Appeared in the North Shore News – January 15, 2016
Amy Baird grew up going to the Hollyburn Sailing Club every summer. Her mother, Anne, was its first woman commodore.
“As a young girl I was so proud of her. Still am,” Amy says. The club was “a great way to meet new kids and to learn a valuable skill. … Too many people buy big boats without learning to sail on a smaller dingy where you really need to know the rules on the water.
“Hollyburn is such a valuable asset to this community for people of all ages.”
Amy Baird will be lending her voice to protecting that asset at a Jan. 27 meeting on the waterfront’s future, organized by the Ambleside and Dundarave Ratepayers’ Association at the West Vancouver Seniors Centre.
Jim Bailey will be blooded — as opposed to bloodied — in his first major public appearance since inheriting Bob Sokol’s role as West Vancouver’s planning director last September. He will give a presentation followed by Q&A from the floor.
Bailey won initial approval from one of council’s bluntest-talkin’ critics, Scenery Slater: He “gets points in my book for readily agreeing to attend our preferred “town hall” format. … I like him.
I don’t always agree with him, but so far I have found him honourable and honest.”
For her part, Amy Baird has at least one councillor, Bill Soprovich, on side (not all had a chance to respond to my invitation to comment): “The sailing club absolutely should be kept and revitalized. There’s real heritage value there.”
There are many other issues: Proposed parking under the tennis court. Protection of three beautiful nearby trees. Fate of the Silk Purse. Role if any of the Spirit Trail (as a recent serious Stanley Park accident confirmed, whoever thought mixing pedestrians and cyclists is a good idea wins the dumb-dumb award). Holdouts from town offers to purchase of two beachside houses, one owned by multi-billionaire Jimmy Pattison, that in my view deserve retention as beacons of safety when the beach becomes a different place after dark.
And should CAAD, the proposed Centre for Art, Architecture and Design that can’t get a nickel from Ottawa or Victoria, be part of the discussion?
Soprovich says no: “To involve it now with the waterfront plan I think is wrong, it’s an entirely separate consideration,” he declared at a November council meeting. Coun. Christine Cassidy disagreed: “It’s again what’s been happening in this community, which is … the horse is always coming after the cart.” Coun. Michael Lewis’s take: “Our community has been talking about Ambleside formally for over 40 years and these sessions (like the ratepayers’ association) are intended to show the culmination of that work and give the community another chance to comment before ‘plans’ become ‘reality.’”
(Constant Reader knows I thump CAAD’s location and its operating costs, but I bet its backers are euphoric over MP Pam Goldsmith-Jones’s election — and her boss, Trudeau the Younger, is throwing people’s money around like a drunken sailor. Not that the sailing club has any of those, forsooth.)
The club is something of a lightning rod for the whole issue of the waterfront’s future. Overhanging the club is Grosvenor’s condo-plus-businesses development — whose jackhammers causing thunderous noise pollution make the area almost unbearable, and surely hurt established businesses in the 13th and 14th-blocks Marine Drive. (And no, town hall is not offering any compensation. Price of progress and all that.)
But the only opinion with the power to push the issue — and the sailing club to some new location — is Mayor Michael Smith’s. He wants a restaurant-cum-bistro suitable for Grosvenor’s glitterati.
The clubhouse has an appealingly jaunty, weatherbeaten-grey look, remindful of the preciously protected oceanside houses of Cape Cod. But I don’t detect a hair of heritage interest in the mayor. At a meeting-by-invitation last year on WV development, where some knowledgeable souls questioned him hard, Smith detailed how valuable the site is, deriding its present use. At one point he scorned the “negative Nellies” — and his finger darted directly at my good self. (I responded with my customary calm good sense.)
Amy Baird and others with fond memories are likely to be left with just that.
• • •
Appropriately minutes before Dal Richards would have extended his astonishing record of 79 earthly New Year’s Eve performances to an 80th, The Great Conductor in the Sky offered Dal a better gig, possibly with St. Paul & His Swingin’ Seraphim. (The trumpet section — heavenly. And the choir? To die for.)
Dal and I met in unique circumstances. In my Vancouver Sun column I mentioned someone as being “as up-to-date as Evelyn and Her Magic Violin.” Intrigued because only three living persons knew the reference, he invited me to spin a few records on his radio show, Dal’s Place. Loved it.
Out of the blue, Dal used his connections to get me a role producing a well-known institution’s convention. “You’re in show business!” he enthused over coffee. I wasn’t. Asked a few halting questions and backed off. Who knows what Oscars slipped through my fingers in that moment.
Wife and partner Muriel Honey Richards surely gave Dal an extra decade or two of spreading joy. A couple of gems.
© Trevor Lautens, 2016