Will the DNV’s housing survey mislead people about the Delbrook lands?

The District of North Vancouver is developing an affordable housing strategy. Part of that work is a survey that may affect what happens with the Delbrook property. Unfortunately, the wording of the survey may lead people to agree to the lease of the Delbrook property and other District properties without being aware of all the facts.

This process began a year ago with a resolution in June 2015 calling on District staff to develop “a green paper outlining regulatory and policy tools to ensure a future supply of affordable housing in the District.”

The Green paper came to Council in October and can be found here:

http://app.dnv.org/OpenDocument/Default.aspx?docNum=2772141

On May 3rd a Council workshop received additional reports and a proposal for public consultation on housing issues that was to include meetings with participants, a 400 person telephone survey and additional contacts through online and in person surveys at libraries and community centres. The agenda for that workshop and the documents presented to the workshop can be found here:

http://app.dnv.org/councilsearchnew/

There is a serious need for a discussion of affordable housing in the District and Council should be commended for leading that discussion. However, the wording of the survey may be leading and the result might be an uninformed support for the district to sell or lease properties.

The survey begins with questions identifying where people live and what sort of housing they reside in. It then moves to asking what people think about the future of housing in the District and whether or not they think there is enough supportive, social and low income housing in the District, as well as emergency shelters and entry level home ownership.

The survey then moves to solutions and this is where the issue of the Delbrook property comes in.  A survey question asks, “How much do you support or oppose leasing District owned land for affordable rental projects?”  People who have previously supported such projects in the survey are likely to support this without being aware of the options and consequences.

Worded another way, the question would get different results. For example, the survey could have asked, “In future there is likely to be more housing density in the District neighbourhoods. Do you support or oppose the District retaining control of the land it owns to supply parks and facilities to people in those neighbourhoods?” Or the survey could have asked, “The District owns a limited amount of land and with the cost of land is unlikely to obtain more if the land is sold or leased. Do you support or oppose the District using its land to provide parks and services to the people of the District?”

The results of this survey will likely help inform the decision the District makes this fall about what to do with the Delbrook property. It is unfortunate that their affordable housing survey may mislead people into giving the wrong advice.

 

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Transit fares too high? Too low? What do you think?

Have you got any thoughts on transit fare in Metro Vancouver? A lot of people do.

Here is your chance to make your views heard. TransLink is now looking into the issue and they say:

Over the last 30 years, the way we determine fares — including our zone structure and our fare products — hasn’t changed much.

It’s time to take a fresh look at our fare system.

This is the first of four phases of the Transit Fare Review. In order to get this right, we want to make sure we get your input along the way. The process is just starting and no decisions have been made.

TransLink is seeking our input through a survey you can find on line here:

http://www.translink.ca/farereview?utm_source=Transit+Fare+Review&utm_campaign=7093169540-Transit_Fare_Review_Let_s_Talk_Transit_F5_26_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a4fd80263f-7093169540-382311565

The survey will be open until June 30.

New neighbors in Delbrook – really bad neighbors

Delbrook has seen some really bad characters moving into the neighborhood. How bad? They can crack your pavement. If you try to handle them they can burn you. And if you try to burn them they give off toxic smoke.

These new neighbors are invasive plant species. Some invasive plants, like English Ivy have been with us for a long time and have gone wild choking trees is creeks.  But these new neighbors – Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed are really bad actors.

Japanese knotweed is also known as “killer bamboo” or even “the Godzilla of the plant world.” Almost impossible to kill, it roots can crack pavement and grow long distance underground.

knotweed 2016
Japanese Knotweed in Mission Creek

Giant Hogweed can grow up to five meters tall. Its sap can burn your skin and lead to welts, blisters and scarring that can last for years. Getting sap in your eyes can lead to temporary blindness.

hogweed
Giant Hogweed

Both of these plants have shown up in the District on both District and public land. The District is taking action on its own property, such as the site of Mission Creek.

DSCN1828
The DNV taking action

The DNV has also published a valuable resource on invasive plants that can be found on its website here:

http://www.dnv.org/programs-and-services/managing-invasive-plants-your-property

This site leads to a number of other valuable online sources of information.

The District’s advice on invasive plants is:

  1. Spread the word to stop the spread — Active outreach and education among peer groups, garden clubs, and neighbourhood associations can help prevent the introduction of unwanted invasive species
  2. Know your landscape sources — Invasive plants can be introduced during garden installation and renovation or contaminated soils, fill and seed mixture
  3. Watch your neighbourhood — Early detection is key in successful treatment of invasive plants
  4. Stop dumping — Illegal dumping of yards trimmings and green waste can establish invasive plants along park edges and greenways. Responsible disposal of plant material is key to controlling the spread of invasive plants
  5. Handle with care —  Identify the most appropriate treatment techniques. The responsible use of chemical herbicides is of critical importance given the sensitive ecology within the District.

The District site identifies a number of other invasive plants with less direct negative impacts. One surprise to me is that the ubiquitous scotch broom, according to the Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver, “oozes toxic substances into the soil that prevents native plans from establishing.”

One other invasive species discussed is fire ants, which in my mind are too horrible to discuss here and I hope no one has them.

Housing affordability in the lower mainland

Housing affordability is becoming a real problem in the lower mainland, including here in the Delbrook area. What’s the solution? A couple of groups are putting forward ideas.

Thomas Davidoff, Director of the Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate at the UBC Sauder School of Business had an article about this in the Vancouver Sun May 20th that can be found here:

Opinion: Governments need to act on housing affordability

The article concludes with:

The UBC Centre for Real Estate and Urban Economics is hosting a public discussion on May 24 from 4:30-6 p.m. at UBC’s Point Grey campus. Panelists will include homeowners, the City of Vancouver, a member of the provincial legislature, the media, the development industry, and academia. Our aim is to reach agreement on how to add density to all neighbourhoods to add opportunity without compromising amenity. For information, click here.

That’s tomorrow so this is not much notice.

Last week the BC Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives also weighed in with a study by Marc Lee about solutions for housing affordability. Their report can be found here:

https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/getting-serious-about-affordable-housing-towards-plan-metro-vancouver

Whatever you think about the ideas of these two groups, this is an issue we will be talking about a lot in coming years.

 

First people picked for Delbrook consultation

Names have been drawn for individual property owners for the June 18 consultation on the future use of the current site of the Delbrook Community Centre.

Before a small audience of five people, representatives of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue randomly selected most of the names for the 34 people who will represent the Delbrook area of the District of North Vancouver and the 40 people who will represent the District more broadly plus three people from the City of North Vancouver. The draw took place Friday morning in the District Council chambers.

Delbrook draw 2

Over the next two weeks people representing groups (13 people from groups working in the Delbrook area and a further 13 from the broader District) will be identified. Some of the choices for individual property owners have been held back to ensure that there is a gender balance of at least 45/55%.  Roughly 60 per cent of applicants for the process were women.

There were not enough applicants to fill the seats held for young people in the consultation and the Centre for Dialogue will try to recruit these people.

The Centre for Dialogue will be contacting the people who were chosen soon to ensure they are still able to attend. Names of all the participants, except the nine who have so far asked for their names not to be released, will be published within the next two weeks.

DNV asks for $525 to see communications with consultation consultant

The District of North Vancouver is demanding $525 before people will be permitted to see communications that took place between the District and its consultation consultant, Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue, on the future use f the Delbrook lands.

The demand arose from a Freedom of Information request asking for records and communications between the District and the Centre for Dialogue since the beginning of 2016. A response from the District’s Information and Privacy Coordinator said the charges arose from an estimated 12.5 hours of search time that would be charged at the rate of $7.50 per quarter hour. The District is required to offer three hours of free search time by the provincial FOI legislation so the total number of ours of search time suggest was 15.5.  The remainder was for 200 pages of copying charged at 30 cents per page.

Sharlene Hertz, the author of the FOI request and a District resident, has now asked the District to waive the fees in the public interest. In her appeal she said the following:

Decisions regarding future use of the Delbrook lands are an issue of significant interest for the people of North Vancouver. In January 177 people attended a consultation meeting. The site for the meeting had to be moved because more people asked to be there than could be accommodated in the original site. More people would have attended if they had been permitted to. A further 103 people responded to an online survey while 12 people submitted a paper survey.  This is a very significant issue for people in the Delbrook area of the District.

On its web site the District says, “We have partnered with Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue to conduct an innovative, open, and transparent public process to find options for what to do with the Delbrook Lands.” As well, transparency is among the guiding principles for the community consultation (Delbrook Lands Deliberative Dialogue Process and Guidelines, 25 April 2016). While the District’s consultant has limited this to openly reporting on consultation findings it is inconceivable that it would not also extend to the consultation process. Since the District is funding the process and its consultant, transparency would include release of communications between the District and the consultant.

I note that while 70 per cent of participants in the January consultation are reported as saying this was a productive first step, that this compares with 93 per cent level of satisfaction reported in the Deep Cove Parking Dialogue. A fully transparent process can increase the level of satisfaction. A lack of transparency will create further doubt in the process.

A feature of the response from the District was that, in total, they thought it would take more than 15 hours to track down all of the communications between the District and the consultant since January. This would seem t suggest an intensive level of communications between the two parties as to how the consultation would progress.

Time is running out! Just 3 days left to register for Delbrook lands consultation

There are only three days left to sign up for the draw that will decide who gets to be consulted on the future use of the Delbrook Community Centre lands. The deadline is May 18th.

To be included in the draw go to the following URL and fill out the form.

https://sfu.fluidsurveys.com/s/delbrookdialogue/