Appeared in the North Shore News – August 14, 2015
I have a daymare. Here it is.
In this daymare, I see a bagman for West Vancouver’s CAAD, the Centre for Art, Architecture + Design.
The bagman is on the street begging — CAADging, you might say — for small change for this proposed three-storey-and-underground-parking edifice across from West Vancouver’s John Lawson Park, overshadowing the hugely popular and imaginative children’s playground. Estimated capital cost, $25 million and counting.
Sneaked into the plan for this noble edifice to arts are a 200-seat reception hall for weddings and celebrations, a 30-seat café, and a gift shop, essential to defray the operating bills that the knot of art, design etc. lovers can’t or won’t sufficiently pay for at the turnstile. (Insert here: Look at pinched Vancouver Art Gallery, which missed a vital fund-raising deadline in April.)
Constant Reader will recall that I dislike CAAD — above all because its site would steal sky and openness, also some safety, from the wonderful nearby playground. The parkade — and nobody likes spooky underground parking, especially children — would have the same 55 stalls as the current open, leafy parking lot it would sit on.
It’s an urban renewal project masquerading as a monument to the arts. I agree with CAAD’s energetic leader, Merla Beckerman, that any such project is an urban renewal project by definition. CAAD strains the definition.
It is of a piece with Mayor Michael Smith’s determination to exploit West Vancouver’s people-sized beachfront, en route to what I foresee as an eventual Santa Monica-style commercialized future.
The mellow, laid-back Hollyburn Sailing Club, possibly seen by town hall as not tony enough for the likes of the Grosvenor complex towering over it, will depart — the bureaucracy and club leadership straight-facedly telling me last fall that they were in negotiations, when in truth the club’s fate had already been decided. (All governments want the media to shut up, the public kept in the dark — kindly wait for the done-deal press release.) And can Bellevue Avenue businessman Chuck Walker’s detested proposal for a marina in the park area leap from the grave?
But back to the bagman trying to wring donations from passing citizens for CAAD. He is approached by a mild-mannered man. Says the mild-mannered man (MMM): “Here is five dollars for your building.”
“Thank you, sir,” says the bagman in my daymare, “every little bit helps.”
The MMM turns away. He hesitates. He comes back.
“May I introduce myself. My name is Asparagus J. Badsmelle, and I will raise my donation to $5 million if you choose to call this the Asparagus J. Badsmelle Centre for Art, Architecture + Design.”
“My dear Mr. Badsmelle,” whispers the bagman, “do sit down here in the shade — careful, don’t bruise your wallet. Our committee will be delighted to meet with you. Give me three minutes.”
You don’t need my crude talents to divine the rest. Other citizens and corporations would throw in sums sufficient to win places on the bronze honour wall. Convinced that art-loving West Vancouver is foursquare behind the scheme, the provincial and federal governments would reverse their cold rejection and throw grants at the CAAD project.
Tough luck for the children’s playground, the compromised sky and water views of area residents, and the interests of nearby coffee shops and restaurants, and hall-renting churches (and West Van’s own Gleneagles Golf Course) competing against a fine-view enterprise blessed by town hall.
This daymare of mine will become a nightmare, if Mayor Smith and his council allies get their way.
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Error: Michael Evison is no longer a member of the CAAD board. He resigned a year ago.
Any need for two spankin’ new art galleries a few kilometres from each other?
It’s a wry argument for amalgamation of the North Shore’s three political fiefdoms that North Van City is also steaming ahead with an art gallery, the Polygon, with art collector Audain and his company contributing $4 million of the $15 million tab.
In 2017 admired Presentation House Gallery will move in from its present digs — shared with Presentation House Theatre, home of North Vancouver Community Players, who recently swept many awards including Best Play at the B.C. Theatre Festival. The former Presentation House space “will become vacant, and we currently have no plans to reuse the space,” Mayor Darrell Mussatto writes me.
Sharply contrasting with federal and provincial stonewalling of CAAD, Ottawa and Victoria are showering $2.5 million each on the Polygon gallery.
Coincidentally, low-flying, high-powered North Vancouver Conservative MP Andrew Saxton, who announced the federal lolly, is parliamentary secretary to the finance minister. My my, you’d think an election was in the offing.
• • •
Hot gossip at Carolanne Reynolds’s RoyalTea: Former West Van councillor and mayoral candidate Vivian Vaughan and husband Bill just bought a 14th-century turreted chateau in southwestern France. Apparently not out of reach, compared with West Van real estate.
© Trevor Lautens, 2015