Proposed silos have North Van homeowners worried about property values

By Sam Cooper, The Province October 19, 2012

North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto says the city can’t stop a view-blocking waterfront factory expansion that many residents fear will decimate their home equity, but he would consider rezoning the neighbourhood to mitigate homeowners’ losses.

Richardson International, a private Winnipeg-based agribusiness, has put forward a proposal to erect 28, 50-metre tall concrete silos to store grains at its North Vancouver shipping terminal, which is on Port Metro Vancouver land.

The company recently consulted with North Vancouver homeowners who were caught off guard by the proposal, as part of the port’s permit process.

According to homeowners Marlene and Charles Goodbrand, about 100 residences in the surrounding blocks will have their Burrard Inlet views blocked by the proposed wall of silos, wiping out an estimated $20-million in total real estate value, or between $100,000 to $400,000 per affected owner.

The Goodbrands say they never would have bought their dream retirement home in North Vancouver this summer, had they known of plans for the “monstrosity” that will replace their water view.

The shattered retirement dreams and expected financial hit of about $500,000 in lost value have left the couple “absolutely crushed,” Marlene Goodbrand said in an interview. The couple believes many others will see their life-savings destroyed if the development proceeds, therefore, Richardson should compensate impacted homeowners.

“It will be quite an impact on the local residents,” Mussatto said in an interview Friday.

Mussatto said he is sympathetic to neighbourhood concerns, but since the factory is on federal land the city has no power to impede plans.

According to Mussatto, some residents have suggested that if the proposal goes through, the city should rezone impacted lots for higher density, so homeowners might regain lost real estate value in redevelopment.

Mussatto said he is open to the rezoning idea, which would have to go through a public consultation process.

The port of Metro Vancouver will decide on the permit application from Richardson International within a month.

In an interview, Richardson spokeswoman Tracey Shelton said the company estimates the proposed $120-million factory expansion will create about 45 new permanent jobs, with hundreds of part-time jobs created during the two-year construction period.

Shelton said she understands some residents believe the company should compensate them for lost views, but that won’t happen.

As a private tenant on industrial-zoned land, “there’s no requirement to provide compensation,” Shelton said.

And as for mitigating view impacts, Shelton said company engineers have determined the proposed plan is the only way to add the needed capacity.

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