A development application to convert two single-family lots into a six-storey 88-units rental apartment building on Oxford Street in the Dollarton Highway neighbourhood devolved into a tense debate over the nature and pace of development in the North Shore.
Councillor Lisa Muri was the only councillor to vote against the rental building and her opposition didn’t go well with some of her fellow councillors. Muri said she was opposing the development not on the grounds of what is being proposed, but rather on the dire need to pause development in the community.
It was that principle, not the merit of the housing development in front of her, that made her cast the opposing vote, she said.
“We are trying to play catch up now, but people have no idea how many units have been approved in the last four years and they have no idea of the kind of construction that is coming to the district, let alone what is going on in the City of North Vancouver and District of West Vancouver,” she said.
Muri said it’s not the merits of the development—all rental in this case—but the traffic and congestion the developments bring is what drives her vote. “I have huge concerns with how we manage this and how the next council is going to manage all this development. It’s only the zoning that is in our control and a majority of the council, four members of the council, have approved a lot of development,” she said.
Councillor Roger Bassam said he was ‘mystified’ by Muri’s opposition to the all-rental building on Oxford Street. “I am mystified by her opposition, this is the second rental building Councillor Muri has voted against. We need leadership and long-term vision. Why don’t we have a rental stock because we didn’t build any,” Bassam said.
That was the sentiment of Councillor Matthew Bond as well, who pulled up Muri’s voting record to show she had always voted against rental development. Bond counted at least five rental development applications that could have added over 400 units to the community.
“I’m mystified as well. If we don’t build rentals, we won’t be getting rentals, and if we had done more in the last 20 years, we would have had more people getting a chance to live here,” he said.
He also took to Twitter later to express his disappointment with Muri. I can’t understand how someone who votes against every rental project (market and non-market) is portrayed publicly as an affordable housing advocate. It’s quite a remarkable pivot to pull off,”he said.
“Why are we continuing to get one project after the other? Is there no time we can take a pause and say, we are good right now. It’s not about whether these proposals are good or not. I oppose this because our citizens are asking us to slow down and we are not listening,” she said.