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Catalyst Developments, the DNV’s chosen developer for the apartment complex and seniors respite facility on the Delbrook Lands, held an open house to talk about the project on May 30th. Before that, however, Catalyst responded to a number of questions raised by the Delbrook Community Association (DCA).
Catalyst deserves credit for turning around those answers in about four days. That is a sad contrast to the District of North Vancouver itself which has refused to provide answers to many similar questions the DCA asked in January.
The DNV has said they “couldn’t” answer the DCA’s questions because the issues had been discussed “In Camera”. Does this mean the DNV can answer no questions at all about the project? Is this is what passes for meaningful consultation in the DNV?
Catalyst was unable to answer some of the questions (some were DNV responsibility), some were not fully answered and some of the answers will be contentious. Still, Catalyst made an effort which the DNV has not and these answers will help people understand what is coming.
The following post is lengthy but worth the long read.
In coming weeks the DCA will dive more deeply into some of these issues and the response to these questions.
Responses to questions received the Delbrook Community Association –
by email Thu May 24
While we recognize this is not a BC Housing project, one of the minimum requirements for BC Housing projects is “a Needs and Demand Assessment or Market Study that clearly establishes present and future needs and demand for affordable rental or ownership housing in the target community.” In a meeting between Catalyst and the Delbrook Community Association in August 2017, we were told “the project will be steered by District requirements that reflect specific needs of District residents and balances unit composition with the desired rates of affordability.” We note that in the proposed Emery Village Project, 48% of market rental units are two bedroom or larger and in the affordable housing component 60% are two bedrooms or larger. Given that fewer than 30% of the housing units in the proposed Delbrook Lands building will be suitable for families (2 or 3 bedroom), was a market study done on the needs of our community? If so, will this be made public?
District staff refer to the Housing Continuum estimated demand for different types of housing in the District as a guide. See attached. District staff have reviewed the number of units available by type and location across the District and we recognize the need for workforce housing. Along with seniors, workforce housing is the focus of this project at 600 W Queens. Other non-market housing projects will focus on different needs.
Will any of the units be specifically made available for people with special needs? What provisions will be made to support these units in terms of rent support (subsidies) and services?
10-15% of units will be accessible for people with special physical needs. In terms of income needs – the rents will be based on the affordability framework for the project – public meeting info board attached. The project is not arranging specific subsidies for specific residents. However, Seniors may qualify for a “SAFER” subsidy.
Originally, we understood the first floor services would also include 35 child care spaces, particularly for infants and toddlers. Is this no longer the case?
Correct, this is no longer the case. The site analysis, configuration, and project timeline made it very difficult to accommodate childcare. It is not because childcare is not a priority in the District, but that this specific project was determined to not be the optimal way to deliver childcare. The District is using CAC dollars and leveraging development across the District to create opportunities for childcare. District staff is also developing a childcare strategy that takes advantage of the emerging approach to childcare from the Province.
We believe a five storey building is out of character for the neighbourhood. This would be the only five storey building in the Carisbrooke, Delbrook, Norwood Queens and Upper Capilano area. Five storey buildings are even rare on Marine Drive.
Does permission to build a structure of this size set a precedent for other areas in these neighboring communities and for other communities in the District?
There are a number of factors influencing this development:
- The 2011 Official Community Plan, Growth Management Section #1, Policy 3 “Establish a network of centres and corridors consistent with the Network of Centres Concept Map and direct residential and commercial growth to these areas”. Queens is a corridor identified in the Network of Centres map and is identified as being on the future Frequent Transit Network (FTN).
- This location is proximate to significant commercial activities, and located directly adjacent to a multi-story, multifamily (Seniors) building. The design of the building will fit in and enhance the character of the neighbourhood.
- There is significant demand for District-owned land. Using our land resources efficiently to supply non-market housing is a priority of Council.
- The 2016 Rental and Affordable Housing Strategy (RAHS) provides direction to consider additional density and height in order to achieve DNV housing objectives.
Catalyst describes the apartments they are building as non-market, rather than using the term affordable. The District’s “Rental and Affordable Housing Strategy” calls for “the expansion of the affordable rental housing inventory through the implementation of the OCP and other relevant bylaws and policies…” Canada Mortgage and Housing says, “In Canada, housing is considered affordable if shelter costs account for less than 30 per cent of before-tax household income.”
What is the difference between “non-market” and “affordable” housing?
What is the proposed rental cost for each of the different configurations (studio, one, two and three bedroom)?
For each of the different configurations (studio, one, two and three bedroom) how many of the units on the Delbrook Lands will meet the definition of “affordable housing”?
For each of the configurations, what percentage below market will the units be? How will Catalyst ensure that this will margin below market will be maintained over the long term?
Yes there are so many terms being used by all the different levels of government – for Catalyst there is no difference between affordable and non-market – they are just different words. Specifically on this project we are targeting the initial rents in the attached public meeting board. The homes are below market and rents are based on a maximum of 30% of household incomes as shown on the board. Affordability is secured by the terms of the lease and also by a housing agreement. As a non-profit, Catalyst is committed to increasing affordability over time.
In 2016/2017, the Province announced the new Provincial Investment in Affordable Housing Program. Over the next five years, the Province is committing a total of $355 million to create upwards of 2,000 new affordable housing units under the Provincial Investment in Affordable Housing.
What is the involvement of the provincial government or its agency BC Housing in this project?
Catalyst is investigating BC Housing and CMHC funding and financing and will pick the most appropriate support for the project. Any external grant funding will result in more affordability.
Will the units in the proposed development be offered first to current District or North Shore residents?
As the project gets closer to occupancy, Catalyst will build a database for those interested in living at 600 West Queens Road. This will be done through local advertising, site signage, referrals, and online portals. This locally focused marketing results in many applicants from the North Shore. The homes will be available for renting by others as well.
The proposal suggests 60 parking spaces for the 80 housing units and another 8 visitor parking spaces which appears to include visitors to the respite care facility. We anticipate this will create a significant parking overflow onto neigbouring streets.
What are the current assumptions being used by Catalyst with respect to parking numbers? What are these assumptions based on?
Will there be a charge for parking?
Is the District considering parking permits to control parking in the area?
Please see the attached memo from Bunt which includes the proposed parking numbers and rationale. Yes there will be a separate charge for residential parking. We are not sure at this time if the District is considering parking permits to control parking in the surrounding area.
What provisions are being made in the project for bicycle parking? Will there be a charge for this?
There is bicycle parking outside the building for visitors and in the parking area for residents. The residential bicycle parking required is 16 spaces. The project is providing 20 spaces. There is no plan currently to charge for the residential bicycle parking.
The child care centre currently on the Delbrook Lands has a lease until 2023. Does the District plan to continue this lease?
The District communicates regularly with Little Rascals. The 600 W Queens project is independent of these discussions.
What will be the new zoning for the south parking lot? What will be the actual height of the building both at the front and the back? What provisions will be made to transition to the 12 m maximum in PA 1 and PA 2?
The existing zoning of the 600 W Queens site is PA Public Assembly. The proposed new zoning is CD Comprehensive District. The proposed height on the south east corner is 66’7″ (20m) and on the north east corner is 55’1″ (16.8m). The architectural drawings show efforts being made to transition and interface with the surrounding area.
What changes are planned for transit along the Queens corridor and when?
Queens is identified in the North Shore Area Transit Plan (NSATP) and the Regional Transportation Strategy (RTS) and the regional growth strategy (Metro 2040) as future Frequent Transit Network (FTN), which means it will be served by frequent transit.
Where can we view the plans for the park?
Parks staff will be in attendance at the open house to answer questions about the parks planning process.
Who will own the Care BC facility?
The land will remain under District ownership. There will be a lease to Catalyst for the residential air space parcel and a lease to Care BC for their facility air space parcel – both leases with the District directly. Care BC will purchase/lease their space in the building from Catalyst.
Will the tennis courts remain lit after the proposed development opens?
The project at 600 W Queens is not a factor in this. We are unaware of any plans to change the tennis courts.
In a meeting with the Delbrook Community Association in August 2017 we were informed that construction of the project would take 20 to 22 months. We also understand this will be followed by demolition of at least the North Building. What is the projected date for the development of the park and riparian area as this will require further excavation to demolish the parking lot? When will the park be built? Does this mean the community will see three to four years of continuous construction traffic?
The duration for the project construction is still scheduled to take 20-22 months. The District is reviewing timing of the other items. Park staff will be at the public information meeting to answer any questions about the park planning and development process.
Has a construction mitigation report been completed?
What is the maximum number of heavy trucks you anticipate will access the site on a day including removal of debris (concrete from the current parking lot and material dug out for foundations and parking lot, cement trucks etc.?
What plans have been made for staging and parking these heavy industrial trucks? Which streets are anticipated to be used for this purpose? What route will the trucks travel to get to the site? Will there be assigned parking for contractors / construction workers and if so where will it be? What are the staging plans for the cranes?
Which streets are planned for use as access to the construction site?
We will work on these plans as we approach construction. Goal is to minimize disruption and noise for neighbours. We are not a market developer that walks away from the project site afterwards. We are your new neighbours and will operate this building for the next 60 years. We are very much interested in making a good first impression. That said, we appreciate that construction across the street from or nearby to your home can be annoying. We will do what we can to lessen this burden for you and will keep you updated along the way.
At a maximum, how many people do you expect to be working on the site on a day?
What plans have been made for where these people will park?
We have not determined number of site workers yet. We appreciate your concerns and will do what we can to not have construction workers causing parking problems in the neighbourhood.
The South building on the site is currently being rented out for movie shoots which is already causing parking pressure in the neighbourhood. Will it continue to be used for this purpose during construction of the new facility?
The District has not currently considered continuing the use of the building for filming, but this could be a decision at a later date, on a case by case basis.
A number of streets adjacent to the Delbrook site are used by significant numbers of children both to attend schools and for recreation. In addition, the area immediately north of the site is used by the Little Rascals daycare. What steps will be taken to ensure the safety of these crossings and the environment during heavy construction traffic?
Catalyst will work through this as part of our construction traffic management plans which will be prepared close to the start of the construction. Pedestrian and bicycle passage and safety is a high priority in this planning – particularly given the other activities going on in this area.
Queens Road is a major traffic arterial. It is also a transit route. It is the future site of a Future Frequent Transit Network. What steps will be taken to ensure Queens Road is not disrupted by construction and to avoid lane closures and loss of parking? When will the bike lane on Queens Road be installed?
The District is currently reviewing timing for bike lanes. Queens will unlikely be used for staging. However, lane closures will periodically be required for any work required to District services in or on Queens itself. We will make best efforts to minimize disruption and will follow the requirements of doing work on a transit route and major traffic arterial.
Construction on the site will be close to the riparian area of Mission Creek, a salmon bearing stream. What steps will be taken to ensure this area is protected from dust and other pollution during construction?
During construction, dust and erosion and sedimentation will be controlled within the site boundaries. Projects are not allowed to pollute the site or anywhere off the site. Catalyst take this very seriously and provincial government regulations are in place to ensure the stream is protected.
What safety improvements will be made to the intersections of Windsor and Stanley (site of a pedestrian-vehicle collision in 2015) and Windsor and Delbrook to mitigate construction traffic, and afterward?
The District has construction management staff and will assist in coordinating construction activities. The construction management plan will incorporate pedestrian safety at nearby intersections.
Will the tennis courts remain open during construction?
There are no plans to disrupt the use of the tennis courts.
What will be the construction hours?
The District’s Noise Bylaw lays out the expectations for hours of construction-related activity that carry any sort of noise. Catalyst will operate within the noise bylaw hours.
Given the consultation was District-wide, why have notifications of the public information meeting only gone to those properties within 100 m?
The District also sent out notification to the entire Delbrook Deliberative Dialogue series participant list and those that have indicated their interest in keeping up to speed on the Delbrook project.
Responses to questions received from Sharlene Hertz, DCA – by email Tue May 29
How are you funding the building costs? see Question #6 in original document concerning provincial funding, but what other funding does Catalyst have lined up? And at what interest rate? Which agency[ies] are providing loans?
Construction costs will be funded primarily by a construction loan. This loan will likley be from CMHC, BC Housing and or Vancity. The specific interest rate is to be determined but will likely be somewhere between 2% and 3.5%. To date Vancity has provided predevelopment funding loan of $200,000. Interest rate for this loan is 2% p.a. The next stage of funds to pay project costs will likely come from Vancity pre-construction loans or BC housing predevelopment funds.
What is the minimum amount ‘Investors’ can invest?
There is no minimum amount but to date the smallest amount has been $100,000.
What is the rate of return on these investments?
Interest rates for social equity on other projects have ranged from 2 to 6% p.a.
What is the equity share that VanCity has in the project?
Vancity does not have an equity share in the project. The funds are loans and are repaid.
How many ‘investors’ do you have for the Delbrook lands? Or, how many are secured / how many more do you require for this project?
We have no social equity investors lined up yet. The number of investors and the amount of investment required will depend on the final construction financing terms.
Where does the money come from to pay back the investors?
The interest on the loans (social equity investors, Vancity pre-development funds, CHMC or BC Housing construction loan) is paid back at the end of construction with the long term “take-out” mortgage. The interest and principal payment on the take out mortgage is paid using the rents. The assumption in the proforma is that it will take 35 years to pay the interest and principal of the take out mortgage.
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