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Could the North Shore be the 'next big play' in real estate?

NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Realtors and developers looking for the next hot spot think they’ve found it.

A couple of thousand of them are gathering today at the Vancouver Real Estate Forum at the Convention Centre downtown; they’re eyeing the North Shore as the Lower Mainland’s next growth area.

About 20 real estate executives have decided that the region could be “the next big play” locally, based on the overhaul of the Park Royal shopping centre, the multi-billion-dollar Seaspan shipbuilding contract, and the possible Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.

Organizers point out there are other factors attracting investment to the area.

“The average income of the North Shore is $135,000 per household, compared to… $99,000 or $100,000 for the rest of Metro Vancouver, per se,” explains Mark Stephenson, Vice President with Informa Canada, the group putting on the forum.

“They’ve got world-class ski mountains… a major hospital… highways… ferry terminals… bridges… the major infrastructure to support the growing population over there.”

There is also the old saying: “Buy land, because God ain’t making any more of it!” That’s a sentiment Stephenson seems to agree with.

“There’s only so much developable dirt on the North Shore,” he admits.

While the area may have a lot going for it, at least one area politician warns future growth has to be managed responsibly.

“We have to make sure that as we grow, we grow in the right type of way,” explains City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto.

“We put the development where it’s best-suited — along the transit corridors. We don’t sprawl as much as we used to do in the past.”

He considers growth a balancing act.

“We have to make sure that the benefits are shared by all. Sometimes there’s opposition to local communities, sometimes [there are] fights over who gets the benefits. Does it go to affordable housing or does it go to rec centres? Does it go to road improvements or does it go somewhere else?”

Mussatto says local councils have done a “darn good job” managing those concerns so far.

Last night, the City of North Vancouver gave final approval to ONNI’s 344-unit condo development at the corner of Lonsdale and 13th, which, in its initial form, sparked up plenty of controversy in the community over density concerns.