Sunday, 10 March 2013

Exploding the Myths - 6 persistent questions about the Village Centre

From the outset of planning for the Lower Capilano Village Centre, a number of persistent myths - generally founded on misinformation -  emerged and re-emerged.  In some instances these myths came to attain the status of facts.  Additionally, these myths, while often not explicit, framed the background and context for some residents' concerns.

The negative consequence of these myths were that they often became the means to justify not engaging in the hard work of planning, based on changing needs of the DNV demographic, or a logical framework for the financial sustainability of the DNV as a whole.  It was easy to substitute these myths for considered thought.

 "Exploding the Myths - 6 persistent questions"  that sets these myths out and provides a factual response based in reality, fact and logic.  The contents of "Exploding the Myths" will allow residents to better balance the planning and social considerations needed for the developing plans for the Village Centre.

Essential Facts about the Capwest site / Lower Cap Village Centre

#1 We don’t want or need to have an 18 storey building, or any highrise buildings.

·       The July 2013 building massing exercise engaged in by the community concisely showed various options on how to accommodate the 2.5 FSR buildable density for the Capwest site.  These benefits include the open, sun-lit space of the public plaza and the community centre. Current draft plans for the Capwest site are below the OCP allowable density guidelines. 

·       Lowering building heights reduces available public space and the available Community Amenity Contribution – approximately $15 million for this site. The available CACs cannot be retained at the current level if there is a reduction in overall density and overall viability of the project.

·       A stepped-back, two-storey streetwall of the Capwest plan was highly preferred over higher streetwall options that would restrict light and human scale at ground level.  The present configuration was seen as the best possible layout to balance concerns from the neighbourhood and offer openness, functionality and a better public realm for socializing.

·       DNV lacks the financial resources to provide these same amenities through the property tax rolls.  Barring tax increases to residents, these public facilities will not be built other than through CACs & development offsets.

#2  Why not build a new recreation and sport complex under the existing C5 Commercial Recreational zoning? 

·       Private sport clubs require large membership and high fees to keep their doors open.  The North Shore Winter Club,  was forced to sell some of its land and build a high-rise just to remain viable. 

·       The Capwest Winter Club first opened in the late 1950s continually struggled from 1982.  In 1996, amidst declining membership and revenues, DNV ordered over $3 million in repairs to bring the facility up to building code standards.  Public facilities such as William Griffin largely supplanted such businesses.

·       Commercial traffic to service such a facility would generate large traffic flows into the neighbourhood 24/7.  Commercial operations generate much higher traffic volumes than residential development.

#3  The development will create too much traffic, making it impossible to get onto Capilano road.

·       Over 95% of traffic is generated from elsewhere in the DNV.  Woodcroft itself will continue to be the largest generator of local traffic – 5,000+ daily  ‘in & out’ trips on Fullerton Avenue.

·       The increased residential population will provide for improved transit, giving people the opportunity to get out of their cars.  The U.S. Federal Hwy. Admin. shows a downward trend, with vehicle trips declined 7.5% since 2004

·       Higher parking and car operating costs compel more people to use transit where it is available. Rush hour bus service to downtown is now 10 minutes from Cap & Marine.

·       Currently buses comprise 3% of vehicles crossing Lions Gate Bridge but carry 30% of commuters

#4  My view will be blocked by these towers and devalue my property.

·       Woodcroft sits at a higher elevation – approx. 14 metres higher than the Capwest site. Because of the ground elevations of Woodcroft, most views from upper floors of Woodcroft will look down on the roofs of the Capwest site.

·       The majority of the Larco building will be covered with green roofs and rooftop gardens.

·       Due to the existing tall, dense tree coverage at Woodcroft, for units facing eastward, the Capwest site will generally not be visible for residents below Capilano Bldg.’s 8th floor, or 7th floor of the Whytecliff.

·       Numerous real estate studies show increased buyers preference for proximity to transit-connected centres with greater community amenities and services.  Also see #6 below.

#5  Larco is only interested in building condos, making money and leaving.

·       Larco will remain owners and managers of their commercial and rental properties on the Capwest site. with a long term interest in the success and appeal of their development and surrounding neighbourhood

·       Elements of the Capwest plan include accessible-designed seniors and market rental units.

·       Other elements of the design, such as the proposed 24,000 sq. foot community centre and public plaza, built as CAC components represent significant cost liabilities to the developer.  As noted previously, all of these CACs represent amenities that would be problematic – if not impossible - for the community to obtain on a purely taxpayer funded basis.

#6  If the Village Centre is built will my condo drop in value?

·       Many variables affect price and perceived value of any property.

·       U.S. real estate studies showed that well-integrated, walkable communities retained their value through the recent economic downturn and saw price increases exceeding those for more distant suburbs as the market rebounded. 

·       Increasingly compact, well-serviced, walk able communities are sought by downsizing “Baby Boomers” – an increasing portion of the housing market as the population ages.

·          Although we can’t drag Woodcroft closer to the Village Centre it is better that the Village Centre - with its social and physical amenities, all available to Woodcroft residents - be located in proximity to Woodcroft than it not exist.

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