36-unit rental apartment project in North Van approved for Maplewood

A 36-unit rental apartment is coming to Maplewood.

District of North Vancouver council approved the five-storey mixed-use building at the corner of Old Dollarton Road and Seymour River Place Jan. 8.

The project, which will be built on the site of an older existing commercial building, will include six commercial units on the ground floor with 36 rental apartments above, ranging from one to four bedrooms and from 417 square feet to just over 1,000 square feet in size. Over half of the apartments will be two-bedroom units while about one-third will be one-bedroom.

Seven of those apartments will be reserved for below-market rentals. Rental rates for those units are expected to start at $1,450 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,800 for a two-bedroom apartment and are aimed at households earning between $58,000 and $72,000, according to a staff report on the project. Median rates for market rentals for the same size apartments in the district are between $1,800 and $2,250, according to the report.

The project is consistent with the Maplewood Plan and will increase housing diversity and help contribute to the provincial housing target of 1,541 new rental units in the district, according to the staff report.

The building will include 29 parking stalls.

Prior to the council vote approving the project, Mayor Mike Little spoke in favour of providing more housing diversity in the district, but also noted the project on Old Dollarton Road is the first significant development to come forward since the provincial government changed the rules to do away with public hearings for projects consistent with a municipality’s official community plan.

Little said he’s not satisfied that approach provides for enough public input.

“My experience in local government is very few people know what is in … the OCP,” he said. “I think it’s going to surprise a lot of people in our community how much density is allowed in our OCP.”

Without a formal public hearing, “it means the public has to be more diligent about sending in feedback by other means,” he said.

Coun. Lisa Muri said traffic remains a concern in the area. “There is a significant parking issue in this area,” she said, adding bus service isn’t reliable.

Coun. Betty Forbes said she would have preferred to see more affordable units included in the project, as well as less expensive rents. “This isn’t as deep as what I’d like to see as affordable,” she said.

Applicants for the affordable rental units will be means tested and must provide information like tax returns and proof they don’t own significant assets, according to the report.

If a household’s income rises above the qualifying threshold, they will be given six months to move.

Rent for the affordable units can also be increased each year based on the amount allowed under the Residential Tenancy Act or the average increase in the Consumer Price Index.

Coun. Catherine Pope spoke both in favour of the project and the push by the province to get municipalities to approve more housing faster.

“We are in a housing crisis,” she said. “We have failed miserably in addressing the housing needs of this community.”

Original article from nsnews.com