Tag Archives: Delbrook Lands

Delbrook Community Association submits proposal for the Delbrook lands

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Following lengthy community consultations earlier in 2017, the Delbrook Community Association (DCA) has submitted a proposal to District of North Vancouver Council on what to do with the Delbrook lands site.

The two buildings currently on the site are now largely closed with much of the previous activity being moved to the new Delbrook Recreation Centre on Queens Road.

In an extensive and expensive community consultation process in the spring the community concluded the land should not be sold, that it should have a large component of parks in new plans, and that a portion of the property should be used for non-market housing.

District Staff are now in the process of preparing a report that is planned to go o Council this autumn. The DCA has submitted its proposal to Mayor and Council and to staff to inform this planing process.  DCA president Rene Gourley in his letter to Cuncil said,

It is our hope that this submission will help inform the development of the staff report to Council anticipated for the autumn as well as the thinking of Council itself.

The DCA believes this proposal is consistent with the principles, goals and policies of the OCP in terms of sensitively providing diverse housing and providing parks and open spaces for use by all segments of the population. It also is in keeping with the findings of the Districts extensive community consultation on use of the Delbrook Lands.

The Delbrook Community Association looks forward to participating in these discussions on this important project for our community.

The DCA proposal calls for the south parking lot area to be used for ground oriented housing with the sale of the properties restricted to first responders working in the District. Appreciation of the value of the units would be limited to ensure when sold the units would continue to be affordable by first responders.

The DCA’s full proposal is shown below.

Submission to Mayor and Council

District of North Vancouver

Regarding Future Development of the Delbrook Lands Site

June 2017

The District of North Vancouver is in the process of determining the future use of the Delbrook Lands. We believe the future use of this property offers the potential for both the long-term use of the community and the immediate needs of the community for both family based, ground oriented housing offering homes to people offering important services in our community.

The District undertook an extensive community consultation on this property involving both local residents and residents of the broader District. We anticipate any forthcoming bylaw proposals pertaining to these lands will reflect the principles articulated by the community.

Specifically,

none of the land is to be sold

  1. most of the land is to be retained as green space
  2. limited non-market housing is to be provided at no cost to the District

The January 17 Staff Report to Council on the results of the Public Consultation Process identified the following:

the south parking lot is dedicated to housing

  • the balance of the lands being reserved for parks and green space.

The Delbrook Community Association welcomes the long sought park / green space for the community along with limited non market housing as an appropriate blueprint for any proposed re-zoning bylaws.

 Delbrook Community Association Proposal for

Non-Market Housing on Delbrook Public Assembly Lands

 In this context, the DCA favours a non-market housing model which would not only provide perpetually affordable housing at no cost to the District and preserve the District’s propriety of the land, but would also enhance public safety.  Effectively, we support a restricted sale and restricted price model as per the Whistler Housing Authority.

In its simplest terms, our proposal includes the following:

the DNV would provide leased land at a minimal cost on which two and three bedroom ground oriented townhouses would be constructed; ground level housing is in extreme demand for families and helps create community among neighbours

  1. Units would be constructed in what is ow the south parking lot of the property.   We envision a small number of low rise units built along Queens. Units would be attractive to families and would be offered for sale only to District firefighters as well as paramedics, nurses and police officers who work in the City or District of North Vancouver.
  2. Such purchasers would also be
    1. Canadian citizens or permanent residents
    2. could not own another home
    3. and would work for a minimum of 20 hours per week in the District or City.

In the event of a natural or man-made catastrophe, first responders would already be in our community thereby addressing some of the concerns recently expressed by the public and by some members of Council.  In addition:

Through purchasers’ mortgages, the capital cost of construction could be quickly recovered.

  • A covenant requiring the owner to sell his/her home to another similarly “qualified” person within 6 months of leaving employment in North Vancouver would also be in place.

The appreciated cost of these units would be determined not by the free market, but by the Core Canadian Consumer Price Index. The price of such non-market homes would always be in reach of middle income earners while simultaneously providing the owner with the opportunity to build some equity.  Furthermore, the District could, if necessary, re-purpose the land in the future by purchasing units as they came available for sale.

Finally, the DCA affirms that the proposed use of the Delbrook Lands in general, outlined above, is consistent with the principles, goals and policies of the OCP in terms of sensitively providing diverse housing and providing parks and open spaces for use by all segments of the population.

Details of the manner in which the Municipality of Whistler operates its restricted sale and restricted price program is available at www. Whistler Housing Authority .ca.

 The Delbrook Community Association thanks you for your consideration of this non market housing proposal.  We are confident this proposal meets and in fact, exceeds the expectations of those who participated in the intensive consultation process.  Ground level, non market housing with the DNV retaining ownership and with families and inhabitants so essential to our well being is a win-win for all residents.  We welcome the opportunity to discuss any questions you may have and offer our support as the DNV plans the future of the publicly held Delbrook Lands.

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DNV Council’s first reaction to Delbrook lands “dialogue”

District of North Vancouver Council got its first look Monday night at the Simon Fraser University Centre for Dialogue’s report on the future use of the Delbrook Recreation Centre site lands.

The report was the culmination of a controversial eight-month process.

Speaking to Council on the report, Delbrook Community Association President Rene Gourley said that despite concerns with the process he was pleased it had largely confirmed the priorities of the community association. In particular, he noted the overwhelming opposition to the sale of public assembly lands and the overwhelming support for neighbourhood park space.

While the group consulted had opposed any market sector housing on the site it had endorsed some non-market housing. Mr. Gourley pointed out that there had been no discussion as to what this meant and that any move in this direction would require significantly more consultation.

rene

DCA President Rene Gourley presents to Council

Council responded briefly after the presentation by the Centre for Dialogue. Councilor Hicks acknowledged that there had been no definition of “non-market” or affordable housing and that this would need to be discussed. Councilor Hansen said that he had always opposed the sale of the property and that he appreciated the consultation’s support for mixed use of the site. He expressed concerns about the small number of young people involved in the consultation.

Councilor Bond echoed the concerns regarding the number of young people involved. He noted that the consultation supported “a lot of things” but noted that non-market housing was only supported if someone else paid for it. He acknowledged there was strong opposition to market housing but suggested people might accept mixed housing with market housing as part of it.

Councilor Lisa Muri noted that the majority of the community wanted the majority of the land returned to the community for public use. She said people were committed to keeping a valuable part of the community for future generations.

Councilor MacKay-Dunn reported on his meetings with Metro Vancouver committees where affordable housing had been discussed. He suggested if money was available shovel ready affordable housing projects would be considered. He suggested a long-term lease of the property.

Mayor Walton expressed concerns about the life cycle costs of any project. Consideration needed to be given not only to capital costs but long term operating costs as well. He speculated we might be looking at nonmarket housing on the south end of the property.

Council voted to accept the consultation report and to refer it to staff for a more detailed response later in the fall.

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Despite a flawed process, Delbrook consultation largely supports community association position on sale of public land, parks

On Friday, September 9th Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue released its District of North Vancouver Commissioned report on consultations on future use of the Delbrook Recreation Centre site.

This has not been a process with which the Delbrook Community Association has been particularly comfortable. The Community Association was specifically cut out of the “big ideas” session in January. Support for “market housing” was nearly non-existent in the January results but, sure enough, it got prominent placement in the second consultation session in June.

img_0207

In an unprecedented move the June consultation was set up to ensure people wo live in the Delbrook area of the District of North Vancouver would be a minority. Just prior to the consultation the District aggressively promoted a survey to support “affordable housing”.

The consultation document ignored key arguments for protecting public land such as those put forward by housing analyst Elizabeth Murphy that building housing on public lands is adding many more people with fewer amenities. “The school and park systems need to be protected, funded and expanded, not used for yet more housing,” she said.

Finally, as the people being consulted were on the way out the door from the June meeting they were presented with a survey that seemed tailor made to get a result demanding some form of housing on the Delbrook site lands.

All told, the Community Association felt there was little room for optimism about this report.

That being said, the report is better than we expected. Despite problems with the process participants across the District largely supported the positions taken by the Delbrook Community Association. This may disappoint some members of DNV council who have made it clear they wanted to sell all or part of the site to help pay for the new William Griifin Recreation Centre site. One of the original proposals for the Delbrook site was a 12 story apartment building that would have brought in millions of dollars.

The Delbrook Community Association in discussions over the last few years came to agreement on a number of principles regarding future use of the Delbrook site. These were:

  1. No sale of public assembly lands: these should be kept for the future use of community.
  2. A major portion of the site should be used for need park space in the community.
  3. The child care centre should remain on the site.
  4. The site should not be used for housing as it will be needed in future to provide amenities for what is likely to be a community with more density than present.
  5. There should be some sort of multi-use facility on the site to serve the community. This last point was not unanimously held.

How do the consultation report’s findings measure up against these principles?

No sale of public assembly land

On this, there was overwhelming agreement. Participants opposed selling the land for any of the reasons offered despite the fact that the survey offered seven different possible uses for the money if the land was sold.

Using the property for park space

People were even more strongly supportive of new park space than they were opposed to selling the land. More than 80 per cent of local residents supported neighbourhood parkland. Even more than 60 per cent of non-residents supported the idea.

Child Care on the site

Nearly 90 per cent of participants were reported to have been in support of additional child care or adult day care spaces on the site.

Using the site for future amenities – not housing

Participants in the process were strongly against the idea of using for market house. Nearly two thirds were strongly against the idea.

Non-market housing received greater support. Among district wide participants 70 per cent were in favour or strongly in favour of non-market housing. Among people in the community non-market housing squeezed out a bare majority of support of 51 per cent. However, support for non-market came with the caveat that it not be paid for by the District.

When asked for ideas for the site in the post event survey, non-market housing came fifth (21 mentions) following green space (46 mentions), additional child and adult day care (27 mentions), flexible/multi use indoor community space (26 mentions) and retain public ownership (23 mentions). If Council chooses to go in this direction it will require a great deal more consultation.

Perhaps most important, there was no discussion of, or agreement on, just exactly what was meant by non-market housing.

Multi-use facility

Interestingly, this idea wasn’t even on the table in the post event survey. Despite this it was one of the top three ideas listed when people were asked for ideas in the survey. Three of the 12 tables recommended the idea.

 

So what did people think about the process? The Centre for Dialogue reports satisfaction with the process went up by eight per cent between a survey before the day and a survey afterwards. However, this enthusiasm was not complete. Expressions of dissatisfaction also went up. Only eight percent of participants from outside of the Delbrook Community said they were unhappy with the consultation process. However, among community residents who were more intensely involved in the process over the long term, nearly 20% said they were not satisfied. While 80% of people from outside the community said they were happy with the process only 65% of Delbrook community residents said they were satisfied. The Centre for Dialogue should be very disappointed with that 65% figure.

What will the outcome be? That will be up to Council and they have made clear they do not feel compelled to take any advice provided by this consultation.

Some things are clear. Council did not get a mandate to sell the property. They heard clearly that more park space is wanted along with better child and adult day care. People opposed market housing and only supported non-market housing if it is not paid for by the District. Support for this housing option came in the context that the Dialogue Document failed to present the arguments for keeping the land for future amenities.

The Centre for Dialogue report goes to DNV Council on Monday, September 19th although no decisions will be made at that time.

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Delbrook lands report out. Does it give Council exactly what they wanted? More to follow

The much anticipated DNV commissioned report from SFU Centre for Dialogue on future use of the Delbrook Recreation Centre site was distributed to participants in the process this morning. It is slated to go to Council on September 16th.

The report can be found here:

http://www.dnv.org/sites/default/files/edocs/Delbrook-final-report-20160909.pdf

We have not had time to study the document in detail yet but we will be posting an analysis within the next few days.

A couple of quick things stand out. First of all, if the DNV did plan to put their thumb on the scale of the outcome by limiting local Delbrook representatives to less than 50%, it worked. On the question of park space, for example, 82% of Delbrook area residents supported the idea compared to 72% of District wide participants.

Second, a majority of residents supported some form of non-market housing. Once again, support was significantly lower among Delbrook area residents. As noted earlier, the post workshop survey distributed to participants appeared to be set up to achieve this result. See the link below.

https://delbrookca.wordpress.com/2016/06/27/reflections-on-the-dialogue-some-thoughts-on-the-delbrook-lands-consultation/

Council is certainly looking at converting public assembly land into housing. A report going to Council Monday recommends that staff “be directed to issue a Request for Expressions of Interest to identify potential non-profit housing partners in the development of family oriented affordable rental housing projects on District owned sites.” (Agenda package – http://app.dnv.org/OpenDocument/Default.aspx?docNum=2985107 – page 153)

It does make at least some of us wonder just what the point of this process has been.

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Writer asks: Is trading off public amenities for housing a good idea?

Elizabeth Murphy, a former a property development officer for the City of Vancouver’s Housing & Properties Department and for BC Housing, has an article in Today’s Vancouver Sun on housing policy for Vancouver. Her article contains things that have a lot of resonance for people looking at housing policy in the District of North Vancouver and especially for the Delbrook community.

Among her comments she says,

the city is becoming amenity deficient for the amount of growth we have taken on to date. There is a structural loss of green space and recreational facilities. Building housing on School Board and Park Board land, such as proposed for the Britannia Centre in the recently approved Grandview Woodland Community Plan, is adding many more people with less amenities. The school and park systems need to be protected, funded and expanded, not used for yet more housing.

Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, this argument was not included in the consultation document for the possible redevelopment of the Delbrook Community Centre property.

Murphy also suggests, “The dogmatic application of transit oriented development is not considering the capacity of the system or the surrounding neighbourhood impact.”

Murphy’s whole article can be found here:

Opinion: Affordable housing myths and facts

The SFU Centre for Dialogue is reported to be releasing its report on the Delbrook Lands September 9th. Presumably, discussion at DNV council will follow shortly thereafter.

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Delbrook footbridge to be demolished

Earlier this year the Delbrook Community Association wrote to the DNV raising concerns about a footbridge that connects Delbrook to the Delbrook Community Centre buildings. We are concerned that if the bridge is dangerous it should be better protected. We are particularly concerned that as it sits it is a magnate for children. We called for it to be repaired or replaced.

Last month the DNV responded saying “The Parks Department intends to dismantle the bridge this summer, and work with the context of the Delbrook Lands Planning process to determine the future for a bridge, and associated costs.” They continue they will wait until the planning process is completed.

For now, at least, the bridge is being left as it is. Hopefully saying “please keep out” is sufficient.

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Delbrook Bridge

 

Reflections on the dialogue: Some thoughts on the Delbrook Lands consultation

I want to share my thoughts on the day long consultation on the Delbrook lands that took place on Saturday June 18th. Before I do that, however, I would like to invite you to share your thoughts as well by commenting on this post. Overall, my reaction was negative. Perhaps you have a different point of view.

In short, I was startled by some of the introductory comments, went through the discussion and then was offended by the final questionnaire people were asked to complete on their way out the door.

In the introduction to the process one of the Centre for Dialogue presenters told the group someone had attempted to obtain the phone numbers of all 100 participants and call them to persuade them about our point of view.

At that point I asked for the microphone to correct the comment telling participants that in fact one member of the Delbrook Community Association had simply called four of her neighbours to talk about the process and to share her thoughts. One of them was offended and apparently complained.

The presenter acknowledged the correction and explained to me later his remarks were not intended to criticize but simply to demonstrate the level of commitment to discussion of the Delbrook property. However, earlier in a call from the Centre for Dialogue to the president of the Delbrook Community Association we were told the Centre was concerned about Council feeling the process was being compromised and asked for any calling to stop. We were instructed to stop speaking to our neighbours.

I am sure the Centre would not have wanted to present incorrect information to the group but for me it was not a good start to the day.

We then did a short walking tour and spent the rest of the day discussing the pros and cons of the six options presented for the Delbrook site: minimal change; parks and outdoor recreation; community services, recreation and culture; non-market housing; market housing and commercial use.

The ideas generated by the 12 tables were then summarized in two minute presentations to the mayor and five of the six council members.

All well and good. But sometimes the questions that don’t get asked are as important as the questions that do get asked and some of the questions in the Dialogue Document somehow never made it to the discussion. Page 38 of the Dialogue Guide listed four questions that participants should take into account. These were:

  1. What principles should guide decision making for the Delbrook Lands?
  2. What are the greatest needs of the community?
  3. How will different community members be impacted by participant recommendations to District Council on future use of the Delbrook Lands?
  4. Are there any circumstances where the sale and private ownership of the Delbrook Lands is desirable, or is continued public ownership preferred?

These were foundational questions the group never had a chance to discuss. Would it have made a difference to the discussion? Perhaps.

Something else that wasn’t focused on? Perhaps the groups should have discussed the fact that that the DNV’s 2013 Public Assembly Lands Strategy has as part of its guiding principles:

Public Assembly lands were created to serve the social needs of the community, and Council supports retention of publicly used lands and buildings (where appropriate) for long-term community purposes to the greatest extent possible.

It would have been nice to have a focused discussion on the importance of pubic assembly lands in the future.

For me the last straw was the exit survey. As people were packing up their papers they were asked to fill out a seven-page questionnaire. On page three participants were asked to place a check mark beside up to three of ten possible uses for the property. Nine of the ten choices included housing as one of the uses. When people are asked to provide up to three choices they usually provide three choices. And in this question putting down more than one X meant you supported using housing for the site. How many people, at the end of the day, with a seven-page questionnaire, thought about this when they were asked to provide three choices.

delbrook q p3 edit

 

And then there is simply the makeup of the people chosen for input on this process. More than half came from outside the Delbrook area. I can’t wait for the day I see a giant sign on a nearby street asking for my participation in some District project miles away in another neighbourhood. Call me cynical but I think I will be waiting a long time.

Did it make a difference that slightly more than half of the people at the consultation lived outside of the Delbrook area of the DNV? Perhaps.

At the earlier January consultation 70% of the people at the assembly lived in the Delbrook area of the DNV. Roughly 1,100 ideas were put forward. Of these seven, less than one per cent talked about market housing. A relatively small group talked about non market housing. A much larger group talked about community programming facilities and structures.

In contrast, the June consultation saw a third of the 12 tables reporting call for market housing (although one woman got up to say that at her table only four of the seven participants had supported market housing. Speakers from eight of the 12 tables supported some sort of “non-market” housing, though the concept of non-market housing was never defined.

I suspect this change in reaction came from two things – the large group of people from outside of the area and the fact that in the weeks before the consultation the District conducted two surveys with leading questions encouraging a “housing” response.

This is not to argue the District does not need both market and affordable housing. But slapping up a few homes on the Delbrook lands is a solution that is even less than cosmetic. It sells off the District’s family silverware to give the impression of action while making little of no real change. It reduces the amount of land owned by the District for the use of its citizens and we will never be able to afford to buy this back.

So what should we expect? The Centre for Dialogue will make its report in September. I wish I could be more optimistic about that report. Then Council will make its decisions. I wish I could be more optimistic about that too. Councilors are legally required to keep an open mind about these issues, but we know some of them are committed to getting cash for the Delbrook lands.

Who in 30 years will remember a Council in 2016 got a few dollars for a property that could have served us for generations.

 

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