By Gagandeep Ghuman
In the lineups at the grocery store, at the sideline of kids’ sports, in the waiting room of doctors, Kelly Bond heard the echoes of the same concern over and over again. Everyone, it seemed to her, was talking about how crazy the traffic had become and how fast and furious the development was in the community.
Was it really that big of a concern, or was this just her confirmation bias? Kelly Bond got the answers in black and white just a few weeks ago and no, it wasn’t just her confirmation bias. Over on the Vancouver Island, in the capital city of BC, a bureaucrat had the same concerns about density and traffic.
Bond may have never known that had she not received a letter in response to a Freedom of Information request she had filed at the district while opposing the displacement of several families who had been asked to make way for a new 411-unit condo development at Emery Place.
Determined to know how the bureaucratic process worked that lead to their displacement, Bond got into the minutiae of readings, public hearings, all public hearing reports and final adoption bylaws for Emery Place. It was while going through the staff reports, Bond noticed something about the development needing approval from the
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure because it was within 800m of a controlled access highway. Curious to know more, she filed a Freedom of Information Request, and is rather surprised that a bureaucrat in a provincial ministry would share the concerns of those who felt development could use a pause.
The letter, sent by MOTI in June this year, informs the district that MOTI has approved the rezoning for Emery Place, but then goes ahead with a warning. “The Ministry has concerns with the overall number of new developments in the District of North Vancouver, currently.”
“The Ministry recommends the district arrange for further road network studies. The District may consider collectively reviewing the traffic impacts of the entire area, as well as securing funding to deliver infrastructure and road network improvements as needed.”
“The Ministry noted that this development (Emery Place) would have significant impacts to the Lynn Valley Road interchange as well as the new Mountain Highway interchange.”
The MOTI officials recommended that the district officials meet with them for a ‘scope development meeting’ to establish terms of reference for the traffic impact study.
When the Global Canadian asked the DNV, the communications coordinator said the district meets regularly with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to discuss a wide variety of transportation-related projects.
“The Integrated North Shore Transportation Planning Project takes local community development plans into consideration in its most recent report,” she said.
Bond says she can’t be 100 per cent sure on this, but her reading is that council wasn’t informed of the MOTI’s comments and concerns.
“To my knowledge, there was no sharing of the Ministry’s comments with the community, and I did not read anything in the District of North Vancouver’s published agendas or staff reports. I do not know what the obligation is, but it would seem to be a responsible thing to do,” she says.
She has since written emails to the outgoing Mayor Richard Walton and CEO David Stuart asking if they knew of the concerns expressed by the Ministry. She has yet to hear from either of them.
But there is a silver lining in all this for Bond, a sense of vindication after having read that even MOTI officials in Victoria are concerned about the pace of development in North Vancouver. All that talk in the line ups wasn’t just the idle talk of NIMBYs.