British Columbia

Controversial North Vancouver affordable housing development up for final approval

The saga of North Vancouver District's Emery Village housing development is nearing its end as it heads for approval, with the project up for fourth and final reading at council on Monday evening.

District holding fourth and final reading on Emery Village development

Mosaic Homes wants to build more than 400 rental and strata units in North Vancouver. (District of North Vancouver)

The saga of North Vancouver District's Emery Village housing development is nearing its end as it heads for approval, with the project up for fourth and final reading at council on Monday evening.

It has been a hotly contested project in recent months because, at its core, the debate centres on the best strategies to ensure affordable housing for North Shore residents.

"It represents an opportunity for us to increase the overall number of housing units we have in the community which is important for us," said Coun. Roger Bassam, who voted in favour it.

The project would see the current 61 affordable rental units at Emery Place replaced with  411 homes including 84 rental units, half of which will be secured as affordable rental.

The rest of the development will include townhouses and low-rise and mid-rise apartments at market prices.

Criticism of displacement

For Coun. Lisa Muri, who's against the new development, the means do not justify the ends.

"Currently, what is there are those large affordable family units," she told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC's The Early Edition.

"I'm not interested in displacing residents that have raised their children here, that have supported our community here, that have lived in this community for decades, simply to accommodate a majority of one bedroom units."

But Bassam says the units are old and need to be replaced.

"While it's been described as affordable housing that's there right now, it's still market housing —  it's affordable because it's old and it's aged out," he said.

Residents of Emery Place turned out to speak against the redevelopment plan at a protest in June.

Defining 'affordable'

Muri says that's exactly why they should be retained.

"They are old but hardly beyond their lifespan," she said. "The only housing that is affordable is older housing."

She says she's concerned current tenants would have to pay more than what they're paying now for the new "below market" housing.

"The word affordable has never truly been defined," she said. "Below market is not necessarily affordable to the vast majority of people."

With files from The Early Edition.

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