Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Creating a Better Lions Gate / Engaging positive change for our community

Creating a Better Lions Gate
Long time residents of the Lions Gate community are proud and protective of their community.  Its advantages of location, mature trees and proximity to the Capilano River, with easy trail access to mountain and ocean make it an unknown gem, one of the North Shore’s best kept secrets.

But it’s not perfect…
·      Traffic speeds along Fullerton and Curling are out of control.  Control measures/speed bumps are not installed on any of the local roads. Safe legal crosswalks and  
sidewalks are needed, especially for children and the elderly.
·      Property values in the area exceed affordable levels for most young families, yet are not on par with the potential this neighbourhood holds.
·      Uncertainty surrounding the future of the former Capwest site and other vacant commercial properties along Capilano Road impact property values and properties across the community
·      Outdated zoning bylaws with highly restrictive land use regulations discourage
revitalization and renewal. 
·      The lack of nearby community amenities, shopping and services forces people into their cars and creates auto dependence
·      The area lacks a community centre or public meeting space or even a public plaza to help build social connections and foster a vibrant healthy community.
·      There are few housing options for people who want to grow old in their community and a rapidly growing number of seniors wanting to remain in the neighbourhood.

Engaging community issues through the Lower Capilano Conceptual Planning process gives us the opportunity to navigate successfully into the future of Lions Gate. The Plan considers:

·      Upgraded streetscape for Curling Road and Fullerton with improved street lighting,
sidewalks and paths for improved community walkability and connectivity

·      Traffic calming measures in consultation with area residents, with safe, legal crosswalks

·      Enhanced transit services with a designated bus lane on Capilano and Marine Drive

·      Provision for seniors housing which is becoming critical to the whole North Shore,
but particularly so in Lower Capilano/Lions Gate area.

·      Resolve the uncertainty surrounding the commercial properties to release the full potential of the area to become a more vibrant and more livable community

·      Opportunity to obtain a community centre and open public space to foster
healthy social connections and positive community interactions

·      Local shops, services and amenities close at hand in a high quality urban setting, making
the area less “auto dependent”

·      Forward looking opportunities to utilize alternative energy options and energy efficient buildings

Q & A :  A selection of frequently asked questions from area residents
How do we know that a developer won’t build 2 – 3,000 or more units on their property if  rezoning is granted?  How do we not lose control?
Development would proceed under a Comprehensive Development (CD) zone and in doing so the original project drawings form part of the zoning Bylaw.  Further control would come through Development Permits for each phrase of the project and these DPs would be subject to the zoning Bylaw, with additional public input at each stage.

What if they build it and no one comes?
The conceptual design concepts being developed through community design workshops and DNV public workshops are subject to analysis by an independent land economist.  This ensures that concept plans that are realistic, implementable and appropriate in scale for the supporting catchment area and its population density.

If developers get the permission to rezone their property why wouldn’t they want to just buy up the whole neighbourhood?
In an open email of October 18th, sent to community leaders, Art Phillips, Director of Development for Larco Investments stated, “Larco does not have any interest in acquiring or developing any of the residential properties…. from both a development perspective as well as a business venture, the residential properties do not offer an attractive investment…. the land cost and feasibility of assembly of individual properties would be onerous on any developer…. We stated this to the community in the mid 1990’s and our position has not changed.”

Why does anything have to change?  I think things fine as there are now?
The District of North Vancouver faces serious challenges to its long-term economic vitality and sustainability if it fails to come to terms with issues of demographics, infrastructure, transit, traffic and its employment base.  Some of these challenges include:  
-       currently 30% of the DNV population is 60 years of age or older.  This is 4X as many seniors today as there were 30 years ago.  A “missing generation” of young adults (20-40) means there are fewer residents to drive a vibrant local economy.
-       70% of DNV homes are single-family homes, above the price range of young families.  A diversity of housing forms allows for greater demographic diversity.
-       Increasingly both young singles and retiring baby boomers are looking for housing options that suit their lifestyle and retirement choices in an urban setting.
-       Our aging infrastructure, mainly built in the 1950-70s, requires replacement and maintenance at higher costs.  Without increasing density in specific centres, these costs will increasingly have to be raised through property taxes.

What’s in it for me?
The potential for a healthier life for starters! Living in a mixed density neighbourhood provides more health and social benefits.  People who live in a neighbourhood where they can walk or cycle to meet their needs drive 58% less often than residents who live in auto dependent lower density neighbourhoods. Improved connectivity encourages physical activity and beneficial social connections between residents. A better place to call home.

For more information feel free to contact any of the following area residents:

                              Kim Belcher          604-904-2409     kbelcher@shaw.ca
    Doug Curran        604-985-5621     dougcurran@shaw.ca
Jai Jadhav           604-986-0051      jdjadhav@shaw.ca

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