West Vancouver council has voted to approve final building permits for a housing development on the edge of Hollyburn Mountain, despite concerns that the plan for single-family homes is out of step with current needs in the municipality.
Council voted to approve permits Feb. 19 for 21 single-family homes on Rodgers Creek Lane that are part of the multi-phase Rodgers Creek Area Plan on the slopes of Cypress Bowl Road.
Council adopted the plan in 2008 and the land was rezoned in 2011.
Before the vote, Coun. Nora Gambioli voiced misgivings about being tied to a decision made a decade ago, which no longer reflects council’s priorities for denser and more affordable multi-family developments.
“My calculation indicates based on property values in the adjacent vicinity, that these units will eventually be selling for, give or take, $5 million apiece . . .” she said. “So you’re not selling to the local workforce. No one I know gets paid that much.”
Gambioli said while she recognized the plan was made 10 years ago, “This is so out of touch with what we need right now it’s shocking.”
Gambioli mused that the owners might consider coming up with a different development that meets current needs rather than “taking the easy route, which is making a maximum profit on these view lots for their company.”
West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith defended the Rodgers Creek development plan, saying it allowed 50 per cent of the land to remain in a natural state, and provided a variety of housing types, adding even in this particular part of the plan, “These are relatively small homes.”
The houses in the plan range from approximately 3,000 to 3,500 square feet. Nine of the houses would also be built to allow for secondary suites in the basement.
Smith added council should be careful in “assuming there’s no market for $5-million houses.”
“If someone works hard and pays their taxes and wants to buy a $5-million house, we live in a free society,” he said, adding those buyers shouldn’t be considered “societal outcasts.”
A concern about possible conflicts between the existing Mulgrave School and owners of the pricey new homes was also raised.
Speaking for Mulgrave School, Terry Partington of Partington Real Estate Advisors, voiced worry that once the new homeowners move in to neighbouring properties, they might start complaining about noise, “Much like a person who buys a home next to a railway track then complains they didn’t know it was going to be so noisy.”
Partington said the school was hoping potential owners could be warned in advance about noise potential through some kind of formal notice.
That option wasn’t supported by planning staff, however. In the end, council voted to approve the development permits, with Coun. Gambioli opposed. Couns. Craig Cameron and Christine Cassidy were absent.