Thursday, September 08, 2011

In North Van, slow growth would be a welcome development

There is a lot of truth in this letter to the editor.

Dear Editor (NS News, Sept. 7th):

There is no shortage of voices from the density wilderness, but the majority are overpowered by those of the pro-development lobby: made up of developers themselves, municipal councillors, and City Hall bureaucracy.

Most councillors gladly accept donations from developers at election time. It is no surprise, then, that they happily nix the Official Community Plan and obligingly rezone at their behest.

Likewise, our bureaucracy is dependent on development fees and the higher taxes that can be collected from higher density developments to support their overstaffed departments and handsome salaries. Municipal unions also donate generously to most councillors at election time, meaning councillors and bureaucrats are very much on the same page.

The general public is too busy earning a living to take much interest in civic politics. They readily accept the myth that new developments provide affordable housing for young families, seniors and low-income earners of the North Shore, in addition to the myth that it is greener than low density.

Conveniently overlooked is the fact that higher density will mean thousands of additional automobiles idling at traffic bottlenecks, especially at the approaches to North Shore's two bridges.

What is really needed here is a slow-growth party to field a slate of candidates come election time.

Reimar Kroecher North Vancouver

Building for density without the proper infrastructure in place, first, is asking for trouble. Growing development along the Sea to Sky Corridor can also be added to the mix of growing density. We are simply at the mercy of our two bridges across the strait.


John Sharpe said...

Thanks for the post Mocrael.

I especially like the sentence in the letter; "They readily accept the myth that new developments provide affordable housing for young families, seniors and low-income earners of the North Shore, in addition to the myth that it is greener than low density."

I suggest Mr. Kroecher and other interested parties put their names forward for this 'slow-growth' party for this Novembers municipal election. We need more Kroecher voices on District Council and fewer Gilmour voices. Oh, and fewer Little, Hicks, Walton, voices get the idea.

Anonymous said...

Higher density being greener than low density is certainly no myth. Mr. Kroecher needs to site some resources to support that position. Even Dr. David Suzuki's foundation has been very vocal about the unsustainability of low density.

Get the infrastructure in place and start creating density around town centres. Stop the nonsense that is suburbia.

Anonymous said...

Infrastructure discussions between jurisdictions goes on way too long and density building continues until the North Shore becomes like canned herring.

Anonymous said...

Bravo John and Monica! Why do we anti development people have so little punch? And by the way John, you should run for DNV council. We have the signs.


Anonymous said...

If the municipalities are unable to increase densities how will they ever be able to finance their thirst for being entrepreneurs by risking not their money but the taxpayers?

Take the LEC. Although the city has reduced the risk of failure by pilfering resources from the City and creating an artificial market by passing a bylaw, how does this create competitive markets that should benefit the consumer?

Municipal governments are not responsible for the delivery of energy to new developments. Municipal governments in Canada are responsible for transportation (roads and transit), protection (police and fire), environment (water, sewers, and solid waste), and social services. Time to get back to basics.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Kroecher's letter was right on. The problem is the over-enthusiasm for overdevelopment in the City. We are at the point where it's too much, have you looked at how many developments are in the works? How many units are being/about to be constructed? No plans for green space for all these people. Please someone come forward to run for Mayor! And don't take union donations! There's a development map on this website:, and these are only currently being processed or within the last three months. This is not smart growth.

John Sharpe said...

Mr. Kroecher doesn't need to site resources and you miss the point. I respect Mr. Suzuki but,more vehicles on the road from increased density in North Vancouver will not be greener. More density will equal more green house gases, poorer air quality/related health problems, and traffic congestion. It would PERHAPS be greener if we did not rely on fossil fuels to power our vehicles.

Anonymous said...

Again John, you are missing the point. If there is the establishment of town centres with density built around them, there is, then, a place for people to live and work. Also, the density encourages greater pedestrian use and less need for cars within these town centres. Along side this, local governments need to start getting serious about developing transit to and from the various centres so that people who do not work locally can rely upon reliable and frequent transit. This transit is the biggest pitfall to any development at this point and until government recognizes this it will continue to prevent truly livable communities. Sprawl is not the answer to reducing automobile traffic, but is the cause of it. History has shown this time again. To ignore it is folly (as is not understanding basic urban theory - a problem rampant on this blog).

One further note, local air quality is significantly better now with more cars than it was 10 or 15 years ago with fewer. Technology has improved greatly and has produced far cleaner burning, more efficient combustion engines. I remember what the air was like back then, do you?

John Sharpe said...

North Vancouver is essentially an island because it has access only by two bridges. Increase the density and you have gridlock worse than it already is. I am not encouraging more sprawl, just slow growth.

The air is visibly better than before burn bans were put in to effect but, to say the quality is better I would say, you're kidding yourself. There are thousands of more cars on the road now, how can the air be cleaner?

Totally agree transit needs to improved but, dream on with Translink the way it is even though we pay plenty towards the system. Also the decision by Distict council in 2006 re: the bus barn is fresh in my mind.

Realtors, developers, and apparently council want the high density you speak of not so the residents who live in North Van. Unfortunately their voices are not heard.

But density continies to be on the rise even though there is nothing to back it up.

That is the point.

Anonymous said...

Also the point is that "a place for people to live and work" is not what's happening in the City of North Van. The majority of development is residential, no encouragement for commercial centres, or incentives. Therefore all these people have to travel to work, and there's no sign of improved transit.

Anonymous said...

1. Air quality. Vastly improved due to reduction of burning wood, sawdust, coal and oil for heating. Elimination of beehive burners on the banks of False Creek. Highly reduced emissions of far more efficient autos. Anon is correct.

Simple proof. Remember the pea-soup fogs for weeks on end in the 1950's which, like London, England, are virtually eliminated due to the improvements above?

2. Don't really get the "slow growth" argument for DNV. Take a look at the population in 1991 and twenty years later, 2011, are hardly increased at all - especially given the huge land bank of DNV that sits undeveloped.

G H said...

As a resident of North Vancouver (Lynn Valley) for more than 37 years, I have witnessed traffic line-ups of ridiculus portion in the morning and evening throughout this summer. I wish it would all go away. Unfortunately not, so I hope to move off this hill a.s.a.p., or later.
Although some readers may not agreed with my viewpoints in the pass, I vision many highrises, more cars, more trucks, and more vehicle accidents on the bridges.
The ripple effects will be seen on the upper levels highway system.
I urge all Local Governments to coordinte their emergency services with helicopter equipment to combat fires, crime, life threating issues in the near future on the north shore.
Otherwise, mayhem will prevail. By experience, I witnessed and was in a traffic jam on the Vancouver Knight Street bridge today.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Gary, over react much? Traffic on the Shore is a breeze compared to downtown and other parts of metro vancouver - even during rush hour. There has never been true gridlock (a much over used term on this forum) in our community. If you want helicopter assisted services, I sure hope you're going to foot the bill for that. Talk about overkill!

G H said...

You are right.
But, in 5 years time from today, North Van. would not be the same as it is today. Immigration will fuel the population growth and the demand for mulitple family dwellings such as apartments. Young Canadian families will increase with new borns and shopping malls will enlarge or contribute to increase traffic. e.g. Taylor Way and Marine Drive and the Marine Drive corridor between the 2 main bridges.
It is called "progress", and the morning and evening rush hours.
You will see what I mean later.

Anonymous said...

Sheesh! Talk about hyperbole and inaccuracies.

North Vancouver District is in s-l-o-w growth mode and has been for years and years. Census data will prove that. There are small pockets of new development, some infill where larger lots are sub-divided and replaced by two homes, the new multi-family reconstruction along the Marine Drive corridor (almost complete), but unless and until the Fern Street re-development takes place, I don't see any major change in the number of residential units, with the exception of Maplewood where approximately 200 new homes are planned for over the next 20 years. And that begs another question. How come we have a planning department that has more staff than Burnaby where there is ten times the growth potential for both commercial and residential construction? Want to save some money, Mayor and Council? Take the knife to your planning and engineering departments. They meet excessively and slow the process down considerably for all developments. North Vancouver District has a reputation of being very unfriendly when it comes to building anything!

Having said that, the town centre concept in the new OCP does make sense and we do need better service from Translink. Imagine living high up on Riverside Drive where there is no transit service at all, zippo! Without a car, the only alternative out is a 30-minute walk MSP. Why can't Translink provide a community shuttle for residents, if only by adding to the route of the C14 or C15.

The City is growing upward because that's really the only way it has to go. It's like New Westminster in that sense, surrounded by another municipality but even there, growth can only continue so long and so far. There is a limit. But at least they have decent service from Translink to handle the increased population.

And yes, there has been gridlock in North Vancouver. Three events come to mind, one on a Monday evening several years ago when both bridges were shut down and traffic was at a standstill for hours. On another Monday, traffic on all roads around Marine Drive and Lions Gate Bridge was going nowhere when a truck got stuck under the old overpass leading to Lions Gate Bridge. Then on, I think Sunday, July 1st 2008 there was a jumper on Lions Gate and a south-bound semi-truck trailer jack-knifed at the north end of the Second Narrows. Again, traffic was jammed for hours. I could be wrong on a couple of points, but the specific events happened. When you have only two ways in and out, three if you count the Sea to Sky Highway, it doesn't take much to cause complete chaos. Even trying to get from Capilano to Seymour during rush hour can be a challenge without anything special going on traffic-wise.

Oh, and one final comment. I's "cite" not "site" when referring to statistics or the comments of others.

Anonymous said...

Reimar must be talking about CNV as growth could hardly be slower in DNV.

John Sharpe said...

No one is arguing that growth hasn't been relatively slow in North Vancouver so far. I think I can say on behalf of slow-growth advocates is that we question the rate for density going forward because of the developments in progress and with the recent updating of the OCP. We have LAPs for a reason. If you think the developers will not take every advantage they can to build, make their money, and leave us with the results, again you are kidding yourself.

Anonymous said...

People who live in multi-family developments and rail against development are hypocrites. Talk about raising the drawbridge behind you!

Anonymous said...

What are the demographics for Canada relating to population growth? I heard that starting in 2010 we enter a period where more people are dying then being born? If we are to attain population growth in Canada it will be done through immigration.