VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Up to 450 below-market rental housing units for teachers and education staff could come to the District of North Vancouver, thanks to a partnership with developers.
Darwin Properties, the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation and the North Vancouver School District have signed a memorandum of understanding that would see the employee housing program built as part of the proposed Maplewood Innovation District project.
Mark Pearman, the superintendent of SD44, says it’s an innovative approach to an affordability crisis that is dragging on.
“It’s a long term strategy. We don’t see Metro housing prices coming down anytime soon and frankly, we want to get ahead of the game,” he said.
Pearman says the school district has lost talent as people have chosen to take work in places like Maple Ridge, Abbotsford and Aldergrove, where they can more easily find a place to live.
The benefit of having teachers live in the community, he believes, is a higher level of engagement in the community and the well-being of students.
“They want to serve the public to the best of their ability because they have ownership within the system,” he said. “It’s going to cut down on transportation but it’s also go to provide for a super-engaged workforce for us.”
Pearman also believes allowing people to live in the community would mean fewer cars on congested North Vancouver roads.
The school district employs about 2,500 people on the North Shore. Pearman says an internal survey finds 20 per cent of those staff point to commuting and congestion as an issue that severely affects them.
Traffic is a major political issue North Vancouver, especially in the District, where the new mayor and council have rejected development applications, including some with proposed subsidized housing, in favour of curbing congestion.
A decision on the Maplewood Innovation District project (where SD44’s proposed employee housing project would be built) was deferred by the previous mayor and council ahead of the 2018 municipal election.