DNV votes for ‘Flexible Framework’ plan in town centre

Last night the District of North Vancouver Council considered a staff report that detailed financial and other impacts that would result from the adoption of a five-storey town centre height restriction versus a model that is predominantly five storeys, with eight storeys allowed in key areas and limited, case-by-case exceptions of up to 12 storeys in the Lynn Valley core.

In their submission, North Vancouver District planning staff recommended the latter option, entitled the Flexible Planning Framework option. The staff report forms part of the council meeting agenda, and can be found at Item 9.1.

As noted in today’s press release from North Vancouver District, Council agreed with staff that the Flexible Planning Framework allows for the possibility of targeted town core redevelopment that will enable implementation of  Official Community Plan objectives, such as improved transit and provision of community amenities, while it acknowledges community concerns that include issues such as extreme change and shading from buildings. For more information, please visit the North Vancouver Identity website or refer to the press release issued earlier today.

This graphic from the North Vancouver District press release shows maximum building height allowances voted for under the Flexible Planning Framework. The blue zone would allow for heights of eight to 12 storeys on a case-by-case basis.

Council ponders LV town centre feedback

North Vancouver District Council is on the hot seat as it ponders a report describing options for the implementation of the Official Community Plan (OCP) in Lynn Valley.

The report was presented at a regular council meeting on September 23, in front of a gallery of citizens representing a wide range of opinions.

The OCP, which was passed in June 2011, projects the addition of up to 5,000 people in Lynn Valley over the next two decades, and opens the door to the development of a range of low to higher-density housing options within the town centre. In September 2012, Bosa Developments accordingly submitted a preliminary application that included a 22-storey tower in its proposed redevelopment of its shopping centre property.

The resulting controversy over building heights, traffic and increased density meant everyone went back to the drawing board – including the District, which launched extended public education and feedback events in mid-2013.

The results of that feedback are now encapsulated in the recent Golder Associates report, which is available on North Vancouver District’s Identity website.

Perhaps unfortunately for council members, the report notes that there is no clear consensus amongst local residents as regards to the preferred maximum building height. While many have stated their preference for no change to the existing neighbourhood, or the inclusion of buildings that are no taller than five storeys in height, one method of calculating the feedback indicated that the 12- and 16-storey building options led in popularity.

If that’s the case, it’s happy news for Mark Sager, who was hired by Bosa Developments to collect public feedback and work with a new architect to create a proposal in keeping with what residents say they want to see in Lynn Valley. Sager unveiled the new drawings in front of a crowd of approximately 200 residents at Lynn Valley Mall on September 12. All audience comments at that event were supportive of the suggested redevelopment proposal, but Bosa  Developments will not be submitting a preliminary application to the District until Council chooses between the options presented in the Sept. 23rd report.

Council deferred the vote after requesting that staff ‘expediently’ investigate the comparative economic impacts of choosing a five-storey height maximum over the other option, which allows for five through eight storeys, with the option of allowing for exceptions of up to 16 storeys in the town core.

Bosa’s revamped drawings include two 12-storey buildings and a completely redeveloped interior and exterior shopping centre. They can be viewed in the Bosa storefront in Lynn Valley Mall, in the former pet store premises, from noon to 6 p.m. every day except Sundays.

Volunteers keep North Van clean & green

It was swing-your-partner time Friday night as the District of North Vancouver hosted a dinner and barn dance to thank the many volunteers who take part in the muncipality’s outdoor programs.

Maplewood Farm helpers, parks and trails workers, Adopt a Street volunteers and others were all in attendance at Maplewood Farm to hear a few speeches and dance to the tunes of a fiddle band headed by newly retired DNV sign-maker extraordinaire, Cam Stewart. A special guest in attendance was former parks director Dirk Oostindie, whose energy and vision resulted in the creation of Maplewood Farm as a municipal park.

Trail and Habitat co-ordinator Graham Knell spoke about the huge impact volunteers have on our local landscape, both those who take part in the DNV outdoors programs as well as people in the wider community who gather armies of volunteers to work on neighbourhood parks clean-ups, salmon-enhancement projects, trail building and more.

It was a HUGE list of groups he named – way to go, North Van! –  and he gave special mention to the Lynn Valley folks who worked with the District to clean up Doran Park this past year. He was very proud to report that 49 one-tonne trucks of invasive plants were carted away as a result of all their labour (and a tip of the hat was also given to the visiting American navy cadets who literally marched down the street to help out!)

If you’d like an invite to next year’s hoedown (and who wouldn’t, we ask?) just get on board with one of the many District outdoor programs. Graham says he’s got the best job ever – he’s always surrounded by smiling volunteers who love what they do! Contact details and more info are here.

 

Library lends itself to summer R&R

There’s a new vibe happening in Lynn Valley Library, and we have to say it’s a good fit for these lazy summer afternoons.

You’ll notice that the lobby now sports a bank of magazine racks to suit a wide range of literary tastes. They are a good complement to the recently improved seating in the area – and, to enhance your reading experience even further, patrons are now allowed to bring (some) food and drink into the library along with them!

Covered, spill-proof beverages are permitted, along with small personal snacks. The librarians note that you are not allowed to have food delivered to the premises (what, no pizza with our People magazine!?)

Even more exciting is the fact that you are able to get many subscription magazines for FREE on your computer or reading device thanks to the library’s new Zinio service. With a very modest investment of time (click here for details), you can set up an account that allows you to subscribe to all manner of publications, from Reader’s Digest to Vegetarian Times.

Zinio is a website through which people can subscribe to hundreds of publications. But when you create an account via your NVD library card number, you get free access to a generous selection of the same publications. It’s well worth exploring!

How are you feeling about these and other services you receive at the library? Powers that be would love to know. You are invited to fill in their online survey during the month of July – it won’t take long, and by putting all our heads together we can help make the local literary experience even better.

And if all this isn’t enough to bring you down to the library for a refresher on what it offers, how about an artist’s reception? The semi-abstract landscapes of Tina Townsend are rich with the colours of summer, and are a mini-vacation all on their own. Come down to meet her on Saturday, July 20, from 2 to 4 p.m. on the second floor of the library. Her paintings will be on display until September 17.

 

 

Resident reflects on highjack of highrise conversation

This was submitted to LynnValleyLife by Dan Ellis; it is a copy of his recent submission to North Vancouver District Council.

***

I’m the Chair of the Official Community Plan Implementation Committee, who are 15 citizens appointed by Council to “watchdog” the process.

But I’m speaking tonight as a Lynn Valley resident of 34 years; not on behalf of the OCP Committee.

Change can be seen as opportunity or threat.  A threat to our sense of community means a threat to ourselves, so we can get really emotional.  I get that.

But I want to register my dismay that some of my neighbours feel it’s OK to:

  • proclaim that one point of view represents everyone – there are 7,500 households in Lynn Valley.
  • intimidate residents who’ve said they felt bullied to sign petitions.
  • largely block the doorways to public consultation meetings.
  • interfere with public meeting attendees – disrespecting their right to self-educate and decide for themselves.
  • tell attendees that input to public consultation surveys will be ignored by DNV.
  • threaten to disrupt Council and staff from conducting their daily business at the Hall.
  • spread other mis-information.

The folks doing this are mostly in my age group.  But isn’t planning supposed to be about the needs of children and grandchildren, as well as for ourselves in coming years?  Frankly I am ashamed at the tactics being used by some folks who, while understandably upset by the prospect of change, are in large measure uninformed about why the OCP says what it does, and weren’t among the thousands who participated from 2009 – 2011.

Emotion should be respected, but it won’t always get to the best solution.  Perhaps it might be helpful if folks in Lynn Valley read the 2011 OCP, ask a lot of questions, and think for themselves before exercising their rights to use political pressure tactics and protest.  What I see is that Council and staff really are listening – so you don’t have to yell.

LV town centre planning: a range of perspectives

UPDATED: June 28, 2013

You’ve seen the signs around the neighbourhood, the pamphlets in your mailbox, and the emails in your inbox. As public consultation regarding the implementation plan for Lynn Valley’s town centre intensifies, a range of views are being expressed from North Vancouver District, informal citizens’ groups as well as individuals, and Mark Sager on behalf of Bosa Devlopments.

Exchanges amongst fellow citizens range from enlightening to heated. Well-presented opinions have the undecided amongst us swinging from one perspective to another and back again. Less helpful are those people who are taking up a post at the entrance to the NVD open houses and encouraging attendees to sign their anti-high rise petition even before they’ve had a chance to go inside and research the information for themselves. (This was the subject of one recent presentation to council by LV resident Dan Ellis.)

At LynnValleyLife our position in this whole process has been to encourage two things: first, that people get engaged in learning about the options and expressing their views; apathy isn’t the path to a healthy neighbourhood. Second, that people engage in debate that is constructive, not inflammatory. Anger is rarely the path to a creative solution.

To that end, we asked our readers to give us their response to the earlier implementation plans that included mixed housing, including high-rise towers, and a variety of public amenities. We published all the responses we received; they were well thought out and make for good reading.

Now that a new consultation round is under way, there are a range of individuals expressing their considered views. Two very different perspectives  are expressed by longtime Lynn Valley community volunteer John Gilmour, whose recent email describes why he sees the proposals as a great chance to create a “multi-use lifestyle centre,”  and by the anonymous author of this tract,  which is being distributed online and around the neighbourhood and calls the proposals a form of gentrification.

The “StopHiRises” citizen activist group is decided in its views and its eagerness to get more signatories to their petition, which demands a cap of five storeys on future building in the valley. Recently, a supporter of the tower-inclusive development proposal published his views on a “Lynn Valley Revival” website of his own; it includes a page of letters from other residents supportive of building up, not out.

Fortunately, amongst the divergent voices there are some resources available that will help you make up your own mind. The North Vancouver District “Identity” website has been made easier to navigate in the past view days, and includes a “Frequently Asked Questions” document that gives an excellent background to the debate (and explains why more homes need to be built in the first place).

The Identity website has links to the display boards and models from the open houses, and to an online feedback form that is available until July 5. Under Step #4, they have also linked relevant documents, such as the aforementioned FAQ as well as the recently released Lynn Valley traffic study that will show the impact of density on traffic flow in the neighbourhood.

At time of writing, there is one more DNV open house at which to see the models in person and to ask questions of the District planning staff. We’ve been to two of the four open houses, and are pleased to see that they seem to have been well attended by a mix of people. The last one is at Argyle Secondary on Wednesday, June 12 from 6 to 9:30 p.m.

 

Interesting online option for sharing town centre views

We’ve been promoting the two most recent opportunities presented for Lynn Valley residents to get involved in shaping Lynn Valley’s future – those are the NVD June Open Houses, and Mark Sager’s Bosa-sponsored storefront in Lynn Valley Centre.

It’s our hope that everyone made or will make the effort to attend one of these forums – especially given the importance of the issues, and as we know there are a variety of strong views out there in the neighbourhood!

But regardless of how you learn about some of the options for future development, there are different ways to share your feedback. One of them is a great online tool that asks you about your priorities and preferred “looks” for the village area, and gives visual examples  you can choose from to best illustrate your likes and dislikes.

Please click here for instructions on filling out the online or paper-based feedback form – this stage of input ends on July 5. That’s a month away, but it will be a busy month, so don’t put it off!

Town centre feedback invited at June open houses

As promised, North Vancouver District has expanded the time frame for public consultation on the issue of how the municipality’s Official Community Plan will be implemented in Lynn Valley town centre.

We hope that people will share their views and bring their ideas to the table. You can visit the North Vancouver District booth at Lynn Valley Day, and attend one of the four open house events that are taking place in our neighbourhood from between June 1 and 12. Online feedback will also be collected. All details for engaging in the process are here.

Once options are explored over the spring and summer months, the vision will be narrowed down in the fall to preferred option(s) that will be put before NVD council for their consideration.

We’ve already reported on Mark Sager’s invitation to give your thoughts about the Bosa redevelopment of the mall area, and this will be ongoing up to and including Lynn Valley Day. Read this post for information about Mark’s storefront in the mall.

There have never been so many opportunities to share your thoughts, Lynn Valley, so we encourage you to get out there and have your opinions registered!

 Here’s some information from the NVD Identity website:

Adopt a Lynn Valley street today!

There’s a great new North Vancouver District program that can improve your life – and your community – all at the same time.

Whether you want to teach your kids responsibility, lose a few pounds, get your partner out walking with you more, meet your neighbours or help the environment, the new Adopt a Street Program may be just the motivation you’re looking for.

Courtenay Fraitzl, DNV Community Beautification Coordinator and (we’re proud to say) Lynn Valley native, says the Adopt a Street campaign is designed to strengthen ties not just within neighbourhoods, but between residents and their local government.

“It’s about making the District more accessible,” she says, noting that while the volunteer litter removal program does indeed help the District’s bottom line in times of tightened budgets, it’s also about residents having the opportunity to work more closely with people in the District, and have a conduit for reporting issues such as graffiti, blocked storm drains, etc.

Courtenay has been making the rounds of various community organizations to spread the word about the the Adopt a Street program. (She says she’s happy to come out to more, so keep her in mind for your next local meeting!) She encourages individuals, families, businesses, schools and other groups to consider getting on board with a street of their own. Courtenay is hoping people will aim for adopting a one-kilometre stretch of roadside, but will work to find a solution for individuals who might find that daunting

Once they have signed up for their area, volunteers are given safety instructions, reflective vests, litter-removal tongs, garbage bags and gloves. They are asked to clean up their street on a monthly basis, and to provide a brief report on how it went and any maintenance issues the District should be aware of. Teams will be recognized with an Adopt A Street sign posted on “their” street.

Courtenay, a mother of two, says she knows how busy life is for most people. That said, she’s confident the enjoyment people will get from meeting their neighbours and doing something positive in their community will be worth it.

Although Courtenay has only been at the Community Beautification post for six months or so, she is probably known to many North Vancouver families from her previous job; since 1996 and up until last summer, she was a district worker at Maplewood Farm. She obviously hasn’t cut all ties there; she gave us an enthusiastic report of all the pre-springtime farmyard activity under way at her old stomping grounds.

To contact Courtenay or learn more about the Adopt a Street program – and to get your pick of roadway! – click here or call the number on the graphic above. We had the honour of being this neighbourhood’s first street ‘adopters’, so if you see us LynnValleyLifers out patrolling our patch on the streets surrounding Lynn Valley Park, Lynn Valley Elementary School, and Pioneer Park,  be sure to honk. We’ll be the ones in the uber-cool vests!

 

Council votes to extend LV town planning consultation

North Vancouver District Council members sat in front of a packed house at their first regular council meeting since the Christmas break.

Most people in attendance at the Jan. 7th meeting were there to demonstrate their interest in the future of Lynn Valley as envisioned in the Lynn Valley Town Centre Implementation Plan. While a number of open houses, surveys and other feedback events had been held during the plan’s development – a fact of which the audience was reminded on more than one occasion over the course of the evening – the inclusion of  high-rise buildings in the planning department’s ultimate proposal was largely to account for a recent rush of activity amongst some local residents.

As expressed in letters to the North Shore News and self-published leaflets, their concerns include potential changes in traffic patterns and neighbourhood character that would accompany the high-density residences.

LynnValleyLife publisher Jim Lanctot described the tenor of the evening as being orderly and respectful. “The District council and staff were clearly willing to listen, and to go the extra mile to make sure people have the chance to express their views.  At the same time, they’re being clear that town planning is a joint District-citizen responsibility. They want people to suggest realistic solutions to the issues at hand, instead of just veto-ing everything they don’t like.”

Local resident Dan Ellis is the chair of the Implementation Committee, a citizen-based body that helps engage the community and monitors the implementation of the Official Community Plan in NVD neighbourhoods. At the council meeting, his presentation spoke to the importance of citizen involvement at all stages of the planning process, and the trade-offs that must be carefully considered in decision-making.

Town planner Karen Rendek gave a brief PowerPoint history of Lynn Valley’s town centre planning to date, which included the recommendation that Council direct staff to engage in further intensive community consultation activities over the next few months, with the goal of creating a draft plan by the end of April. Council approved this recommendation. For video clips of the meeting’s highlights, or the entire recorded proceedings, click here.

LynnValleyLife encourages all local residents to think about the planning issues thoughtfully, and to learn more by reading the background material along with views from a diverse range of citizens and professionals. The Lynn Valley Community Association offers an excellent Sustainable Communities speaker series that brings in expert speakers on a range of topics, and we have a reader-friendly, encapsulated history of the town planning process on our Front Porch blog.

Once you’ve had the chance to think through some of the issues at stake, we invite you to submit your own opinions and comments to share with other LynnValleyLife readers. Please click on this post for our submission guidelines.

Stay on top of the town planning consultation process by reading our blog and Events Calendar, becoming a member of the Lynn Valley Community Association, and visiting North Van District’s Identity website regularly. Given this newly extended consultation period, there’s no excuse to stay uninvolved!