North Vancouver's Moodyville in Density Dustup

Brent Richter
June 18, 2014

A group of residents in Moodyville, North Vancouver, have launched a petition aimed at countering a campaign to introduce more townhouses and condos to First and Second streets.

So far 188 people, almost all from the neighbourhood, have signed, said George Madi, Moodyville resident and real estate specialist.

The signees are opposing a pro-density group, made up mainly of residents on the 500 and 600 blocks of East First and Second streets, is lobbying council to allow condos and townhouses in the new official community plan, which is due for a vote this fall. It follows the neighbourhood being drastically affected by the Low Level Road project and expansion of Richardson International and Neptune Terminals on Port Metro Vancouver property.

As an alternative, Madi and his neighbours are urging council to allow each lot to hold a duplex with a secondary suite and a laneway house. That would allow the density the city is looking to achieve without giving a financial incentive for a mass sell-off of the neighbourhood to developers, Madi said.

"What that does not do is give an opportunity for a developer to come in and raze an entire neighbourhood and evict dozens of families," Madi said.

With a high percentage of the residents in the neighbourhood of older single-family homes being renters with modest incomes, the new townhouses and condos would likely be priced out of their range, Madi said.

Moodyville is the last neighbourhood in the city that offers that type of housing at an affordable rate, he added.

"To shut down this neighbourhood, basically and turn it into townhouses and condos, would be the worst case of gentrification," he said. "You effectively close the downtown core to any low-income people."

While the duplexes with suites and coach houses plan might still result in property owners deciding to sell or redevelop, Madi conceded, it wouldn't offer the same financial incentive to guarantee mass evictions.

Madi said he suspects only about 10 to 15 homes lost their inlet views when the new Richardson silos went up and the impact of the Low Level Road changing has actually been minimal.

"When it first happened, people ran around like Chicken Little. 'The sky is falling. The sky is falling.' But it's not as bad as it seems."

Property values in the area continue to go up, despite the construction, Madi said And, he added, if the neighbourhood is truly ruined by the Low Level Road project, it won't be saved by condos.

"If it's not good enough for the people who already live here, why would it be good enough for that much more people living here in townhouses and condos?" he asked.

Madi said the debate has become so divisive, neighbours have turned on each other and his family has received harassing phone calls and rude gestures in the community.

"I've lost friends because of this," he said.

The city is hosting its final public meeting on the community plan Wednesday night.