Up with cars in North Van City

Car Stackers International
Car Stackers International's 2park system recommended for North Vancouver business.
— image credit: Car Stackers International photo

A new commercial development planned for the City of North Vancouver is already making waves through the Lower Lonsdale neighbourhood; not for the new storefronts it’ll bring to the street but rather for what’s out back.

The owner of the industrial building at 246 East 1st St. won a rezoning bid Monday that will allow him to renovate the existing auto garage to make way for a coffee shop, offices and a restaurant-catering business on a new third storey of the two-storey building.

But it’s the unique solution to the neighbourhood’s parking problem proposed by project architect Kent Halex that’s raising more than just eyebrows.

City bylaws dictate that to expand a business space in some neighbourhoods, the owner must first provide additional parking.

So Halex’s solution is to densify the building’s existing parking lot by installing double-stacking car lifts.

At $30,000 apiece, Halex won preliminary approval to install five of the car lifts as part of the pending building reno, adding five additional parking spaces about five feet above the existing ones.

But these particular lifts, made by Australian company Car Stackers International, have apparently never been used in North America, and some on council showed trepidation at the idea of North Vancouver being their first customer.

“The proposed solution, while creative, I don’t think could be replicated,” Coun. Pam Bookham said. “And should we have other applicants who want to develop their properties in a similar fashion, I’m not sure that they’d be able to exercise the same kind of solution.”

And though the lifts are only suitable for small- to medium-size cars, council voted 5-2 in favour of allowing them, with Couns. Bookham and Don Bell opposed.

“Why wouldn’t we want to be innovative?” Coun. Linda Buchanan asked. “Why wouldn’t we want to take something that hasn’t necessarily been used in the Greater Vancouver — the Metro region — and see if it works?”

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