Design & Development
August 6, 2019

Tony Valente and The Shipyard Commons

City of North Vancouver Councillor Tony Valente has been involved with The Shipyards development for at least ten years as a community member, leader, and now a City Councillor.  I asked Tony to tell the story of his involvement and how The Shipyards Commons came to be.  He begins with referring to the “bloodlessly named” Lot 5 that was his motivation for engaging with local government back in 2009.

I was one of a group of neighbours in Lower Lonsdale (LoLo) who petitioned the City to get moving on the North Van central waterfront following the failure of the National Maritime Project.   The petition was, sadly, promptly filed by City Council following my delegation and presentation.

It wasn’t over, of course. The petition connected me with other neighbours, including the owner of the Cafe for Contemporary Art (Tyler Russell who has continued to spread culture across our province) – where we held our own guerrilla consultation, discussing elements of what could be on Lot 5. That turned into a non-profit society – the North Van Urban Forum – which brought together a diverse group of community members to transparently and openly engage in ideas for developing our public realm.

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She’s the new Mayor of the City of North Vancouver, a former councillor and school trustee with a life of public service in her community. He’s a first-time Council member, who’s devoted countless hours in recent years to advocacy for better cycling policies and more public spaces.

And while they didn’t run on a ticket — few candidates for public office in Metro Vancouver do — Linda Buchanan and Tony Valente are singing from the same song sheet.

Among other ambitions, they want to invite more density to the 6th-densest municipality in Canada. They support car sharing and the new e-bike share program coming to the North Shore, in a city where 30% of residents already don’t own a car. And, seemingly in contrast to many of their political counterparts in the districts of North Vancouver and West Vancouver, they embrace the recommendations of INSTPP, the North Shore Transportation Planning Project led by TransLink and multiple levels of government.

Buchanan and Valente brought the Price Talks team to CNV library recently, a 10-year-old facility just a few steps from City Hall, boasting a new recording studio. They spoke with Gord at length about their adjustments to their new roles, their early priorities, and the opportunities to bring new housing, transportation and employment options to residents in their beautiful, diverse and growing city.

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The North Shore is a self-conscious piece of paradise: the glory of post-war suburbia set into west-coast rainforest.  Understandably, most residents would like change to reinforce that paradigm, not pave it over.

But municipal government is essentially in the paradigm-changing business when it comes to long-term solutions.  In the short-term, however, anything that uncomfortably changes scale or character is objected to.  Residents say they want better transportation, but their way of life is largely car dependent.  They want affordable housing, but not an increase in taxes related to property.  Lots of circles to square.

So what does an aspiring mayor or councillor do?  I thought I’d ask a candidate with whom I had spoken prior to the last election.  Tony Valente ran as an independent for council in North Van City, and lost by only about 500 votes.  Now, as one of the next generation of aspiring leaders with more vacancies open, he has the odds with him.

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