EDITORIAL: Vertically Challenged

Trees, not towers, have been the only thing growing taller in the District of North Vancouver in recent decades.

As it stands, there are only a handful of buildings over five storeys in the North Shore’s most populated municipality.

Soon, though, you can expect a growth spurt.

On Monday, district council voted in favour of moving forward with a 790-unit development proposal for Lower Lynn that, if approved, would include three mixed-use buildings of considerable height: 24, 28 and 32 storeys.

As Mayor Richard Walton told council at the Dec. 3 meeting, the Seylynn development would add much-needed units, especially for seniors and young people.

Plus, in exchange for height allowances for the project, the developer would likely add several community amenities, including a daycare in one of the buildings.

Of course, this project alone won’t solve the dearth of housing options available in the district. But it’s a start.

When the district engaged residents of Lower Lynn about the proposed project, there was a real appetite for change in the neighbourhood. But in most established neighbourhoods, there’s little desire to change the canvas of a single-family residential community surrounded by tall trees and forest.

After all, that’s why most moved here in the first place.

But if those same people want to age here or see their children remain here after they leave the nest, there needs to be some change to the existing housing tableau.

Along with Lower Lynn, the district has identified three other areas for added density: Lynn Valley Town Centre, Lower Capilano/Marine Village Centre and Maplewood Village Centre. These areas make sense for vertical growth because of their proximity to community amenities, outdoor recreation and transportation hubs. How much density, of course, will be negotiated with neighbourhoods during consultations with the municipality and developers.

Soon, the district will begin an extensive dialogue with residents of Lynn Valley, where there have been preliminary proposals for three towers at the shopping centre site. Already, however, there are signs of opposition — from a homemade anti-tower lament posted to a lamppost to an online petition against the proposed towers.

But as Mayor Walton notes, these decisions must be made with a view to 20 or 30 years in the future. After all, those who oppose towers today may, a few decades from now, be looking to downsize but want to remain close to friends and family. Or maybe one of their children is looking to become a first-time condo owner but wants to stay in North Van.

All of that will require an added inventory of smaller, cheaper places to call home. That’s why it’s time to grow up — just a little.

—The Outlook

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