Wanted: your thoughtful views on LV development plan

For a number of years, North Vancouver District planners worked on an Official Community Plan for the municipality, which was formally approved by council in June 2011. That OCP then became the foundation for the further planning of ‘town centre’ areas of the District, including Lynn Valley.

During both processes, the District offered a large number of workshops, open houses, surveys and other citizen engagement activities to solicit the views of as many residents as possible. However, you can’t please all the people all the time, and now that proposals for Lynn Valley’s town centre redevelopment are being announced, people have expressed their views, both positive and negative, in a variety of forums.

At the Jan. 7 NVD council meeting, staff recommended, and Council approved, a further period of public engagement before another town centre implementation plan is submitted in April. See our report of the meeting here.

Our goal at LynnValleyLife has been to communicate helpful information about the OCP implementation plans, offer explanations about re-zoning processes and the path of development applications, and ensure residents have the contact information they need to ask questions, learn more, and submit their own feedback. Those articles are being posted to the Development and Town Planning section of our Front Porch blog, so that’s a good place to start learning about some of these issues.

Now we would like to launch a forum for reasoned, thoughtful discussion about the proposed town centre development and its potential impact on the community. The quality of life in our neighbourhood is crucial to all of us, and the issues being raised are important. That said, we don’t intend to publish comments that are inflammatory or accusatory – we see no benefit to conversation that is divisive instead of productive.

We continue to support the work of the District in soliciting citizen feedback as preliminary applications and public hearings unroll over the next months, and we give a big tip of the hat to the many local residents who have given their time and attention to this process from the beginning, attending forums and submitting their views.

We welcome further feedback from citizens, and ask that they tell us their views on the proposed town centre plan by answering the questions below. Just cut-and-paste the questions into an email message or a Word document, add your responses, then send them our way at info@LynnValleyLife.com. (Prior to possible publication, we reserve the right to edit for clarity, grammar and length.)

We look forward to hearing your thoughts, and sharing them with our readers. We’re soliciting creative ideas, a variety of viewpoints, open minds, and a collegial exchange of opinions. We know you have a lot of passion for this neighbourhood, Lynn Valleyites, so let’s see what we can do when we put our heads together!

 

LV Town Centre Feedback Form:

NAME:
ADDRESS (will not be published):

1. What is your personal history here in Lynn Valley?

2. How familiar are you with the town planning process? Did you get involved in any workshops or open houses, etc?

3. What are some of your greatest hopes or specific wishes for the Lynn Valley of the future?

4. How well do you think the currently proposed town centre plan would fulfill those hopes?

5. What concerns might you have with the high rises, or other aspects of the town centre proposals?6. What do you see as potential benefits of the proposed higher density residences (high rises), or other aspects of the town centre proposals?

7. Any other comments you’d like to share?

 

Thanks very much! We’ll be interested to read your thoughts, and will put a selection of comments from a variety of residents in upcoming blog posts on LynnValleyLife.

 

 

LV town centre at the preliminary application stage

At LynnValleyLife, our goal is to bring our readers easy-to-understand, but thorough information regarding all the important developments in the implementation of the Lynn Valley Town Centre plans. Last month, we wrote this blog post that provided some context to the preliminary applications submitted to North Van District by Bosa (whose application outlined its proposal for the Zellers site), and Safeway, which submitted a proposal for the redevelopment of its own property.

Then we asked you to send us your questions, about this stage of the proceedings or the town centre plans in general. One of the first queries that came in was “What’s the next step?”

To answer that, we went to Michael Hartford, NVD development planner, and NVD policy planner Karen Rendek. In regards to Bosa and Safeway’s preliminary applications, they tell us, the “next steps” are as follows:

1. These two applications are preliminary applications – there is no rejection or approval at the conclusion of a preliminary application, and District Council does not formally consider these proposals.  The District’s review of the preliminary applications pertains to issues such as community plan compliance and infrastructure upgrades.  The District is anticipating concluding each of these preliminary application processes within the next week.

2. Having reviewed the package of information provided to them by the District, the individual applicants will make decisions as to whether to proceed with what is called a “detailed development application.”

3. In this case, based on input received from the public at the preliminary stage, the District is encouraging these applicants to consult with residents prior to finalizing the content of their detailed applications.  Plans for any developer-hosted consultation have not been finalized, and this consultation would take place outside of the District’s normal application procedures.

4. If a detailed development application is submitted on these properties, District procedures indicate the need for a Public Information Meeting, hosted by the applicant. Here’s how a Public Information Meeting is conducted:

  • This meeting is attended by District staff, and is required to be facilitated by a qualified meeting facilitator.
  • The public is invited to attend this meeting, flyers are delivered to nearby properties, a sign will be posted on the property and notices will be placed in the newspaper.
  • The local community association is also notified of this meeting.
  • Comments are invited at the public information meeting as well as after the meeting, either through a comment sheet or by email.

5. Following the public information meeting, and any design changes arising from input received at this meeting, the detailed development application would be forwarded for consideration by District Council.  At that time, Council may defeat the proposal, or may decide to forward the application to a public hearing, at which residents may share their opinions directly with Council.

6. Following the close of the public hearing, Council would consider the input received at the hearing and make a decision regarding whether to approve or deny the rezoning request to accommodate the development.

In summary, for the two preliminary applications currently concluding, there will be opportunities for public input through at least two types of meetings: the public information meeting and the public hearing.  A third type of meeting, likely in a small group format or open house format hosted by the proponents, may occur prior to the detailed development applications being submitted.

Would you like more information? Visit the District’s Identity site, here, or contact Karen Rendek at 604 990-2295; krendek@dnv.org. If you have any questions you’d like us to explore for you regarding the town centre implementation plans, please let us know at info@LynnValleyLife.com. We look forward to bringing you a variety of viewpoints on the many aspects of the plan to be considered!

 

 

North Vancouver RCMP receive Queen’s Jubilee medals

It was slipped into our email inbox like any other press release from the North Van RCMP, but this one – we think – is rather special.

Twenty-two of our local RCMP officers, employees, and volunteers were recently awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for significant contributions to their community. Here at LynnValleyLife HQ, we were especially tickled to see the familiar face of Cpl. Richard De Jong in the back row (that’s him, third from the right – click if you want a larger image!)

picture of medal

Cpl. De Jong is the press officer who is always happy to answer our editor’s questions about things going on in our neighbourhood, whether it is police incidents people are wondering about or the ins and outs of helicopter searches at night. We’d like to give him a medal of our own, for all his prompt and patient replies!

So thanks again, Cpl. De Jong, and congratulations to all the RCMP members for their recently awarded honours and their work to make North Vancouver a good home to us all.

Our editorializing complete, the official press announcement reads as follows…

On October 18, 2012, RCMP Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens, Commanding Officer of E Division BC RCMP, presented the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal to North Vancouver Detachment recipients. The Red Serge ceremony was held at RCMP Headquarters in Vancouver.

A new commemorative medal was created to mark the 2012 celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne as Queen of Canada. The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal is a tangible way for Canada to honour Her Majesty for her service to this country. At the same time, it serves to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.

C.O. Deputy Commissioner Callens spoke of the selfless dedication and professionalism exemplified by all of the recipients in serving their communities. RCMP officers, civilian employees and volunteers were honoured. A total of 22 medals were awarded to various staff of the North Vancouver Detachment.

Lynn Valley sewer system tested

What the heck is a vapour test? And why is there one coming to a sewer near you?

Click on this link from North Vancouver District, in which the municipality explains how and why Lynn Valley’s storm and sanitary sewers are being vapour tested this month to ensure rainwater is not entering the sanitary system.

You’ll get a knock on the door before your area is tested, but for now, read their handy heads-up!

 

Lynn Valley town centre plans taking shape

For more than five years, North Vancouver District planners have been trying to get into the heads of Lynn Valley residents. They’ve asked for our views, they’ve brought in speakers, they’ve created opportunities for online education and feedback, they’ve set up shop in the mall, they’ve gone to our youth, they’ve been at Lynn Valley Day, and they’ve hosted charrettes* (who even knew what those were, prior to that weekend in ’07?)

All this was to facilitate the collective creation of a vision for Lynn Valley that would take its place in the Official Community Plan. This plan was adopted by NVD Council in June, 2011, and since then community planners have been fleshing out implementation proposals. We were given a look at some of these last spring, in another round of displays and feedback sessions (please see this blog post from April).

Now, this big subject has once again moved to the front burner because Safeway and Bosa (owners of Lynn Valley Mall) have both submitted preliminary application letters to the District, outlining in some detail their proposed redevelopment plans (click links to read the letters).

Of course, everyone has questions as to the future of our neighbourhood. Many of us are conflicted – we don’t want our community to lose its ‘charm,’ but we have to admit some elements of the current mall are less than charming.

Maybe we’re excited about some of the new public amenities, green spaces and walkways that are proposed under the Town Centre plan, but find it hard to get behind some of the high-rise developments that would help bankroll such additions.

Or maybe we’re happy there will be lower-cost, higher-density housing alternatives for our young families and seniors, but are still concerned about how added multi-family complexes might impact the amount of vehicle traffic in the valley.

And some days, you might feel one way in the morning, and another way by dinnertime! That’s understandable. The revitalization and redevelopment of our neighbourhood is a huge project (most of these plans are expected to take place over 20 years, not all at once!) and it’s hard to weigh out all the pros and cons that each change might bring.

There is a helpful District Identity website that has a good background on the Lynn Valley Town Centre plan, and links to earlier presentations and publications, but we’d also like to help time-starved residents access information quickly and easily. We see it as our job to bring you the info you want, as you need it.

Over the next few months, we’ll be taking some of your top questions about the town centre plans and addressing them, one at a time. We know there will likely be a range of viewpoints (and perhaps no easy answers!) to give you on most of the topics, but we’ll endeavour to explain the basics as best we can, and point you in the right direction if you’d like more in-depth information or would like to share your own thoughts.

So, if you’d like us to focus on a certain aspect of the Lynn Valley Town Centre proposals, please contact us soon at info@lynnvalleylife.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

* For those who still don’t know, a charrette is “a public meeting or workshop devoted to a concerted effort to solve a problem or plan the design of something.” There were many thoughts shared at the Lynn Valley charrettes in 2007!

 

 

Compost coaches offer free, at-home instruction

Waste-reducers and gardeners can learn more about one of their favourite pastimes without spending a cent, thanks to the Compost Coaching program offered by the North Shore Recycling Program.

Now that colder weather is on the horizon, you might want an experienced composter to visit your home and show you how to manage your compost pile over the winter. You’ll also want to ensure it isn’t acting as an attractant for bears who should be making hibernation plans, not noshing on your chucked-out apple cores.

Click here to learn more about this free offer – after all, how often do you get the chance to have some one-on-one instruction from an expert, in the comfort of your own backyard? You’ll also find info on how to obtain a subsidized bin, if you’d like your Compost Coach to help you set it up and start it going.

The new Green Can program is an easy and effective way to get rid of our organic waste, but backyard composting is still the most eco-friendly and economical way to use up our leftover fruit and veggie scraps. And you can’t beat the finished compost for building up the health of your garden soil!

Lynn Valley property rezoning process explained

Not so long ago, LynnValleyLife told readers about a public information meeting that Polygon Properties was holding to discuss a potential redevelopment of the land at the southwest corner of Mountain Highway and 27th.

The event was held in the community room at Silver Harbour Centre, and attendees could browse displays showing the proposed townhome development, ask questions of Polygon staff and North Van District community planners, and help themselves to cold drinks and gigantic cookies.

It was just one of many steps in the road that will need to occur before this development either goes ahead or is rejected by council. Polygon is no stranger to the process – they are the developers behind the ‘Branches’ complex just further down the street – but they won’t be the only company looking for opportunities to take part in the re-creation of Lynn Valley’s town centre.

That being the case, we thought it would be helpful to sketch out the ‘A to Z’ path that must be followed when developers put forward an application that requires the rezoning of a property. As you’ll see, there are a variety of opportunities for public input, ‘tweaks’ to the proposals, and consideration by District staff and council. (A big thanks to Tamsin Guppy, NVD Community Planner, for all her help!)

1. The first step occurs when the ‘proponent’, or applicant, applies for a Preliminary Application, which is a two-month process and involves a staff review, site visit, and soliciting input from the immediate neighbours and the local community association.  The results of the review are then provided to the applicant so that they can address key issues as they work on their detailed drawings in readiness for applying for a detailed rezoning and/or development permit.

2. Next, the applicant submits a detailed rezoning application to the District.

3. The Planning Department swings into action, and coordinates a review of the application by staff and advisory bodies.

4. The Planning Department alerts Council of the applicant’s intention to hold a public information meeting in the affected neighbourhood.

5. A public information meeting is organized by the applicant and held in the neighbourhood.

6. District staff prepare a detailed report on the application, which will include a summary of feedback from the public information meeting. The report recommends that Council either reject the application, or it recommends that Council introduce a rezoning bylaw and set a public hearing date. Council may also choose to request some revisions at this point.

7. If the application is not rejected, a rezoning bylaw is introduced and a public hearing is held to allow feedback from neighbours and other affected parties.

8. Following the public hearing, the bylaw is returned to council.  Council may request some clarification on issues raised at the public hearing, reject the bylaw entirely, or proceed to give it a second and third reading.

9. In a final vote, Council either adopts the Zoning bylaw and allows the development to take place, or defeats it.  (Usually, a bylaw returns for final adoption once all the issues have been addressed and the designs are ready for the Development Permit to be issues, so normally a bylaw returns for final adoption and issuance of the Development Permit.)

For a good description of what goes on at a public hearing, and tips on how you can get your views across effectively and appropriately, check out this page on the North Van District site. While you’re there, browse around and see all the other municipal tidbits that are there for the taking… previous Council minutes and presentations (video clips, too!), parks maps, upcoming public hearing schedules, updated water restrictions, dog-related bylaws, and lots more close-to-home news.

 

 

 

Ass’t Fire Chief seeks seniors for home safety project

When North Van District Assistant Fire Chief Curtis Bremner set out to research preventable deaths in North Vancouver, he was surprised at some of the facts he discovered.

First, a report from the BC Coroner Office revealed that the average age of people who are victims of an “accidental” death in North Vancouver District is 60 years old. “I thought that was a bit high,” he says, and kept teasing out the numbers. It turns out that one factor pushing that number up is the fact that the average age of people who die in a fire in North Vancouver is 70 – fifteen years older that the average in the rest of Metro Vancouver.

That was just the kind of information Bremner was looking for. The assistant chief, in charge of professional development and training, is in his second year of the National Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program, and was searching for a research topic that would address some aspect of community risk reduction.

More information emerged from another source. During an energy audit program designed to assess the energy efficiency of residential homes in Blueridge, the Fire Department used the opportunity to assess the level of fire safety awareness in the typical residential home in North Vancouver.

These home inspections revealed that all but one home had a smoke alarm. However, none of the smoke alarms were tested regularly and only a few residents actually changed the batteries annually. Many of the alarms were past their expiration date and 35 per cent of homes had inadequate coverage.  When he found that the unknowing home owners were often seniors, Bremner knew he’d found his project.

Now he will be investigating smoke alarm programs for seniors, and is looking for volunteers who are 65+ to help him out. Since Lynn Valley has the highest density of seniors in all of North Vancouver, he’s hoping LynnValleyLife readers will answer the call.

Whether you live in a single-family home, a garden apartment (ie a three-storey walk up), a highrise or a townhouse, Bremner and the District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services are offering to come out and do a home safety audit, check your existing smoke alarm or match you up with a better one if necessary, answer questions and give information on fire safety in your home and  how to respond correctly in the event of a fire.

It’s all part of his research, which will be turned into a stringently reviewed, published paper that will add to the body of knowledge shared by firefighters throughout North America. Once that’s done, he will be halfway through the demanding four-year program.

If you’d like to help Bremner with his project, and improve your own home safety, please contact him at bremnerc@shaw.ca. He will be out of the office from Aug. 17 to Sept. 6, and hopes to begin the project Sept. 15, so the sooner you get in touch, the better. No doubt we’d all like to see those preventable death statistics drop dramatically in the future.

– Peggy Trendell-Jensen, editor

Circling helicopters part of Lynn Valley life

FROM THE EDITOR: The sound of sirens isn’t too unusual in Lynn Valley, especially during the summer months when it’s often assumed emergency responders are en route to a mishap in Lynn Canyon.

While those occurrences can sometimes be tragic, we’re lucky to live in an area where emergency vehicles are generally responding to accidents or medical incidents rather than high crime and skulduggery. But the noise of a helicopter circling overhead late at night recently prompted one LynnValleyLife reader to ask “If we hear a chopper at night, does that mean a serial killer is loose in the woods?”

Cpl. Richard De Jong

An excellent question, we thought. So we took it to Cpl. Richard De Jong, the North Van RCMP media relations officer who is always happy to help answer our queries. In short, the answer is ‘no’ – it could be up there for any number of reasons.

There are two helicopters in the Lower Mainland that are jointly owned by the RCMP and other police agencies, ICBC, and the provincial government. Available 24 hours a day, they are dubbed Air 1 and Air 2 (names reminiscent of those in a high-action movie, or, alternately, The Cat in the Hat).

The choppers are deployed in a wide variety of situations, from high-speed traffic chases, to locating lost individuals, to providing support in potentially dangerous situations – such as the recent capture of an individual being sought for a double homicide in Burnaby. Cpl. De Jong says that along with the pilot, there is always a police officer on board in case the helicopter has to set down to make or assist in an arrest.

“To the officer on the street who is in a foot chase or a vehicle chase, having a ‘partner’ up in the sky that can move quickly and have a bird’s eye view of the developing situation… can be life-saving,” said Cpl. De Jong. “Often, just having the police helicopter show up at a volatile scene or chase has a defusing effect.”

That said, in our area it is often visibility more than volatility that is the issue. Lynn Valley, he notes, is in a mountainous area, and often the reason a helicopter is brought in is to help locate individuals lost in our back country.

At night, Air 1 and Air 2 are invaluable because they are equipped with special lights that can detect movement and heat in complete darkness (sorry, parents, they are not available to help you track errant teens who may have missed curfew, or nab that bear that keeps feasting on your fruit trees!)

For more information, and a narrated audio-visual clip of Air 1 on patrol, visit here. And rest assured, when you hear those distinctive chopper noises in the sky, the chances that it’s due to an axe-wielding bogey man are slim!

– Peggy Trendell-Jensen is the editor of LynnValleyLife.

 

 

 

 

Help plan LV’s future – your health depends on it!

FROM THE EDITOR: Do you consider yourself an opinionated person? If so, this is the week for you!

I can’t remember being asked for my opinion quite so often. Between the North Van District Open Houses presenting the new Lynn Valley Town Centre proposal, to tonight’s Healthy Communities Conversation Cafe, to a Cultural Plan Open House in the Village on Thursday, there is enough proposing, pondering, possibility-seeking and planning going on to satisfy the most ardent citizen activist.

Thing is, it’s not just the typical ‘citizen activists’ who should becoming out to these events. Lynn Valley is fortunate to be home to a great corps of dedicated people who pay attention to community planning, who take the time to think about the issues, and who give their feedback and follow the process through to its conclusion.

But the decisions being made now don’t affect just them. They affect busy, double-income families and single seniors. They affect our lower-income residents and our mortgage-free homeowners. And they affect our children, most of whom will have to leave this community to search out affordable accommodation elsewhere – unless, of course, things change.

At tonight’s Conversation Cafe, hosted by Vancouver Coastal Health, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and North Van District, North Shore Health Officer Dr. Brian O’Connor told us that as far as our health is concerned, district planners are far more important than doctors.

“The decisions they make shape the context of your everyday life,” he said. “Your health doesn’t depend on the advice of your physician; it depends on where you live.”

As just one example, he pointed to study that found a typical, 35-year-old male who lives in a walkable neighbourhood weighs 10 pounds less and has better physical and mental health than his ‘twin’ who lives in a lower-density, less-walkable community.

It’s also been discovered that children who live in higher-density, mixed-income neighbourhoods score better on ‘school readiness’ assessments than children who live in uniformly wealthy neighbourhoods, as they have easy access to a wider range of community services.

Finally, seniors who are able to stay in their home community have more social connections and lower mortality rates than those who have to leave their familiar neighbourhood.

Clearly, community planning affects every age group, income level, and interest group. Unfortunately, most of us are too weighed down with the busy-ness involved in the present to pay enough attention to the future.

Which is why it’s so great the District is doing all it can to make engagement easy, interesting, and – yes – even enjoyable! Take tonight as an example. Attendees were given a lovely, heart-healthy dinner and entertained by a live jazz combo; they heard interesting presentations, had the pleasure of having their views actively solicited, and even witnessed the evening unfold visually as artist Taraneh Erfan King used her felt pens and fine doodling to bring people’s thoughts to life.

So, please accept district planners’ invitation to get involved. Help ensure that our neighbourhood can be a vibrant community that is home to people at all ages and stages of their life. Over the next 20 years, it is projected that 5,000 people may move into this community – this is not a small project!

If you can’t make an in-person event, be sure to make time to review and comment on the proposals online.

A Cultural Plan Open House is taking place in the LV Village Community Room on Thursday, May 3, from 5 to 8 p.m. Details, here. (Heads up, an arts facility for the Lynn Valley area is under discussion, so put your two cents in!) You can fill in the Arts Office online survey, here (until May 18).

For all the information about North Van District’s proposals for Lynn Valley Town Centre, see our earlier blog post. You have one more chance to see the displays this week, and that’s tomorrow (Wednesday, May 2), at Karen Magnussen Rec Centre from 1 to 8 p.m. Online options for reviewing the plans, though, are available and we’ve given you all the details.

We promise you’ll discover something interesting in your perusal of the plans. Personally, I love the proposed idea of a “Rain Street”! If we’ve got it, we might as well flaunt it!

– Peggy Trendell-Jensen