North Van Urban Forum on Onni Development at 13th & Lonsdale

This week’s events regarding the Onni development at 13th and Lonsdale seem surreal. First, we learned the development might not go to a second public hearing as previously decided. Then, Onni announced that it would not be proceeding with the development.

I am a proud member of the North Van Urban Forum (https://urbanforum.wordpress.com/). This week’s events have only reinforced for me the importance of our group’s mission which is to urge and facilitate transparency and public participation in all aspects of the development of the public realm in our community. Please note that the North Van Urban Forum does not support or oppose the Onni development. Given the amount of discussion surrounding the project, our group has remained relatively silent but this week’s events require a response.

The North Van Urban Forum applauds the Council of the City of North Vancouver for acknowledging the legitimate concerns of citizens. Particularly the decision to send the project to a second public hearing to ensure all citizens are heard is to be commended. Onni’s decision to cancel the development is unfortunate; however, what is unacceptable is the “media blitz” that followed. This can only be described as an organized exercise in public relations. Beau Jarvis, Onni Vice President, made the rounds of CKNW and the CBC to lament effort expended to date and criticize Council for its decision. He called the cancelling of the development “a travesty” and referred to certain members of council as an “opposition” that refuses to accept that those who support the project are actually citizens of the City of North Vancouver.

In May 2012, Dionne Delesalle the Development Manager at Onni, met the North Van Urban Forum to understand our thoughts about the 13th and Lonsdale proposal. We told Dionne to quite simply: “make it awesome.” We told him that if that could be done citizens would fight to have the development in their neighbourhood. Since that meeting, not a single substantial change was made to the proposed design. While Onni may have already expended considerable effort to this point, it does seem possible that you can hear citizens without listening or addressing concerns. For the North Van Urban Forum this further justifies Council’s decision to send this development to a second public consultation.

It is unfortunate that Onni has decided not to proceed, but as the owners of the site we can expect that they will be back. Hopefully, they will be willing to listen so both Onni and citizens of the City of North Vancouver can benefit.

Tony Valente

Vice President, North Van Urban Forum

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