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  • Writer's pictureMary-Ann

Council Update #10

Hello everyone,

Spring has sprung in West Vancouver!  During the first three months of this new term, Council set its priorities for the next four years, approved the 2015 Budget, and began the process to address the impacts of new residential construction on neighbourhood character.

Council Priorities:  Based on feedback we received from the community during the election, we have identified the following seven areas on which to focus:

1. Built Form, Housing and Neighbourhood Character

2. Public Safety Building (“PSB”)

3. Ambleside Village & Waterfront Plan

4. Review of the Official Community Plan

5. Fiscal Sustainability and Municipal Services

6. Natural Environment and Climate Action

7. Arts, Culture & Heritage

The details are below.

Please feel free to pass this along to those who may be interested; or let me know if you would like to be removed from my distribution list.

I look forward to your comments and questions.

Enjoy your Spring!


Council Update #10 – In Detail

Council Priorities:  Based on feedback we received from the community during the election, we have identified the following seven areas on which to focus:

  1. Built Form, Housing and Neighbourhood Character:  The effect of new construction on neighbourhood character has been identified by the community as an urgent concern, so in October of 2014 Council directed staff to consult with all interested parties on the full range of regulatory options contained in a June 2014 staff report titled “Single Family Housing – Siting, Form, and Character” (see ), and report back with draft bylaws.  In an effort to mitigate interimimpacts prior to proceeding to the formal public engagement process, a staff report dated January 29, 2015 came forward that recommended limiting buildable floor area (FAR) in most single-family residential zones to 150% of the floor area that would be permitted on a lot having the minimum lot area specified for that zone.  For example, in the RS5 zone (Ambleside/Dundarave) the lot area minimum is currently 6000 square feet.  On such a lot, the maximum buildable gross floor area is .35 times 6000, or 2100 square feet (not including exemptions).  Under the proposed restriction, the maximum buildable on any lot, including consolidations, would be 1.5 times 2100, or 3150 square feet (not including exemptions).  Given concerns raised by the public since the release of that report including insufficient notice and the disproportionate effect of the formula on larger lots, this recommendation was defeated by Council  at a Special Meeting on February 23rd.  In accordance with the original motion, staff will be going to the public April and May with a whole suite of options for regulatory change including those related to site manipulation such as site grading, construction of retaining walls and fencing; boulevard treatment and landscaping; preservation of mature landscaping; definition of basement floor elevation and highest building face; elimination of garage area exemption when located as part of a house; articulation of building mass and setbacks; and establishment of maximum floor area achievable through lot consolidations.  Specifically, Open Houses are planned for April 29th (3-7 pm) and May 23rd (9 am-1 pm); and a Town Hall meeting is set for May 26th (6-10 pm), all in the Atrium at the West Vancouver Community Centre.  Please visit » “Neighbourhood Character and Building Bulk” for information about neighbourhood meetings or to subscribe for updates on this topic.  A report containing recommendations is expected before Council breaks in August.

  2. Public Safety Building (“PSB”):  An independent audit last spring and a review by our new Police Chief of the designs for the proposed PSB, concluded that it was 33% functionally inefficient, that original objectives of shared space weren’t being met, and that moving the fire hall and ambulance station didn’t make economic sense at this time.  As a result, in January Council approved the design and construction of a new Police Services and resident-centric Public Services facility attached to Municipal Hall to return all appropriate functions from District-wide facilities to the site, and seismically upgrade Municipal Hall.  Relocation of fire and ambulance services has been deferred.  The budget for the project remains at an estimated $35/36 million. An expedited consultation process including public forums, design review and internal information sessions will begin shortly to ensure that the new PSB is completed by December 2017 to meet contractual obligations related to the development of the 1300 block Marine Drive .

  3. Ambleside Village & Waterfront Plan:  Picking up on foundational work from last term to renew our village centre, deliverables include implementation of the Coriolis (Financial Analysis) and Urbanics (Market Analysis) report priority recommendations, such as review of the requirement of 2nd floor office space in new development, and support of an Ambleside Business Association.  We also heard from the community that we needed a plan which addressed elements on the waterfront including arts facilities, the Spirit Trail, parking, and the Hollyburn Sailing Club.  A visual articulation of this area and public engagement are included in staff work plans beginning this year and continuing into next.

  4. Review of the Official Community Plan:  Our OCP is over 10 years old and needs to be updated to reflect the values and goals of our changing community.  Much of it is still relevant so rather than an overhaul, we will be conducting a selective review of high priority areas including the Special Sites in Ambleside,  development in the Upper Lands,  and housing needs across the community.  2015 will see an outline of the process, and 2016 will see community consultation on this.Regarding the Upper Lands, the Working Group has prepared a draft final report with recommendations three open houses planned to present it:  Saturday, April 11th, 10 am – 2 pm and Thursday April 16th, 4 pm – 8 pm at the West Vancouver Community Centre Atrium; and Tuesday, April 14th, 4 pm – 8 pm at the Gleneagles Golf Club Great Hall.  A survey will also be available March 20th to April 19th at:  Based on community and stakeholder feedback, the Working Group will review and revise their draft recommendations as appropriate, before submitting a final report to Council in June.

  5. Fiscal Sustainability and Municipal Services:  Council’s approval of the 2015 Operating and Capital Budget was delayed because of the fall election.  In January, staff recommended a property tax increase of 2.97%.  After considerable review, Council gave first, second and third reading to a Five Year Financial Plan which included a provision for a property tax increase of 1.62%, which will amount to an increase of $53.46 for an average single family residence (currently assessed at $1,991,847).  Work on a Fiscal Sustainability Review and a Long-term Infrastructure Funding Strategy will be priorities this year for the reconstituted Finance Committee, which now includes three community members with special financial expertise.  Progress has been made in the Planning Department to streamline operations and optimize efficiencies including tracking and improving turn-around times for building permit applications, which now have a target of 8 weeks for new single family construction.

  6. Natural Environment and Climate Action:  On March 2nd Council gave first, second and third readings to bylaws which would allow fines to be imposed for unauthorized tree-cutting on public land (e.g. parks, boulevards) and those trees protected by covenant or development permit.  The next phase is to commence a district-wide community consultation on the current approach to tree protection on public lands, and on procedures that are used to issue permits for tree work.   A Community Energy and Emissions Plan Working Group has been formed to address the twin challenges of climate change and energy security at the community and corporate level.  To mitigate the risks of rising sea levels and storm damage, work will continue on shoreline enhancement and protection.  The District will continue to resource its participation as an intervenor in the Kinder Morgan (National Energy Board) and Woodfibre LNG (Environmental Assessment) review processes to ensure community interests are protected.

  7. Arts, Culture & Heritage:  Recent resolutions, particularly related to the proposed expansion of the Ferry Building Gallery and the proposed replacement of the West Vancouver Museum have demonstrated that a strategy for the cultural landscape of West Vancouver must take place.  Furthermore, the recommendations arising from that strategy must fit within the broader Ambleside and Waterfront Plan currently being developed through the District.  In this regard, Council will be reviewing and updating its Arts & Culture Strategy (2005-2014), including a determination of appropriate arts, culture and heritage facilities, through the development of a 2020 Cultural Strategy.

Other:   Masonic Hall, Park Royal, and Unitarian Church Sites:

MASONIC HALL SITE:  On December 15, 2014, Council approved staff’s recommendation to advance the proposal for a 7-storey (plus mezzanine) mixed-use development at 1763 Bellevue Avenue to the Design Review Committee, North Shore Accessibility Committee on Disability Issues and a public meeting for affected properties.   For further information, please visit

FORMER WHITE SPOT SITE: Three information open-houses were held in January and February related to a proposal by Park Royal for two residential towers at 752 Marine Drive.  On March 30th Council heard from two dozen residents and considered a report and recommendations to direct staff to bring forward draft bylaws and a development permit package for Council consideration after final refinements to the project have been made. The matter has been put over to April 13th for debate.

UNITARIAN CHURCH SITE:  On February 16th, Council approved staff’s recommendation to advance in the application review process a proposal for a 17-unit strata development located at 370/380 Mathers Avenue.  For further information, please visit .

Please feel free to pass this along to those who may be interested; or let me know if you would like to be removed from my distribution list.

I look forward to your comments and questions.

Enjoy your Spring!




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