Huge new housing development creates division at North Vancouver district council

Monday's North Vancouver council meeting saw a debate over the new multi-purpose North Shore Innovation District.

Development could bring 1,000 living spaces, 4,500 jobs — and more traffic

The proposed North Shore Innovation District, shown in a rendering, aims to create 4,500 new jobs and 1,000 living spaces. (Darwin Properties)

A large Olympic Village-style development proposed for the District of North Vancouver, B.C., is creating division at city council. 

The Tsleil-Waututh First Nation is working with local developer Darwin Properties to transform an 18-hectare site near the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge into the North Shore Innovation District.

The project, which would be largest single development in the history of North Vancouver, includes 18 buildings with a mix of residential, retail and hotel spaces. There are also plans for outdoor public plazas and parks.

4,500 jobs

On Monday, the district council of North Vancouver debated approving bylaw changes needed to allow the project to go forward — but not everyone on council agreed.

"We want people to be able to work in North Vancouver, live in North Vancouver and not have to drive across a bridge to go to work," project supporter Coun. Roger Bassam told Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition.

He argued that the employment opportunities offered by the project's amenities and construction are the driving force behind the development. An estimated 4,500 jobs will be created along with the development, he said.

Bassam said the development will create 1,000 homes and may offer reduced living costs for those who work there.

He added there's been a recent downward trend in economic activity in the community and the project would help remedy that.

The proposed development will be designed similarly to Vancouver's Olympic Village and include 18 buildings built over several phases. (Darwin Properties)

'Traffic, traffic, traffic'

However, Coun. Jim Hanson said that the development plan doesn't address North Vancouver's current traffic woes.

Hanson said a lot has changed in the area since the official community plan was developed between 2009 and 2011.

"The prevailing issue in North Vancouver now is traffic, traffic, traffic," said Hanson.

"When I think of 4,500 workers in the Maplewood area — this is right at the heart of the traffic crisis in North Vancouver."

The proposed development is on the Dollarton Highway near to the north end of the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge — a crossing that has "long since reached capacity," Hanson said.

Hanson argued that North Vancouverites are more interested in a new transportation plan than new development.

Additionally, Hanson said green spaces in cities should be a priority, and he takes objection to the clearing of forest at the 18-hectare site. 

On its website, Darwin Properties says roughly 10 hectares of the development will include nature preserves such as wildlife corridors and wetlands.

With files from The Early Edition

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