I appreciated Trevor Lautens' piece in the North Shore News on Friday last (A Grandiose WV Plan - With No Parking, Oct. 26). He astutely points out the woolly thinking by the municipality in its efforts to revitalize Ambleside in West Vancouver.
If we look to our history, Ambleside at 17th Street and Marine Drive formed the heart of John Lawson's village community. Shops sprang up, serving local cottagers. Initially robust, its vibrancy waned after the first shopping centre in Canada was located at Park Royal. On the premise that more density would "revitalize the village," a three-block area around Ambleside was rezoned in the '60s for highrise development. Decline continued.
New street furniture and sidewalks in 1985 did little to stop it. The cinema closed, and butcher Peter Black moved to Park Royal. Ironically, the mall then expanded, creating its own "village" and continues to expand, with the implicit agreement of council.
The sale of the police station site on Marine Drive was the first step by council in a cascade of changes aimed again at revitalizing Ambleside. Hence the proposal to shoehorn the new costly public safety building into a too-small site adjacent to Municipal Hall and to sell the fire hall site for more revenue to pay for the project. Council then plans to move the historic Gertrude Lawrence building adjacent to Municipal Hall so that the land can be sold for yet more housing.
The mayor referred to Ambleside in the media as a "shanty town" following council's misguided decision to sell the police site to Grosvenor. He went on to say "it is now up to Grosvenor to sell the community on what it wants on the site." Clearly, it is unwise to let business interests interpret what is best for Ambleside, as if it were a "Hail Mary" pass in the fourth quarter hoping for the best.
There seems to be little understanding of the problems facing Ambleside or the solutions to them. As history proves, density and new street furniture do not ensure vitality.
We read in the press that the Audain Gallery will go to Whistler when this could be, should be located in Mr. Audain's West Vancouver community - perhaps on the police building site in the 1300-block of Marine Drive. This could provide the focus for the needed cultural niche.
Revitalizing Ambleside requires real meat on the bones of a thoughtful municipal plan, not the hijacking of a community's tradition by a developer filling a void.
What will it take for council to recognize the need for an imaginative plan for Ambleside and to implement it before the opportunity is lost and more effort is wasted?
Hopefully, others who share this view will let council know.
Gary Hiscox West Vancouver