West Vancouver residents oppose new rental buildings

Infill development would add 41 apartment units

Credit: Hollyburn Properties

Rendering of proposed infill apartments in West Vancouver

Infill development would add 41 apartment units

A proposal to build two infill low-rise apartment buildings in West Vancouver is opposed by neighbouring residents, who argue it would obstruct views and create more traffic. A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, November 28.

Hollyburn Properties, which owns and manages more than 5,000 suites in 73 buildings across Canada, wants to add 41 new rental apartments on its Bellevue Tower property at 195 21st Street. The plan is for a three-storey building above an underground parking garage on Bellevue Avenue and a three-and-a-half-storey building on Argyle Avenue. The 126 suites in the existing 16-storey Bellevue Tower, built in 1971, would be retained.

A June 2016 West Vancouver council report on housing affordability and diversity notes that 17 per cent of West Vancouver’s purpose-built rental housing stock (309 units in four rental properties) is at high risk of loss through redevelopment, a figure that increases to 22 per cent (408 units) by 2021. The addition of infill rental units is one of the strategies the report recommends to help protect existing rental housing stock and provide opportunities for new affordable, rental, seniors and supportive housing.

“We don’t usually speak on specific projects, but what this represents is the need for rental [housing] in all communities,” says Anne McMullin, president and CEO of the Urban Development Institute. “We need to be able to provide opportunities for people to either downsize or for seniors to be able to stay and for young people to be able to have the opportunity to stay or join the community as well.” Despite objections that the project would create more traffic in that neighbourhood, she notes that overall more affordable housing would reduce commuter traffic as middle income workers employed on the North Shore could also live there instead of travelling back and forth from other areas of the Lower Mainland.

Hollyburn Properties is one of several new players to build new rental housing in B.C. in recent years.

Updated: On November 29, West Vancouver council approved the Hollyburn Gardens project by a vote of five to one. It will be West Vancouver’s first new rental project since the 1970s.