Developer Onni agrees to second public hearing on North Vancouver Safeway site
Developer Onni Group will return to North Vancouver city hall for a second go at a public hearing on the company's divisive Safeway site proposal, after the first hearing was tainted by accusations of bullying and impropriety on all sides.
Onni's vice-president of development Beau Jarvis made the announcement Monday, citing the "outpouring of support" he said the company received over the holidays for its 13th Street and Lonsdale Avenue condo-tower proposal.
“To be quite blunt, we got a bit of an earful over the holidays from people who had publicly expressed support for the project," Jarvis said in a press release Monday.
"Their position was simple – ‘we want the project, we went out and supported the project and Onni should not abandon the project until the council has formally said yes or no’. At the end of the day, we could not ignore those voices,” he continued.
But Jarvis emphasized the company's participation in a second hearing "doesn't change the fact that there is no compelling reason to hold another hearing."
A second round of public input, he said, "is almost unheard of in North Vancouver and other municipalities in the province."
Jarvis went on to call Onni's proposal for a six-storey office building and two high-rise condo towers of 17 and 24 storeys each, “the most heavily consulted residential-commercial project in the history of the city."
Onni has been working on its Safeway site proposal for two years, during which time the company has met with community groups, businesses and city residents about their concerns.
However, the proposal was left in limbo in November when, at a city council meeting following a six-hour public hearing on the project, members of the public and council accused Onni of bullying the public hearing process by stacking the speakers' list with supporters.
Onni eventually fired back, even accusing one councillor of being in a conflict of interest when he voted against the proposal, after the company learned he was working for an Onni subcontractor on a similar commercial-condo development in Richmond.
No date has been set, but the second hearing is certain to draw out hundreds of supporters and opponents when Onni returns with a variant of the same development plan that proved so divisive in November.