What would Lonsdale Avenue look like if it were to become a "Great Street," similar in vein to Toronto’s or San Francisco’s?
It was the question at the centre of discussion for the City of North Vancouver council on Monday, as they came together to talk on the redevelopment and revitalization of Central Lonsdale.
Staff presented a plan to reshape Lonsdale Avenue into a high street, which would be done by improving its aesthetics, walkability, vibrancy, history and commercial activity.
“With Central Lonsdale, we have many ingredients for a Great Street. We have a healthy mix of local independent business, and there’s ongoing demand for new retail and office space,” said Dave Hutch, deputy director of parks and public space.
“We have a local population that calls it their community and, with the increased infill and redevelopment, the population is increasing. Lions Gate Hospital creates an attractive health service and bioscience cluster. It is a vital transportation corridor that is linked with the regional network,” said Hutch, adding how there is also an impact on health, wellness and leisure expected with the redevelopment of the Harry Jerome Recreation Center.
While the plan is very much in its initial stage, staff said development will centralize around three main hubs: around the City Hall Plaza, Lion’s Gate Hospital and the soon-to-be-built Harry Jerome centre.
Taking cues from the aforementioned Great Streets in San Francisco, Toronto, alongside Vancouver’s Commercial Drive and Miami’s Calle Ocho, the revitalization will echo the tourist-alluring elements of bustling city streets while still integrating with North Vancouver’s own community and ethos.
To kickstart the plans, staff have conducted an initial assessment of Central Lonsdale, determining its demographics, its current transportation offerings, residential development and available amenities and activities, to better understand where there is room for improvement.
The next steps will focus on determining a plan and a budget, and understanding what the needs of the community are via a “multi-layered public engagement process,” said staff.
Coun. Jessica McIlroy said she was “very excited” to see how the project progresses.
“I know there has been a lot of demand on Lonsdale as a corridor and the region itself … I’m looking forward to hearing what all of the different types of community consultation brings forward,” she said.
Coun. Shervin Shahriari, said he would like to see the inclusion of more “interesting architecture and art” incorporated into the area, especially those that acknowledge its Indigenous history.
Coun. Holly Back said she has long thought there “should be more vibrancy” in Central Lonsdale, while Mayor Linda Buchanan said she was “incredibly excited” about the project.
Buchanan said she doesn’t know of any street in Canada that is as great as Lonsdale Avenue - where you can “look North to see the mountains and look South to see the water” and have it bookended by “world renowned arts and cultural facilities,” she said. If that is amplified by a revitalization, it would be hugely beneficial for local business, she added.
“Great Streets are about people, and people are really great for the businesses that call Central Lonsdale their home,” she said. “Bringing all those pieces together, I think we are going to create a crossroads where we’re going to have health and wellness, commercial, hospitality, retail and residential meet, and I cannot underscore how great this opportunity is and how much people are looking forward to seeing this revitalization of this neighbourhood.”
Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.