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City of North Vancouver ponders ferris wheel as summer attraction

City of North Vancouver council’s plan to put in a ferris wheel at the foot of Lonsdale just keeps on spinning. And this time it might include a merry-go-round as well.

City of North Vancouver council’s plan to put in a ferris wheel at the foot of Lonsdale just keeps on spinning.

And this time it might include a merry-go-round as well.

During Monday’s council meeting, councillors unanimously voted in favour of doing a feasibility study to determine if the city should host a ferris wheel and merry-go-round somewhere in Lower Lonsdale.  

However, it would only be for part of the summer, said Coun. Linda Buchanan, who put forward the motion to look at implementing the attraction on a seasonal basis.

“This again isn’t seen as something permanent, but something as an attraction for the summertime that can add to the programming down there,” Buchanan said. “It’s a great place to be, why not add a great wheel?”

Coun. Holly Back added that she has always thought the idea of a North Vancouver City ferris wheel was an exciting one.

“Every great city has one and we’re a great city,” Back said.

A ferris wheel for Lower Lonsdale was first floated back in 2014 after council hired destination marketing consultant Roger Brooks, who helped develop a $30-million plan for a grandiose central waterfront.

That original plan also looked at such ambitious ideas as adding a skating rink, amphitheatre and water park to the site, some of which are still under consideration.

After sitting as an industrial site called Lot 5 for more than a decade, the city-owned parcel of land in the centre of the Shipyards site has been under rapid development since last summer when the city named Quay Property Management as its partner developer.

Buchanan said when a ferris wheel was first proposed for the Shipyards, people had a real visceral response to it, in large part due its permanency. “Many either loved it or didn’t love it,” she said.

She added that renting a ferris wheel only for the summer might be a good way to appease both sides, but it shouldn’t be placed on the area’s beloved pier or in the Shipyards.

While council was unanimous in its decision to conduct a feasibility study, a friendly amendment was added by Coun. Rod Clark.

“I think we should be looking at a merry-go-round as well,” Clark said. “Because if we’re talking about a ferris wheel, why not a merry-go-round? It’s a lateral affair as opposed to a vertical.”

Clark argued that on a semi-permanent basis, a merry-go-round might even be easier to install than a ferris wheel.

The amendment received enthusiastic support from the rest of council.

Coun. Pam Bookham was supportive of the motion, but said she was surprised to hear talk of a ferris wheel come up again at council.

“I also felt as though we have a tremendous amount of work that’s going on with respect to the Shipyards’ site that staff are devoting their time to,” Bookham said.

Buchanan said she was not looking for staff to spend an enormous amount of time on the feasibility study. Although no timeline was given, staff would most likely have to report back in the next few weeks if the attraction is to be implemented for the summer.

Her motion also came with the stipulation that the city would host a ferris wheel on a cost recovery basis, meaning there should be no cost to the city itself to have the attraction.  

Buchanan added that as development of the Shipyards moves forward and Lower Lonsdale continues to grow, there are more and more visitors to the area every year and a ferris wheel – and possibly a merry-go-round – could be wonderful additions, especially with Canada’s upcoming 150th anniversary celebrations.

“I look forward to having staff come back and hopefully be able to move forward on adding another great attraction for the summertime,” she said.