A proposal to bring a much-needed alcohol and drug residential recovery centre to the North Shore is causing controversy because of how it might affect a local park.
The proposal calls for a nine-bed women’s recovery house, managed by Turning Point Recovery Society, on city-owned land inside Murdo Fraser Park in North Vancouver. But some citizens are concerned changing a bylaw requiring that land be used for park purposes will put the entire park in danger.
“There is no proposed changes to Murdo Fraser Park facilities or environmental features,” said Suzy Lunn, a District of North Vancouver social planner, at a District council meeting on December 3. “Even if the park dedication is removed from this parcel, the site would remain zoned as community park, though allowing for this specific use.”
The recovery house is proposed for 2670 Lloyd Ave., a parcel purchased by the District in 1970. At the time of purchase, there was a house on the property, which the District rented out until July 2010 before tearing it down that October because of its poor condition.
At the time of purchase, the property was to be held for park purposes, however, it was neither dedicated nor reserved for the park. The proposal calls for removing this requirement. Rezoning of the land is a separate process that will happen only after council approves changing the bylaw that designates the land for park use.
Despite this, councillors say there are rumours spreading about the destruction of the park.
“I want to address some of my comments to a young lad that sent me an email, and he was concerned about the pond and being able to feed his ducks, and I’m telling him we won’t be doing anything to the pond or the ducks,” said Councillor Doug MacKay-Dunn at the December 3 meeting, adding all the sewer, water and electrical hook-ups already exist.
“Not a blade of grass will be disturbed in the park, period.”
Council is asking residents opposed to the location of the recovery house to submit an Elector Response Forum by January 28. Ten per cent of eligible voters must submit a form to prevent council from rezoning the property.
But Turning Point Executive Director Brenda Plant is confident council and the community will approve of a residential recovery service on the site. “I think that we’re going to work with the neighbours and have acceptance of our proposal and that we will be building our house there with the support of the neighbours, as many as we can,” she told Megaphone.