Lynn Valley Town Centre: from humble beginnings

Intersection of Lynn Valley Road and Mountain Highway. The

Mountain Highway at Lynn Valley Road. The “Lynn Valley Life” site says the structure on the right, dating from 1912, is the only surviving commercial building from the original settlement. The photo is from

In the 400-page official plan of the District of North Vancouver, Lynn Valley’s commercial area is the designated “municipal town centre.”

On the first pass, this town centre is a crossroads row of shops flanked by gas stations and strip malls. And to an outsider, it seems an odd location for the action centre in a municipality of 80,000 people. It’s closer to bear habitat than to the Municipal Hall or the District’s busiest east-west street. But there are services and public amenities tucked away in various corners, and rapid new development may bring transformation over the next three to five years. Continue reading

Return to Central Lonsdale

Lonsdale Ave 1

Since we toured the Central Lonsdale village in January 2013, the area has taken on much more of a big-city feel.

Lonsdale Ave 2Controversy over tower development around Lonsdale village divided the residents of the City of North Vancouver in the November 2014 municipal election. The incumbent pro-development mayor, Darrell Mussato, was returned with just 52.5 per cent of the vote, but landed a full slate of council supporters. In my view, this part of Lonsdale Avenue is turning into one of the finest urban high streets in Western Canada, and the pedestrian traffic on the pavements tends to prove that — with the qualifier that the competition, looking out to Surrey, Calgary and Regina, is sparse. Continue reading

Holding the line in Central Lonsdale

Shops, Fourteenth Street, North Vancouver

Bakery front, Lonsdale Avenue, North VancouverCentral Lonsdale sits east and west of Lonsdale Avenue, the “spine” of the City of North Vancouver. North and south, it extends from Upper Levels Highway down to 8th Street.  The area offers advantages as an urban village: good public transit,  independent shops and services, recreation and culture, and proximity to downtown Vancouver (with  Shopfront, Lonsdale Avenue, North VancouverBurrard Inlet serving as a buffer.)

But the neighbourhood and the city  government face development pressures, and  controversy came to a boil in December 2012. Onni, a major developer in the region, said it would withdraw an application to construct two condo towers (24 and 17 storeys, with 350 units), a six-storey office block and ground-floor retail space, citing “public abuse” and a “smear campaign” on the part of two members of Council. Continue reading

In search of the village at Edgemont Village

Edgemont Drive, North VancouverFew neighbourhood shopping centres in southwest B.C. are as cute and prosperous-looking as Edgemont Village.  Set deep in an affluent residential zone of the District of North Vancouver, Edgemont offers 90 or so shops and services — a kids’ bookstore, gift shops, a high-end produce market, and a dozen banks and financial offices to help residents manage their money.

My co-tourist, Fred Armstrong, used to live down the hill and he brought me here for the Fred Armstrong at The Bakehouse, North Vancouverfirst time in my life.  We ate a fresh, home-made lunch at The Bakehouse, looking out on the front lawns of some detached houses, and enjoyed it.  As a tourist from faraway Maple Ridge, I decided that I can recommend Edgemont as a place to visit and stroll through.  Fred pointed out that even the Edgemont Drive gas station, with its two-bay car repair shop, manages to fit into the charming streetscape. Continue reading