Coming to North Vancouver: 74-unit rental building on Victoria Park

(Sketch from Starlight Developments)

A proposed 74-unit rental building on East Keith Road is moving forward, as City of North Vancouver council voted unanimously Monday night (May 16) in favour of the redevelopment.

Located at 115 East Keith Rd, the new rental building will replace the current three-storey rental building that was built in 1968 and comprises 24 units. Sitting right at Victoria Park and Sixth Street, the proposed six-storey building has a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units, and includes eight mid-market units and 21 accessible units.

Whilst the proposal comes out of the North Vancouver's Balanced Housing Lab, in partnership with the Sḵwx̱wu7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and District of West Vancouver and aimed at finding new ways of producing housing attainable for households earning between $50,000 and $100,000 per year, after hearing from one tenant who spoke during the public hearing, mayor and council were concerned about current tenants' chance of finding affordable housing in the region.

However, since the original development application in June 2021, the developer updated its tenant relocation plan to include financial compensation for long-term tenants, which will see 16 current tenants receive just under $43,000 in compensation.

Almost all councillors spoke to the impact forced relocation would have on the existing tenants, expressing their desire to support them through the transition.

Couns. Tony Valente and Angela Girard noted that the early stage input and community consultations have been quite effective, and look forward to seeing how it affects other applications in the future.

“I do believe that the pilot has shown that there's real benefits to be gained from an alternative development approval process, particularly from receiving the residents' feedback, through that co- creation workshop or through the visual preference survey,” Girard said. “I do think that perhaps we could have done a better job in how we engage those residents because I think there was some concern that there was such a very small number of them having their voice at the table.”

“I think the early-stage input, I think that really did support a better process and certainly it's not perfect and it's really never going to be perfect, but I think it was a good step forward in terms of getting people engaged early, before we have drawings on the table per se,” Valente said. “I recognize the impact on existing tenants, and through this process to ensure as best we can protections for them, and I think this is built in 1968 and it's very close to the end of its life and that's certainly something that is a consideration for me.”

Saying the “good outweighs the bad” in the proposal, Coun. Holly Back did note the lack of cooling that is currently in the plans of the development, along with the building having no extra storage assigned to units, as concerning.

Coun. Jessica McIlroy said it's always difficult when existing community members are forced to leave their homes, not because of choice, but from redevelopment.

Mayor Buchanan said it's something that the city hears with every redevelopment.

“I hear it from my colleagues and every other city across Metro Vancouver, and the challenges that we have in terms of balancing what we need to have in our community to support our residents who live here now and helping them to relocate when the building is up for redevelopment, and then balance it with the fact that you do need new housing stock.

“We are not a place that we draw up draw bridges and say people cannot come. So, we need to have that balance of how we are supporting our current residents and the needs that they have as well as 1/8 looking 3/8 to welcome new people into our community,” she said.

The proposal will come back to council at a yet to be determined date for bylaw adoption.