North Vancouver Waterfront Development Plan Scaled Back
NORTH VANCOUVER — The City of North Vancouver is going ahead with a toned down version of its grandiose plans for the Shipyards area at the base of Lonsdale Avenue.
The plan still has features an outdoor public skating rink and covered structure, a water feature for kids (or adults) to play in, an event stage and gathering area, revenue-generating commercial space, and connections to the spirit trail and foot of Lonsdale.
Gone from the plan, however, is the ferris wheel at the end of the pier, which had been a lightning rod for criticism of the plan. Gone, too, are Las Vegas-style water fountains on the waterfront.
Both of those would require extensive infrastructure upgrades and approval from outside jurisdictions, including Port Metro Vancouver and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, a city staff report notes.
The report does, however, leave the door open to these aspects of the original plan should future councils want to pursue them.
The end goal is an “animated and dynamic people place” meant to be a destination for locals and tourists year-round, as presented by destination marketing consultant Roger Brooks in 2013.
But, trepidation still exists on council about how much the scaled-back plan will cost. When it was first presented, Brooks suggested the plan would run about $30 million.
“We’re talking about a new public facility. It has in its broadest concept got the support of the entire council but the devil is in the details and the biggest detail is, ‘What is it going to cost?’” said Coun. Pam Bookham. “Without that information, I’m not prepared to support moving forward and doing additional work.”
Coun. Rod Clark agreed with Bookham.
“While it all sounds great and wonderful and it gets good press when one supports it, there’s no cost there. How am I going to make an intelligent business decision on behalf of the taxpayers when I don’t know the costs? I think we’re a little premature in giving this blessing,” he said.
The staff report made no mentions of slot machines or “community gambling” as a feature at the Shipyards or as a means of paying for it, though council is holding a special meeting on Monday to take feedback from the experts and the public on whether to end its ban on gambling in the city.
Playtime Community Gaming, whose director was a major donor to the mayor’s re-election campaign, lobbied council in 2013 to reconsider its ban and allow gambling revenues to help pay for the rest of the Shipyards project.
Coun. Holly Back said that it would be premature to expect fully costed options for the site until staff had the opportunity to research what was available in terms of the design, construction and technology required.
Mayor Darrell Mussatto praised staff for advancing the plan thus far.