July 1, 2011
This idea of revitalizing Ambleside– the traditional heart and gateway of West Vancouver community – is not new. It has been under debate for many years, with lots of thoughtful, citizen-led reports outlining possibilities for enhancing the village and enriching the quality of life we treasure.
Along the 1300 block Marine, plans include a walk-through atrium, new four-storey mixed use buildings with commercial space below and housing apartment/condos above, new storefronts, new waterfront amenities and retention of the arts corridor and parks along the beach. West Vancouver municipality will continue to acquire the beachfront properties along Argyle for public use. The West Van Police station would be moved up by municipal hall. Opening hours would be extended beyond 7 pm.
Developers are also planning a 138 residential seniors housing building on the former Wetmore Motors site (2200 block Marine).
Plans for the rezoning and revitalization of the Safeway store site (1600-1700 block Marine) are also in the works. Count on a high rise proposal with the de rigueur mixed-use policy in full swing.
Rounding out the mix is Park Royal. Their recent council approval for a new “at grade” street level intersection across Marine Drive indicates their intent to pursue several new developments. Their first project will be the removal of the westernmost vehicular overpass and the installation of the above mentioned street level intersection across Marine Drive.
Also on the horizon for Park Royal is their plans for a new multi-million dollar VIP movie theatre to be built on a new third level located at what can best be described as the back of the mall adjacent to the current Brick store location. This new third level mall structure will have eight new theatres, three of them VIP with liquor licensed concierge service, luxury “motion” seats and more.
Future Park Royal plans also include the development of the current White Spot corner into a high-rise, multi-use building with commercial on the lower level and condo apartments, similar to the adjacent West Royal Towers, on the higher floors.
West Vancouver will be 100 years old in 2012. In a century we have evolved from a quiet mill town, once connected to Vancouver by a single rowboat, to one of the most desirable and affluent municipalities on the West Coast. Yet we retain the ethos that makes us a place of excellence – a city nestled between the rain forest and the ocean, a community that embraces its First Nation heritage and preserves our unique lifestyle on the edge of a burgeoning metropolis of more than two million people.
Generations of civic participation and slow, thoughtful and financially prudent growth is how we and those before us built the West Vancouver that exists today. The Memorial Library built in 1950 to commemorate the soldiers of World War II, the 1975 policy to purchase waterfront lots in Ambleside to preserve the waterfront for the public and the new community centre in 2009 are just a few examples of West Vancouver’s quiet evolution as a community that inspires excellence and leads by example.
Years of thoughtful studies and plans, brought together by the Ambleside Town Centre Strategy Working Group, are ready to be brought to life. Successive Councils have listened to the community interest in having a village that builds on the local successful businesses we have today and brings residents closer to the village centre through the creation of smaller housing options.
In a revitalized Ambleside there will be more locals living close to the village centre, additional small retailers, pedestrian enjoyment, office space, a strengthened arts scene and more to do in the evening. Ambleside must retain the village life we cherish, and it should not have to shut down after 7pm.
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