Appeared in the North Shore News – June 20, 2014
You read it here fast: West Vancouver police may be pushed out and forced into temporary quarters in the Vancouver Coastal Health buildings on Gordon at 22nd Street — to accommodate Grosvenor, impatient to get on with its gateway development on the cop shop site.
My Agent Yc5uLW reports that the Coastal Health locale for a temporary station — which could raise hackles in the mixed neighbourhood – is among the possibilities under, I imagine, fairly frantic consideration.
The police station may have to move — somewhere — within as little as six months. Not even plans for a new one are settled.
The tip-off that time is short, and Grosvenor chomping at the bit to get cracking on its 1300-block development, came when I asked Patti Glass, spokeswoman for the global-wide developer, for its timeline. Reply: “Construction is expected to begin late 2014 or early 2015.”
Odd. Notice there’s already a building on the site? The police station. It can be razed and a start made on Grosvenor’s 88-condo, 30-odd stores by late this year? The plot thickens: In March the municipality bought Coastal Health’s 0.7 hectare Gordon Avenue property for $16.07 million, Mayor Michael Smith explaining: “It is extremely difficult to acquire such a large property in this area. This site adds substantially to our options for the future, including the potential to expand the civic site.”
Coincidence? Or, with the Grosvenor deal consummated and the clock loudly ticking, did the mayor look to the very near future – the imminent need for a temporary station for West Van’s 85-odd police and staff? (“Temporary” meaning several years.) More tips that the future could be approaching fast: Vancouver Coastal Health’s lease is for only six months, extendable for another six months. Interesting. It would expire next March for the two-building property, currently used for an adult day care program and for Stepping Stones, a facility for people with mental and drug problems.
Yes, the above evidence is speculative, circumstantial. But Sherlock Holmes (or even TV’s dull Frost) could make a case for it, and it’s backed up by Agent Yc5uLW, who, though a new recruit, seems a reliable source. Of course, he could be a double agent.
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Defending the 1913 Ferry Building and its grassy waterfront site from being screwed up has attracted a brave band – John Seddon and West Vancouver Historical Society delegates to council Ann Brousson, Pam Dalik, Jim Carter, Rod Day and Rob Morris in 2011 when it was under pressure from arts imperialists who get town hall’s ear by pitching an arts edifice as a development/revitalization/touristy project ($-signs for the philistines), and currently Nora Gibson, an art consultant for 26 years, and Seddon. Their petition to leave the building untouched as a small community art gallery has drawn about 850 signatures (saveamblesidelandingpark.org).
After some toil, I conclude: It’s all for naught. It’s a done deal.
The questionnaire on Community Day at the Ferry Building was a prime, if petty, example of the common charade of “community consultation.” It offered five options, all involving additions to the heritage building. Most egregious: “Single storey addition south of a relocated and rotated Ferry Building.” Notably absent from the list: “None of the above! Leave it alone!” Astonishing, then, that 22 of the 102 votes cast were for “No,” which wasn’t even on the ballot, according to figures provided by deputy chief administrative officer Brent Leigh.
And what would any addition, almost quadrupling the gallery’s present 750 square feet, contain? Washrooms (there are others a short walk east and west). And — wait for it — a gift shop! And — wait no more — a coffee and wine bar! Rembrandt, El Greco, Carr and (my personal enthusiasm) Thomas Eakins would be thrilled by this homage to art.
Put plainly: Siting, space and balance are all. The present building has them. You don’t stick a McDonald’s onto the Parliament Buildings. You don’t erect a 60-storey tower overlooking the Arc de Triomphe. Vancouverites, of all people, furious with foreign zillionaires levelling gracious older homes and erecting built-to-the-max monstrosities, should need no such lesson.
My take is that any addition — its sincere advocates include Coun. Craig Cameron and well-respected curator Ruth Payne (“a win-win”) — would be like affixing a salmon to a rhinoceros. Esthetically grotesque, ruinous to heritage status.
An email informational from Coun. Nora Gambioli candidly drops any further consultative pretense: “The Ferry Building will be expanding.” I suggest that the “rotated” building, facing the “revitalizing” Grosvenor complex that it’s meant to worship, be reverently lowered onto its architectural knees.
Reminder: Municipal elections in November.
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Cougar Country: A pupil walking to West Van’s Gleneagles elementary saw a cougar in broad daylight, 8 a.m. June 5, on the Gleneagles golf course, later seen on the school grounds.
A few days later it was spotted at distant Whytecliffe Park. Wild, wild west.
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A little song, a little dance, lacking only a little seltzer down the pants. Spamalot is, as Internet language has it, an LOL hit. It’s on at the Stanley until June 29. See!
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If you missed the North Vancouver Community Players production of God of Carnage, winner of last month’s Theatre B.C. North Shore Festival of Plays, it will be reprised June 26-28 at the Theatre at Hendry Hall before moving on to the provincial drama festival in Kamloops next month.
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Tiddlycove’s Joy Market, operated for 20 years by a nice North Vancouver couple, Korean immigrants So Hee Han (she’s the Joy of the name) and her husband, Gun Chul Han, is closing at the end of the month. Apparently the space will be absorbed, leaving no convenience store between Cypress mall and Horseshoe Bay. Another West Vancouver loss.
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A couple of young women returned to their crossover vehicle with Alberta licence plates in Lighthouse Park last Friday to find the cargo window smashed and personal belongings and a camera stolen. What a fine memory of B.C.
© Trevor Lautens, 2014