Here's what the North Shore Neighbourhood House site might look like in the future

·5 min read

The first design plans for what the redeveloped North Shore Neighbourhood House site might look like have received positive feedback.

City of North Vancouver councillors had a first look at plans for the redevelopment of the facility and site, at St. Georges Avenue, between East First and East Second streets, in a presentation at Monday’s (April 19) general meeting.

The redevelopment, being dubbed "The Hub," is envisioned as an opportunity to bring together multiple amenities into a single site to serve the needs of the community, said Mike Friesen, city urban planner.

“The new site is proposed to include an adult day and overnight respite centre that will provide relief for caregivers that provide home care to their loved ones, up to 216 below-market residential units, a redesigned park to serve the needs of the community, and a new North Shore Neighbourhood House that would replace and expand the aging facility,” he said.

“The project is working to deliver community services in a vibrant and integrated hub in the heart of Lower Lonsdale.”

To provide all the amenities listed, Friesen said the city is partnering with a number of non-profit organizations, including Catalyst Community Developments, a real estate developer with the mission of providing stable and affordable homes to people based on their income, Care BC, to operate the respite centre, and Hollyburn Family Services Society, a community service provider to support marginalized groups and provide access to sustainable and affordable housing.

He said the new facility would allow for the continuation and expansion of NSNH, which has been providing essential community services such as childcare, youth and seniors programming, a food bank, recreational and wellness programs, and emergency shelter to the community for more than 80 years.

So far the design includes a six-storey building on the northwest corner of the site, with the Care BC facility on the first floor and a Catalyst Housing component on the five upper storeys, which would provide approximately 90 below-market rental units.

An 18 storey-plus building is being considered on the southwest corner, with the new NSNH facility on the first three floors, and the Hollyburn Housing component, of up to approximately 180 units, on floors above. While the rest of the site would accommodate a redesigned Derek Inman Park.

In terms of contributing to the neighbourhood, Friesen said the design also intended to establish safe pedestrian connections to the site, including upgrading intersections, where appropriate, and creating an attractive public realm.

“The project is really about creating a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable community,” he said. “Care BC and NSNH provide a variety of services to the community to people of all ages and abilities, and the proposed housing component will provide opportunities for everyone from workforce housing to deeply discounted units. The Derek Inman Park will be designed through public process with community input, and the entire project will strive to achieve a high environmental standard.”

The project will be built in three phases, starting with the Care BC facility and Catalyst Housing below market rentals, followed by the new extended NSNH, and the Hollyburn Family Services below market rentals. The third phase, once the new NSNH is operational, includes the demolition of the old NSNH facility and the design and construction of the new park.

“The key driver of the design and phasing is to ensure the continued operation of the NSNH throughout construction,” Friesen said.

In order to allow for the redevelopment, the site requires OCP and bylaw amendments and a park boundary adjustment.

While it’s the early stages, councillors echoed positive feedback on the redevelopment plan saying it had “incredible elements,” with only one question raised about the height of the 18-storey tower in the plan, by Coun. Don Bell, which is not yet set in stone.

“I think this looks amazing,” Coun. Holly Back said.

“Not only does it look amazing, it seems to cover just about every conversation we've had in the last three years about housing, respite care, childcare, youth programs, seniors programs, food banks – It just does it all, so I think the staff has done a great job of putting this together, and I am quite excited to actually move forward on it.”

“I think the community is very excited about giving the NSNH a new home that better supports the great work that they do in the community as well as having these other services,” Coun. Tony Valente added.

Mayor Linda Buchanan said she shared the excitement of councillors on moving forward with the project.

“It's long been anticipated, within our capital plan, to have a new home for the NSNH,” she said.

“It has been in the community since 1939, not always in this location, but this location is really coming to the end of its life, and they really use almost every inch of the building.”

Buchanan said all four organizations included individually do amazing work but were even stronger when brought together.

“I think that is a small step that's going to have a significant impact for the families across, not just the city, but across the North Shore, and I think it's those kinds of impacts that have a ripple effect for generations to come,” she said.

She pointed out that the new site would offer the first custom-designed stand-alone integrated day and overnight respite on the North Shore, and with the added stress of COVID on caregivers, it “will be incredibly important for families.”

While she said there is still a lot of work ahead and conversations to be had, Buchanan thought staff had “pulled together quite a beautiful project to date.”

Staff will begin consultations with the community this spring and update the concept to reflect feedback. A staff report on the project and zoning and bylaw amendments are expected to be presented to council for consideration in July.

Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News