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.
There 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.”
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”
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”.
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.
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”
“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”
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”
The single biggest issue for many District of North Vancouver residents is traffic. Any discussion about local politics quickly turns to complaints about the two overcrowded bridges, the inevitable impact of increased population density, and the near legendary “gridlock” on Lynn Valley Road.
As we speak the District and Province are spending millions of dollars to build new traffic interchanges at the the bottom of the Cut, Translink is planning to add a new B-Line bus from Phibbs Exchange to Dundarave, and traffic patterns, bike lanes, and sidewalks are being changed around each of the new “Town Centres.” But if transportation is such a critical subject, why has the District disbanded their Transportation Consultation Committee? The one committee that allowed ordinary residents to work directly with District transportation planners? Continue reading “Transportation: the lost DNV Committee”
The District of North Vancouver is preparing to adopt a new Parks Regulation Bylaw, the first update since 1961. The new Bylaw is nearly four times the size of the old one, growing from four pages to fifteen, and promises “public safety through regulation.” During last week’s Council Workshop District staff explained that the new Bylaw is needed to give them “teeth” to enforce and regulate the use of District parks, but promised that rules would only be enforced some of the time, for some activities, by some people. Teenage partiers are a particular target for the new Bylaw’s enforcement.
Much of the new Bylaw is devoted to either prohibiting or regulating almost anything that you might want to do in a public park. It governs where and when people can play “organized sports,” cook a burger, rent a kayak, or cycle, and prohibits residents from erecting a “memorial or other object” commemorating a family pet. The Bylaw includes a list of more than dozen commercial activities that will require permits and fees. As well as film shoots and dogwalking, the Bylaw now designates bus tours, exercise classes, “providing instruction,” and even walking tours as regulated activities. Continue reading “Will the new parks bylaw prove to be a ‘gigantic hammer’?”