Smart Growth in Valleycliffe

NateMAINBy Nate Dolha
Published: Dec. 22, 2013


We’ve lived in Valleycliffe for the last five years, and we have seen this neighborhood begin to adopt some of those Smart Growth ideas that have been talked about in the past.

Look at the new development at Westway and Maple. Completing the village centre with street oriented retail and condominiums has provided both housing density and some new services : A new, family centric gym, a cafe selling local wares and locally roasted coffee, furniture, beauty services, the list goes on!

Well serviced by transit, affordable (at least in our regional context), and very walkable, Valleycliffe is certainly enjoying the baby boom that has spread bleary eyes across our city.

Spending time here during the day has allowed me to meet many new Valleycliffe families who are moving here from both the city, as well as other neighborhoods in town.

By now, I’m sure you’re thinking: What’s with the love in? Truth be told, I think there is a great opportunity as our community continues to attract new families and new investment. Below the glossy brochure cliches, Valleycliffe is also a very healthy mix of cultures and socio-economic groups.

This diversity is vital, and there are a few things that we should consider when we look at new development here.

First off, we should strive for developments that have many housing types; detached, duplex, townhome and condominium.

This mix allows for folks, regardless of their lot in life, to live where they choose. Too often with new development we end up with enclaves of income brackets, and inadvertently or not, this brings segregation and isolation into our communities.

The other way we can maintain a healthy fabric in our community is to allow it to tastefully densify.

As we run out of developable space, we have three choices: Allow development to turn to gentrification, replace single detached homes with new, single detached homes. Prices will rise, and that’s about it.

The second option is simply clear more land and build.  Not really the best option for a laundry list of reasons, and certainly wouldn’t be in line with Smart Growth principles.

The third option is to allow the community to tastefully densify – allow subdivision of lots at least 60 feet wide, and allow a full spectrum of housing to be developed on these lots.

The City of North Vancouver did this very thing with the Lonsdale corridor, and now there is a mix of housing, and a great neighborhood feel. And the best part? The city hasn’t grown out an inch, but has accommodated the growth. Smart indeed.

 What do you think? I’d love to know! On Twitter: @natedolha, or by email:






  1. john says:

    I think this development you speak of has lead to some of the worse detriments of the Lonsdale community I have seen in my decades living there.

    Most of the reason duplexes in the upper part have been taken down, subdivided and replaced with monster 3 story houses far beyond the price grasp of the people who work in those communities