period with new Councillors.

Robin HicksWhat experience do you bring to the job that you believe would be valuable?

I have over 40 years of financial experience in business and local government. I have lectured and written manuals on municipal finance, including the provincial best practises guide on development cost charges and development finance. I also have a multi-generational family here on the North Shore.

I have represented the North Shore over four years as a member of Metro Vancouver’s Finance Committee and the last three years on the Utility Committee. This has enabled me to participate in the design and financing of the $1 billion dollar Water Treatment Plant near Rice Lake and the proposed Sewer Treatment Plant which will replace the current primary treatment at Lions Gate and cost an estimated $800 million.

The financial impacts of both projects are immense and in particular the major cost of the new Sewer Treatment Plant will be borne by the North Shore.

I have been involved in researching and presenting on asset management and I can assure you that our staff at DNV is leading the Province in sustainable repair and replacement of all our underground structures, roads and buildings.

I also have a multi-generational family involved in all aspects of the community so I have considerable experience in where we are and where we should be headed.

What do you appreciate about the manner in which DNV Council currently conducts its affairs?

We have no political party affiliations, are collegial and whilst often arguing from different perspectives, respect the varying opinions and move on after making a decision. We have often been described by external professionals as one of the most effective Councils in the region.

What would you like to see change?

I would like to research a more practical way of engaging with residents on important policy, development and capital programs. Many of these have enormous financial impact and unfortunately many residents only get involved when decisions have been made and then express their concerns.

Lynn Valley’s town planning process was long and, in some respects divisive. What was your experience with this process, and what did you learn?

I was a Councillor rep on the OCP steering committee and over an exhaustive three-year period went to most of the committee meetings and the public dialogues and round tables. We had significant input and participation from interested residents. The main challenges occurred when implementation started and many residents began to realise the wide ranging implications of the OCP and in many cases only then started to raise their concerns.

What do you think is the most difficult challenge councillors have to face in their work?

I see two significant challenges that both incumbent and prospective councillors face. One is the time demand – upwards of 35 hours per week and most of it evening work. The other is becoming knowledgeable of the many aspects of local government, from the unique finance and accounting methodology to transportation, infrastructure maintenance and planning and zoning bylaws. Without prior experience, in my opinion, it takes at least three years to get up to speed.

What do you appreciate about the Lynn Valley community?

  • Residents are most willing to adapt to change
  • The vibrant social community, especially the involvement of families and young children in sports and cultural activities
  • It is full of volunteers, a measure of the community

What would you like voters to know about you?

I have lived in Lynn Valley for 35 years and have three daughters, who all went to Upper Lynn, Argyle and UBC. They were all involved in community and school sports, soccer (which I coached), swimming, water polo, basketball, volleyball skiing etc. and also through the band program and jazz choirs.

They all live on the North Shore with my seven grandchildren and that is the main reason for my political involvement: to ensure a viable and healthy environment for all families who aspire to live in this beautiful community.

Learn more about Robin on his campaign website.

 

LV’s Roger Bassam: DNV council candidate

LynnValleyLife asked each Lynn Valley-residing DNV council candidate to respond to a set of questions designed to help readers become acquainted with their views. Read about candidate Roger Bassam, below, and see our original story for links to all the candidate profiles.

What  prompted you to run for re-election?

Our community faces many challenges and I believe I will be able to contribute greatly to creating the solutions that will help keep the District a great place in which to live, work and play. Key issues I want to address include:

Roger BassamTransportation – The recurring traffic problems at the Second Narrows bridgehead are impacting the entire community and must be addressed.  This requires a major investment in new infrastructure and we have committed to this and begun building elements of phase 1 of the solution.

Housing – The District faces a very real challenge in providing the assortment of housing we will need to meet the needs of our changing and aging population. The issue is not simply the cost of housing but also includes the lack of specialized housing such as housing appropriate for people with disabilities. We also must increase the stock of rental housing as this greatly assists in moderating the price of local housing.  I was pleased to champion a new District policy that sees new Multi-family housing assigned a covenant that prevents the Strata from restricting rentals. This will, over time, add significantly to the rental inventory but it is only one of many tools we can use to help address this issue.

Economic Development – Within the OCP economic development and sustainability are identified as key considerations.  However, we have not focused on this goal and we must re-visit this concept immediately else we will be losing an opportunity to include this component in the emerging Town Centres.  And as part of the financial sustainability of the community and protection of the ratepayers we re-negotiate many of our current shared service agreements.  The potential savings are in the millions of dollars and must be realized before we begin service reductions and cuts that may impact the quality of life for our residents.

What experience do you bring to the job that you believe would be valuable?

For the past six years I have been a Councillor in the District of North Vancouver. I have served three years on the Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Committee and the Board of Directors- NV Chamber of Commerce.

I have management experience in both the retail and IT industries.  For the past 16 years I have been involved in various community groups and served on numerous committees including: Parks and Natural Environment committee, Metro Labour Relations (alternate), President of Millar’s Soccer League, Sports Council, Chair – Field User Capital Fund, JBAC, Joint Use Committee, and the District Advisory Oversight Committee.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and am currently completing my MBA.

What do you appreciate about the manner in which DNV council currently conducts its affairs?

I believe Council has been very productive because while we have routinely disagreed with each other we have done so respectfully. We rely on the collective wisdom of Council to make good decisions for our community. Individual Council members will sometimes find themselves in the minority on a vote, and that’s how a good democracy works.

We also have an excellent senior management team that provides great leadership for the organization.  The District is a routinely cited as a well-run municipality and we are proud of that reputation.

What would you like to see change?

I would like to see more participation from the citizens in all areas of the District.  We need to find new ways to engage our busy population and get their feedback on how they want to see their community evolve and improve.

Lynn Valley’s town planning process was long and, in some respects, divisive. What was your experience with this process, and what did you learn?

The learning lesson here was that by taking our time and thoroughly engaging with the community we can come to a consensus.  People are willing to engage but want to have a comprehensive understanding of the issue before they make a major decision.  In the end it takes longer and may cost some more money but the fulsome engagement allowed for an excellent process and result.

What do you think is the most difficult challenge councillors have to face in their work?

The learning curve is immense.  Councillors deal with an amazingly wide array of subjects and need to be able to quickly understand the issue, discern the options available to us  and make sound decisions.  We cover everything from Police and Fire Services right through dogs of leash and trees.  One truly must be a Jack of all trades to excel in this role.

What do  you appreciate most about the Lynn Valley community?

That Lynn Valley is a COMMUNITY.  I love when we come together for Lynn Valley Days, the concert series or the Olympic festival. There is a strong sense of belonging and fierce desire to protect our natural areas.  It is truly a great place to live and, for me, to raise my children.

What would you like voters to know about you?

I have strong ties to the Lynn Valley community.  My children attend Ross Road Elementary and will soon be in Argyle.  I enjoy meeting my neighbours regularly, often on the soccer field as both a coach and player, and I understand what our community wants.

I share in the frustrations we have felt recently over the traffic problems and delays.  I am committed to keeping our community a great place to live and I specifically am focused on addressing the traffic issue.  I invite you to my website to see some specifics on how we can solve this problem.

 

Make good in the ‘hood – join the LV Services Society!

Last time LynnValleyLife put out the call for board members for the LV Services Society, we’re glad to say that at least one of our readers stepped up to add their voice and vision to shaping our neighbourhood. The LVSS has asked us to spread the word again, so if you missed the boat last time, here’s your chance! Here are the details, as provided by the LVSS:

LV Services Society logoThe Lynn Valley Services Society (LVSS) is looking for additional board members.   The LVSS provides social and recreational programming to the community of Lynn Valley and beyond.  It also has a mandate for facility management in Lynn Valley.  Their primary facility is Mollie Nye House, a heritage community building managed for the District of North Vancouver.  LVSS has determined that they will expand their target group, area and range of services within the next two years.

We are looking for board members who:

  • Are enthusiastic and collaborative, with experience in the non-profit sector.
  • Have experience in Multicultural and Diversity concerns, Management, Executive, IT, Finance/Bookkeeping, HR Grant Writing, Volunteer management, Program coordination, Youth Counselling, ESL, social media or website building/maintenance.
  • Can diversify the representation on our board.  We encourage participation from minority groups who are seeking services in Lynn Valley.

Time Commitment: monthly board meeting of 2-3 hours; an additional 6 hours per month following through on action items or working with specific committees of the Board.

Position Term:  Two years

For more information or to apply, please send an email briefly summarising your interest to HRpartner@telus.net  before Friday, October 17th, 2014. Be sure to include a phone number where we can contact you during the evening and one of our current board members will be in touch.

 

LV Services Society needs YOU!

Want to help shape the future of Lynn Valley’s programs and services? Join with other people in your neighbourhood to sit on the board of the Lynn Valley Services Society.

If the feedback and debates about the implementation of the Official Community Plan in LV has taught us anything, it’s that local residents are passionate about this neighbourhood! If you are one of the many who value Lynn Valley’s “small-town feel,” please consider donating some of your time to make this community an even better place for people of all ages and stages. While experience on a board is welcome, it’s not necessary.

Click here for all the details – and please act soon, a deadline is approaching!

 

 

Learn about Keith Road Bridge replacement at Open House

Wondering what’s going on with the Keith Road Bridge project? For everyone who is anxious about traffic congestion up Mountain Highway, here is a great resource – a website with tons of info about the bridge replacement project (including a swishy video) and links to traffic studies and other info.

An open house regarding the project will take place Thursday, May 15 from 5 to 8 pm at the Holiday Inn on Lillooet Road.

Public speaks to mall redevelopment

Passion was evident at last night’s public hearing into Bosa’s proposed redevelopment of Lynn Valley Mall, a culminating point in what has been an exhaustive and exhausting journey for North Van District staff and council, the developer, and the community itself.

The overflow crowd first heard a presentation from district staff, who explained key points regarding the proposed development that would include 399 residential units in six phased-in  buildings of various heights, and its context in the Official Community Plan adopted by district council in 2012.

Bosa  consultant Mark Sager and project architect Chris Dikeakos next spoke to the community support they have received for the “Whistleresque” design that features natural stone and timber building materials, a terraced-back building design, three open plazas and a $4.5 million public amenity package.

Lynn Valley updated drawing

 

Support was indeed evident from members of the public who addressed council about the development, most of whom said that the Lynn Valley core was in dire need of revitalization and the amenities that a higher-density usage of the area will bring. Some benefits quoted were more affordable housing that would give options to first-timers, downsizers, and the disabled; a more engaging, liveable town centre that would result in more people staying in the valley to do their shopping and socializing; and the preservation of our forests and single-family neighbourhoods through concentrating growth at the town core.

There were also detractors of the project and its two proposed 12-storey buildings, as well as those who liked the Bosa design but expressed concerns regarding traffic and increased density. Traffic has indeed emerged as a primary theme in this ongoing debate. Both North Vancouver District staff and Bosa Developments point to expert traffic studies indicating that new roads and other transit enhancements that are part and parcel of the project will result in a negligible impact on current traffic flow. For some people in the crowd, however, these studies were not enough to overcome their conviction that vehicular gridlock will be the inevitable result of the proposed densification.

Glenn MacKenzie stated that he is “proud to have been a critical voice” in the process, noting that community opposition resulted in Bosa’s originally proposed 22-storey buildings being drastically reduced in height. While he said that Bosa has made a good effort on its new design, though, he believes that there has been “blind acceptance” on NVD council for ongoing development and densification throughout the municipality.

Speaking in support of the proposal, longtime community volunteer Maureen Bragg said the town centre land “must be put to its highest and best use” and that “any decision we make must be an unselfish one.”

Presentations regarding what constitutes the “best use” of this valuable property continue tonight at District Hall, beginning at 7 p.m. in council chambers. The public hearing is expected to conclude this evening, with council scheduling a vote on the matter in the days to come. For more information about the public hearing process and the proposed development, click here.

 

LV mall proposal goes to public hearing

This in from the North Van District website:

The rezoning proposal for the Bosa development (1175 Lynn Valley Road and 1280 East 27th Street) received first reading at Council on Monday, March 24, 2014. The development proposal has been referred to Public Hearing, which is the community’s formal opportunity to provide input to Council.

The Public Hearing will be held on April 15, 2014 at 6 pm at District Hall. The Agenda for the Council Meeting, including the Report to Council and attached bylaws, is available for review (Agenda Item 9.1) by clicking here [scroll to page 47]. For further information on the Development Application, click here.

(For our blog post about the recent public information night Bosa hosted regarding the project, click here.)

Crowd of 500+ hears Bosa proposal for Lynn Valley mall

Four hundred chairs had been set out, but they proved unequal to the task of seating the overflow crowd of residents who came out Wednesday night to learn more about the Bosa Developments proposal for the transformation of Lynn Valley Mall.

photo courtesy Maureen O'Brien

photo courtesy Maureen O’Brien

Some of them had previously attended an informal September presentation, during which Mark Sager outlined the new vision Bosa had developed based on months of dialogue with the community. (For an overview of the “mountain village” design, which includes a completely refurbished shopping mall and two 12-storey residential buildings, click here.)

“I don’t know if you realize how much your input has shaped this,” said Sager as he finished his slide presentation. “We have done our best to try as hard as we can to address the community’s wishes.”

Knowing that traffic is a big issue for those people concerned about increased densification in Lynn Valley, for example, Sager announced that Bosa Developments has offered to finance the addition of an extra lane at the entrance to the Trans-Canada Highway, at the highway overpass marking the end of Lynn Valley Road, a proposed improvement that has been met with enthusiasm by all levels of government involved.

The audience question-and-answer period that followed Sager’s presentation took place under the direction of Catherine Rockandel, an independent, third-party facilitator who described her role as ensuring that all voices were heard in an environment of “respect and civil conversation.” She noted that all comments coming from the floor would be recorded and included in her report to North Vancouver District Council – though at least two council members were spotted in the audience, taking in the evening for themselves.

Comments from the floor were very largely positive, with even those opposed to increased density in Lynn Valley tipping their hat to Bosa Developments for the compromises they have made in response to community feedback. Glenn MacKenzie, one of the founders of the “Stop Hirises” campaign in Lynn Valley, called Bosa “a great developer”, and focussed his criticism not on the plans themselves, but on the whole issue  of densification in Lynn Valley.

Most, people, however, seemed to think that a redevelopment of the area is long overdue.   Ron McLean and his wife moved to Lynn Valley almost 50 years ago, when a house cost three times his annual teacher’s salary. Now, he says, a house costs about 15 times the typical teacher’s salary, and the eight houses around him, which used to house 23 children between them, are now home to only four children. His own kids have had to move away, with the result that he and his wife don’t see their grandchildren more than three or four times a year. “I have to agree that high rises are appropriate,” he said. “We have to share the wealth of our community.”

Bosa proposalIan Jarvis was next to the microphone and waved across the crowd to Ron McLean. “I used to play soccer with your son, Cam,” he said. “We were often ‘those kids’ who hung out at the 7-11.”  He, too, wishes he could live back in Lynn Valley, and expressed his appreciation of the efforts being made to achieve greater housing diversity. When he saw the signs protesting the addition of high rises to the community, he assumed that 30 or 40-storey towers were being planned. “But 12 storeys, are you kidding me?” he said, prompting laughter from the audience. “That’s a high rise?”

While it is not uncommon for older, well-established residents to resist change in their neighbourhoods, many of the people speaking in favour of the proposal have in fact lived in Lynn Valley for decades. They pointed to increased community amenities, options for downsizing their housing, and the walkability of the Bosa redevelopment as attractive features of the proposal.

A resident of Craftsman Estates, who lives across the street from the mall and would be directly affected by the construction plans, also spoke in favour of the development. “I’m thoroughly impressed with the Mountain Village look and the willingness of Bosa to work with the community,” said Hazel Boyd, noting that the mall should offer a more robust business environment and that the District of North Vancouver needs more of a tax base to ensure future economic health.

There is still much to be discussed as the project is negotiated, however, including the best use of the allocated community amenity space, and ongoing dialogue about traffic management plans, aspects of which are already under way. This latter issue, of course, is not solely specific to the Bosa proposal, but an overall part of the District’s implementation of the Official Community Plan for Lynn Valley Town Centre. (Click here and scroll down to #4, Additional Information, for a link to the Lynn Valley transportation study commissioned by North Vancouver District.)

photo courtesy Maureen O'Brien

photo courtesy Maureen O’Brien

Feedback from Wednesday’s public information meeting will go back to North Vancouver District staff, who will prepare a report for council either recommending that the application be denied, or that it proceed forward to public hearing. For a step-by-step look at the whole approval process, read this post; we have just completed Step #5.)

If you haven’t yet had a look at the plans and drawings for the proposal, visit the Bosa storefront in the mall in the former pet store space, or click here.  Your feedback can be sent directly to Mark Sager by clicking the orange tab at the left of the screen on his Lynn Valley Connect site.

On February 13, the District of North Vancouver’s Advisory Design Panel unanimously passed a motion of recommendation to the District Council in support of the proposed re-zoning. Public input will be taken at the public hearing stage, should the application proceed.

Lynn Valleyites are sure cleaning up!

There's lots of streets getting some love in Lynn Valley!

There are lots of streets getting some love in Lynn Valley!

We recently received an email from NVD Community Beautification Coordinator Courtenay Fraizl (our lovely Adopt-a-Street boss!) It was an inspiring email for two reasons. First, as you can see from the map above (click on image for a closer look), the Lynn Valley neighbourhood is way out in the lead when it comes to the number of “adopted” streets – yay, LV!

But there’s lots of room for more participants, so call Courtenay at 604-990-3841 if you’d like to get in on the action. You’ll get some vests and picker-uppers, and a good excuse for a walk every month! We always learn something new about our neighbourhood when we’re out for a stroll.

Our second source of inspiration was this great quote she sent our way – it’s so true!

Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day what kind of community you want to live in.  – Marjorie Moore

adopt a street logo

 

 

 

How Rapid Notify system was deployed in search for senior

 

Although the recent search for senior Joan Warren ended tragically, the event served to galvanize first responders and local citizens in an unprecedented manner thanks to the use of communication tools such as the Rapid Notify system, an automated system that broadcasts critical messages to listed telephone numbers as well as self-registered private numbers, cell phones and email addresses.

This week we contacted Dorit Mason of the North Shore Emergency Management Office (NSEMO) and Cpl. Richard De Jong of the North Vancouver RCMP to learn more about some of the behind-the-scene practicalities of the Rapid Notify system and other factors that played a role in the search for Mrs. Warren. Their responses have been edited for publication.

To learn more about the North Shore’s plans for emergency response in a variety of situations, and the tools every citizen should employ to self-prepare for urgent eventualities, we encourage you to visit the NSEMO website.

LVL: How long has the North Shore had the Rapid Notify network in place?

Mason: The system has been in place for approximately 18 years, for use by the municipalities on the North Shore. It is funded by Canexus [the chemical manufacturing and handling company that has a terminal on the North Vancouver waterfront] as part of their Responsible Care program.

LVL: How many individuals were contacted in the Warren search?

Mason: On December 6, 2013, we identified  approximately 32,000 contacts within the initial area and roughly 39,000 calls were completed – this includes those individuals who self-registered and had multiple contact methods. On December 7, 30,000 calls were completed.

LVL: It took a few hours for that many telephone numbers to be contacted. Do you think people should avoid registering multiple telephone numbers for one household, so as not to unnecessarily slow things down?

Mason: The length of time for a callout is dependent on a number of factors. This includes the length of the message, how many times the number is redialed (up to three times in an attempt to reach the person), how many rings occur before it is picked up, as well as the number of calls being made.

The message that was delivered in this instance attempted to balance the length of the call with the need to provide enough information to the public to help them act (i.e., search their back yards).

We recommend that individuals self-register and include multiple phone numbers as they may be away from their home when an emergency occurs. The only access the system has to personal emails and cell phones is through the self-registration feature.

The public should also continue to obtain information from the media, social media (i.e., twitter/Facebook sites from the municipalities, police, NSEMO, etc.), agency websites, and so on.

LVL: How precise can you be in terms of what specific neighbourhoods are contacted when the Rapid Notify system is deployed? What was the scope of the Joan Warren call-out, and what factors played into that decision?

Mason: The decision by the RCMP was to encompass a radius of approximately 5 km from the care home on Friday night, and on Saturday to expand the callout to other parts of the North Shore.

LVL: The Rapid Notify telephone alert wasn’t as specific as to Mrs. Warren’s point of origin as was the original press release (the phone call alerted people to a senior missing in North Vancouver, while the press release was Lynn Valley-specific). Why was the phone message not as specific?

Mason: The decision was made to not include the location because we needed the community’s help to look for her throughout the North Shore. If a location had been given, our citizens may not have made the effort to search their properties because they felt it was not within their neighbourhood.

LVL: 

There were so many citizens who wanted to help. Were any lessons learned for the future as to the potential for efficiently harnessing this people-power? Did you have concerns about citizens out bushwacking in the woods?

Mason: During any emergency, members of a community come together to help each other. This is a fact that has been seen all over the world during disasters and is the first step for community recovery.

We were so grateful to the citizen action – our community banded together to search for a vulnerable individual and although the outcome was tragic, it is truly an example of how our community responded to the call for help.

The message instruction was specific to searching their properties/backyards because we did not want citizens to go into any areas that could put them into danger. Other efforts were being coordinated by the RCMP to search these areas.

Cpl. De Jong: There was a lot of public interest.  North Shore Search and Rescue also re-twitted our press releases and Tweets, which gave more exposure as well.

Most people kept to their residential area for searching; word got out amongst neighbors and friends.  There were no reports of large-scale confusion or disruption to the search efforts.

A safety message is always paramount in these situations.  Safety of all involved is key. There were no reports of ‘searchers’ getting in the way in the woods or getting lost.

LVL: What other means of communicating urgent messages might be employed? I’m thinking of portable digital roadside signs, for example, for people who aren’t tuned in to the media. Or are you confident that the Rapid Notify system achieves a good saturation of the populace?

Mason: Rapid Notify is only one tool within our toolbox to reach out to the populace. Other methods can include ‘door-to-door’ campaigns by responders, using loud hailers on response vehicles, using media/social media. Utilizing roadside signs is also an option that has been used during emergencies in other places.

We encourage people who live or work on the North Shore to self-register with Rapid Notify as it is one tool that may be used to communicate with them during emergencies. Individuals can sign up for Rapid Notify at www.nsemo.org and include cell phones and emails.

LVL: Any observations or comments about how the weekend search went; what worked really well or what tweaks might be considered for the future?

Mason: As with any response, we always review and tweak response actions after the fact so that it goes more smoothly in the future.

The feedback that we have had with regards to using this system to try and locate Mrs. Warren has overall been extremely positive. I have heard of examples where teenagers informed their parents that after they answered the call they searched their backyards, people were searching the bushes as they were out walking, and individuals took detours around the neighbourhood while out on errands.

Once again we thank the public for their assistance in trying to locate Ms. Warren. Although the situation ended in tragedy, the concerns of the citizens and their actions in trying to locate her were greatly appreciated.

Cpl. De Jong: Over all a tremendous show of community support and sympathy was shown for the Warren family.  We can always learn from past experiences and will debrief our successes and challenges.