The Richardson Expansion & Harbourside Evolution: A Snapshot Review

Attending a recent information evening at The Pinnacle Hotel, The North Van Urban Forum’s ‘Eyes on the Ground’ Amanda Nichol provides her updates of two of the big topics of discussion facing the City of North Vancouver:

The Richardson Expansion and Harbourside Evolution: A Snapshot Review

By Amanda Nichol

Thursday, January 24 at the Pinnacle Hotel was a fairly busy night; Richardson in one room and Concert Properties discussing Harbourside in the other.

In Richardson’s room, there were hard copies of the Dust and Noise Mitigation report (100 pages online), and they provided the background on their rationale for choosing the east side for the expansion.  If the expansion is approved by PMV, Richardson hopes to start construction in Spring 2013 and last about two years.

The issues:  Increased noise from the additional machinery and construction (two years of construction), increased traffic in the community during construction, increased dust and air quality from construction and as a result of the expansion. Reports indicate a significant increase in rail car traffic, and this is difficult noise to mitigate. Through conversation with Richardson, it would appear that they are no longer as confident in their hope to remain noise neutral (comparing their baseline measures with post-expansion levels), as there are too many variables. Mention was made of PMVs intention to install permanent noise monitoring but this has yet to occur and there may be some question as to whether or not PMV will follow through with this.

BKL (acoustic consultants) were in attendance to answer questions about the predicted noise levels, the report, and proposed mitigation measures.  BKL is the same company that was contracted by PMV on the Low Level Road project, they also seem to be in the know regarding the possibility of permanent, ongoing noise monitoring.

For the residents and City of North Vancouver, it would be great to have permanent noise monitoring stations in place sooner rather than later to start the data collection process, and also provide as accurate baseline measurements as possible. YVR does it and publishes it publicly very close to real time (, why can’t PMV? I imagine this is up to PMV, CNV, and/or WINCC (CNV’s Waterfront Industrial Noise Control Committee

From what I saw, additional measures being undertaken for noise mitigation included additional filters and cladding around machinery to reduce noise during operation, alternative pile driving equipment/mechanisms, hours of construction within bylaws, but still not enough to mitigate the noise (from their report) from a 67% increase in rail car traffic (jump from 119 today to 198 with the addition), more weekend workers, and a rise from 118 shunting events to 130; an 8% increase in probability of sleep disturbances for those nearest the terminal.

The community benefits are still being reviewed and going through process with the Richardson Foundation.

CONCERT PROPERTIES Developer Information Session on Harbourside

In an ongoing process of public consultations, the biggest change here is the stated consideration of sea rise – everything is supposedly moved further from the water with graduated rise. Although the idea of terracing to allow for continued easy access to the waterfront and a concrete barrier to possibly limit potential damage from future water events that may involve sea level rise sound great, the actual picture does leave a lot to the imagination as far as relating to the current road/water/park construction and how that could possibly be changed to allow for it. Just simply adding more green space between the water and the road on a picture does not necessarily translate into more green space when everything is built.  Roads are not always so easily shifted.

The promise of the creation of more public parking via the internal street network created by the buildings is attractive to those that currently find parking at Harbourside a struggle.

Richardson was very hopeful towards the future link up of the spirit trail, in spite of challenges with land ownership.

The TDM (the Traffic Demand Management) plan promises new traffic lights at Fell & Automall Drive, and Fell & Harbourside Drive, and the reconfiguration of lanes around the area. Still no mention of an alternative route, other than the current four-lane overpass, aside from Bewicke. CN has been remarkably silent, and it appears still so, on the future of this particular at-grade crossing. Obviously Concert and CNV are hopeful that it will remain an open crossing, in spite of the potential CN has of closing the at-grade crossing.

Concert proposed Bewicke improvements:

  • Repaving and beautification of a portion of Bewicke Ave.
  • Encouraging alternative transportation methods with the addition of cyclist and pedestrian lanes on Bewicke bridge, and improving safe  access overall along Bewicke Ave.
  • Installation of safety arms on the at-grade rail crossing.
  • Erecting digital signage to notify traffic of an impending train to allow re-routing to avoid train-related delays.

Other items:

  • Ride share program
  • Car pool program
  • Spa Utopia building is being redeveloped as a fourth phase.
  • Hotel (Knightsbridge Properties) will be on the east side (waterfront) of Fell.
  • More angling of a number of building to create/increase view corridor to Grouse Mountain and/or the Lions.
  • Variety of building heights
  • Less specificity with the waterfront park area
  • Less specificity surrounding amenities/community area, etcetera
  • More specificity around transportation demand management plan

In general, the conceptualization gives the impression of being more detailed but many notable elements have become more vague. There is little to no detail on specific amenities and community space, just the general suggestion of what might be possible down the road.