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District of West Vancouver approves Horseshoe Bay area plan

Neighbourhood plan foresees up to 300 new homes over 20 years

West Vancouver’s “neglected neighbourhood” is now the next in line for change.

District of West Vancouver council unanimously approved a local area plan for Horseshoe Bay May 31, which will usher in gradual change and growth in the neighbourhood.

The plan enables up to 300 homes to be added over the next 20 years, mostly in the form of duplexes, triplexes and townhouses along the outer streets, and three- to four-storey low-rises closer to the water.

The plan contemplates one building of up to six storeys on Nelson Avenue – but only if rental housing is included, and one building of up to five storeys next to the BC Ferries Terminal, but only to incentivize a boutique grocer and/or rental tenure housing.

Not every aspect of the plan was unanimously supported by residents who tuned in to speak at the public hearing, but the majority of those who addressed council urged them to approve the LAP. Highlights included its ability to provide some diversity in housing options, revitalized public spaces, better active transportation options and lower carbon emissions as a result.

Concerns from residents included the potential for part of Tantalus Park to be converted to housing or that 300 new homes may be too many, which would bring more traffic and demand for parking but no new services.

Council members acknowledge the impossibility of creating a plan for the future with universal buy-in, but their vote in support of the LAP was unanimous.

“The plan isn't to everybody's perfection. There are those who would like to see more units. There are those who like to see fewer,” said Coun. Craig Cameron. “But I really believe that this is a plan that has broad support in the neighbourhood. I think it's an excellent path forward. I think it's incremental yet it also allows the community to grow.”

Mayor Mary-Ann Booth acknowledged that Horseshoe Bay has seen very little change since the 1950s, which had some residents feeling their neighbourhood was being neglected.

“I think our goal is to find that sweet spot. It does involve compromise. It does involve both faith and trust,” she said. “One of the speakers asked ‘What's in it for the community?’ Everything is in it for the community. This is why we're doing this is – because we heard from people that they need to move forward and address the community's needs.

While the LAP was complete, Coun. Marcus Wong pledged further consultation with bay residents as individual pieces of the puzzle come together, with a promise to protect its “kooky character.”

Coun. Bill Soprovich praised the almost-three-year process of staff study and community consultation that led to the plan and emphasized he would be in no hurry to see it fully implemented.

“To the wonderful people in Horseshoe Bay, I know a few of you out there, I'm happy for you that we've gotten a bit of resolve here. And to the businesses, I hope through this mix and development that we will certainly try and keep a lid on the growth,” he said.

With the Horseshoe Bay local area plan now in the books, district council may move on to other neighbourhood planning processes, including Ambleside and Taylor Way.