By Jerome Irwin, North Shore News April 7, 2011
A seriously flawed communication process over development exists between the District of North Vancouver's mayor and council and many of its homeowners and community resident associations -- especially those opposed to what they contend has consistently been a hidden agenda that time and again favours excessive, unwelcomed development, often in arrogant defiance of the community's expressed wishes and overwhelming objections.
Examples abound of the severe disconnect that exists between mayor and council and those they're supposed to represent: a 600-unit high-rise project in Seymour, pushed through despite the support of a meagre four per cent of the residents; an 11-storey high-rise tower in Parkgate, approved despite an almost riotous public hearing; a high-rise apartment complex at Capilano Road and Paisley in Edgemont, opposed by 98.6 per cent of the community; are a few of many glaring examples.
Yet the district's mayor and council continue to deny that any hidden agenda exists behind its numerous pro-development decisions. Yet there is a serious breach of trust between Mayor Richard Walton's council and those who've all but given up trying to petition the district to truly listen and respond to their frustrated desire to protect and preserve their ever-diminishing iconic North Shore way of life, one that originally drew them to live here and cherish, passionately, the heritage and rich character of their single-family neighbourhoods, the lush trees and pristine natural world around them, and their quiet, traffic-calmed residential streets.
My Lower Capilano neighbours tell me: "We won't waste our time anymore objecting to the district's development plans, because they've already made up their minds." "Development's a slam-dunk." "Nothing we can say or do will change anything." "You can't trust them." "We have the weakest council we've ever had when it comes to fighting for a liveable quality of life." "The district's bylaws, building codes and development plans are designed to be twisted in favour of development."
The recent unveiling of the goals and objectives in the second draft of the district's new official community plan should be the subject of a district-wide referendum -- hopefully rescinding them, or the pressure for high-density development will ramp up big time.
The OCP's sweeping neighbourhood and housing action plans and its proposed village and town centres in the Lower Capilano-Marine Drive, Lynn Valley and Maplewood areas suggest a potentially nightmarish reality, one that will seriously challenge the West End of Vancouver for the title Canada's densest urban environment.
If things go as dreaded, it's goodbye to the North Shore way of life beloved by hopeful dreamers.
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