West-side residents left unrepresented on DNV Council

Published: The Global Canadian (pdf)
November 1, 2018
460 words

Homeowners around Edgemont Village have spent several years putting up DNVwith construction delays and disruption to their neighbourhood.  Delbrook residents around the proposed development at 600 West Queens Road have been attending public meetings to express their great concerns with the five story building that may soon begin construction. Residents of Lower Capilano and Norgate are preparing for years of their own problems as the new town centre is built at Capilano Road and Marine Drive. If any of these people had hoped that the new District of North Vancouver council would better represent their needs they may be out of luck. When the dust had settled on last month’s elections the geographic divide was evident. Of the 31 people running for office in the District only four lived west of Lonsdale, and only School Board candidates Kulvir Mann and Bruce Devon were elected.

It’s not as if voters in Upper Capilano, Norgate, or Edgemont stayed home instead of voting, it’s because they’re outnumbered two to one by voters in Lynn Valley and Seymour. The 88,000 votes cast for mayoral or council candidates in the east side of the District overwhelmed the 43,000 votes west of Lonsdale. That split reflects the voters list, which had an east west split of 43,200 and 20,800 voters respectively.

Edgemont’s Robin Delany says that it’s premature to say this will be an issue. He feels that “we’ve got six counsellors and a great new mayor coming in, and I’ll trust that all six counsellors would represent all North Van District people equally whether you’re from Lynn Valley or Seymour.” Delaney is sure that all members of council understand that Edgemont Village is suffering badly from construction and development fatigue.

The Delbrook Community Association’s Rene Gourlay is less certain. “We are disappointed in (the result), as we were with the previous council as well. What it means is that council members have no context. They may drop their kids off up here for soccer practice, but they don’t spend time in Edgemont Village like we do; they don’t spend time on Mosquito Creek like we do. It means that we have to be super vigilant to paint a clear picture for a council that has no relationship with the western half of the District.”

Newly elected mayor Mike Little is sure that council can represent everyone in the District. “I think you’re going to find that a lot of the issues are similar no matter where you go in the District. People are concerned with density and traffic; I don’t know that there’s necessarily a big geographic difference in priorities. We just have to make sure that council members are getting out and participating in activities in all communities and making sure that we have a close connection.”

A handbook to keep School Board trustees focused on important work

Published: The Global Canadian (pdf)
November 1, 2018
519 words

North vancopuver School Board LogoWhen four new trustees join the North Vancouver Board of Education this month they’ll have the advantage of a brand new Trustee handbook.

The 69 page handbook aims to explain the things that Trustees need to know, including explanations of how meetings are run, a detailed explanation of “conflict of interest,” and a list of more than 100 acronyms that they might encounter while doing their work.

The four years of the previous Board were notable for ongoing personal conflicts among trustees, culminating this month with a complaint by outgoing trustee Susan Skinner alleging sexual harassment by a colleague, as well as alleging workplace bullying by other trustees. The handbook was one of several recommendation from governance consultant Lee Southern, who was appointed by Ministry of Education to assist the Board in resolving their organizational problems.

Christie Sacré​
Christie Sacré​

The handbook was written over the course of ten months by a school board staff member, with direction and input by trustees. It tries to answer questions that trustees might have, and define the behaviour that is expected. According to chair Christine Sacré the goal was to take information from existing documents, both at the school board and from the BC School Trustees Association handbook, and tailor it to the needs of North Vancouver.

One important part of the handbook is the explanation of the different roles of a trustee and the School Board staff. The handbook explains it as “Governance is the role of the Board of Education. Operations is the role of Senior Staff and deals with day-to-day functions of the School District. It is recommended that the boundaries be observed and respected.”

The handbook goes to great lengths to explain that a trustee’s job is to develop policy which staff will implement. Trustees are not responsible for the day to day operations of the school system – that lies with the Superintendent. In particular trustees do not have any role to play in managing teachers and other employees. At best they can pass on concerns to the Superintendent who will deal with it through regular channels.

One of the most difficult parts of the handbook dealt with “conflict of interest.” According to Sacré this wasn’t because there was any disagreement about the need for the section, just that everyone was concerned that the language used was exactly what was needed. She explains that new trustees often arrive with specific concerns and aren’t always clear that they now represent all of the members of their community, not just one group or another.

The ultimate goal of the handbook is to help trustees to understand that the power to make policy lies with the entire Board, not with individual trustees. Although trustees can speak out if they disagree with a decision, their first objective is to support the work of the board as whole, and the school district in particular.

Sacré hopes that by making everyone clear on expected behaviour and roles the incoming board can spend the bulk of their time on more important matters like bargaining the new teacher contract, and managing upcoming changes to the provincial funding formula.

Know about school boards elections in North Shore

Published: The Global Canadian (pdf)
October 1, 2018
456 words

When the current school boards were elected in 2014,  Christy Clark was Premier, and the Supreme Court of Canada had not yet decided that class size and composition needed to be returned to the bargaining table. That court decision in November 2016 and the election of the John Horgan government in May of 2017 brought dramatic changes to BC school districts.

At the same time the North Vancouver School District was spending nearly $200,000 to try and resolve inter-personal issues among Board members that were alleged to include bullying and sexual harassment. Continue reading “Know about school boards elections in North Shore”

Building Bridges: A new political party in the DNV

Published: The Global Canadian (pdf)
October 1, 2018
420 words

Building BridgesThere are two reasons why Building Bridges chose this year to launch a new political party in the District of North Vancouver. The first and most obvious is that in a town where incumbency almost always equals re-election the retirements of Richard Watson, Doug Mackay-Dunn, and Roger Bassam opened up the field.

When Council members run time after time it can be hard for newcomers to overcome the advantages of name recognition, healthy campaign funds, and a basement full of campaign signs.

The second reason for the launch of this new party is disaffection with the status quo. As Building Bridges mayoral candidate Ash Amlani says, “We’re tired of seeing the same old same old and we know that the challenges we face won’t be solved by voting for more of the same.”

The slate includes two experienced local politicians, incumbent DNV councillor Mathew Bond and long-time Tsleil-Waututh council member Carleen Thomas. Bond is a Transportation Engineer, avid biker, and devoted family man. Thomas is an educator and has served for sixteen years on the Tsleil-Waututh band council. Both Bond and Thomas want to see a lot more affordable and rental housing in the District.

Joining them is political newcomer Sameer Parekh, a marketing manager at BCAA. Along with the overall Building Bridges platform he supports the Maplewood Innovation District and the housing that it would deliver. Running for School Board is Devon Bruce, who describes himself as a “dedicated professional in special education with over a decade of varied experience in the field.”

Much of the Building Bridges platform echos the incumbents running again this year, with housing and transportation topping the list. “We need to make sure that people who work in North Vancouver can afford to live here.” Amlani says. She describes a generation of young people who are “frustrated with the inability to stay in the region.” Helping those people means more density, and more purpose-built rental stock. The group also sees improved transit service and bike infrastructure as essential to serving the local population and reducing traffic congestion.

The North Shore sometimes has a reputation for being insular, or resistant to change, and there is a part of the population who are vocal in their opposition to population growth. Building Bridges wants voters to look beyond their own neighbourhoods. “There’s a global demand for change,” says Amlani, “information moves quickly, global capital moves quickly, work styles have evolved. People are looking for government that is able to respond to those changes, that can be resilient.”


Continue reading “Building Bridges: A new political party in the DNV”

Coach houses could come up on 1,500 locations in DNV

Published: The Global Canadian (pdf)
October 1, 2018
409 words

After conducting pop-up information sessions in Lynn Valley, Parkdale, and Edgemont Village, District of North Vancouver community liaison staff were happy to report that only one person had been strongly opposed to coach houses. Two hundred plus other residents supported the idea, and the proposed loosening of regulations for property owners who meet minimum requirements.

The pop-up Info booths and an accompanying on-line survey are part of the public outreach approved by District council during their July 9th meeting. Since the existing coach house regulations were passed in 2014 only 14 have been built in the District.  The staff hope that by relaxing the approval process the District will see many more second, smaller homes on the 1500 possible locations they they’ve identified. Continue reading “Coach houses could come up on 1,500 locations in DNV”

DNV mulls incentives for those who create new housing

Published: The Global Canadian (pdf)
September 1, 2018
772 Words

District of North Vancouver staff will be investigating ways to make it easier for homeowners to add a secondary suite to their homes. Following a motion presented by Councillor Jim Hanson, and approved unanimously, staff will explore options for easing regulations or even offering financial incentives to homeowners who can create new housing. Hanson’s motion was one of three Council motions intended to ease some of the shortage in affordable housing on the North Shore.

The District estimates that there are currently 4,300 suites located in single family homes, with staff projecting that another 2,600 units could be created by 2030. It is already the case that 75% of new build and rebuilt homes include secondary suites. These estimates are inexact because many secondary suites aren’t registered with the District. These suites are home to some of the 25% of District households who rent rather than own their homes. According to Statistics Canada, rents in the District have increased by more than 42% over the last decade, and currently nearly half of renters are paying amounts for housing that CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) considers “unaffordable”.

Continue reading “DNV mulls incentives for those who create new housing”

Affordable Housing: Councillor Bassam wants a referendum

Published: The Global Canadian (pdf)
September 1, 2018
725 words

Councillor Roger Bassam used the last District of North Vancouver Council meeting before the summer to present a central part of his election campaign: a non-binding question added to October’s ballot asking District voters to endorse a plan to invest $150 million to create 1000 units of affordable housing over the next decade.

Bassam describes the question as “a test for the community”; a proposal to “tax the local property owners and invest that tax in non-market housing to the benefit of the broader community and families in need.” Continue reading “Affordable Housing: Councillor Bassam wants a referendum”

Music at home: When art gets social

Published: The Global Canadian (pdf)
July 12, 2018
435 words

Jack Li, clarinet and Scott Meek, piano (Music Friends past event)
Jack Li, clarinet and Scott Meek, piano (Music Friends past event)

When Tamara Leger launched Lions Bay House Concerts in 2015 she wanted to create an event that would allow neighbour to meet neighbour in the town of 500. Since then she’s found that her mix of folk, jazz, and art events has become an artistic success as well. Her concerts include a potluck dinner in a different home each time, and are as much social as musical.

In coming weeks she’ll be presenting award-winning Fingerstyle guitarist Jordan Brodie, regarded as “one of the best young guitar players in Australia”, at a private home in Dundarave on Saturday July 14th, and Montreal-based musician Cécile Doo-Kingué at a home in Lions Bay on Saturday July 28th. Continue reading “Music at home: When art gets social”

CACs: Track the money that funds the heart and soul of the District

Published: The Global Canadian (pdf)
July 12, 2018
850 words

Sewer Pipe
Photo by: eutrophication&hypoxia

“My favourite thing about living in Lynn Valley are the excellent storm sewers!”

I’ve never said that, and neither have you. The reasons for living here are always the mountains and trees, or maybe the library and the music outside in the plaza. For some of us it’s the Panto at St Martin’s Hall, biking the trails on Mount Fromme, or just enjoying the dogs playing in Princess Park.

If the roads and sewers and water pipes are the bones and sinew of North Vancouver, all of these other things are the heart and soul of our community. They are the things that get people out of their houses and cars and bring them together to enjoy the place where we live. They’re also the things that are too easily sidelined as “frills” or “luxuries.” Continue reading “CACs: Track the money that funds the heart and soul of the District”

DNV proposal for $7 million worth of developer funded public art failed to get rave reviews

Published: The Global Canadian (pdf)
June 9, 2018
817 words

Lawrence Argent’s “I See What You Mean,” the great blue bear that is part of the Colorado Convention Centre

An ambitious plan to fund a decade of Public Art in the District of North Vancouver faced heavy criticism when presented to Council during an April Council Workshop. The draft plan proposed an investment of $7 million between 2018 and 2031, funded primarily by property developers through their Community Amenity Contributions (CAC).

The plan presented by Public Art Coordinator Lori Phillips and Heather Turner, Director of Recreation & Culture, included $5 million for site specific works in each of the four new “town centres “– Lynn Valley, Lynn Creek, Lions Gate, and Maplewood Village – and $2 million for works placed in areas like Edgemont, Queensdale, and Deep Cove, as well as alongside trails and in parks. The increased funding would also ensure that existing and future works can be maintained. Continue reading “DNV proposal for $7 million worth of developer funded public art failed to get rave reviews”