Density is coming to the North Vancouver neighbourhood of Lynn Valley in the form of a new town centre and residential towers. But some locals vow to continue their opposition to the coming changes, even after their protests successfully influenced the North Vancouver District Council to limit the height of buildings in future neighbourhood developments.
Glenn MacKenzie has lived in Lynn Valley for more than 20 years. He was instrumental in organizing a movement against the Lynn Valley development proposals. MacKenzie, who collected more than 2,500 signatures on an anti-development petition, said he will continue to fight against density.
"It's not over until it's over, there's still public hearings to come and we'll continue to protest them," he said.
MacKenzie added that a lack of adequate amenities and transit services in Lynn Valley could leave the more than 2,000 possible new residents woefully under served. He also predicted significant traffic congestion.
The District of North Vancouver first began the process of amending Lynn Valley's Official Community Plan about a year ago. It was then that the district council and Mayor Richard Walton reconsidered existing building height limits.
While the initial plan was to allow buildings up to 22-storeys high, the public consultation process led to the compromise of a 5-storey limit, with the possibility of 12-storeys with council approval on a case-by-case basis. The district calls this a "flexible planning framework".
Divided opinions on density
As in so many other Metro Vancouver municipalities, the public hearings process for the new Lynn Valley developments has been marred by vitriol and accusations of a lack of transparency.
Mayor Walton said building consensus has been part of a year-long community consultation plan.
"Lynn Valley is the only real town centre we have in North Vancouver district and there always has been some density planned for the core, but it was never defined in terms of shape and form," he said.
"There's a tremendous diversity of opinion. Everybody loves Lynn Valley, but they have different visions for what the future should look like."
Not everyone in the community paints a doomsday scenario when it comes to densification.
Bob McCormack, now in his 60's, has lived in Lynn Valley for his entire life. The former hospital administrator and current member of the Lynn Valley Community Association board said the new density and development will bring much needed affordability to the area.
"It allows for more affordable housing and for the possibility for first-time buyers to access the neighbourhood," he said.
McCormack added that the coming density could also address a need among the area's aging population. As Lynn Valley residents get older, they may not be able to easily manage a large single-house lot, but still want to live in their neighbourhood of choice.
"If you're older and you have a big house in Lynn Valley and you can't keep it up, you might want to move into a smaller place. There is no opportunity for that right now."
Opposition vows to fight on
But opponents like MacKenzie remain unrelenting in their criticism of the community plan. MacKenzie staunchly insists Lynn Valley is fine just the way it is. He's unconvinced that the neighbourhood needs an overhaul.
"Who are we serving by letting this development come in?" he said.
"They have not explained what the need is. We've invested in this community and we feel threatened."
Though the denser developments are a coming reality for Lynn Valley, public information meetings and public hearings pertaining to specific development applications will continue and MacKenzie promised he and his supporters will be out in full force to oppose the density plans.
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