IN front of a crowded council chamber Monday, District of West Vancouver council committed to breathing life back into what they say is a suffering and dying Ambleside.
The plan, dubbed Ambleside Activation, carries a tidal wave of ideas to boost the withering spirit of West Vancouver's waterfront community, council said.
There isn't one answer to Ambleside's problems, said Bob Sokol, director of planning, land development and permits for West Vancouver. Instead, a truckload of ideas are needed to start bringing the community back to life.
"No single action will revitalize Ambleside, there's no silver bullet out there," Sokol said during his presentation on the Ambleside Activation plan to council.
"It's actually a series of small steps that will be necessary in order to make things happen in Ambleside."
Ideas such as sidewalk dining, the John Lawson Park Playground which officially began reconstruction on Tuesday, food carts and trucks, and community events were just some of many serious ideas put forward by district staff.
"We must develop the sidewalk dining idea and really embrace the natural beauty we have here," said Joanna Tremblay, a resident of West Vancouver, to council Monday night.
"That's one thing that really sets us well apart from all the rest of Vancouver, and it's just a shame that it hasn't been done so far, and I hope we can push that forward."
Currently Ambleside is a string of real estate offices, banks and chain restaurants, according to Sokol's presentation.
But after three community meetings in January with regular attendance of more than 300 residents, public input helped district staff grasp what the community desires and what they can do to help make Ambleside a good place to go.
One of the first but very important steps, Sokol said, was to change zoning bylaws around the properties to allow for construction of parks and small businesses to allow establishments such as family-run restaurants or arts and culture establishments to start running.
"Right now it's a chore to go there," said Sophia Burke, another concerned resident. "There's nothing in Ambleside that is any draw. There are no fun stores, there are no fun restaurants and there's nothing there to draw anyone. There's horrible small little stores there that I don't even know how they exist right now."
The area should be outfitted with bike and pedestrian access leading to worthy shops and restaurants, according to Burke.
Her input was echoed by more than 10 other speakers Monday night and council agreed with them.
"My concern is that we should treat south of the tracks as an absolute treasure," Coun. Bill Soprovich said. "I am wholeheartedly supportive of these initiatives that are down here, and with caution that we in fact have to look at cost factors and other things."
Ambleside's problems run deep, Soprovich said, but within a realistic budget he and the rest of council are committed to helping Ambleside become more than a dull neighbourhood to get through on the way to Park Royal.
"If we don't do something now, it will just be some shabby place you drive through on the way to Park Royal," Mayor Michael Smith said. "So clearly, everybody said the time for action is now, and I think we have a council now that is prepared to commit to action."
Future projects may include: A dedicated farmers' market on 14 th street; amending zoning bylaws to allow for restaurants and small businesses; a market study of the area; work on the community gardens; food carts; bike access; a visual arts centre and more.