THE people have spoken, but not loud enough to stop the construction of an addictions recovery centre in the District of North Vancouver.
In 45 days, opponents of the controversial project garnered signatures from just 176 electors, a far cry from the 6,045 names required to force a referendum on the issue.
On Dec. 12, district council voted to use its alternative approval process for the North Shore Support Recovery House, a two-storey nine-bed, women-only drug and alcohol addictions recovery centre proposed for the north end of Lloyd Avenue. Under the alternative process, 10 per cent of eligible voters in the district would have had to submit elector response forms by Jan. 28 in order to stop council from moving ahead with a bylaw allowing the project to break ground.
At Monday night's district council meeting, Coun. Mike Little said he received an email earlier in the day from someone who had not heard about the alternative approval process until after the submission deadline had passed.
District staff assured Little that notice of the alternative process followed the requirements of the Community Charter, and was advertised via newspaper, social media and the District Dialogue online newspage.
Coun. Doug MacKay-Dunn noted that the response period had been extend by 15 days due to Christmas, giving people more opportunity to express their points of view.
"Also, those individuals that were very much against the project did have their own blog and their Facebook page . . . so the message did get out, both through our blog system and through those other interested parties," he said.
The bylaw that council is now free to adopt would remove the required portion of land from an original bylaw holding the land for park purposes. Rezoning would also be required to add the recovery home as a permitted use within the "community park" zoning on that site.
Council will not approve the bylaw until it can be adopted concurrently with the associated rezoning bylaw. It is anticipated both bylaws will be ready for adoption in early May. Next up in the process is a public information meeting, tentatively scheduled for Feb. 26. The issue will also be brought to the Edgemont Community Association AGM on March 21.
Coun. Alan Nixon said there will still be "ample opportunities for the public to make their views known to us."
If the project goes ahead, the district would lease a portion of land at 2670 Lloyd Ave. to Turning Point Recovery Society, a Vancouver non-profit group that would run the North Shore centre.
At previous council meetings, some residents had objected to handing public land over to a private interest. There was also concern over the potential loss of park land.
No residents stood up to speak for or against the project at Monday night's meeting.