Council is breaking for the summer so I wanted to update you on the status of our Five Priorities before I take a few weeks off to enjoy this great weather with my family:
Public Safety Building: You may have read in the July 2nd issue of the North Shore News that a review of the design for the new public safety building identified some concerns, including limited shared space by police and fire services, and low functional efficiency. Given these concerns, and with the recent hiring of our new police chief, Len Goerke, we are taking this opportunity to revisit the design of the PSB to ensure that all District residents are best served at the Municipal Hall site, and to determine what design elements may be needed in the new building to allow our departments and staff to deliver the best customer service in the most efficient manner. While the deadline for the WVPD to move out of its current location is still a few years off, Council is considering a temporary location pending completion of the new PSB. In the meantime, the opening of the new parking lot on the north side of Municipal Hall has enhanced the architectural features of the building, and will be fully utilized when construction begins on the PSB and the old covered parkade is demolished.
Ambleside & Waterfront Activation: The area around John Lawson Park has been reinvigorated by a number of projects. The new playground is the talk of the North Shore and beyond, and the covered picnic area nearby has been completely refurbished thanks to a generous community donation. Navvy Jack House has a new roof and plans are underway to create a Nature Centre there through the coordinated efforts of five of our stewardship groups. When the house becomes available, it would serve as a central hub to profile and highlight all the natural attributes of the community. The removal of Godfrey’s house next to Millennium Park has really opened up access to the waterfront and facilitated the relocation of one of the community gardens along with the introduction of some inviting new landscaping.A proposed restoration, relocation and expansion of the historic Ferry Building, to address functional issues and structural upgrades, is going back to the community for further clarification and consultation . The existing building and proposed addition of approximately 3200 square feet may include a multi-purpose exhibition space, art workshop and storage, gift shop, administration functions, washrooms, and janitorial rooms. The preferred option based on feedback thus far would see the existing building moved slightly to the north-east, raised to protect it from rising sea levels, with a one-storey addition to the west. This is not to be confused with the Centre for Art, Architecture and Design (CAAD), which would assume and expand on the current programming of the West Vancouver Museum, and be located at the foot of 17thStreet. Capital funds to build that facility are to be raised from private donors provided Council approves the operating model. The concession in Ambleside Park is under new management and you may have noticed improvements to the interior and menu since it opened July 1st. And for our youth, a complete overhaul of the 1990s-era skateboard park next door is in the works thanks to an offer of matching funds by a local skateboard entrepreneur. Council has directed staff to work the sports groups who use Ambleside all-weather fields to come up with a solution to the access and egress issues along Pound Road. And finally, the resurrected Ambleside Business Association is working hard with staff, Council and the W.V. Chamber in a productive and collaborative partnership on many other exciting initiatives, including a new logo (a multi-coloured mermaid) and tag line for the area (“The Heart of West Vancouver”).
Housing and Neighbourhood Character: Council approved amending bylaws to establish siting, form and character guidelines to allow coach houses in West Vancouver. Staff will develop the coach house program, including the application process and fees, over the summer with roll-out expected this fall.West Vancouver residents have been concerned for many years with the effects of replacing smaller, older homes with new homes that maximize square footage, often with the removal of all mature landscaping. In this regard, as a first step Council is considering staff’s recommendation that exemptions for accessory buildings and garages be removed, and that retaining walls be set back a minimum distance from property lines, with increased landscape screening. In a related vein, in an effort to address privacy, conservation, and view issues, tree protection measures on both public (parks, boulevards, easements, road-ends and other District-owned land) and private property are in the initial stages, as staff review current West Van bylaws as well as those in other jurisdictions before making recommendations to Council. The Maison Senior Living Residence at Keith Road and Taylor Way received final approval from Council, with construction of the three-storey, 91 bedroom facility for seniors’ assisted-living and memory care to begin shortly.
Municipal Finance and Services: The District of West Vancouver is in a stable financial position, but the long term fiscal situation is challenging. Our staff are currently undertaking a sustainability review and plan. This will include developing a strategy for municipally-owned lands – determining which facilities will be replaced, maintained or removed from our facilities inventory – and using this information to create a summary of the financial implications of each decision. We also need a long-term funding strategy for an estimated $80 million in system maintenance and replacement of buildings and roads over the next 20 years, along with our portion (after government grants) of the $700 million upgrade of the Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant to secondary level treatment by 2020 as required by Federal legislation. To assist with these challenges, Council has approved the terms of reference for a new Finance Committee which will consist of community members, District staff and Mayor Smith, Councillor Lewis and myself. Our first meeting is planned for October, when we will also be preparing for the upcoming 2015 budget.
Parks, Environment, Upper Lands and Spirit Trail: The District was granted intervener status for the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project and is participating in the National Energy Board hearing process with a view to protecting the interests of West Vancouver residents.After an 18-month comprehensive review, the Invasive Plants Working Group presented a strategy, which was unanimously adopted by Council, containing forty-four recommendations for the management and control of nineteen target species in a phased-in approach over the next five years. Priorities include the treatment of giant hogweed and knotweed, providing annual funding to support invasive plant management, and educating and raising awareness among residents, landscaping contractors and garden supply stores. We are making some progress on extending the Spirit Trail out west. Based on the public consultation last fall, staff are proceeding with implementation of the western addition to the Trail including Seaview Walk (Zone 1), which will remain virtually untouched aside from some grading and signage improvements. Accessibility and parking will be improved at the Falcon Road cul-de-sac and the Eagleridge Drive trailhead and parking lot. And a crosswalk with a warning signal will be added where the Trail currently crosses Eagleridge Drive. In Zone 2 (Orchill Road to Gleneagles Ch’axay Elementary School), the existing trail will be widened to a 4.0 m gravelled surface, most notably at pinch points. Additionally, upgrading of the pedestrian bridge over Larson Creek is required, and a crosswalk is proposed on Marine Drive at the south side of Orchill Road. Where the Trail meets Marine Drive north of the Fire Hall, the Trail will replace the existing sidewalk, and Marine Drive will be shifted to the east. Meanwhile, the section of the Trail from Gleneagles Ch’axay Elementary School to Horseshoe Bay (Zones 3 & 4) is part of an ongoing discussion with a number of stakeholders. And finally, much-needed safety improvements have been made to the routing of the Spirit Trail at the intersection of Argyle Avenue and 13th Street.
Other: Regarding 752 Marine Drive (the former White Spot site), Council resolved to allow plans by Park Royal for a mixed-used development to advance in the development consideration process. At this time, based on feedback from staff, the Design Review Committee and the public, Park Royal has not applied for a Development Permit, opting instead to further pursue clarity on their proposed amendments to the OCP and Zoning Bylaw – in particular, to conduct a thorough analysis and refinement of the general land use and massing proposal, including density and building form (low, mid, or high-rise). Community concerns around traffic congestion at the Taylor Way and Marine Drive intersection continue to be paramount. Regarding the North Mall, on July 21st Council approved a Development Permit that will see exterior facade improvements, improved pedestrian linkages, relocation of the vehicle down ramp to the west end of the building, extension of the roof-top parkade, covered sidewalks and seating, public art, a bicycle storage and service area, and enhanced landscaping. Interior renovations will include the addition of a new food store, City Market.
For further information on any of the items above, please visit www.westvancouver.ca and use the robust search engine to find your topic.
In closing, I wanted you to be the first to receive the announcement that I will be seeking re-election to Council on November 15, 2014. It’s hard to believe that three years have already passed. In my role as your Councillor, I have learned so much about our processes and our many projects, but most importantly I have met so many fascinating and knowledgeable people. Thank you for investing in me, and entrusting me with the assets, services, and finances that support your health, safety and well-being. I’ve enjoyed the job immensely and want to continue to work hard to make West Vancouver the best place to live, work and play.
I wish you an amazing August, and encourage you to check out the Mathew Soules’ Vermillion Sands living-art exhibit at Millennium Park during the Harmony Arts Festival August 1-10th (www.harmonyarts.ca); take in the Ed Sheeran concert in Ambleside Park on August 23rd (www.amblesidelive.com); hike our newly dedicated Whyte Lake Park; and enjoy the multitude of other activities and attractions West Vancouver has to offer.