A proposed recovery house is a step closer to being built on the North Shore after opponents failed to gather enough signatures to force a referendum on the facility.
Under a process known as “alternate approval,” residents opposed to the project had been given until Jan. 28 to collect and submit objections to a bylaw that would allow the site – currently set aside for park purposes – to be rezoned and leased to a non-profit society.
Under the process, opponents would have had to collect response forms from about 6,000 people – or 10 per cent of voters in the district – to force a referendum.
Responses have yet to be officially tallied but were “well short” of the threshold required, District of North Vancouver Councillor Doug MacKay-Dunn said on Tuesday.
That clears the way for the district to proceed to the next steps, which include a public hearing and ultimately rezoning of the site, a lot on Lloyd Avenue that borders Murdo Frazer Park.
The district bought the property in 1969 and has retained it for park use but now wants to rezone it and lease it to Turning Point Recovery Society, a Vancouver-based group that runs recovery houses in Vancouver and Richmond.
Some residents had objected to the rezoning, suggesting it would set a worrisome precedent for park property.
“We’re going to make sure that all those individuals who expressed their concern and discontent in terms of this initiative will be invited,” Mr. MacKay-Dunn said. “It’s important that the community clearly understand what they’re getting.
“In terms of the park area, we’re just adding a use to a park zone,” he said.
The proposed recovery house would have nine beds and serve women who are recovering from alcohol and drug addiction. Vancouver Coastal Health and B.C. Housing are also involved in the project.
Currently, there are no residential recovery facilities for men or women on the North Shore.
Sean Wightman, a long-time resident in the neighbourhood, remains opposed to the project, saying he has concerns about the process the district used to make the site available and the lack of nearby transit.
“For obvious reasons, I am concerned about the process, because it’s kind of a loophole they can use to their advantage for other projects,” said Mr. Wightman. “It’s a good location for the serenity of it all – but there’s no public transit, it’s not easy to get to.”
Mr. Wightman also voiced concerns about construction’s effects on a nearby spring, saying spawning salmon have returned to the waterway in recent years. Salmon had disappeared for decades in the wake of highway construction in the neighbourhood.
“The district owns dozens of properties they could use that are not in an area that has the challenges that this one has, as far as being in a park and being hard to get to,” Mr. Wightman said.