Category Archives: Issues

The Delbrook lands strategy laid bare

Perhaps I am a little too suspicious.  Perhaps the District is not so strategic.  Perhaps we should recognize that the District is merely playing a part in a national conversation.

But doesn’t it seem a little more than coincidental that exactly one month before the Delbrook Lands workshop, the District released a survey on affordable housing?  Could this be designed to raise the question of affordability to the top of our consciousness?

Asking if you would like to see more affordable housing in the District is akin to asking if we should keep drunk drivers off the road.  Of course we want more affordable housing!  We want places where young families can afford to raise our grandkids; we want homes so our senior friends can continue to live in our community; we don’t want to lose our neighbours to Langley just because they got a divorce.

The Delbrook Lands questionnaire is bullish on non-market housing, and I expect the facilitators will be too.

The most important factor to consider when evaluating this idea is:

Affordable non-market housing is identified as an important community need in the Official Community Plan

It would provide up to 40 units of lowrise apartments for low- to moderate-income households

The project could not happen without the District contributing land

The site is within walking distance of schools, parks, recreation facilities, and shops, and is located on a public transit corridor

The Province wants to partner with municipalities on affordable housing projects

A rezoning and Official Community Plan amendment would be needed, as the site is not zoned for residential and is not in a town centre

It could not proceed without external funding for capital and operating costs, which is not guaranteed

So there is a real danger that the workshop on Saturday is going to be designed to ride this wave of affordable housing, and the result will be a recommendation for some of the site to be set aside for this use, even though it will not solve the problem at all.

Of course, the only negative factor in the question about affordable housing lays out the next step: we can proceed with non-market housing only if we find capital and operating funds to pay for it.  So, if you want to use a portion of the site for non-market housing, then you will also sign up to develop the rest of the site for market housing.  The sale of the asset will pay the capital cost of construction, and the tax revenue will pay for the operations.

At the end of the day, if the District and developers have their way, we will get half-a-dozen non-market bachelor suites in the basement of a monstrous complex of foreign-owned empty mini-palaces.

I’m sorry, but I had really hoped for more.


Delbrook Dialogue – What About Parks?

Following on the success of last month’s dialogue on public engagement, I hope you will join us for our second one.  This one is about parks, and is once again open to all:

Polishing Parks

7PM, May 29th (Doors open at 6:30)

District Hall, 355 West Queens Road

by donation

As last time, we have invited a panel of engaging speakers to tell us their thoughts and experiences regarding parks.  The panelists will be,

Jack Belhouse
Successful Park Planning & Community Parks and Open Space
“one of the most creative planners in the region,” Jack is the former director of planning for Burnaby, and oversaw a number of green space projects including Barnet Marine Park, the Burnaby Mountain conservation area, Deer Lake Park and Burnaby Lake Regional Park.

Douglas Curran
Using the right tools for the right job: Reclaiming the public realm for the public
Since 2010 Douglas Curran has been a prominent figure within the planning for renewal of Lower Capilano.  With the May 2013 adoption of the Lower Capilano Implementation Plan, Curran has been leading and building context for the community dialogue surrounding the public realm and creating a public space driven by an informed community vision.

Jeff Musson
Inclusive Play for Communities
Jeff is one of the Principal Partners of Habitat Systems, a Burnaby company that encourages the development of healthy communities by selecting park and playground products that are innovative, kind to the environment, and offer superior technologies.  He represents the North Shore and Lower Mainland.


Whither Community Associations?

At an in-camera vote this spring, the District of North Vancouver Council cancelled its oversight of the 18 community groups operating in the district. Council’s decision has caused concern among the District’s Community Associations.
In response to this decision, the Federation of North Vancouver Community Associations has established a Task Group of FoNVCA representatives to recommend and implement a process for consulting community associations and the public on what community associations should be.
The Task Group [D. Curran, D. Ellis, S. Hertz, C. Kost] is currently working on a process to fully engage the community associations and the public. More details to follow – stay tuned!

Metro Vancouver Joint Water Use Plan


see the Metro Vancouver website for details and for a feedback form

Tonight I was one of perhaps 100 at the lightly attended public meeting regarding Metro Vancouver’s Draft Joint Water Use Plan for the Capilano and Seymour watersheds. While the process has been under way for 20 months, it seems that we are still quite early in the process. As Capilano is the bigger change, and closer to Delbrook, I’ll concentrate on that watershed.

My understanding is that Metro is planning to seek approval to change its water use license from drinking water only to multiple uses. Primarily they want to add electricity generation to both facilities. Once they get the approval from the province, they would dig in deeper on the consultation process, engineering due diligence and planning.

In the case of Capilano, the generation capacity would be up to 57 GWh, and this would come online in about 2022. That amount is trivial compared to BCHydro’s total energy needs, and there were numerous questions as to the viability of this project, given the small capacity. The anticipated costs are up to $100 Million for construction. This actually sounds small to me, given that what they are proposing is to build a new intake at the surface of the lake, a vertical shaft through the mountain to a new generation facility underground near the foot of the Cleveland Dam.

Somehow, Metro will also find an operator who is willing to take a back seat to drinking water supplies. The speakers were adamant that drinking water will be the top priority. In a year when we have had almost no rain from July through mid-October, and the reservoirs are sitting around 60% full, one wonders just how much power generation we will be able to pull out of the dams if drinking water is the priority.

One of the principle benefits the region is using to sell the idea is that if we even out the flow to 2.3 cubic meters per second, we will not only generate some electricity, we will also maintain a good level for recreational uses, Furthermore, evening out the flow is better for fish. Pulling the intake to the lake surface also means the water will be warmer, making it a better habitat for fish.

One interesting statistic from Mayor Mussatto’s presentation was that water consumption has dropped significantly this year. FRom an average of 2 billion Litres per day last year, we are apparently sitting at 1.56 billion Litres per day this year. I guess all those low-flow toilets are starting to pay off.