Capilano University gets a say in the community plan

In an effort to obtain a youth perspective for the District of North Vancouver’s Official Community Plan (OCP), mayor Richard Walton paid a visit to Capilano University. On Wednesday November 10, the mayor and five of his colleagues met with Capilano Students Union (CSU) executives and Capilano Business Undergrad Society (CBUS) students to discuss pressing issues in the community.

Mayor Walton, who attended his first ever business course at Capilano in 1978, says that it is important to him that he hear the voices of young people in the community, especially as it is the young adult demographic that is shrinking most rapidly in the North Vancouver region.

“This demographic is the future of our community,” says the mayor, whose goal is to find ways to accommodate the younger generation on the North Shore.

He is working to create an updated of the OCP, which was originally adopted in 1990, to set out goals, a vision, and overarching policies to guide this municipality.

The Capilano students had no shortage of opinions surrounding these problems and were eager to share their suggestions with the Mayor and his affiliates. Economic health, transportation, energy and climate change, and housing were all addressed.

After the common concerns about environmental issues and sustainability within the community, the biggest issues the Capilano students felt needed to be addressed were the decreasing affordability of living in North Vancouver for young people, and how the district’s transportation system needs a drastic change.

The Mayor’s main concern was gathering ideas on the logistics of making housing more affordable. The students suggested more apartment complexes but admitted that such structures would also destroy the homey feel of North Vancouver.

The most feasible solution seemed to be duplexes, offering cheaper homes complete with all the amenities of a family house, while maintaining the feel of a typical neighborhood.

Mayor Walton and city officials were also the first to admit that traffic in North Vancouver is a serious problem.

Twenty years ago the busiest time to be on the road was weekends when people were going to and from Whistler. Now rush hour seems to exist all day, particularly after school, when parents are picking their children up individually.

Not only is this increased vehicular use making it extremely difficult to navigate the city quickly, but it is also increasing our carbon footprint tenfold.

The students suggested direct shuttles within the transit system, business’ such as Internet cafes on dead land (like by Phibbs exchange) and “miniature urbanization.” Shuttles with the specific purpose of express routes to business districts and possible shopping center to shopping center buses would make it possible for people to run their errands efficiently, and without the concern of parking.

Structuring neighborhoods such as Lynn Valley and Edgemont Village to be self contained by creating sustainable businesses within and offering more community programs, recreation and services was also suggested as a way to decrease cross-town driving, and to help create a sense of pride within the community.

Striking closer to home were ideas about identity at Capilano University and the possibility of offering more work experience programs for Cap students on the North Shore. Creating businesses on Cap U land was suggested, particularly a campus pub.

The idea of affordable housing for students was offered up as well, including an idea to transform shipping containers into stackable studio apartments that could be constructed on the Capilano grounds, a project which has proven successful in cities such as Tokyo, Paris, and London.

//Skyler Flavelle

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com