Saturday, September 23, 2017

How Much House is Too Much?

This week a client living in the Caplano Highlands told me that they were looking for a new house.  In her words "2500 square feet is just more than we need."  That would be two adults, two kids, and a dog.

Lucky for them both the City and District are looking at ways to take single family lots and turn them into two family homes.

The City has designated one area for studying the possibility of of allowing duplexes to increase density.  Deadline for study participation is September 25th.
The Duplex Special Study will explore low density housing options (such as duplex development) for the 300 blocks of East 13th to 19th Street in consultation with area residents. This effort will contribute to the implementation of the City’s Housing Action Plan (2016) which established strategies to address the housing needs of City residents including the provision of smaller, more affordable ownership options and increasing the stock of accessory rental units in proximity to transit and services.
The District meanwhile is looking into the idea of subdividing large lots in Upper Capilano to allow two smaller houses.  As reported in the North Shore News:
District of North Vancouver council voted Monday night to begin drawing up an amended bylaw that would make it easier for people who own 66-foot lots in the Upper Capilano neighbourhood to subdivide them into two 33-foot lots. 
If approved by council following a public hearing, the district would create new “small lot infill areas” or SLIAs along the north side of Montroyal Boulevard between Cliffridge Avenue and Ranger Avenue, and on Canyon Boulevard and Clements Avenue between Ranger and Belvedere Drive. Council is also reviewing the possibility of adding the 1000 block of Prospect Avenue.
(I will leave it to others to imagine the impact of these subdivisions at a time when every road into or out of Capilano Highlands is still under construction.)

Missing from either of these proposals is a recognition that something like a third of people in the Lower Mainland live in rental accommodation. I've seen no tangible plans to increase that pool, though maybe our newly minted provincial government will find a way.

(Admin note: I have finally updated the list of links on the right hand sidebar. If there are any that you think should be added, drop me an email.)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Inter River Turf Wars!

Many thanks to Jerry Silver for pointing me to the Inter River Community Association, and their efforts to challenge plans to add two new artificial turf fields at the park of the same name. As they describe it on their web site:

The proposal includes the following key changes:

  • Replacement of an existing grass field with artificial turf
  • Removal of at least 1.5 hectares of forest to make way for a second turf field
  • Installation of tournament lighting towers on both proposed fields, allowing these fields to operate after dark
  • Additional parking plus a clubhouse and other sports club and tournament services

    There has been minimal consultation with area residents about these plans. Here are some of the issues residents are concerned about:
  • Loss of this forested area would have a negative impact to the overall quality of life to many people of diverse backgrounds in our community
  • Loss of this forested area would also represent a significant loss of ecological value and is a contravention of the District’s strategic commitment to tree retention and environmental sustainability
  • Increased traffic and noise, with fields operating year-round and late into the evening
  • The impact of artificial turf on health and safety
  • The loss of informal recreational space used by young families who live in the area and other residents, in favour of pay-to-play fields targeted to visiting sports teams

If this interests you, you should also be paying attention to the upcoming revision of the District Parks Bylaw.  These changes will impact every park user.  Check out the minutes and video from last May's Council Workshop.

And while still on Parks, do check out he new Lynn Valley Link trail loop, running from Princess Park, to Inter River, up to and beyond the suspension bridge, and across the Baden Powell back to the park.  The official launch is next weekend, and you should get out and hike part of it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Back to School Days

It's been a fairly quiet month since Christy Clark finally shuffled off to Buffalo Point Grey.  Despite the predictions of various right wing pundits and "Think Tanks" the world has not come to an end, people still have jobs, and anarchists are hardly ever seen rioting in the streets of Vancouver.  Somehow the Vancouver Sun/Province has managed to not to blame the Horgan government for all of the record breaking wildfires. (Then again, they seem to have also ignored stories about Liberal cuts to spending on fire prevention.)

Locally there are people in the City angry about the giant waterslide; in the District one council member is leading the revolt against the new "bear-proof" garbage bins, and we're heading towards the first possible approval of Beers and Haircuts in Lynn Valley.  And of course in both municipalities the big issue is, as always, traffic, bridges, construction, and the unholy combination of all three.

Or the lack of bike lanes, transit, and continuous sidewalks, if you're not vehicularly inclined.

It almost seems that after expending all too much energy on battling (or at least complaining about) the various "town center" and other major developments in recent years the activists in our cities have just run out of steam, and can't find it in themselves to raise a respectable ruckus these days.

Then again, it is summer, it is sunny, the PNE is on, and all of our North Shore concerns look pretty petty compared to what Trump is delivering south of the border.  Perhaps instead of looking for things to complain about, the nay-sayers are counting their blessings.

But September approaches, so if you've got a bee in your bonnet about local politics now is the time to sit down and write your version of "What I Did on My Summer Vacation."  Be sure to include some links and background information, and refrain from name calling, and email it to me.  If it's half ways interesting yours could be the first topic of the new school year.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Drunken Dreads Coming to Lynn Valley?

The Zazou Salon & Academy, located in Lynn Valley Village (aka at the Lynn Valley Library) has applied for a liquor licence.  (Disclaimer: I'm a sometimes customer, and really like the people there, their strong community involvement, and their impressive charitable work.)  I'm assuming that they plan on offering adult customers a beer or a glass of wine while they get a cut or colour.  I don't think they plan on competing with the Black Bear or Browns for the Friday night hockey game knock back a dozen brews crowd.

I say "I assume" because you would be hard pressed to find any more information, especially on the District of North Vancouver web site.

You'll recall that allowing some businesses like hair salons to serve liquor was one of the pre-election goodies doled out by ex-Premier Christy Clark.  Even though Christy has now disappeared back to her riding... um... Point Grey, the new regulations remain.

In many ways Zazou is probably a perfect business to try out this new licencing regime.  They're unique, they're local, and they always have been able to balance a sense of fun with the serious work of running a successful business.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to a few Council meetings that will rival chickens for entertainment.

Edit: the application is expected to come before Council in September.

Added: Here's the notice from the District sent to local businesses.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Is the North Shore Ready for Fire?

Like everyone else I've been watching the wildfires in the interior of BC, and even had family members unable to get to their home near Kelowna.  It's all a good reminder that we're also sitting on the edge of forest, and sometimes the woods get pretty hot and dry.

Here on the North Shore we have a regional body that coordinates emergency services - North Shore Emergency Management. From their offices above the RCMP detachment in North Vancouver they offer workshops, training, and try to anticipate what kinds of disasters might befall us, and how we might survive.  They do good work.

Still though, if you scour their site you'll see a whole lot of "be prepared" advice - fill up your closets with food, water, and Grab and Go bags, and don't forget about your cats and dogs -  but not much about what is in place after the Big One arrives.

In working with the NSEM people the one thing I took away is that you really need to think about your own circumstance, how you might find yourself isolated if one or more bridges are blocked, and a realisation that it will quickly come down to every person for themselves.

As much as we might snicker at the Preppers south of the border,  we should understand that our local and provincial governments probably won't have resources available to help everyone who needs it.

This month, as soon as this year's fires abate, you can expect a series of stories describing a lack of resources for people who have lost homes or jobs,  shortfalls in government services, and complaints about mean-spirited insurance companies.  And, if we're lucky, an examination of how many of the recommendations that followed the 2003 Firestorm Review were actually acted on.

In the meantime we should all be talking to our elected officials about what we can expect in the event of an earthquake or major fire.

UPDATE: Hot off the presses at the District of North Vancouver is the new  Community Wildfire Protection Plan