Appeared in the North Shore News – June 17, 2016
West Vancouver councillors unanimously approved a waterfront plan Monday that had more holes in it than the Titanic.
Final score: Politicians and Financially Bulletproof Bureaucrats 5, Lesser Mortals and Present Businesses 0.
Schizophrenically, the five – Coun. Michael Lewis absent – rhapsodized over green space. And supported a new community arts building smack on said green space.
Supported, cross their hearts, West Van heritage. And issued death warrants for the Silk Purse, approaching century status, the Music Box, and the John Lawson arts building, dates of execution TBA after the new arts centre is built.
Supported protecting precious waterfront. And waxed enthusiastic – specifically Coun. Mary-Ann Booth, but Mayor Michael Smith is also a big advocate – for sipping wine in a waterfront bistro.
Supported, over strong opposition, removal of the Ambleside motorized boat ramp. And murmured empty words of sympathy for the ramp users.
Supported expelling evil motor vehicles and parking stalls from Argyle. And fell silent about access to beach and facilities for the disabled and frail. Bellevue Avenue businesses crying to keep overflow parking on Argyle? Stiffed. Mercilessly.
Supported – the key blunder – extension of the trendy Spirit Trail imposed on narrow Argyle (and linked, nobody asked, to where westward?). Clearly to become overpoweringly dominated by a two-way cycle speedway separated by some manner of barrier from herded pedestrians. And councillors went on about inclusive use of waterfront by all “stakeholders.” The stake is through the heart of West Vancouver.
Absent from the pitches of town hall staffers Raymond Fung and brainy bafflegabber Jim Bailey was any tangible substance behind the colourful charts, word-filled balloons, the usual governmental hype.
Size, site, building timeline, above all costs of the dream and of levelling present buildings? Just trust us. Win-win solution. “It’s incremental, not irreversible,” Coun. Craig Cameron intoned. Humbug. Council gave the busy bureaucrats carte blanche.
Only Coun. Bill Soprovich questioned some whacky estimate of $1 million. Which wouldn’t pay for zip. Explanation: More bafflegab. And even Sop, council’s perennial hard-eyed skeptic, joined Booth, Cameron, and – disappointingly – Couns. Nora Gambioli and Christine Cassidy in supporting the wordy motion.
I repeat earlier questions:
What benefit to Ambleside’s existing businesses (Mayor Smith’s long-stated priority)? Not for nearby restaurants competing with the proposed bistro, one of which publicly aired its tax plight a few years ago.
How will people afoot – families with toddlers and buggies, the frail, picnickers bearing stuff, etc. – cross the wall of speeding cyclists? (Fung displayed a “map” with a couple of impressive black arrows intersecting the trail. That’s it, folks – jump on that arrow.) And the Harmony Arts Festival, the evil fossil-fuel burners essential to erect and service the booths? Silence.
But there was one magical moment. A 10-year-old boy, Antoine, clearly and with presence beyond his age, spoke up for youth concerts at the Music Box: “We always have a sold-out show … (There is) a special atmosphere of music, art, and view.” He urged renovation of the existing structures and a courtyard to connect the Music Box and Silk Purse. He ended: “It will be cheaper.” Torrent of applause, biggest of the evening.
Antoine spoke more sense than the whole damned council and staff.
If I’m unpardonably harsh, no pardon, thanks: This issue moves me to my West Van guts.
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Before it closes June 26, spend an hour with Nanitch: Early photographs of British Columbia from the Langmann collection, a compelling exhibit at North Vancouver’s Presentation House Gallery. Newcomers especially will benefit from observing how crude life was in this young province. Oldcomers can use the reminder. Entry by donation. Drop five bucks.
B.C. as a white colony and photography are close to the same age (it’s astounding how sharp images had become by the mid-19th century). Both photographer and subjects took the occasion very solemnly. Just examine the faces. I found one faint smile, and that in an early 20th-century photo.
Gratitude for this excellent show for Uno Langmann, owner of a top South Granville antique store – full disclosure, decades ago he put me together from my only bicycle accident (doored by a nice Triumph TR in Shaughnessy) and drove me home. If I was too shaken to express thanks, here they are now, with accrued interest.
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Horseshoe Bay is West Van’s jauntiest village – this month eclectically staging a Taste of H.B., a beer tasting, a community picnic, and, on June 26, an art crawl. Tomorrow, Saturday, starting with a pancake breakfast at 9 a.m.: Anniversary celebrations for Sewell’s boating operations (85 years), Troll’s restaurant (70), native art store Spirit Gallery (25), and antique store Lalli Loves It! (5) – Lalli being the nickname of Laura Blodgett, one of the most charming exports the U.S. has ever made to our country.
© Trevor Lautens, 2016